A flock of Greater flamingos gracefully descends upon the tranquil water, flutters its wings and sail on. A small, brown and white wader with a slightly up curved bill, the bird has traveled 3500 kms from its nesting ground in Central Europe to spend the winter at Nalsarovar in Gujarat! Clouds upon clouds of more than 200 types of birds land in this lake having made an equally long journey to escape the harsh winter of their nesting areas. Here they find food and warmth. These migrant birds visit Nalsarovar every year from November to February. During these four months water is plentiful and fish, insects and aquatic plants abound in the lake - an ideal environment for the birds. Nalsarovar at this time is a birdwatcher's delight.
When food and water are scarce in Nalsarovar, some birds go away for short periods to nearby areas and return to the lake after monsoon to a feast of fish and insects. These are the resident birds. The lake - Nalsarovar - and the wetlands around it were declared a bird sanctuary in 1969. Spread over 120 sq.kms, the lake and the extensive reed beds and marshes are an ideal habitat for aquatic plants and animals. The lake attracts a large variety of birds like plovers, sandpipers and stints.
There are 360-odd islets in the lake. Most of them lie exposed when the water level is low. The lake gets filled with water that drains from the adjoining Surendranagar and Ahmedabad districts in the monsoon. With this fresh water inflow, brackishness in the lake is reduced considerably.
The migratory birds arrive in vast numbers, homing in on the lake. There are flocks of pelicans, flamingoes, ducks, demoiselle cranes, common cranes, and several waders occupying huge patches of the lake during the season. With the approaching summer the lake water dries up making it brackish, and the fish and other insect life becomes scarce. The migratory birds and most of the resident birds, such as cormorants, grebes and openbill storks, begin to leave by April.
The nal region is a low-lying area between the plains of the central Gujarat and eastern Saurashtra. Owing to its low lying topography, it is believed to represent a filled up sea link, that previously existed between the little Rann in the north and the Gulf of Khambat in the south. Remnants of this sea are thought to be represented by the Nalsarovar.
FLORA AND FAUNA
The most prevalent among the aquatic floral species are Typha angustata (Gha-bajariyu), Bakheda, Gondaro, Dilo, Chigo, Thek, Kando etc. Among the algae, Chara, which covers its entire bottom left unoccupied by the weeds, is most prominent. There are 48 algal species mainly of Cynophyceae, Chlorophyceae, Bacillanophyceae and Euglinophyceae recorded from Nalsarovar.
Among the tree species found in surrounding area the most abundant are Salvadora and Prosopis. The Acacia nilotica trees growing in the adjoining areas of Nal and in the surrounding villages, are preferred by the heronry birds for nesting and breeding. In all total 74 flowering species including trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses have been recorded from the region.