Wings of Wonder: Birdwatching At Sirpur Lake In Indore

Sirpur Lake is one of the two well-known Bird and Biodiversity Areas in Indore and is visited by at least 15,000–20,000 migratory birds annually
An Asian Openbill Stork at Sirpur Lake in Indore
An Asian Openbill Stork at Sirpur Lake in IndorePrashant Singh Jat / Shutterstock

Dating back more than 130 years, the manmade lake of Sirpur was built by the ruling Holkars for water supply to Indore. Over time, Sirpur Lake evolved into a recreational spot, attracting locals and tourists alike for its serene ambience and lush surroundings. In the 1990s, Sirpur needed to be in better shape, as the locals would wash clothes and direct their sewage into the lake despite its recognition as an essential lake for birds.

This is when The Nature Volunteers, a not-for-profit NGO, was established to help bring Sirpur back into shape by going inside and fishing out the algae that covered the lake while gathering assistance from government officials and volunteers to spread awareness.

They recognised the lake's ecological significance as a refuge for migratory birds and an essential component of the city's ecosystem.

TNV's sustained efforts over the past decades have led to great significance, as it has documented 189 migratory birds, mainly from Siberia and Mongolia, that fly south in the winter. The most popular are the peregrine falcon, the fastest bird in the world, and the bar-headed geese from the Himalayas and Mongolia.

While describing the experience, Bhalu Mondhe, the President of TNV, said, "One learns about the environment in school, but here while helping clean Sirpur is when I actually understood it." The efforts to conserve Sirpur have been spearheaded by nature and birding enthusiasts who came together to preserve a biodiversity hub for migratory birds.

The diverse habitat includes extensive wetlands, shrub forests, grassland, tall trees, and shallow and deep water areas that are important to maintain biodiversity for the flocks that arrive throughout the year.

The birds come here and stay long enough to breed and nest here as they have abundant food and untouched frondescence, as the least amount of intervention is optimal to take advantage of the stochasticity of biodiversity.

Purple Moorhen, a migratory bird found at Sirpur Lake
Purple Moorhen, a migratory bird found at Sirpur Lake Varsha Survey / Shutterstock

Birds Of A Feather

Sirpur has become a popular site to spot various migratory birds in one place. One can see at least 50 species of birds in two hours while strolling around the lake in any given season, along with their nests and eggs as they come in a flock of thousands, sometimes tens of thousands. It is advised to visit in the winter, from November to February, for the best experience and to spot the most species.

The wetland was designated as a Ramsar site under the Ramsar Convention on January 7, 2022.

The Rules To Follow

For visitors to Sirpur, the most essential rules are to not leave a negative imprint on the site.

Avoid loud noises, music, or screaming.

Do not feed the birds.

Wear proper shoes, a hat or cap for the harsh sun, and watch out for scorpions.

Do not throw any food packets or other waste.

Access to Sirpur is free with no permission or ticket requirement. This is a step taken by TNV as they wished to keep Sirpur from becoming heavily crowded. They aim to inspire people to look into birds and pique their interest and curiosity.

Moreover, for the best experience having some basic general knowledge or research on migratory birds would help visitors to Sirpur appreciate the location most.

An Asian Openbill Stork at Sirpur Lake in Indore
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