Winter Delight: 20000 Winged Visitors in Punjab Reservoir

December 12th, 2008 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Nangal (Punjab), Dec 12 (IANS) The fields, reeds and marshes around the Nangal reservoir are a riot of colour these days. For, more than 20,000 feathered guests are busy ‘holidaying’ here after journeying thousands of kilometres from Siberia, Central Asia and other places.The reservoir is located 100 km from Chandigarh on the foothills of the Shivaliks in Ropar district. The area is playing host to at least 25 species of migratory birds.

“The number of pintails, black-necked grebes, red-necked grebes, large cormorants, mallards, coots, moorhens, darters, river terns and ruddy shell ducks has been on the rise over the years,” Jitendra Sharma, Punjab’s chief conservator of forests, told IANS.

“Bar-headed geese and common pochards make their presence conspicuous in thousands,” he said.

He said the early arrival of a few species, including spotbill ducks and cormorants, indicated that the number would cross last year’s mark of 55,000.

These birds escape the biting cold of winter in Siberia, Central Asia and the Himalayas for warmer climes.

The areas around the crystal clear waters of the reservoir are also resident birds like the red jungle fowl, large Indian parakeet, Indian cuckoo, bank myna, wood shrike, yellow-eyed babbler and the crested bunting.

Prabhat Bhatti, a Nangal-based wildlife photographer, said after snowfall in the higher reaches of the Dhauladhar mountain range and trans-Himalayan areas, the arrival of the winged visitors had increased.

“With suitable climatic conditions, rich biodiversity and less noise and water pollution, this area attracts a large variety of avian species,” he said.

According to Bhatti, last year more migratory vultures, especially the Egyptian variety, visited the area. Among the resident birds, a flock of sarus cranes can also be spotted in the area.

The ministry of environment and forests included Nangal in the national list of wetlands in January this year. With the inclusion of these wetlands, Punjab now has five wetlands of national importance, including Harike, Ropar and Kanjli.

“This year too we (the forest department) have decided to conduct the avifauna survey along with a team from the Bombay Natural History Society,” Conservator of Forests Sharma said.

The Nangal reservoir was formed with the construction of a barrage over the Sutlej river in 1961. The water is spread over an area of 650 hectares, including 375 hectares of the reservoir.

According to the “Handbook On Indian Wetland Birds And Their Conservation”, written by scientists of the Zoological Survey of India, of the 1,230 species found in the Indian subcontinent, nearly 350 are migrants.

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