Pong Wetland (Himachal Pradesh): The Whooper (pronounced hooper) swan, a long distance migratory bird from subarctic Eurasia has been sighted and photographed at the Pong lake by Devinder Singh Dhadwal, an Assistant Conservator of Forests and accomplished ornithologist, on Tuesday, 29th Jan 2013.
The last record of this bird, shot on the river Beas is by EH Aitken in 1900. The Whooper swan was earlier recorded in Notes on the Swans of India by AO Hume in 1878.
Like Sauras cranes, the Whooper Swans are known to pair for life
The reappearance of this swan on the Beas at the Pong wetland after more than a century bodes well for this Ramsar site as a growing favourite among migratory birds over the years.
This is the 418th bird species to be recorded at the Pong lake; a significant number considering that the entire known bird diversity for the Indian sub-continent is around 1250 species.
The Whooper swan is one of the heaviest flying birds with an average body weight of 9.8–11.4 kg for males and 8.2–9.2 kg for females.
Because their weight cannot be supported by their legs for long periods, they require large bodies of water and spend much of their time swimming and feeding.
The sighting of a pair of Whooper Swans at Pong in the run up to the annual bird count being conducted at the wetland on January 31 and February 1, is being viewed as a “reward” for Devindra Dhadwal who has spent years as Range Officer here and with painstaking research been able to publish a detailed photographic book titled Wild Wings – Pong and its Birds in 2011.
Incidentally, the Whooper Swan is the national bird of Finland and is featured on the Finnish 1 Euro coin.
Photo by Devinder Singh Dhadwal