Migratory birds have heralded the onset of winters in Delhi already. Thanks to heavy rains in July and August, popular birding habitats in the city and outskirts are flooded and lush green, inviting small flocks of winter touristy avians. Varieties of sandpipers, redshanks, ruffs, stints and gulls come all the way from Europe and Siberia usually arrive in the city in late September. However, this year, they have already made the Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Najafgarh lake, Basai wetlands and UP’s Dhanauri Kalan and Dadri marshes their homes.Avid birder Pankaj Gupta said, “Two streams of winter migratory birds have been seen in Delhi – seasonal residents which stay the full length of the cold season and passage migrants which fly on to habitats in south India such as Chennai and Pondicherry after putting up here for a few weeks. Surprisingly, both kinds have started streaming in even though its August.”Credit to rain Birdwatcher Wing Commander Vijay Sethi adds, “Credit goes to the monsoon bounty. I was surprised to see these birds at Sultanpur, Dhanauri Kalan and Dadri recently. The beauty is that there is water everywhere. The way it has poured the past few weeks, wetlands are overflowing and green. This has not been so since 2009 and 2010. Unlike the patchy birding season last year, we are expecting a good winter of migratory birds this time.”The most commonly sighted species so far are ‘waders’ including six kinds of sandpipers – Marsh Sandpipers, Green Sandpipers, Wood Sandpipers, Curlew and Dunlin. Then there are Redshanks – Spotted Redshanks, Common Redshanks and Greenshanks – besides Ruffs, Little Stints and Temminck’s Stints. Pankaj points out, “The waders need little standing water. Even few inches do and they can be seen in shallow swamps and paddy fields in places such as Najafgarh, picking on insects and crustaceans with their bills.” Ruffs and Redshanks, apparently, change colour during their breeding season. “Their plumage is a different hue when they just arrive after breeding in Europe. That makes birding even more challenging and interesting,” he points out.advertisementPallas’s Gulls, which are one of the biggest species of seagulls, were spotted on Saturday in the Okhla Bird Sanctuary. Baillon’s crake, which sometimes breeds in parts of Kashmir as well, was seen in Basai wetlands on Sunday. The European Roller, which is a ‘passage migrant’ in Delhi, has made its appearance.The Blue Throat, which, as its name indicates, sports a sparkling bright blue throat, is in Delhi. So is the terrestrial winter migratory bird, Rosy Starling, which has a black head and baby pink-hued body.”By the end of the season, the Rosy Starlings will be all over trees near India Gate and Rajpath chirping away animatedly,” says Pankaj.However, it’s still some time for the winter ducks to arrive. Within 8-10 weeks, Pochards, Common Teals, Tufted Ducks, Gadwalls, Garganeys and the Greylag and Bar-headed Geese will also have checked-in into Delhi. “Their predators, the eagles and harriers will follow,” Pankaj underlines.