Dharamshala: Birdwatchers at the Pong Dam Annual Waterfowl Estimation exercise, done over two days on 30th & 31th Jan, sighted more bird species this year than last year and were in for a treat in estimating a population of 115701 birds, which was marginally higher than last winter.
Dr Savita, Chief Wild Life Warden who supervised the count said that the experts drawn from the bird groups of Birds of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Bird Club, International Wetland, Dharamshala Bird Club and many wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers, volunteers and officers from Wildlife Institute Of India (WII) along with officers from Himachal Pradesh Forest Department counted a total of 104032 migratory water fowls of 60 Species, 10377 resident water birds of 30 species and 1292 birds of 24 other local species.
“The Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary was divided into 26 Sections and about 150 persons participated in Annual Waterfowl Estimation,” said Dr Savita
She added that Dominant species are Bar Headed Geese (49496), Northern Pintails (12881), Eurasian Coots(10860), Common Teals(7334), Common Pochards (3988), Northern Shoveler (2818), Great Cormorants(2121),Eurasian Wigeons(1350), Eurasian Wigeon(1350), and Ruddy Shelducks(1028) have been noticed this year.
Other uncommon bird species recorded in the lake are Common Shelducks (75),Northern Lapwings(32), Common Ringed Plover(20) , Pied Avocets(09), Ospreys(05), Black-bellied Terns(05), Common Mergansers(04), Sarus Cranes (02),Eurasian Curlews(02),White-tailed Lapwings(01), Water Pipits(01), Lesser White-fronted Goose(01), and Buff-bellied Pipit(01).
A few noticeable species are Great Crested Grebes, Red Crested Pochards, Ferruginous Pochards, Mallards, Tufted Ducks, Eurasian Spoonbills, Curlew Sandpipers and many other species of Larks & Pipits.
“Total population of Birds as well as species of birds have shown an increase over last year. Population has shown marginal increase from 115229 to 115701 where as species have increased from 103 to 114. No of migratory water dependent species as well as resident water dependent species have also show an increase over the last year from 58 to 60 species and 29 to 30 species respectively. The population of Flagship Species of Pong Lake ,Bar-headed Geese have shown 68% increase from last year (2018-19) as the total count was 29443 as compared 49496 Bar-headed Geese this year,” she said.
Population of birds and number of species is expected to increase in coming days during return journey to their breeding grounds as birds from North-West, Central and South India will start arriving at Pong Lake.
Most of these birds migrate from their breeding places in Trans-Himalayan region in Tibet, Central Asia, Russia and Siberia. Over the last few years , Pong Dam Lake also a Ramsar site, has become an ideal destination for winter sojourn for many species of Migratory birds.
In general, 425 Species of Birds have been known to occur in Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary that includes terrestrial as well as summer migrant birds which could be primarily attributed to the varied habitats, food availability, intervention done and protection extended by the staff of wildlife wing and active involvement of local communities