Early birds at Okhla sanctuary

Seven species of winter migratory birds have been spotted

September 16, 2015 12:00 am | Updated 05:35 am IST - NEW DELHI:

(Clockwise from top left) River lapwing, Ruff, and Common redshank and Wood sandpiper have already arrived at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary this month.

(Clockwise from top left) River lapwing, Ruff, and Common redshank and Wood sandpiper have already arrived at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary this month.

Despite the muggy weather and no signs of the winter chill yet, the National Capital Region (NCR) is witnessing an early arrival of winter migratory birds this year. As many as seven species of such winged visitors have already made their way into the Okhla Bird Sanctuary this month.

Of the seven species that have arrived so far, two — the Black-tailed godwit and the River lapwing — are red-listed under the near threatened (NT) category by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The Black-tailed godwit is a winter visitor that breeds in North and East Asia, and migrates during non-breeding periods in winter to South and South-East Asia. On the other hand, the River lapwing is a resident of South-East Asia and South Asia that migrates locally during winters, especially to the northern Indian sub-continent.

Explaining the reasons for the early arrival of birds, environmentalist T.K. Roy said: “It is surprising that migratory birds have already flown into the city. The flocks of these birds are not huge; they have come in smaller groups. The recent declaration of areas surrounding the sanctuary as eco-sensitive zone has certainly made the place more conducive and habitable for them.”

He informed that similar trends have been noticed in other areas of northern India, which include Saman Bird Sanctuary in Mainpuri district of western Uttar Pradesh and Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary in Meerut.

A flock of Common redshank arrived in the sanctuary this week. This winter visitor breeds in Central and East Asia, after which it migrates during the non-breeding period in winters to South and South-East Asia. Found in Europe and North Africa, the Little ringed plover migrates to South Asia, especially India, during its non-breeding period.

Another reason that could play a role in the larger perspective could be the global climate change, added Mr. Roy. “All seven species of winter migratory water birds have been spotted on the seasonal small marshland towards the northern periphery of the sanctuary,” he added.

Other birds that have made the sanctuary their abode include the Wood sandpiper, Ruff and White wagtail. The White wagtail is a small passerine bird that breeds in Europe, Asia and parts of Northern Africa and migrates to South Asia during non-breeding period

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