Shimla : This winter 115701 birds of 114 different species have been recorded at Pong Dam lake of Himachal Pradesh. These include 104032 migratory water fowls of 60 species,10377 resident water birds of 30 species and 1292 birds of 24 other local species.
Total population of birds as well as number of species of birds have shown an increase over last year probably because of open grassland and desirable habitat.
The bird population has shown marginal increase from 115229 to 115701 where as species have increased from 103 to 114. The number of migratory water dependent species as well as resident water dependent species have also show an increase over the last year from 58 to 60 species and 29 to 30 species respectively.
To educate and sensitise the local people, students, youths and tourists on the issues of the conservation of birds, for the first time a Bird Festival was organized at Sugnara (Nagrota Surian) in the sanctuary area.
Major attractions of the festival were bird watching, bird ringing, boat tour and cycling. More than 200 hundred students from the schools located in the vicinity around the sanctuary and about 200 students from the Central University from Shahpur, Pathankot and Hoshiarpur participated in different activities.
The main attraction was bird race and bird ringing, a facility opened at Sugnara on the occasion. This ringing centre will help in identification of the route of the birds and will also help in monitoring the flight of birds across the countries.
Annual Waterfowl Estimation exercise was also conducted under which pre-count discussions and planning and actual count were carried out.
Experts from various organizations and Bird Groups: Birds of Himachal Pradesh, Himachal Bird Club, International Wetland, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dharamshala Bird Club and many wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers, volunteers along with officials and officers from forest department participated in this exercise.
Chief Wildlife Warden of the state Dr. Savita expressed happiness that the population of flagship species of Pong Lake, Bar-headed Geese have shown 68percent increase from last year as the total count was 29443 as compared 49496 Bar-headed Geese this year.
In general, 425 Species of Birds have been known to occur in Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary that includes terrestrial as well as summer migrant birds which could be primarily attributed to the varied habitats, food availability, intervention done and protection extended by the staff of wildlife wing and active involvement of local communities.
Pong Lake Wild Life Sanctuary is one of the important destinations of migratory birds. Lakhs of migratory and local birds of more than hundred species have their destination at and around Pong dam lake.
This lake has become one of popular places to be visited by the bird watchers, researchers, experts and tourists.