NEW DELHI: The migratory bird count at Najafgarh jheel and drain fell nearly 50% compared with the same period last year, the Asian Waterbird Census 2019 has revealed. The census, on for a week, will end on Thursday at Sultanpur National Park. According to T K Roy, state coordinator of AWC in NCR, there has been a significant drop in the number of species and birds recorded this year compared with AWC 2018. Only 1,679 birds have been sighted this time around against last year’s 3,091. The number of species has also gone down to 31 against 40 last year. “Despite good rain, we are seeing lower number of birds this year. The diversity in terms of species has also come down. However, four species, which are on the IUCN-threatened list, were recorded during the count this year,” Roy said
The IUCN-threatened species that have been recorded are painted stork, woolly-necked stork, black-headed ibis and black-necked stork, Roy said. Each census is carried out by a team of volunteers that gets divided into smaller groups to cover the entire wetland. Roy says two to three groups were formed for the count on Wednesday. International protocol for the census was followed to directly identify and note down each species before collectively looking at larger numbers for the population. Photography was also used to identify birds, he added.
Recommended By Colombia Roy said climate change and other factors were disturbing the migratory pattern of certain species. “With migratory waterbirds arriving from Central Asia, Northern Asia and other parts of the globe, the species diversity and total number tends to fluctuate. It either increases or decreases and early or late migration is recorded across the country year by year. Interestingly, Indian migratory bird greater flamingo is a resident bird on this wetland throughout the year now,” Roy said. Other birders however said the numbers seemed low for this time of the year, but NCR has showed a significant improvement in January. “The numbers seem low and the species count should also be much higher. While almost all locations were recording low numbers in December, this has gone up considerably, including at Najafgarh in January due to low temperature affecting the locations these birds come from,” said Anand Arya, a birder. Kanwar B Singh said there is nothing to worry as Najafgarh is doing well this year, while Nikhil Devasar said a recent visit to Najafgarh revealed a high count of species, including rare ones like great bittern and water pipit. “We visited this Sunday and recorded 111 species. The methodology of the census may vary, but in general, we have captured some rare species as well which is a good sign and Najafgarh seems to be doing well,” said Devasar. AWC is the largest waterbird census in Asia and is done with the help of Wetlands International – a global wetland conservation organisation across 27 other countries.