Watching chirping birds welcome the dawn is a mesmerizing experience. You may not know it, but Delhi is world’s second bird-rich capital, after Nairobi in Kenya. It welcomes migratory birds from all over the world during different seasons making it a great Indian outdoor activity and accounting for 25 per cent of its avian population. Turn your morning walk or weekend family time into a birding adventure at one of these sanctuaries in and around the Capital city.
1.Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, New Delhi
Located at the southern edge of the city, forming the northern terminal of the Aravalli Hill Range, Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary serves as a habitat for about 190 species of birds. During winters several migratory species make it the6,874-acre parkt heir summer capital. Besides babblers, warblers and sirkeermalkohas, watch out for rare species such as the black redstart, grey-headed canary-flycatcher and red-breasted flycatcher. In 2017, experts spotted a pallid harrier for the first time here – a bird of prey that’s found in the steppes of Asiatic Russia, Kazakhstan and northwest China. Asola Bhatti is also home to the nilgai (India’s largest antelope species), blackbuck, Indian hare (black-naped hare), etc.
2.Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Noida
Named after the Okhla bridge over the Yamuna River, Okhla Bird Sanctuary (OBS) is one of 466 International Bird Area (IBA) sites in India. It is the natural territory of more than 320 bird species. According to its website, 43 of these are migratory species – of which, at least 10 fall under the threatened or critically endangered categories. The Baikal teal, sarus crane, wood sandpiper and bluethroat are relatively easy to spot owing to their distinct features. Apart from feathered creatures, OBS’ biodiversity includes mammals like nilgai, Indiangrey mongoose and Indian hare, over 30 species of butterflies, and a variety of native and exotic plant species, among others.
3. Basai Wetland, Gurugram
The Basai Wetland is located in the eponymous village in Gurgaon, Haryana. Another IBA site, the 250-acre ecological zone provides a great opportunity for bird lovers to spot diverse species from a close distance. Visually spectacular, with plump, purple water hyacinths, the wetland is a habitat for resident birds such as the grey-headed swamphen, cattle egret, yellow-bellied prinia, varieties of bittern, etc. The white-rumped vulture and red-headed vulture, both, on the critically endangered list, have been spotted here in the past.
4. Aravalli Biodiversity Park, Gurugram
Deriving its name from one of the oldest mountain ranges in India, the Aravalli Biodiversity Park is located in the South Central Ridge in Gurugram. The 380-acre site is an erstwhile stone quarry that has been restored with indigenous plant species over the last eight years. It is a deemed forest; although not one officially recognized by the Haryana government. A popular haunt for birders and fitness enthusiasts, the property’s inhabitants include several resident and migratory birds including the black drongo, plain prinia, lesser whitethroat, steppe eagle, etc. Of note, is the rufous-tailed scrub robin, a rare migratory bird, that was spotted in the park, for the first time, in 2018. In late October this year, protestors gathered to campaign against the National Highway Authority of India’s plans to construct a six-lane highway through the park. The case is still under debate.
5. Yamuna Biodiversity Park, New Delhi
The Yamuna Biodiversity Park, near Wazirabad village, NCR, is home to 5,000 migratory birds during the months of November to March. Take a bird watching tour through the grassland or picnic near the large water body and soak in the calmness. Among the feathered attractions here are colourful storks, red-crested pochardsand water birds like pintails and shovelers. The park is divided into two zones: the nature reserve zone and visitor zone. The latter is complete with an amphitheatre, nature interpretation centre, herbal garden that houses over 450 species of plants, and a butterfly conservatory
Before You Go…
Here are a few tips to keep in mind, before setting out on a birding adventure.
- Dawn is the best time to spot birds in their element. The timings of most nature parks vary with the seasons. Remember to before a visit.
- The best time to spot migratory birds is between the months of September to March.
- A pair of binoculars is always handy, and at a pinch, can even help serve as a zoom lens for an average mobile camera. Wearing full-length trousers and long sleeves will keep you protected from pesky bugs. Camouflage clothing will help you observe the creatures without interrupting their daily activities. Wear sturdy yet comfy shoes for obvious reasons.
- In larger parks, it’s best to hire a guide or wander in packs to keep from getting lost.
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