Ever expanding cities have engulfed much of the natural habitat in their surrounding areas, including the wetlands, despite knowing it well that how disastrous it is. Thus it was a very pleasant surprise for me to find a haven for migratory birds just a couple of furlongs away from my home at the City of Lakes- Udaipur in Rajasthan. Actually, I had already seen this residential area surpassing a few wetlands in the course of its ‘development’ in last couple of decades. Similar things would have definitely happened in all the surrounding areas.
Having shifted base to Delhi almost 28 years back, my visits to my hometown are occasional. Thus it was courtesy a childhood friend that I cam to know about Nela Taalab, even though it was very close to my home. Went with him to this place for the first time couple of years back. Taalab is actually the Hindi term for small lake or a bigger pond.
We went again this year few weeks back. It was a delightful experience, better than the last one. Better actually only in terms of the location we were able to access this year for sightings. I am not sure if it was better in terms of number of birds present this year. That is also because there are more colonies developed around the lake. There are more chances of disturbances to the bird habitat.
The area around has also been so-called ‘developed’ with a bund with lights and walkway often used by morning walkers from nearby areas.
Urban wetlands are quite important, more so when they have developed themselves into habitat for waterfowls and other avian species.
For developers urban wetlands might be a wasteland but ecologically they are the prized lands for urban areas. They control flooding, they are source of drinking water, they are also source of livelihood, they promote human well-being, they improve air quality and they also naturally filter waste from water.
They also add to beauty of a neighbourhood, adding to its charm -provided they are protected and preserved as naturally as possible. We need to include them in urban lands planning, besides reducing water consumption and harmful runoff.
We have tendency to encroach upon the wetlands whenever we are in need of land. This mindless construction leads to degradation, filling and build upon of the wetlands. Needless to say, if they are restored or preserved, they make urban areas more liveable.
It is also essential to include local residents in the wetlands management as that can check the unsocial use of the area, as often anti-social elements find secluded area around wetlands to their liking.
To my pleasant surprise, I was also able to sight some Egyptian Vultures for the first time in my backyard. Egyptian vulture is one among the globally threatened vulture species found in India.
Egyptian vultures have been included in endangered category by the IUCN Red List. These are resident birds but they have been included in endangered list due to their declining population and one reason for this rapid decline is mentioned as ‘presumably resulting from poisoning by the veterinary drug diclofenac.
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It is certainly delightful to capture a bird in such a relaxed manner. But it seemed that tree was favourite place for the raptors. As soon as the vultures left, a kite occupied the place. It perhaps had the best view of the preys in the area.
Than there was a cattle egret watching the proceedings very closely
Besides the pintails and shovelers the lake also had a big colony of common eurasian coot.
However carefree, they might look, but they were quite aware of our moves and took no time to move away from we shutterbugs.
It was a contented walk back home, but also with a worry of how long will this place be able to sustain itself. Lot of efforts will be needed certainly.
P.S. Nela Taalab is just a kilometre and half off the NH 8 on Udaipur-Ahmedabad route in Hiran Magari, Sector 14, Udaipur, Rajasthan. A couple of decades earlier, it was an uninhabited area, but now it is very much the part of the city itself.
DO you have a urban wetland area close to your place? Share your views about it.
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