Year of compilation: 2004
AVIFAUNA: A total of 265 species of birds have been recorded in the Sanctuary (S. C. Sharma and B. Harvey pers. comm. 2003). In good years, the lake has attracted over 30,000 birds on passage and in winter. Wildfowl are particularly significant and include in recent years, large flocks of Barheaded Goose Anser indicus (up to 830) and Greylag Goose A. anser (up to 1,320). Ducks such as Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Red-crested Pochard Rhodonessa rufina, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca and Baer’s Pochard A. baeri were recorded 2001-2003. The Greater Spotted Aquila clanga and Imperial Eagle A. heliaca winter regularly. Subject to water conditions, large flocks of Great White Pelicans Pelecanus onocrotalus, Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus, Blackheaded Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus, Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia and Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus ruber can be seen. Equally important is the breeding colony of up to 5,000 pairs of herons, egrets and cormorants, which include 20 pairs of Darters Anhinga melanogaster and up to 120 pairs of Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo roosting in the Eucalyptus trees. Two pairs of Sarus Cranes Grus antigone and a pair of Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus are resident and the former have been breeding in recent years. An important recent addition is Haryana’s largest known colony of the Sind Sparrow Passer pyrrhonotus (S. C. Sharma and B. Harvey pers. comm. 2003). Beside fulfilling A1 and A4iii criteria, this site also fulfils A4i (1% population threshold) criteria, as biogeographic populations of many species would be much more than the 1% population threshold determined by the Wetlands International (2002). For example, Wetlands International (2002) estimates that the total population of Bar-headed Goose is between 52,000 and 60,000, and taking average of these numbers, 1% population would be 560. In Bhindawas, more than 800 are seen. Similarly, the nonbreeding population of Greylag Goose (subspecies rubrirostris), which breeds in Central Asia and winters in Central and South Asia, is about 15,000 and 1% is 150. Almost 10% of this population is seen in Bhindawas. Beside the usual ducks and geese found in the Gangetic plains, Bhindawas has a unique distinction that some uncommon (in India) birds were also seen here. For instance, Greater Whitefronted Goose Anser albifrons, rare winter vagrant, was noted by S. C. Sharma and B. Harvey (in litt. 2002). They also reported sighting of a Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus by Nirmal Ghosh. Possibly, these birds are found in many more wetlands but over-looked. The Demoiselle Crane Grus virgo is a rare passage migrant through Bhindawas, while the Common Crane Grus grus winters here in small numbers. One species that is of global concern is the Pallas’s Fish Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus (BirdLife International 2001). Formerly, it was a rare winter visitor to Bhindawas but there is no recent record (S. C. Sharma and H. Harvey in litt. 2003). This species has disappeared from many wetlands, either as a breeding bird (e.g. Keoladeo NP in Rajasthan) or as winter migrant. In Haryana, it is reported only from one site in recent years, i.e. Sultanpur National Park, although historically it had been reported from Ambala, Hissar and other areas (BirdLife International 2001, and the reference therein).
OTHER KEY FAUNA: As the wetland is surrounded by agricultural fields and villages, there is no large mammal of conservation concern. Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus, Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Common Mongoose Herpestes edwardsi, and Black-naped Hare Lepus nigricollis are some of the mammals reported from this Sanctuary.
The major problem in recent years has been the unreliability of the water supply due to failure of the monsoon and excessive extraction for agriculture. The winters of 2001-02 and 2002-03 attracted rather low numbers of wetland birds for that reason. However, water was pumped in from the canal in early 2003, which substantially improved the situation. The wetland was infested with Water Hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes, as a result of which the habitat was fast becoming degraded, but the dry conditions in 2002 enabled clearance of much of this prolific weed. While grass-cutting for fodder probably improves the sward for geese in particular, too many cattle, horses and buffalo compete with the wild Nilgai for grass in dry conditions and the graziers accompanying them also bring in dogs that can cause much disturbance. The surrounding area is heavily cultivated, grazed and for the most part degraded. This results in siltation and pollution by pesticides from agricultural runoff. Being close to Delhi and towns of Haryana, Bhindawas could easily become a major tourist attraction. A walk or drive on the bund circling the Sanctuary could become a major draw, if the road is repaired and watchtowers are strategically placed. However, the most important task is to see that water is supplied to the wetland from the nearby canal, especially during drought years. An interpretation centre needs to be built at the entrance. Much like Sultanpur National Park, which is now a major tourist attraction of Haryana, Bhindawas could be built up into an excellent waterfowl refuge.
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Bhindawas Wildlife Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 16/10/2019.