Annual Summer Bird Count: Over 12,000 winged guests roosting and nesting at Pong Lake Wetland
Around 175 white-rumped vultures ( endangered species ) have been spotted in the Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary
Dharamsala (Arvind Sharma )
The Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary in Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh has become the favorite spot for the birds that migrate from Siberia and Central Asia, according to the latest report. The reservoir is a popular wildlife sanctuary and is one of the 25 International wetland sites declared in India.
The Sanctuary was divided into 15 segments, and a team of more than 40 Wildlife wing people conducted the bird count on in the last week of June.The bird count research revealed that there were 423 bird species, 18 snake species, 90 butterflies species, 24 mammals and 27 fish species were identified at the sanctuary.
Dotted with grassy swamps, the Pong Dam wetlands- a wintering ground for the migratory birds from trans- Himalayan and central Asia region, is now fast emerging as ideal summer sojourn destination for many migratory birds.
A day-long summer avian count conducted by the wildlife wing of Himachal Pradesh Forest Department last month has put the numbers of residents as well as migratory birds roosting and nesting in Pong Wetland at 12,314 birds, 90 species of Butterflies and 18 snake species have made home at the Pong Dam Lake according to the Wildlife Forest department wing.
“Annual summer avian race was held on June 23 to monitor the number of birds roosting in Pong Dam Wetland,” said additional chief secretary (Forest) Tarun Shridhar. “The count has put the numbers of birds, belonging to different species, roosting at the wetland this summer,” said Shridhar.
Shridhar said, “The dominant species observed, were Cattle Egret (3,348), Little Cormorant (2,003), Small Pratincole (1,377), Little Egret (1,305), Red Wattled Lapwing (1,024).”
He added that theOther important species found recorded breeding in the wetland were the Little Tern (194), Purple Heron (173), Yellow Wattled Lapwing (55), Gull billed Tern (46) and the Great Thick knee (43),” informed Shridhar.“Most of these birds are resident whereas the others like Yellow Wattled Lapwing, Small Pratincole, Lesser Whistling Duck, Indian Skimmer, Black crowned Night Heron and Blue tailed Bee eater are the summer migrants,” Sridhar said. The other significant progress was observed in the area was of Himachal Pradesh’s vulture breeding and conservation programme were it is seen that white-rumped vultures Once declared as critically endangered species with a decline of 95 per cent of its population,is making a comeback .
The state’s wildlife department claimed that around 175 birds sighting have been reported in the Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary of Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh. “Vulture conservation and rehabilitation programme, which was started in 2004-05 by closely monitoring 26 nests and 23 fledglings, has shown amazing results. It was D S Dhadwal, a range officer at Pong Dam lake who along with his team, started a drive and documentation in Kangra,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Forest and Wildlife) Tarun Shridhar. In 2013-14, the number of nests counted were 274 and 241 fledglings. The number must have gone up by now, added Shridhar.
According to range officer Dhadwal, the master birds are breeding in 35 breeding colonies on the old straight trees of Cheer (Pinus roxburgii) growing on mild slopes in Shivalik hills. The old dried trees are also important as these birds are using these dried trees for roosting and surveillance. Only fear was that such breeding sites are under threat because of timber exploitation and resin tapping.
He said ,”The nests are made with the needles and branches of the Pinus roxburgii trees. The master bird breeds in the colonies of about 3 to 30 nests. Each breeding area generally varies from 5 hectares 20 hectares.”
The Pong Dam Lake, which is spread over a sprawling 307 square km, is also called the Maharana Pratap Sagar.