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Thousands of birds of 100 varieties congregate at Pong wetlands

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IANS Shimla
Hundreds of thousands of birds of belonging to over a hundred species have been spotted in the Pong Dam wetlands in Himachal Pradesh, a slight rise from last year, according to a statement from the Himachal Pradesh wildlife wing.
Among them, the most prominent was bar-headed geese, a rare winter migrant in other Indian wetlands, the statement said on Thursday.
During the two-day census of waterfowl -- birds that depend on water bodies for roosting and feeding -- that concluded on Wednesday, 115,229 birds were recorded in the Pong Dam wetlands, one of the biggest manmade wetlands in northern India, an official statement said.
These included 104,230 migratory waterfowls of 58 species, 10,231 resident birds of 29 species and 768 of 16 other local species.
The largest influx was of the bar-headed goose (29,443), followed by northern pintail (17,934), common pochards (17,742), Eurasian coots (16,313), common teals (7,918) great cormorants (5,600), Eurasian wigeons (1,481), gadwalls (1,408), graylag geese (1,164).
The other noticeable species were the great crested grebe, graylag goose, red-crested pochard, ferruginous pochard, common merganser, Eurasian spoonbill, curlew sandpipers and the long billed pipits.
Other uncommon species recorded in the Pong wetlands were common shelducks, northern lapwings, common mergansers, greater white-fronted geese, water pipits, piped avocets, ospreys, black-bellied terns, sarus cranes, Eurasian curlews, white-tailed lapwings, lesser white-fronted geese and hen harriers.
In the last waterfowl census conducted at the Pong wetlands in January last year, 110,203 birds from 62 migratory and 29 resident species were recorded.
The Pong Dam reservoir, around 250 km from state capital Shimla, is one of the largest manmade wetlands in the foothills of the Himalayas.
With the onset of winter, thousands of migratory birds from central and northern Asia start arriving for their annual sojourn.
"The number of migratory birds in Pong is expected to increase in the coming days with the start of return journey by the birds to their original habitats," Chief Wildlife Warden Savita told IANS.
Built in 1976, the reservoir is the only place in India after the Bharatpur sanctuary in Rajasthan where the red-necked grebe descends every year.
The influx of birds can be seen at swamps near Nagrota Suriyan, Budladha and Sansarpur Terrace.
The Pong wetlands occupy an area of at least 18,000 hectares and extend up to 30,000 hectares in the peak monsoon season. An area of about 20,000 hectares within a radius of 5 km has been notified as a buffer zone dedicated to wildlife.
--IANS
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First Published: Jan 31 2019 | 5:50 PM IST

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