In the middle of the dense concrete jungle of Delhi-NCR, lies the green and lush Okhla Bird Sanctuary. Notified in 1990 but largely underexplored, the little expanse of verdure teeming with rich avian life is spread over 400 hectares. Here's a guide to this birding haven.
Among Barbets and Hornbills
The pleasant environs of the sanctuary resound with birdcall throughout the day and birders can spot common cuckoos, blue-tailed bee-eaters, streaked weavers and Indian golden orioles. Among the forty-odd resident woodland species patrolling the premises are the brown-headed barbets, coppersmith barbets, black drongos, Indian grey hornbills, spotted owlets, striated grassbirds and yellow-bellied prinias. In 2018, the place had seen a record 25,000 birds flocking the shores here, including raptors such as peregrine falcons and serpent eagles.
The Lake In The Sanctuary
Over half of the sanctuary, located at the point where the Yamuna enters Uttar Pradesh, is made up of the still blue waters of a water body. There are trails by the side of the lake, flanked by sheesham, kikar and Ficus trees, where one can experience calm and a blissful solitude. Try finding the sitting decks fashioned from the old boats that would earlier be used to patrol the lake. You could even pack a light lunch and eat it at the bank—but remember not to litter.
Plenty for The Gram
As with any protected habitat, the Okhla Bird Sanctuary is a favourite with photographers and documentary filmmakers from all over the state and the national capital too. While camera charges are applicable based on the type you’re carrying, you can skip the extra charge if you choose to click with your smartphone instead. And there’s plenty to capture, including the colourful vegetation, a bamboo bridge, watchtowers in addition to the winged inhabitants of the sanctuary themselves.
The sanctuary has undergone several additions including washrooms and installation of solar panels. Concrete measures have also been implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including thermal screening, permitting entry only for those wearing masks, and installation of signboards exhorting visitors.
Nearest Metro Station: Okhla Bird Sanctuary on the Pink Line
Entry fee: Indians Rs 30; Foreigners Rs 350
Still camera fee: Indians Rs 500; Foreigners Rs 1,000