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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Over 1 lakh migratory water birds visited Himachal Pradesh’s Pong dam lake sanctuary this winter

Thousands of them died at lake due to bird flu outbreak

By: Express News Service | Shimla |
February 8, 2021 9:14:15 pm
Last winter, around 1.16 lakh birds of 114 different species were found at the lake during the census. (File)

Over a lakh migratory water birds arrived at the Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh this winter, the annual bird count at the wetland has revealed. Thousands of migratory birds died at the lake due to an outbreak of bird flu in late December, but the disease has largely been contained now, with only a few or zero mortalities being reported each day, according to wildlife officials.

The bird census found 1,08,578 birds of 96 species at the wetland, including 1,01,431 migratory water birds of 51 species and 6,433 resident water birds of 29 species. A total of 716 birds of 16 other species were also recorded. The total population of the flagship species, Bar Headed Geese, was 40,570 this year as compared to 49,496 last year.

Forest Minister Rakesh Pathania said that the annual census was conducted under restrained conditions this year due to the bird flu outbreak and the Covid-19 pandemic. “The wildlife wing deployed 57 staff members in 26 sections of the sanctuary to count the birds,” he said.

Besides the Bar Headed Geese, other species having a high population at the wetland include Eurasian Coot (24,163), Northern Pintail (12,702), Common Teal (8,444), Little Cormorant (3,649), Great Cormorant (3,410), Grey Lag Goose (2,297), Northern Shoveler (2,275) and Common Pochard (2,138). “The species which find noticeable mention are Red Necked Grebe, Great Bittern, Lesser White-Fronted Goose, Red Crested Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Pied Avocet, Northern Lapwing,Peregrine Falcon etc. During the counting exercise, one Bar-headed Goose and one Grey Lag Goose with collars was also spotted,” said Pathania.

‘Marginally lesser than last year’

He added that the total population of birds as well as number of species counted this year is marginally less as compared to last year, probably due to the impact of the avian influenza outbreak. Last winter, around 1.16 lakh birds of 114 different species were found at the lake during the census.

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