Migratory birds keep tryst with Kashmir

1 lakh avian guests arrive in wetlands so far: Wildlife Deptt
Migratory birds keep tryst with Kashmir
Migratory birds enjoying a flight at Hokersar Wet Lands. [File]Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar, Nov 5: Kashmir has of late witnessed the arrival of migratory birds in thousands from many European and other western countries, making the wetlands and water bodies abuzz. Wildlife officials say both the prevailing day and night temperatures in parts of Kashmir are proving to be suitable for these migratory avians.

The arrival of migratory birds has lead to a riot of colour and cackle in the wetland reserves of Kashmir.

“Maintaining their centuries-old tryst with Kashmir, migratory birds have started arriving here from far off lands to spend the winter months in the relatively less harsh cold of the Valley. These hardy souls fly in from Siberia and China, as also the Philippines, Eastern Europe and Japan" officials of Wildlife Department told Greater Kashmir.

"The winged visitors start arriving in Kashmir towards the mid of October as the Valley presents them a comparatively hospitable alternate habitat compared to the extreme freezing conditions in their natural habitats in Siberia, China, Japan and other countries in the northern hemisphere,” the officials said.

Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Brahminy Duck, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal and Eurasian Wigeon are some of the most sighted birds in the wetlands of Kashmir.

As per officials, thousands of migratory birds started arriving in Kashmir and have made different wetlands their home. The migratory

birds arriving mostly from Russia, Siberia and central Asian Republics are landing these days in the famous wetlands of Valley, including Hokersar, Wular Lake, Haigam and Shalbugh and other water bodies.

The visiting bird species stay in the wetlands of snow bound Kashmir for five months, from early November to March before leaving to their respective regions. During this period the wetlands reflect a crowded look, with hoots and parrows of different visiting species.

However, the threat of poaching to these birds over the years is a major concern for these migratory birds as well as the Wildlife Department, which according to the concerned officials has been stopped to great extent.

Warden Wetlands, Ifshan Dewan told Greater Kashmir that a record breaking count of migratory birds arrival is expected this year.

Dewan said that in order to provide a feasible ambience to these visiting avian guests, the Wildlife department has taken several measures to maintain sufficient water level in all the wetlands of the valley.

The early arrivals include coots, teals, mallards and pintails. "We have around 1 lakh migratory birds at present in our Hokarsar Wetland Reserve and the Wullar Lake. These species will be followed by greylag geese, pochards, gadwalls, wigeons, shovellers, tufted ducks, ruddy shelducks and arganeys, among others," Dewan said.

“Poaching was one of the reasons that had caused some worry during the past few years. But during the recent past , since the arrival of these migratory birds the field staff of the department has increased their vigil reducing the poaching threat. We have increased our vigil, and are conducting regular checks around these wetlands to check the illegal hunting of these birds, adding that we have formed squads to stop this illegal practice of killing migratory birds" Dewan said.

Besides Hokersar, the migratory birds flock the Wullar lake and other wetlands like Hygam, Shallabugh, Pampore, Dal Lake and Mirgund in surrounding areas, bringing cheer to bird watchers of the valley.

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