Birders have a reason to cheer. The first day of Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2019 showed an increase in the bird count from last year and almost double that of 2017.
Against 6,183 birds and 53 species recorded in 2017, 12,212 birds in 63 different species have been sited at Okhla Bird Sanctuary on Saturday, including six IUCN ‘red-listed’ threatened species.
AWC 2019 will be carried out at seven important wetlands across the national capital region, with the Okhla sanctuary as the starting point. The other locations are the Yamuna, Najafgarh jheel and drain, Sultanpur National Park, National Zoological Park, Surajpur wetlands and Sanjay Lake.
The count at Okhla has been steadily on the rise, both in terms of the overall numbers and the species being spotted. Despite NCR seeing migratory birds coming late this year, birders say this rise is a welcome sign. “We have seen a slight increase from last year with 33 resident and 30 migratory species. We recorded good numbers of Northern shovelers, black-headed gulls and Eurasian coot,” said T K Roy, Delhi coordinator for AWC.
The increase in the number of Northern shovellers has been particularly high, from 714 in 2016 to 3,843 last year. This year, Roy says, the sighting of an Egyptian vulture has been significant. “Though not a waterbird, it is in the second mostthreatened species list under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).”
AWC, the largest such census in Asia, is organised by Wetlands International, a global organisation in 27 other countries simultaneously. The NCR census will be continue till January 20.
The data collected each year is shared by Wetlands International with global conservation organisations such as IUCN and Ramsar Convention, while state coordinators share data with local wildlife departments to ensure conservation and sustainable management of wetlands in the region.