Trip report: Okhla Bird Sanctuary, 2010-06-20

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <ams@toroid.org>

2010-06-20

To round out an unusually active midsummer of birding, I went to Okhla this morning (with Ramit and Dr. Singal). Once again, it was very hot and humid even early in the morning, and we spent only a short while there. Despite having the beginnings of a flu, I had a pleasant visit.

We walked down the Banyan tree bund and made our way through the dense reeds (and clots of Parthenium) to watchtower #2, then into the fields to the north of the Banyan tree. We did not venture towards the open river today. The track to the watchtower was so overgrown that we were drenched by the time we pushed our way through to the clearing beyond the reeds. Once the monsoons arrive, the track will become unusable.

Bitterns

Okhla in summer is known for its large breeding population of Bitterns, and we saw all three species today. There were many Yellow Bitterns in the reeds and lotus beds and in flight; but we saw few Cinnamon, and only one Black Bittern. All three are assumed to winter further south in India, but they are so secretive outside breeding season that small numbers could conceivably be overlooked in the dense reeds at other times of the year.

Other sightings

We also saw all three weavers in breeding plumage—Baya, Streaked, and Black-breasted. There were also several Red and Scaly-bellied Munias, and an unusual number of Striated Babblers. My favourite Yellow-bellied Prinias were singing incessantly, and I caught a glimpse of a Striated Grassbird diving into a Lotus bed. There were also a few Golden Orioles near the Banyan tree and some Lesser Whistling Teal flying around, but I missed the Pied Cuckoo that Ramit and his father saw earlier in the morning.

We also saw a single brilliant green Blue-cheeked Bee-eater among dozens of drab Little Green.