Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times New Delhi, August 28, 2014
Birdwatchers in Delhi are chirping with delight at the rare sight of an oriental darter nesting colony at the Okhla Sanctuary, the first time the bird has built a colony in this part of Asia, say experts.
The darter, also called the snake bird because of its long snake-like neck that is the only visible part of its body when it swims underwater, has been sighted in Delhi earlier, but a nesting colony is unusual.
"It has never happened before. So far, 14 of these birds have been seen at the sanctuary," said ecologist TK Roy. "While there is a decline in bird diversity and population, spotting of threatened bird species is a pleasant surprise."
The 400-hectare sanctuary on the Delhi-Noida border has a large lake - created by the construction of a barrage over the Yamuna river - which serves as a bird habitat, with 330 species recorded so far.
The darter presents a fascinating sight when it spears a fish and tosses it in the air before swallowing it. The bird, one among 173 listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as threatened bird species in the Indian sub-continent, is also one of two existing darter species in Asia.