HP to count its feathered guests

Bird census

Himachal Pradesh will hold a unique event to count its feathered guests at Pong dam wetlands in Kangra Valley. The two-day bird-counting exercise will start on Monday.

The annual water bird census, both local and migratory, will draw at least 150 bird-watchers and wildlife officials, said Sanjeeva Pandey, chief conservator of forests.

Pong dam reservoir in the Himalayan foothills is one of the largest man-made wetlands in the world.
“As per our estimates around 1.25 lakh migratory birds of more than 100 species are roosting and feeding in Pong right now," said D S Dadwal, range officer (Pong wetlands).

This year, wildlife officials have spotted the falcated duck in Pong for the first time. The officials say this silvery plumage species is predominantly found in China and in smaller numbers in Japan, North Korea and South Korea.

The Pong wetlands are home to many native birds like red jungle fowl, large Indian parakeet, Indian cuckoo, bank myna, etc.

In the last census by the wildlife department at Pong reservoir in January 2011, over 1,32,000 migratory water birds of 95 species were recorded.

Interestingly, four migratory birds — three bar-headed geese and one ruddy shelduck — that were tagged with GPS transmitters last year returned to Pong this year after travelling thousands of miles.

According to wildlife officials, they may spot some more species of birds this year that have never been seen in these parts. “The weather has been good since December. The number of exotic birds visiting Pong has increased,” said a wildlife official.

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