AWC records sharp decrease in water birds at Surajpur wetland
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AWC records sharp decrease in water birds at Surajpur wetland

This year, the total number of birds sharply decreased from 3,107 to 1,453 in 2021.

AWC records sharp decrease in water birds at Surajpur wetland

The Asian Waterbird Census (AWC), an annual count of waterbirds that is underway in parts of Delhi-NCR, has revealed a sharp decrease, about 50%, in the population of the water birds at Surajpur Reserve Forest,
Greater Noida as compared to previous years. The census was carried out on January 20, 2022.

This year, the total number of birds sharply decreased to 1,453 when campared to 3,107  figure recorded in 2021.  The count of bird species has partially increased to 46 water from 40 species in 2021. Among these, 21 are resident species and 25 are migratory species which includes 5 species of IUCN Red-listed threatened birds.

Northern Pintail
Credits: TK Roy

On this subject TK Roy, Ecologist, and AWC Delhi coordinator, Wetlands International South Asia says, "Climate change makes the habitat unfavourable for birds. Unexpected recent winter rainfall due to the high water level of the wetland have made several species disappear and resulted in a sharp decline in existing species. In the first week of January last year, the total number was higher than 3,500."

Among the total recorded population of 1,453, several birds recorded a sharp decrease in numbers. Black-tailed Godwit, a threatened species that migrates from North Asia had only 2 individuals present this time which is way down from from 1,224 last year. Other speices to show reduced presence were Greylag Goose (116 from 417 last year), and Common Teal (38 from 382 last year.)

Greylag Geese
Credits: TK Roy

A few birds also saw an increase in numbers including Northern Shoveler 480 from 290 last year and Bar-headed Geese (142 from 60) last year. The IUCN Red-listed Threatened Species recorded are Black-necked Stork (Resident species), Black-tailed Godwit (Winter migratory species), Common Pochard (Winter migratory species), Woolly-necked Stork (Indian migratory species), and Greater Spotted Eagle (Winter migratory species).

Common Pochard 
Credits: TK Roy

Pied Avocet, Ruddy Shelduck, Glossy Ibis, Black-headed Gull, Painted Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, Smaller wader species among others were not seen this year.

Roy adds, "Water pollution is another major reason for the disappearance of species. Pollution of the Yamuna in Delhi itself is a big exclusive issue which is the most polluted holy river in the country. The misuse/overuse of its natural resources, illegal encroachment of its drying riverbanks & floodplains and dumping of the residue of religious festivities is degrading it causing it to become an unsustainable wetland for humans and aquatic biodiversity."