Gharana border wetland hosts thousands of migratory birds

According to the Wildlife officials, different types of migratory birds have arrived in the premier wetland, situated near the Indo-Pak International Border in R S Pura sector, to make it their winter habitat.

"Around 3000-4000 birds of various species, beside bar-headed Geese, have thronged the wetland. Like previous years, the wetland has woken up to the festivity of bird watching," J-K Wildlife department officials told PTI.

Over 50 species of the bar-headed Geese, including some rare and endangered species, every year fly a distance of more than 1000 miles over the Himalayas in a single day to reach here from their breeding grounds in Central Asia and other parts of the world, they said.
The birds which are counted among the world's highest flying species, include Siberian hans, Keel, Grey Heron and little Grebe from New Zealand, America and Australia.

Most of the birds like Grey Key Goose, shoverier, Marclands, Poachards, Teals and Gadwal come from different places in Central Asia and Northern Europe. They migrate to Gharana to escape the harsh winters, they said.

However, wildlife experts and environmentalists expressed concern that there was a decline in the number of the birds as compared to last year's estimated figure of over 20,000.
"The wetland has witnessed fewer birds arriving by the month of November this year as compared to the figures of past years," Pramodh Kumar, an expert on migratory bird species said.

But the wildlife officer P K Singh ruled out any such concern. "Migratory birds change their pattern every winter. This time they might have got diverted to Haryana or Punjab wetlands in more number," he said.

In 2007, over 50,000 birds of various species thronged the Gharana wetland but in 2008 only 20,000 arrived here, he said, adding, another reason might be the disturbances created by the local farmers who fear damage to their Basmati (rice) and wheat crops.
Wildlife officials also counts the encroachment of the area by locals as one of the major reason behind the thickening turnout of the migratory birds.

The encroachment in the wetland has reduced the size of the area to about 500 square meters, less than half of its official size, they said.

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