Flocking to the wetlands of Uttar Pradesh
Come winter, India’s bird sanctuaries become birdwatchers’ paradise. Sanjay Kumar, IAS, takes us on a migratory birds’ exploration to a sanctuary, off lower Ganga canal.
The Lakh-Bahosi Bird Sanctuary is formed by two disjoint ox-bow lakes near the village of Bahosi in district Kannauj. The spot is 40 km from district headquarter and 20 km from the Taligram Exit on the newly built Agra-Lucknow Expressway. The 600 hectare of wetlands is located near the Lower Ganga canal, through which the water in the shallow wetlands gets replenished, especially after lean monsoon season. Though located next to dense, bustling village population, the wetlands have been attracting migratory birds in large numbers, year after year. The bird sanctuary, one of the finest and adequately protected in the State of Uttar Pradesh, attracts more than 50,000 birds during the winter months of December to early March. The sanctuary plays host to more than 250 species of birds including four varieties of Pochards (Red crested, Ferruginous, Tufted, Common), Northen Shovelers, Northern Pintails, Gadwalls, Crested Grebe, Common teals, Coots, Garganey, Grey Leg Goose, Bar Headed Goose, Rosy Pelicans, Red and Green Shank, varieties of Sandpipers and Stints etc. The Bar Headed Goose and Pelicans arrive the last in early January. Only Lakh Bahosi, Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary (Agra district) and Patna Bird Sanctuary (Mainpuri district) in the state of Uttar Pradesh attract flocks of Pelicans. Amongst the Raptors, Greater Spotted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Tawny Eagle, Black-winged Kite, Shikra, and Osprey are easily spotted here. There are more than 10 pairs of Sarus crane breeding in the area around the wetlands and farms and lowland around the canal. During early summer and monsoon, large flocks of Painted Stork and Asian Openbill Stork can be spotted along with Spot-billed Ducks, Comb Ducks, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Jacanas, Purple Moorhens, Whistling Teals etc. Few pairs of Black-necked Stork too are reported breeding in the area.
In the area around the wetlands, a large population of Blue Bulls and Jackals roam freely in the villages. There is a great degree of anthropogenic pressure on the sanctuary as it is an extremely fertile habitat, encroaching it for cultivation purpose (especially during Kharif season). Illegal fishing, dumping of household liquid and solid waste and growth of Ipomea are few of the most important challenges facing the sanctuary.
Cover Pic: The two disjointed wetlands has very good fall of migratory birds as compared to many others, in year when rains were 50% of normal.
Read also: A Pink Affair to Protect
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