By- Rahul Deka
Around 150 species of birds have been recorded so far in and around the Deepor Beel birds Sanctuary, including nine threatened species (A. U. Choudhury pers. comm. 2002).
Deepor Beel harbours many species of migratory birds in winter as well as resident birds.Oriental White-backed Gyps bengalensis and Long-billed G. indicus vultures are still seen, mainly in winter, near Deepor Beel. Other vultures found in the region, Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus and Himalayan Griffon G. himalayansis are also seen in nearby areas (K. Lahkar pers. comm. 2003) The Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius, regularly seen in Guwahati city garbage dumps and near slaughter houses, is occasionally seen in Deepor Beel.
However, its cousin, the Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, listed as Vulnerable (BirdLife International 2001) is much more common. Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca is also commonly seen in winter. A total number of 688 birds were counted on January 4th 1991 under the Asian Waterfowl Census (Choudhury 2000).
Ornithologists have recorded about 219 species of birds that can be seen in the Deepor Beel area. This includes over 70 species of migratory birds that come in during the winters. During the rest of the year, you shall find several birds species like the egrets, pond herons, storks, cormorants and even pelicans.
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These are the birds that you will see roam among the water as they prey for fishes. Off the water, you will find several other species such as the red-vented bulbul, sparrows, drongos, hoopoes, woodpeckers and many more.
Among the migratory birds to be frequent to spot are the Siberian crane, barn swallows, Asian open-billed storks, pied wagtails, yellow wagtails and several varieties of ducks and other birds. Because of its closeness to the Rani and Garbhanga reserve forests on the south, the Beel is also frequented by herds of elephants that come for an occasional drink and a bath. I, though, have never witnessed a single elephant during my visits there.
Apart from elephants, other animals that can be found around the Beel area are leopards, wild cats, porcupines, barking deer and spotted deer.The Beel is a staging site on migratory flyways where some of the largest concentrations of aquatic birds in Assam can be seen, especially in winter. Some globally threatened birds like Spotbilled Pelican (Pelicanus philippensis), Lesser and Greater Adjutant Stork (Leptoptilos javanicus and dubius) and Baer’s Pochard (Aythyabaeri) are found here.