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Bird count held amid rising temperatures

Hundreds of birders set out across Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on Sunday morning as part of the Big Bird Day (BBD) 2022 — each carrying notebooks, a pair of binoculars and cameras to capture photographs of both resident and migratory birds in the region.

The results of the count are expected to be released by Wednesday. Last year, the event saw Delhi-NCR record 244 different species of birds.

Among the interesting sightings this year, the birders listed the great crested grebe in Jhajjar, short-eared owl in Jhanraula (Farrukhnagar, Gurugram); osprey in Mandothi (Jhajjar); and spotted dove at Delhi’s Yamuna Biodiversity Park. However, most birders reported low bird density, citing warmer weather. “The results of the count are being uploaded on the e-Bird portal, and will be analysed over the next two days. Birders have recorded short-eared owls and merlins in Jhanraula, and 10 Kentish plovers were recorded in the Chandu wetlands. We have also recorded an osprey from Mandothi, along with the great crested grebe from Jhajjar,” said Nikhil Devasar, an organiser of the Big Bird Day.

“Though some interesting species were sighted, the number and the overall density of birds is fairly low compared to what is generally seen at this time of the year. Temperatures were quite high during the afternoon, whereas in the count held on February 21 last year, we saw fog in the morning and temperatures were comparatively low,” Devasar added, stating that consistent rain this winter also led to water accumulation in a lot of places across NCR, which could also lead to birds spreading out instead of going to known wetlands.

In last year’s count, 244 species of birds were recorded, and 253 were recorded in the 2020, which was held on January 12.

In 2019, 247 species were recorded, and 237 in 2018.

Diverse species were also seen across Delhi’s biodiversity parks – Aravalli, Neela Hauz, Tilpath Valley, Kalindi Kunj, Yamuna and Kamla Nehru ridge.

Teams comprising students, scientists and college teachers set across the Capital’s bird habitats from 8am until 10am on Sunday at the biodiversity parks.

They recorded birds such as marsh harrier, ferruginous pochard and grey bush chat at Yamuna Biodiversity Park (YBP), and the eastern Orphean warbler and the black eagle were sighted at the Aravalli biodiversity park.

“At Tilpath Valley, the small minivet was reported, and at Tughlaqabad park, the black-headed ibis was among the noteworthy sightings. The Indian spotted eagle was recorded at Northern Ridge (Kamla Nehru Ridge),” said Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist-in-charge at YBP.

Surya Prakash, a birder and zoologist from Jawaharlal Nehru University, who scouted the area around the university, reported the white-capped bunting, a pair of Indian scops owl and yellow-wattled lapwing in the area. “There were lots of pochards and tufted ducks too, but overall numbers are low. The temperature has suddenly shot up over the last two weeks, leading to birds leaving early,” he said

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