Once, the Okhla bird sanctuary, which is in fringe of the national capital Delhi, happened to be the place, found ideal by the migratory birds who fly thousands of kilometres, across oceans and seas to reach out the Indian sub-continent. Though, being residing in Delhi since last 2yrs, I couldn’t found a space to visit this sanctuary, only until last weekend. I, along with two of my friend photographers, went to this scenic place early morning with high hopes of spotting several guest birds around. We were the first ones to get the entry at 6:30 (though official timings in winter is 7:00 AM). It’s a good pavement done by the vast Yamuna bank as a trail. Mesmerized by the flock of hundreds of gulls flying far in middle of the river, separated by thin and thick layers of fog, I considered myself to be with extreme luck photographing them for quite a time, only when I realized, people in groups jogging and cycling on the trail. I couldn’t avoid making it a point, because one cannot expect a close look of a bird, when so much of human thumping is around, and they would always choose to be far from the bank, and this is exactly what was happening then. Since the trail is allowed for joggers, cyclists, and even vehicles, I can’t complain them bumping around with a lot of noise, hardly caring about the guest birds around.
After 2hrs approx. there was no stop to vehicles honking over the road, going along with the sanctuary peripheral. Close your eyes, and you’ll feel yourself in middle of a busy crossroad. This surely depressed me to an extent, but I was still hopeful to come across some close look of birds, which I finally got, and it was a gorgeous looking Rudy Shellduck. I had to crawl down along with my lens, and wait patiently, staying still as a rock, to invite them to a close distance. I was enjoying them, to the best, only when the ducks suddenly flew away again with a stroke. I knew in my mind what should have happened, before I turned back with a disappointed effect, and saw a group of people carelessly stepping down towards the mud bank from the trail. I lost my patience, when one of them asked me do the birds come close or not (in a loud voice, which made some more of them fly away, which were still being bold enough to stay around). I chose the best option, and got disappeared from there.
Good part was, that such people didn’t care to go far deep, and after half of the trail, I found some peace where I had a good time with the guest wingers. While walking back on the trail in evening, I was thoughtful if I had enough from this place? Did it meet my expectations? Interestingly, I couldn’t find any concrete answer to this. The matter of the fact is that this marshland, is not seen as a bird sanctuary, but a kind of nature trail. In fact, a nature trail of a different kind, where vehicles are also allowed. Hundreds of migratory birds, use to make a halt at this place twice a year, which was, a matter of pride of course for the human inhabitants, that the winged guests make a good halt in Okhla after being tired of flying so long, but unfortunately, the pride seem to be diminishing in light of continuous constructions carried on around the buffer zone of the sanctuary, uncontrolled entries, vehicles inside and out of the sanctuary etc. Per environmentalists, number of birds had shown a significant decrease in recent years, and nothing makes me not to believe (and there’s no point of being so optimistic), that the numbers would further decrease by fold, year after year, given the amount of advancement we had made over addressing environmental issues until date.