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Sur Sarovar, more popularly known as Keetham Lake, was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1991, with an area of approximately 400 ha. It is about 17 km from Agra. The lake is owned by the Irrigation Department. Earlier, drinking water was supplied to Agra from Keetham Lake, but now it is piped to the Mathura Refinery, about 24 km away. The river Jamuna flows about 500 m to the northeast. Keetham Lake was named Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary, after the great blind poet Surdas, who lived nearby nearly 500 years ago. The waterbody covers 300 ha and the surrounding buffer zone 400 ha. We have considered the whole waterbody and some surrounding areas as an IBA. Water Hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes covers much of the open waterbody. Many grasses and Ipomoea species cover the banks. Large trees are found on the islands in the lake, which support the heronry. The surrounding area is overgrown with Prosopis chilensis.
AVIFAUNA: Sur Sarovar Sanctuary supports more than 30,000 waterbirds and a large heronry of Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, egrets Egretta spp. and cormorants Phalacrocorax spp., but infestation of Water Hyacinth in the lake and the drainage system has badly affected the foraging grounds of these birds. During a brief survey of the site in January 1991, 52 species were seen in this Sanctuary (Rahmani and Arora 1991). Most of the common waterfowl of north India are found in this Sanctuary, namely Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Wigeon A. penelope, Northern Shoveler A. clypeata, Gadwal A.strepera, Spotbilled Duck A. poecilorhyncha and Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos. Four species of storks are found here: Painted Mycteria leucocephala, Openbill Anastomus oscitans, Black-necked Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus and Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus. Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia, White Ibis Threskiornis melanocephala, four species of egrets, two species of herons, and three species of cormorants can easily be seen from the road around the reservoir. According to forest officials, pelicans (possibly Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus) are also seen sometimes. Earlier, fishermen used to chase them away, but since the declaration of the sanctuary, the birds are left undisturbed. Earlier, very few ‘heronry’ species used to breed in Sur Sarovar, but in 1990, large numbers of egrets, cormorants, herons, Eurasian Spoonbills and White Ibis started nesting on the Prosopis trees present on the islands and flooded areas. There could have been more than 2,000 nests. Since then, regular breeding is seen but the number of nests fluctuates, depending upon the water conditions and food availability in the area. The globally threatened Sarus Crane Grus antigone is also seen, but it is not known whether it breeds in the Sanctuary or not. A few Greater Spotted Eagles Aquila clanga are seen frequently.
OTHER KEY FAUNA: Golden Jackal Canis aureus, Jungle Cat Felis chaus and Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus are found in the surrounding forests.
Hyena Hyaena hyaena is also reported, but rarely seen. There is no mammal or reptile species of high conservation concern in the area.
Key contributors: Asad R. Rahmani and K. S. Gopi Sundar.
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Sur Sarovar Bird Sanctuary. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 25/06/2022.