It was the first time that glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) were spotted nesting in NCR, perched on nests of twigs a few metres above green waters, left behind by monsoon rains this year.
Glossy ibis, which has long wingspans and curved bills, commonly visit NCR but most of them live in western India. Before last weekend, no birder had spotted them settling down in the region.
“We discovered a nesting colony of glossy ibis at two villages of Jhajjar — one at Chara where there were around 10 nests and another at Jhondhi where there were more than 100 nests,” said Sonu Dalal, an avian expert who was with birders Aditya Singh Chauhan and Dr Krishna when the three spotted the nests.
Asked how they stumbled on the site, Dalal said the group has been visiting areas near ponds, lakes and other water bodies in NCR to record the movement of birds for years.
“On one such walk, we saw colonies of nests. We took pictures and after carefully observing the nests and birds, we noticed that they were glossy ibis nests,” he said.
Native to the country, glossy ibis aren’t picky about their neighbours. They often nest on vegetation around marshes or on the margins of lakes with other bird species.
In Jhajjar, most of the farmland has been submerged under water after intense showers in spurts of the monsoon season this year. Experts believe this may be why the birds chose to stay there, the tree branches quietly hovering over the waters making for an ideal habitat for them.
“This is a resident species for India but there hasn’t been any record of nesting in Delhi-NCR. That’s what makes this sighting very interesting. At this point, it is hard to explain any reasons why the species is nesting in the region and what elements made the environment conducive for them,” said Pankaj Gupta, a member of the Delhi Bird Society.
The population of these birds has seen a rise and fall around the world over decades, though they are ample in numbers (of ‘least concern’, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature). They are also found in Europe, west and south Africa, North America, and flock to Sri Lanka and Australia for warmer climates.