A rare sighting of a Cinereous Vulture, a massive bird classified as “near threatened”, has been made at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in Delhi. This is the first time the bird has been spotted in the capital city in over five decades.
The Cinereous Vulture is a winter migrant that travels thousands of kilometers from Europe towards western India, including Rajasthan and Gujarat. However, it very rarely ventures into Delhi.
Surya Prakash, a seasoned birder, spotted the vulture on Saturday. He said it was extremely rare for the bird to be seen in the capital. The last confirmed sighting was in June 1969.
Prakash believes the bird might be using Delhi as a stopover before continuing its journey towards Rajasthan.
The Cinereous Vulture is a large, dark brown bird with broad wings and a slightly wedged tail. It is an altitudinal migrant, meaning it migrates from higher to lower altitudes during winter.
Prakash spotted the bird flying over the Neeli Jheel, where other vultures have also been seen in the past. In January 2022, a large group of Egyptian vultures was spotted over the lake.
Prakash noted that the bird migrates from Spain and other parts of Europe to western India every year to escape the harsh winter.
Birder Sudhir Vyas confirmed the significance of this sighting. He said Cinereous Vultures were once uncommon winter visitors to Delhi but haven’t been seen since 1969.
Birder Kanwar B Singh said the vulture is a regular winter visitor in Rajasthan and can be frequently spotted in Bharatpur and Alwar. He believes the bird might have flown to Delhi in search of food.
While the reason for this rare sighting is unclear, it is a positive development for bird enthusiasts and conservationists alike. The Cinereous Vulture is a threatened species, and its presence in Delhi indicates that conservation efforts may be starting to pay off.