Patna water body attracts winged visitors from far-off lands

Hundreds of native and migratory birds are flocking the reservoir in Bihar capital Patna nowadays, making nature lovers and birdwatchers make a beeline to see the winged visitors that fly in from places as far as Siberia, Europe, and even Africa.

The water body spread over 7 acres was opened to schoolchildren from January 4, enabling the ebullient youngsters to watch with interest rafts of Gedwall, Northern Shoveller, Lesser Whisling Duck, Comb Duck, Lalsar or Red-crested Pochard, Moorhen, Cormorant and Pintail Duck.

Forest officials said that 73 species of trees, mostly with medicinal value, have been planted around the water body to give a forest-like feel to the ambience, which is sure to warm the hearts of nature lovers and also provide roosting places for the avian fauna.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited the pond and spent some time watching the birds through binoculars.

The water body, which was virtually moribund not long ago — was earlier used to rear fishes, but has now been developed from environmental protection point of view.

Forest Officer Arvind Kumar Sharma said that a 12-foot wide pathway has been built around the water body to facilitate the movement of visitors and plans are afoot to develop the area further.

Though the birds start arriving at the spot from August-September onwards, the influx increases around December. However, this year, the arrival of the avian guests increased in November itself due to heavy snowfall in areas inhabited by migratory birds.

“Not only from Siberia, birds arrive here from as far as Europe and Africa,” said forest officials.

Arvind Kumar Mishra, founder of Mandar Nature Club at Bhagalpur and an avian expert, said that birds did not arrive at the water body till a year ago, but began to flock the spot in their hundreds after the Forest Department developed it virtually as a bird paradise.

“The migratory birds go to hotter climes in December, but they have now started coming here in November due to heavy snowfall in their original habitats and consequent shortage of food. During breeding season, all these migratory birds return to their native lands,” he said.