Delhi has its own share of wildlife and wildlife lovers. The arid topography along with the many small wetlands and conserved forests dotting the Aravalli ranges, invites many aerial visitors to the city. During the winters diverse species of migratory birds come here to nest and bring forth offspring and the sight is a colourful one. Nature lovers around the city gather in small groups of 6-8 to discover the rare sight of beautiful birds nestled in the corner of an almost hidden vantage point.
Bird watching may only be a hobby for some people but for them the satisfaction of capturing something like this in memory or camera is truly indescribable. It doesn’t take much to be bird-watcher and if you are one of those who would like to be a part of this wonderful hidden world, before we tell you about the best places to spot the air-borne beauties, here are some basic guidelines to follow while prepping yourself up.
- Good pair of binoculars: Starting with a small and light pair is recommended and as one becomes more familiar, a bird-scape or telescope comes in handy.
- Field guide with illustrations: The most recommended book for bird watching is Birds of Indian Subcontinent by Richard Grimmett .
- Join a bird-watching group: This will give more exposure as well as due to shared experience you will be able to spot more birds.
- Clothes: Wearing clothes that can easily blend in with the natural environment like pastels and greens are suggested for the visit.
Once you are prepared, head out to any of the following destination to get your fill of the furry air-dwellers in and around Delhi :
- Okhla Bird Sanctuary
Okhla’s deltas and backs provide enough habitat for various species of birds to nest, hide and roost. Cited as one of the 466 International Bird Area sites in India, it boasts of more than 320 bird species being recorded on its premises. Close to 43 species of migratory birds have been spotted here out of which at least 10 are threatened or critically endangered like white rumpled vulture and Indian vulture. Other species that can be spotted here are Baikal teal, Sarus crane, and Bristled grassbird which can be easily recognised due to their distinct features.
Location: Noida Plaza, N Block, Pocket K, Sector 95, New Okhla Industrial Development Area (Noida)
- The Delhi Ridge
This area has a reputation of attracting seasoned as well as amateur bird enthusiasts alike. The Ridge is stretches throughout the Aravallis and beyond and is the biggest area to spot birds like Flycatchers as they keep diving into the water. One can also spot brightly coloured birds such as the Rose Finch and Green Heron, woodpeckers, barbets, Leaf Warblers among the more exotic species. Other species like the Crested Serpent Eagles, Booted Eagles, Vultures and Great Horned Owls are only a few of the more than 200 species of birds that are found in the area of the Ridge.
Location : The Ridge, Timarpur, New Delhi
- Sultanpur National Park
The park may be small in area with only 1.43 square kilometres under its name, but it boasts of nothing less than 250 bird species in its perimeter. Close to 100 species come to take shelter here during migration periods and breeding season between November and February. The huge wetlands provide with the best of feeding and nesting grounds for the aerial visitors. Keep your eyes out for Northern Pintails, Greater Flamingo, Common Teal, and Siberian Cranes that make their way into the fields and grasslands from the lake of the sanctuary and the fields surrounding it. It is also easy to spot the Thicknee, Indian courser and Lapwings among the many proud peckers.
Location: Gurgaon-Farrukh Nagar Road, Sultanpur, Gurgaon
- Surajpur wetlands
The wetlands are a natural attraction for most bird species. This area with its wide expanse of wetlands breed hosts a large number of migratory birds as winter falls. The officials have also developed a special trail that is accessible to visitors and it takes one through the beautiful fauna-rich Surajpur wetlands without disturbing any animals. People can spot rare species like the Bengal Florican, Painted Stork, Northern Pintail, Painted stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Open-billed Stork, Egrets Spoon-billed, Black-necked Stork, Grey and Purple Heron, Pond and Night Heron, Golden Oriole, Pheasant Tailed Jacana, Purple Moorhen and many such birds here.
Location: Surajpur Wetlands, Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh
- Asola Wildlife Sanctuary
After wetlands, the next most habitable area for birds is dry shrub forests which can be found in the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary. Just south of the Tughlaqabad Fort, this area marks the end of the Delhi Ridge. While initially home to lion, leopard and chinkara, now the area houses more birds than anything else. There are over 190 bird species recorded which become more as migratory birds fly in every winter. One can easily spot species like Orphean Warbler , Common Babbler, Sirkeer Malkoha, the less common Yellow-eyed Babbler, and Rufous-fronted Prinia, among others.
Location : Asola Wild Life Sanctuary, Asola, New Delhi
- Basai Wetlands
Basai is a perfect habitat for the shy birds as it provides plenty of cover in the form of tall grass, bushes and shallow banks making it easier for land dwelling birds to build nests and breed. Though small in area it shares its bird population with the close by Sultanpur sanctuary and provides shelter to more than 240 species of birds. Summers are the best time to spot Purple Moorhen, Pheasant Tailed Jacana, Darters, Bronze-winged Jacana, Egrets, Sarus crane among others. The winters are like a celebration time with birds like Gulls, Greyleg Geese, Marsh Harrier, Spoon Bills, Wagtails, Common Starling, and Wire-tailed Swallow appearing at close quarters to be viewed.
Location: Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon