Avian Oasis in a Concrete Jungle: Chakkarpur-Wazirabad Bundh
In the month of March 2021, we had brought to you a conversation with Latika Thukral of iamgurgaon on their inspiring work on restoring degraded landscapes in Gurgaon. The Chakkarpur-Wazirabad Bundh is one such project, and has provided immense respite to the residents of Gurgaon as it is quickly turning into a biodiverse haven. For Charvi Singh, our contributor, it served as her foray into the world of birding. She shares with us some of her favourite avian memories from here, captured by her from behind the camera.
It’s safe to say I have never before spent this much time within the four walls of a home I’ve lived in for over 20 years. Since the early 2000s when driving to Jaipur was the only reason most people “visited” Gurgaon. So as lockdown restrictions began to ease summer of 2020, tired of being cooped up indoors, my family and I started to frequent the Chakkarpur-Wazirabad Bundh. We knew zilch about birds at this point – seriously, I’d basically only seen pigeons and crows – but a certain acrobatic performer caught our eye. A few days later, a family friend and volunteer at iamgurgaon ID-ed it for us as a Black Drongo, serving as our gateway into the wonderful world of birding.
Come rain or sunshine, there are some feathered friends you are pretty much guaranteed to see here. A flock of trusty House Sparrows (left), a pair of Laughing Doves (middle), and the ultimate songster, the Oriental Magpie Robin (right).
Look closer, and you’ll notice a flash of color whiz past you and to the closest nectar bar. Almost butterfly sized, Purple Sunbirds can typically be seen flitting from flower to flower and are often confused with the more popularly known Hummingbirds that are not found in the Indian subcontinent. A slightly misleading name since only the male assumes a bright purple iridescence in breeding season, pictured here is a male in eclipse plumage. T-k-t-k-t-k che-wing, che-wing che-wing!
Birdwatching is as much about sounds as sights, and the Coppersmith Barbet is often seen before it’s heard. Appropriately named for its call that sounds like a coppersmith striking metal with a hammer, several nest each year on the Bundh, meaning you get to witness the cutest sights as baby Barbets start to explore the world outside their cavity nests. Kuk-kuk-kuk!
One of my personal favourites is the Spotted Owlet, that returns to the Bundh every spring to nest in the famous peepal tree. They will adorably bob their heads up and down, looking at you as curiously as you’re looking at them. Ready to hop back into their homes at any sign of trouble, they were born ready for 2020. Chirurr-chirurr-chirurr!
Come winter and you’ll start to see the migratory birds appear. Hardly larger than the palm of your hand, these visitors come to bask in Delhi’s winter sunshine, all the way from Europe and Central Asia. In pictures is the Black Redstart, male (top) and female (bottom), easy to identify by the way they move their tails up and down rapidly. We’ve also been lucky to spot some relative rarities for Delhi NCR like the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher and Verditer Flycatcher at the Bundh.
Others are residents but still harder to spot thanks to their flawless camouflage. The Grey Francolin (top) usually sprints away at Schumacher speed as soon as you’re in the vicinity. They get bolder in breeding season like this eco-conscious one that came to drop off his recycling at the Samadhan Hub. The Indian Thick-knee (bottom) returns here annually to breed. Their family of 3 can be found in the open meadow near American Excelsior School, sitting absolutely still, a true test for your 20-20 vision. Kli kli kli!