Sultanpur (Haryana), Feb 16 (IANS) Migratory birds from Europe and Siberia landed at the Sultanpur National Park in September as usual, but are expected to stay around for longer this year. The reason — unusual snowfall in their homelands. Over 250 species of birds are currently seen in the park, say ornithologists.
The birds, which start returning to their homelands by the third week of February, are likely to remain at the national park – over 35 km from Delhi – for some more time.
Wildlife conservator Satya Bhan said that the migratory birds start returning to their homelands by the third week of February, but this time they are not showing any such sign yet.
Agreed birdwatcher Suresh Kumar. ‘The unusual snowfall in various parts of Europe may have alarmed the seasonal guests,’ Kumar told IANS.
‘The variety of species of migratory birds has decreased, but the number of birds seems to have gone up,’ he said.
‘In the current season, unusually, the number of common teal and whistling teal has dipped from around 6,000 and 150 to 300 and 50 respectively. But numbers of coot (1,000 to 4,000) and shovellor (100 to 800) has increased. That is rare,’ Kumar added.
This season only 47 species of migratory birds, including from Central Asia, were noticed in the Sultanpur park. Last year, the number was 56.
According to retired conservator R.P. Balwan: ‘Birds understand nature better than humans. They leave a place once the temperature starts rising. The temperature is still below average here; so they are expected to stay a bit longer.’
Regarding the decreasing number of migratory species, Balwan said birds live in groups and while returning to their homes they carry a message with them. ‘If the eco system doesn’t suit them or there is inadequate water and food, they do not visit the same place.’
Another bird enthusiast, Prasanna Murty, who was visiting from Mumbai, said: ‘Besides the Sultanpur national park here, the birds had started moving from their transit camps, the Bharatpur bird sanctuary in Rajasthan and Chilika bird sanctuary in Orissa.’
‘When the birds sense fresh heavy snowfall in their native places, they may delay their plans for some time. That’s the reason behind the unusual increase and decrease in the number of migratory birds,’ he said.
Over 250 species of birds can be seen in the park, but most of them are local migratory (inter-state) and locals, Murty added.
‘The park is spread over 400 acres of land. Its specialty is musket and acacia trees. About 40 percent of such trees have already fallen,’ he said.
District Forest Officer (Wild Life) Kulbir Singh told IANS: ‘We learned that the acacia and musket were blocking the way of wetland birds and grassland birds; so we uprooted half such trees.’
The department is now transplanting the ficus species, he added.
(Pradeep Singh can be contacted at email@example.com)