Friday, February 26, 2010

Walking the Okhla Bird Sanctuary

Lesa let me escape the apartment for a few hours on Sunday morning... Two good friends and I took a short trip over to the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. This under-appreciated public park borders a narrow strip of wetlands between Noida and New Delhi. My friends and I are not serious "birders." We just love the outdoors and are always looking for new places to hike. These hidden gems are often just a few kilometres away from doorstep to discovery!The park really is an interesting place to explore since it is surrounded by a huge urban landscape. It actually reminds me a bit of the John Heinz Wildlife Preserve situated just on the edge of the Philadelphia, PA city-scape - both are oddly peaceful places where wildlife, nature and urban industrialization seemingly coexist...
The Okhla Bird Park was created in 1958 at the same time a large flood control barrage was built to control the water flow of the Yamuna River. It is designed to give both shelter and protection to thousands of migratory birds who pass through New Delhi each winter season.February is a perfect time to explore the park because the weather is still cool here, and the winter morning fog is beginning to improve. There are many hundreds of bird species which can be observed in Okhla between November and March!
The park is filled with wide open marsh land - excellent terrain for quietly approaching wildlife. The walking trails are well maintained despite crossing over large sections of boggy ground.
For local lovers of nature - the Okhla Bird Sanctuary is opened during daylight hours. The fees are Rs50 per vehicle, and Rs30 per Indian Resident, and Rs350 for foreign citizens. Oh, and Oh, and don't forget a water bottle, good camera and your binoculars.

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