Bar-headed goose count goes up by 68 pc at Pong Dam lake

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Though the population of migratory birds coming to the Pong Dam lake in Kangra district has almost remained stagnant this year, the number of bar-headed goose has increased by 68 per cent from the previous year.

Last year, the total count of these birds at the lake was 29,443. This year, the census carried out in the last few days showed that 49,496 bar-headed geese have visited the lake. This is the biggest concentration of these birds in any part of the country.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden of Himachal Pradesh Savita said the annual waterfowl estimation exercise was carried out at the Pong Dam lake, which was divided into two parts.

The first day of the exercise on January 30 was for pre-count discussions and planning and the second part, involving the actual counting, was carried out on January 31 for monitoring the population of the bird that arrived at the lake this year.

She said experts from various organisations and bird groups — including Birds of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Bird Club, International Wetland, Wildlife Institute Of India (WII), Dharamshala Bird Club —- besides wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers, volunteers and staff of the Forest Department participated in the exercise.

Wildlife officials said 1,15,701 birds of 114 species had been seen at the Pong Dam lake this year. This figure includes 1,04,032 migratory water fowls of 60 species, 10,377 resident water birds of 30 species and 1,292 birds of 24 other local species.

Dominant species are bar-headed geese (49,496), northern pintail (12,881), Eurasian coot (10,860), common teal (7,334), common pochard (3,988), northern shoveler (2,818), great cormorant (2,121), Eurasian wigeon (1,350) and ruddy shelduck (1,028)

Other uncommon bird species seen in the lake are common shelduck (75), northern lapwing (32), common ringed plover (20), pied avocet (09), osprey (5), black-bellied tern (5), common merganser (4), sarus crane (2), Eurasian curlew (2), white-tailed lapwing (1), water pipit (1), lesser white-fronted goose (1) and buff-bellied pipit (1).

A few noticeable species are great crested grebe, red crested pochard, ferruginous pochard, mallard, tufted duck, eurasian spoonbill, curlew sandpiper and many other species of larks and pipits. The total population has shown a marginal increase from 1,15,229 to 1,15,701 whereas the number of species seen has increased from 103 to 114.

Wildlife officials said the population of birds and the number of species is expected to increase in the coming days during the return journey to their breeding grounds as birds from North-West, Central and South India will start arriving at the Pong lake.

114 species spotted

As many as 1,15,701 birds of 114 species have been seen at the Pong Dam lake this year. This figure includes 1,04,032 migratory water fowls of 60 species, 10,377 resident water birds of 30 species and 1,292 birds of 24 other local species.

Source: The Trbune