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Birders flock to Noida wetland to catch glimpse of bristled grassbird

The bristled grassbird is a small bird seen during the breeding season in the monsoon, between May-June and September.

Updated: Jul 18, 2018 12:15:11

By Snehil Sinha

The bristled grassbird is a small bird, about 20 centimetres in size, endemic to India. (Jaswinder Waraich / HT Photo)

About 30 birders from across Delhi-NCR visited the Surajpur wetlands in Greater Noida on Sunday to catch a glimpse of the bristled grassbird — a shy bird that flies here during breeding season every year.

The bristled grassbird is a small bird, about 20 centimetres in size, endemic to India. It is a resident of the peninsular area, mostly the south and east of the country. The bird is usually skittish and hides in tall grasses, but is seen during the breeding season in the monsoon, between May-June and September. It visits northern India to breed along the riverine plains south of the Himalayas, according to birders.

“This bird is not easily spotted, except during the breeding season. It flies high, calls out and spreads its wings — a mating ritual display. Not much is known about the bird, adding to its appeal,” KB Singh, founder of Delhi Bird Group, said.

He said that the bristled grassbird was first spotted in Delhi-NCR at the Surajpur wetlands in 2010. Since then it has been occasionally spotted in Okhla, Dadri and the Sultanpur bird sanctuary. However, five or six pairs are regularly seen every year only around Surajpur.



The bristled grassbird was first spotted in Delhi-NCR at the Surajpur wetlands in 2010. Since then it has been occasionally spotted in Okhla, Dadri and the Sultanpur bird sanctuary. ( Jaswinder Waraich / HT Photo )

“It is like our annual pilgrimage now — to go looking for this bird during the monsoon. Its flight is beautiful — but cannot be easily spotted. Even this Sunday, it was cloudy and we couldn’t spot it near the first grassland. We only saw it once we walked closer to the second grassland patch,” Jaswinder Waraich, a birdwatcher from Noida, said.

Birders said that it seemed like two pairs were breeding in the area, which is lesser than the five or six pairs seen every year. They said it could be due to the dense thicket of trees planted recently near the grassland.

“This bird prefers grasslands and may not accept changes in its habitat. The recent plantation of trees in the area alters the character of the grassland and could be a reason for the birds moving elsewhere,” Waraich said.

Birdwatchers said that construction activity also seemed to have increased in the area, which may be unhealthy even for other birds (they could choose to nest elsewhere).

“We saw a few earthmovers around the boundary, indicating that there was construction in the area. This is unhealthy for the local ecology and may not be pleasant for several birds that are regular visitors here,” Singh said.

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 12:15:05

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