Population of migratory birds increased in pong dam wetland

Jan 31, 2019 17:41 | Feature & Viewpoint
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Dharamshala (Arvind Sharma) 31/01/19

The population of wetland birds in Pong Dam ( known as Maharana Pratap Sagar) Wetland near here , have shown increase from last year (2017-18) as the total count was recorded as 110203 of 62 Migratory water fowls and 29 species of resident water fowls. There is an overall increase of 5026 birds as compared to last year.

Informing this  Dr Savita (IFS)  PCCF cum Chief Wild Life Warden (HP)said, “ though ,04 species of migratory water fowls viz Mew Gull, Water Rail, Ruff & Godwit which were recorded last year, could not be seen this year, A few noticeable species this time are  Great Crested Grebes, Red Crested Pochards, Ferruginous Pochards, Mallards, Tufted Ducks, Eurasian Spoonbills, Curlew Sandpipers and many other species of Larks & Pipits.”

She added, “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 returning. 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.”

 She said that 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.

Maharana Pratap Sagar , situated 100 kms from Dharamshsala in India, is also known as Pong Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake was created in 1975, by building the highest earthfill dam in India on the Beas River in the wetland zone of the Siwalik Hills of the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. Named in the honour of Maharana Pratap , the reservoir or the lake is a well-known wildlife sanctuary and one of the 26 international wetland sites declared in India by the Ramsar Convention. The reservoir covers an area of 24,529 hectares (60,610 acres), and the wetlands portion is 15,662 hectares (38,700 acres).

Chief Wild Life Warden Himachal further added , “Annual Waterfowl Estimation exercise was carried out on 28th and 29th Jan. 2019 for monitoring the numerical size of bird’s population during the year 2018-19 in Pong Dam Wetland. Experts from various  organizations & Bird Groups viz. Birds of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Bird Club,  Wetland International ,Dharamshala Bird Club and many wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers, volunteers along with officials & officers from H.P.Forest Department, participated in this mega exercise. Entire Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary was divided into 26 Sections. About 110 persons participated in this exercise. Each section was thoroughly traversed on land and water by a team of 3-6 members headed by an expert.

After concerted efforts of two days by various experts and forest officials, it has been concluded that 115229  birds of 103 different species have been recorded at Pong Dam Lake this year, that include 104230 migratory water fowls of 58 Species,10231 resident water birds of 29 species and 768 birds of 16 other local Species.”

She said that Dominant species are Bar Headed Geese (29443), Northern Pintails (17934), Common Pochards (17742), Eurasian Coots(16313),Common Teals(7918), Great Cormorants(5600),Eurasian Wigeons(1481), Gadwals(1408), Greylag Geese(1249) and Ruddy Shelducks(1164)  have been noticed this year.

Other uncommon bird species recorded in the lake are Common Shelducks (52),Northern Lapwings(39),Common Mergansers(31) Greater White-fronted Geese (24),Water Pipits(22),Pied Avocets(06),Ospreys(05), Black-bellied Terns(02), Sarus Cranes (04),Eurasian Curlews(02),White-tailed Lapwings(02), Lesser White-fronted Goose(01),Common Ringed Plover(01) and Hen Harrier(01).

      This two days exercise was conducted as per the directions of Pr. CCF cum CWLW, HP Dr. Savita (IFS). Other officers who participated in annual water count were: Sh. Pradeep Thakur, IFS CF- WL Circle Dharamshala, Sh. B.S. Rana, IFS, CCF, Sh. Krishan Kumar, IFS DFO WL Hamirpur. Smt. Suvina Thakur, DM Sundernagar, Sh. D.S. Dhadwal, HPFS, DFO (Hqrs), Dharamshala, and Smt. Neena, ACF Pong Lake. Besides, Sh. TK Roy from Wetland International also participated in the exercise.