Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary (Jhajjar)
Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary in district Jhajjar is around 15 km from Jhajjar town and is about 3 and a half hours drive from Delhi. The lake and the birds in it are the main attraction of this complex. The Sanctuary is spread over an area of 1074 acres which makes it considerably larger than the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. The peripheral embankment is man made and basically constructed to store the escaped water of Jawaharlal Nehru canal through an escape channel at the time of power failure of Lift Canal System. The Bhindawas lake is being used by the migratory and resident birds of about 250 species. The best time to visit is December-January when you can view the maximum number of birds. The winter timings are 6:30 am - 5 pm and in summer from 6 am - 6 pm. All in all, this is an superb site for birders and bird watching.
The sanctuary is facing a big problem in the form of the weed 'water hyacinth', which has choked large sections of the lake. With the removal of water hyacinth, this sanctuary would attract many more birds. The state government has made some effort to clear this weed from the lake. Another problem is the drying up of this lake in periods of lean rainfall and/or shortage of water in the nearby canal. Haryana Tourism also needs to build a resort here to provide food and lodging to bird watchers who would like to spend the night here.
Blue Peafowl, Gray Francolin, Black Francolin, Graylag Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Bar-headed Goose, Comb Duck, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Great Cormorant, Common Teal, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Red vented Bulbul, Common Pochard, Black-rumped Flameback, Universal Hoopoe, White-throated Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Black Drongo, Pied Cuckoo, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Spotted Owlet, Blue Rock Pigeon, Great Egret, Purple Swamphen, Great Bittern, Eurasian Collared Dove, Mallard, Crested Lark, Jungle Babbler, Ashy Prinia etc are some of the more common birds found in this sanctuary. In addition to the above birds, the antelope Neelgai (Blue Bull) and Jungle Cat can also be seen in this sanctuary.
Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary is an man-made wetland constructed to store the excess waters of the Jawaharlal Nehru canal. The 412 hectares low lying storage area has twelve kilometers of motorable embankments running round the perimeter which is planted with acacias and eucalyptus species.
The large area and the protection provided by the Forest Department makes Bhindawas a safe home for many migratory species in winter. Bhindawas is reminiscent of Bharatpur in some ways. It is much smaller and far more compact, but the species diversity, habitat type and bird-watching strategy is very similar.
Northern Shoveler Eurasian Marsh Harrier
On our visit in February we saw good variety and numbers. Seeing different species in large flocks all sharing one large area is an unique experience - and the embankment makes bird watching very easy. The Bhindawas checklist records 266 bird species but I am sure that more will be added in time with increasing number of experienced birders visiting the area.
Reaching or finding Bhindawas is the real hurdle. This water-bird paradise, located in district Jhajjar in Haryana, is around 15 km from Jhajjar town and is only a 2 hour drive from New Delhi. But unless you know your way, finding Bhindawas is difficult and could be frustrating. There are no prominent road signs and in places the road is at best a track - it is best to go with someone who knows the place. Bhindawas has a Forest Rest House with two rooms and can be booked through DFO, Rohtak or Chief Wildlife Warden of Haryana, Panchkula. Amenities are basic and it is recommended that provisions be carried.
We were accompanied on our visit by Suresh Sharma, the man behind what Bhindawas is today. The lake is his baby and our trip was doubly pleasurable and worthwhile due to his presence. Mr. Sharma is extremely knowledgeable about the birds of Bhindawas and their preferred habitat usage.
Best time to visit is Bhindawas is during December-January though the season stretches from October to March. Sanctuary hours in winter are: 6:30 am - 5 pm and in summer: 6 am - 6 pm.