Millennium Post

68% rise in feathered guests arrival at Pong Dam lake

Shimla: Himachal's popular wetland –Pong Dam has shown a significant 68 per cent increase in the arrival of the winter migratory birds, revealed annual bird census done jointly by the state's wildlife department and organisations like Birds of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Bird Club, International Wetland and Wildlife Institute Of India(WII).

The population of flagship species of Pong Lake i.e Bar-headed Geese have shown 68 per cent increase from last year 2018-19 was the total count was 29,443 ,which has increased to 49,496 Bar-headed Geese this year.

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, said Dr Savita, state's Principal Chief Conservator of forests and Chief wildlife warden.

The census revealed that 1,16 lakh birds of 114 different species have been recorded at Pong Dam Lake this year, that include 1,04,032 migratory water fowls of 60 species, 10,377 resident water birds of 30 species and 1292 birds of 24 other local species.

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.

Dr Savita said, "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 visited 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.

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