Okhla Bird Sanctuary is a lush green riparian stretch of around four kilometers near Okhla barrage in Noida. It is seasonal home to several migratory birds. Both local and migratory birds flock to these wetlands during winters. This gives birding enthusiasts ample opportunity to watch a large variety of birds. Quite naturally, the Okhla bird sanctuary (OBS) attracts a lot of visitors and nature lovers from across India. Also a lot of students’ groups from different schools of NCR make educational trips to these wetlands during winters.
Okhla Bird Sanctuary Location
Okhla Bird Sanctuary is located in-between Okhla barrage on the river Yamuna and Okhla weir. Kalindi Kunj lake lies south to the sanctuary lending a serene scenic surrounding.
In fact, it is right at the entrance of Noida, a point where river Yamuna enters in the state of Uttar Pradesh leaving the territory of Delhi. This wetland spread over 3.5 square kilometres was designated a bird sanctuary in the year 1990 by state government. It is one of the state’s 15 wildlife sanctuaries and one of the 466 IBAs (Important Bird Areas) in India.
Bio Diversity at Okhla Bird Sanctuary
OBS is bestowed with rich bio-diversity. It boasts of a variety of flora and fauna. OBS is not only home to birds but also to aquatic life in the nearby Kalindi Kunj lake. The water body is mainly covered in patches by water hyacinth and water lettuce. Turtles, water snakes, fishes including Rohu, Catla, Mackeral [Bhangur] are found in the area. It truly provides a delightful experience to nature lovers.
More than 188 Plant Species to be Explored
The river bank is flanked by nearly 30 different species of trees like Ficus, Babool, Sheesham, Semal, Subabool, Keekar and some 10 species of shrubs 9 species of herbaceous climbers and 16 species of grasses. This provides excellent hiding, and roosting site for birds.
Hydrilla verticillata, Vallisnaria spiralis, Potamogeton pectinatus, Potamogeton crispus are the common submerged vegetation in the lake besides the floating water hyacinth.
In all, more than 188 species of plants can be explored.
Birds at Okhla Bird Sanctuary
OBS is a prized haven for more than 324 bird species of resident and migratory birds. Nearly 50 per cent of these are migratory birds coming all the way from Tibet, Europe and Siberia for their winter sojourn. Notably, the total bird list includes 2 critically endangered, 9 vulnerable, 7 near threatened and 1 conservation dependent species.
Geese, Teal, Coot, Pin-tail, Spot-Bill, Pochard, Pelican, Shovler, Gadwal,s Mallard and many more.
Local Migratory Birds
Comb duck, Coots, Lesser whistling teal, Northern pintail, Bar headed goose, Common shell duck, Marbled duck, Pond heron, Open billed stork, Grey lag goose, Sarus crane, Egrets, Flamingos, Great white pelican, Cormorants, Cranes, White spoonbill, Black naked stork, Peafowl, Cuckoos, Darters, White breasted kingfisher, Sandpipers, Common teal. Gadwall, Mallard, Spot billed duck, Common pilchard, Red crested pochard, Ruddy shelduck, Wigeon, Painted stork, Tufted duck, Tufted pochard, Lesser adjutant, etc.
Bird Watching at OBS in 2017
The bird population in Okhla Bird Sanctuary has doubled in the past one year as per the findings of the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) 2017. An annual bird survey is conducted every January with the aim of conservation, management and promotion of wetlands and water birds. It helps seek international cooperation as well.
A total of 6,183 birds were counted at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary on January 08, the first day of the census, by 10 volunteers according to a report by Hindustan Times. As many as 53 different species of birds have been sighted much larger than the last year’s figure. Enjoy your bird walk sighting the Graylag Geese, Northern Shoveler, Barheaded Geese and Eurasian Coot commonly found around this time of the year.
If you are lucky you can catch a glimpse of six rare birds spotted so far – Black-headed Ibis, Painted Stork, Oriental Darter, Common Pochard, Black-tailed Godwit and Greater Spotted Eagle. These have been categorized as ‘threatened’ according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list.
