Recently a bird watching trip was organised by Dr.Susan Sharma of IndianWildlifeClub.com. Armed with binoculars & books on birds, on a cold wintry Sunday morning we reached Okhla barrage along with Mr Mahendra Vyas, who is an eminent environment lawyer as
well as bird expert. We met up with few other members of the club. Although we had gone to see many migratory birds we were able to spot a wide variety of indigenous birds, in fact a total of 21 species. We spotted Herons standing majestically on small vegetation
islands waiting for their prey. The Purple & Grey Herons looked similar but a small patch of white on the Purple Heron was more distinct from its counterpart. The flocks of
Coots as well as Dabchicks, Gulls, Teals
& Cormorants were more visible. The Dabchicks (small ducks in layman's language) were more naughty than others. They all suddenly dipped underwater one by one & appeared some 4 or 5 feet away. Their antics kept us guessing as
to which was which. Two members of our group spotted a pair of Bronze headed Jacana, which is a shy bird.
A marshy area near the river was also abundant with lots of birds. A Crow Pheasant (Lesser Coucal), size of a hen, with brown feathering and a long tail was picking up small insects & making loud sound of 'Hoo - Hoo'. A
Bronze Drongo sitting on the branch with shiny feathers & a fork tail,
common Kingfisher also sitting near the bank hunting for a fish,
Pied Mynah, Hoopoe ( whom we casually call a wood pecker ),
Tailor bird, Long tailed Shrike (formerly known as the Rufus headed shrike),
Jungle babbler & Warbler (the common garden variety) were also amongst those we spotted.
Moving further on, we met another large group of bird watchers who were members of the Delhi Bird Group. Our group had the advantage of having Mr. Mahendra Vyas who took pains to personally identify and point out the birds to us. On reaching the Okhla
bridge on our return journey, we spotted an Avocet, whose beak was very peculiar. It was long, thin & slightly upturned at the end. Also there was the
Black winged stilt, Sandpiper & Red Shank.
Thus, we ended our sojourn of bird watching & returned home but those hours were well spent as we not only learned about birds but also enjoyed witnessing them in their natural environment.
- SHIVANI THAKUR
( Photograph of the Avocet is from the book 'A photographic guide to Birds of India and Nepal' by Bikram Grewal)