Pong Dam Sanctuary In Himachal Shelters Record Migratory Birds

Census preliminary count put bird number at 144 thousand

Shimla: With hardly any migratory birds being sighted at the famed Bharatpur sanctuary, it’s at Ramsar Site in Pong Dam bird sanctuary where record numbers of these birds have been counted in three day census, which had participants from civil society and ornithologists.

Sanjeeva Pandey, senior conservator who headed the special census told My Himachal, “preliminary reports put the bird count at about 1.44 lakh birds, which is much more than the earlier record of around 1 lakh birds sighted in the sanctuary.”

He said, “a trip to Haripur Dhar, where the reservoir backwaters tail end is, caught all birds watchers by surprise for there were ‘40,000 birds at glance’ out there.”

“It was a record flock tufted and common porchard birds which anyone of us had ever seen spread out over a two kilometer stretch. A flight by some of them was enough to blacken the sky,” he added.

Renowned wild life filmmaker Mike Pandey, who was there for the bird count, did capture the moments on film, said Sanjeeva.

The annual three day bird census in association with Bombay Natural History Society and WWF – India also had representatives from Wildlife Protections Society of India, Wildlife Institute of India and volunteers from civil society was done between Jan 15th to 17th.

Backwaters of Pong Dam reservoir is one of the largest man-made wetlands in the foothills of the Himalayas that has become a favourite of many migratory birds as it lies directly in their southward flight course. On last count as many as 220 bird species belonging to 54 families have been recorded.

Even before the dam came up, the area was rich in bird variety. Back in 1920, a British police officer counted as many as 27 bird species in Kangra region, enabling the regions to be designated as a protected area.

Besides Bharatpur Sanctuary, it is the only place in the country where the red-necked grebe descends every year. Among the migratory birds sighted in the wetland sanctuary include Bar Headed Geese, Cormorants, Gulls, Grey Crested Grebe, Tufted Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Pintail, Shoveller, Wigeon, Ruddy Shelduck, Gadwall and Black Storks.

Some of the resident birds sighted in the area are Indian Moorhen, Purple Moorhen, Little Grebe, Grey Heron, Whitebreasted Water hen, Indian Sarus Crane, Spot Billed Duck, Painted Stork, Darter, Redwattled Lapwing and White Breasted Kingfisher.

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