Bird Walk Best Way to Explore the Sanctuary
Ideally, a walk around the Okhla Bird Sanctuary is the best way to explore the wetlands. OBS wetland has been a favourite of birdwatchers since ages with documented records of birds in these wetlands dating back to 1943-45 by Major-General H. P. W. Hutson.
OBS provides a great spot for birders coming from nearby areas of Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Faridabad and rest of India too. One often comes across bird watchers armed with binoculars, single-lens telescopes and their huge photographic equipment in this sanctuary. There are watch towers in the area and bamboo bridges that take you into the interiors of the sanctuary. These make it easier for the tourists to have a closer look at their feathered friends, study them close quarters and also get a clean shot.
A motorable road runs across the bird sanctuary. However, locals find it a great place to enjoy long walks (nearly 3 km stretch) in the scenic surroundings. Remember to wear shoes with hard soles and good grip if you are out on a walk in OBS.
Bird Walks by BNHS Conservation Center
The bird walk activities (paid) are planned for the day from time to time that includes, bird identification and bird watching. BNHS Conservation Center pitches in to offer regular Bird Walks under the guidance of seasoned birder, Mr Ishtiyak Ahmed at Okhla Bird Sanctuary in Gautam Buddh Nagar. Conservation Education Centre Delhi is engaged in sensitizing people about the environment. They help you to understand more about the living world and the role you have to play to conserve it.
So all the birding enthusiasts and nature lovers can join these walks or explore ton your own the amazing Avi-faunal diversity of Okhla Bird Sanctuary.
Best Time to Visit Okhla Bird Sanctuary
Migratory birds start coming in from the month of November with the onset of winters, And as soon as the summers set in they start flying back to their homes. Their stay is for nearly 3-4 months from November to March which is also the appropriate time for bird lovers to visit the sanctuary. One can safely say November to March is the best time to visit Okhla Bird Sanctuary.
Timings and Fees
Winter: 7.30am-5pm | Summer: 7am-5.30pm
Entry Fee Per Person (Per Day) Indian – INR 30 | Foreigner- INR 350. Additional charges for different categories of cameras and filming with still, digital, movie cameras starting from INR500.
No Vehicle is allowed inside Okhla Bird Sanctuary
How to Reach Okhla Bird Sanctuary
The nearest Airport is Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi and nearest Railway station is in Delhi too. The sanctuary is approachable from Mathura Road (NH-2) by road via Sarita Vihar going towards Noida. You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city.
Update on Nearest Metro Station
Now, the nearest stations of Delhi Metro is Okhla Bird Sanctuary metro station on Magenta Line.
Concerns Over Dwindling Feathered Visitors at OBS
- The declining bird population visiting the Okhla bird sanctuary has been a cause of concern recently. Experts believe excessive construction in nearby areas, heavy traffic on all sides, poor maintenance of floating water plants are some of the reasons for the dwindling numbers of feathered visitors at the OBS.
- Over 10,000 trees were chopped to clear land for construction of Dalit Prerna Sthal. This has taken away the nesting spots for terrestrial birds already. Birds are peace and quiet-loving species. There is so much noise pollution with heavy traffic on all sides and constant humming from high-tension electric lines that distracts the birds away.
- The heavy sewage inflow at Kalindi Kunj has been a long standing issue with the environmentalists and the government bodies. The industrial and other affluent have turned Yamuna toxic and the river is almost dying. One can see the thick white chemical foam floating on the river while crossing the Kalindi Kunj bridge.
- Migratory birds use Yamuna as a guiding map flying over it and come to nest here seeing the water and creatures beneath. The removal of floating foliage is necessary for these birds to locate the food and make these wetlands as their nesting grounds for the winters. The mission to clean Yamuna will be beneficial for its revival and restoration to its old glory. This will welcome our feathered friends too to the wetlands of Okhla Bird Sanctuary.
- What: Bird Walk at Okhla Bird Sanctuary
- Where: Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Gautam Buddh Nagar;
- Timings: 7.30 am – 5 pm (Winters) 7 am – 5.30 pm (Summers) Entry: INR 30
- Phone: +91 120 2425 989, +91 9911 473 980
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Photo Credits: Social Media page of CEC