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The Seagulls Are Here, Delhi’s Winter Guests Arrive

A gaggle of gulls set against the rising sun on the placid waters of the Yamuna—if you could bear the stench of raw, frothing sewage and industrial chemicals, the soup Delhi serves its river, the sight is magical. The best camera can capture only a fraction of the magic that unfolds towards the end of every October. The arrival of the Siberian Seagulls; flocks of thousands make Yamuna and Delhi’s wetlands their home between October and March. They migrate 6,000 miles to escape the harsh winter in their summer nesting grounds. No visa required. No flight or hotel bookings either. They just come, although old-timers say their numbers have dwindled over the years. And they may be gone forever if we don’t clean up our act—the Yamuna. Until then, Outlook photographer Suresh Kumar Pandey would keep visiting Nigambodh Ghat to catch what he says “the most exhilarating and satisfying morning exercise”. A ride on a dinghy, watch the gulls circle around to catch pieces of bread, roti, grain or namkeen that people offer… and click away. A bird alights on his shoulder sometimes and sings its little birdsong. In human language, it goes something like this: “If you missed the train I'm on/You will know that I am gone/You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.”

October 22, 2020

Flocks of migratory birds at Yamuna Ghat, near Kashmiri Gate, in New Delhi.

Photo by Suresh K. Pandey/Outlook

Flocks of migratory birds at Yamuna Ghat, near Kashmiri Gate, in New Delhi.

Photo by Suresh K. Pandey/Outlook

Flocks of migratory birds at Yamuna Ghat, near Kashmiri Gate, in New Delhi.

Photo by Suresh K. Pandey/Outlook

Migratory birds fly above a man rowing a boat on the Yamuna river near Kashmiri Gate, in New Delhi.

Photo by Suresh K. Pandey/Outlook

Flocks of migratory birds at Yamuna Ghat, near Kashmiri Gate, in New Delhi.

Photo by Suresh K. Pandey/Outlook

Flocks of migratory birds at Yamuna Ghat, near Kashmiri Gate, in New Delhi.

Photo by Suresh K. Pandey/Outlook

Flocks of migratory birds at Yamuna Ghat, near Kashmiri Gate, in New Delhi.

Photo by Suresh K. Pandey/Outlook

Flocks of migratory birds at Yamuna Ghat, near Kashmiri Gate, in New Delhi.

Photo by Suresh K. Pandey/Outlook