Around 100 flamingoes have flocked to the Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary here in what is being perceived as the beginning of the migratory birds' arrival for the season, an official said on Sunday. The assemblage of the birds, natives of Gujarat, at the Keetham Lake within the sanctuary has been delayed this year by a week or so due to a late monsoon, he said.
"This species (flamingo) is not native to this region. The birds' arrival from Gujarat is a visual treat for nature lovers," Anand Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, National Chambal Sanctuary Project, Agra, told PTI.
He said that every year these birds usually start arriving at the sanctuary in the last week of October or the first week of November when the weather is pleasantly cold. But this year their arrival was delayed as the weather was not conducive due to late rains.
"The flamingo is a cold weather bird. Because of late rains this year, there was climatic differentiation and the birds have started coming later than usual," he said.
The official said that approximately 100 flamingo birds had been sighted at the Keetham lake in the past two-three days. Several more are expected to join the flock and give a boost to eco-tourism. In 2018-2019, 400 flamingos had visited the sanctuary, he said.
While in Agra city the real time air quality index -- around 129 on Sunday -- was stated to be 'unhealthy for sensitive groups', the bird sanctuary located on the Mathura-Delhi Highway is a green area with unpolluted air that provides a safe and natural environment for the birds to spend the winter months.
“Pollution, specially air pollution, is a dominant issue nowadays. However, arrival of migratory birds like the flamingo at Soor Sarovar shows that air in this green lung of Agra is pure and can sustain the region's flora and fauna,” Kumar said.
The 15-acre bird sanctuary consists of an artificial freshwater wetland called the Keetham lake flanked by the Yamuna on its northern periphery. It was declared a sanctuary in 1991 after it was observed that a large number of migratory birds visited the area.
Over 165 species visit the wetland every year. Of the 42 species of the Family Anatidae from the Indian subcontinent, 15 species have been sighted.
These include the bar-headed goose, pintail, common teal and spot-billed duck.
Apart from the Anatidae species, egrets, cormorant, sarus crane, storks and white ibis also seasonally migrate here. The sanctuary has 300 species of plants, including 22 aquatic plants. In fact, 116 species of plants found here have medicinal value. Mammals like the hog deer, hyena, Indian pangolin also thrive here.