Migratory birds back in India

This is a BBC video about bar-headed geese.

From Zeenews in India:

Tagged birds return to Pong wetlands from China

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2011, 12:45

Pong Dam: It was an experiment that worked. Four migratory birds in the Kangra Valley‘s Pong wetland, which were tagged with global positioning system (GPS) transmitters last year, have returned to their wintering grounds this year after travelling thousands of miles.

“All the four migratory birds that were tagged with satellite transmitters have returned to the Pong wetlands this month after stopping along the way at key wetlands. Their routes stretched from China to India,” Chief Wildlife Warden A.K. Gulati said.

The state wildlife department, in association with Mumbai-based BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society), had tagged the migratory birds for the first time in Pong as part of its work to track and monitor them.

The three bar-headed geese and one Ruddy Shelduck have enabled ornithologists to gain an insight into their migratory routes and stopover sites.

During the study, officials of the wildlife department noted that the Ruddy Shelduck took a nonstop flight of 735 km, the maximum among the four studied birds.

“The chip was tagged on the Ruddy Shelduck on March 14 this year. It returned to its native land, China, on May 2. After spending its summers in the Ku’er Mamai Li-cum-Yixiao Dui and Kareqi Lan’ai Rike wetlands in northwestern China, the bird has returned to Pong,” said Gulati.

Likewise, one Bar-headed goose returned from Kailash Cora lake in Tibet and the other two geese from Pangong Tso lake in Tibet and Tso Moriri in Ladakh respectively.

Interestingly, two wigeons, a migratory duck species, that were also tagged along with the four others preferred to stay at Pong even during summer.

BNHS assistant director S. Balachandran, who installed the chips on the birds, said the scientists now have a better understanding about the Pong birds – from where they come and their flyway regions.

Balachandran, who also did bird banding this year, said a common teal ringed in Pong on March 27 was spotted in Russia on May 6.

“In less than 40 days, the bird has travelled a distance of 3,197 km from Pong to Staritsa town,” he added.

Balachandran said each chip costing around Rs.250,000 is installed under the wings of birds. It sends signals till four years and the batteries are recharged through solar energy.

He said the BNHS would fit 18 solar-powered transmitters on migratory birds this winter.

As per the latest Asian Waterbird Census coordinated by the Wetlands International, the population of threatened migratory birds in the entire flyway region, which includes Central Siberia, Mongolia, the Central Asian republics, Iran, Afghanistan, the Gulf and the Indian subcontinent, is either decreasing or stable.

Environment and Forests Minister Jayanthi Natarajan informed the Lok Sabha last month that the central government is working to protect the migratory birds during their sojourn.


Bird-watching in Gujarat: Seeing the winged wonders of Gandhi’s lands through a lens: here.

3 thoughts on “Migratory birds back in India

  1. Delhi’s migratory birds take hit as wetlands shrink

    New Delhi News.Net

    Tuesday 17th January, 2012 (IANS)

    The declining number of migratory birds in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) has been perturbing bird watching circles who blame it on loss of habitat due to human encroachment.

    Every winter, a large number of migratory birds from frigid northern and central Asia visit the cold yet comparatively warmer parts of the Indian subcontinent. Though the number of species has remained constant over the years, it’s the declining populations per specie that is perturbing enthusiasts.

    According to experts, the chief reason for this decline is rapid urbanisation, leading to loss of bird habitat. They also add that the threat is larger to birds inhabiting swampy wetlands.

    “Rapid urbanisation and encroachment of habitat is the single biggest reason for the decline in bird populations, especially migratory birds,” environment activist Mehran Zaidi told IANS.

    Surya Prakash, ornithologist and professor of zoology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), agrees: “The numbers per species of migratory birds have drastically gone down because of habitat loss, specially wetlands and aquatic ecosystems, due to commercial use of land and other anthropogenic factors.”

    Riverbeds, wetlands and other waterbird habitats have degraded heavily. Bhalaswa lake, for instance, was a very popular birding site, but now a low income housing colony stands on almost half of the lake area.

    The once famous Najafgarh Jheel has also dried up. The waterbody, now called Najafgarh drain, was a major nesting ground for waterbirds and waders.

    According to Prakash, non-aquatic birds like black redstarts, blue throats, red throated flycatchers and wagtails which inhabit forests are faring much better due to the green cover in Delhi and the national capital region remaining the same – as opposed to those in the wetlands.

    “Earlier, we used to have a large number of greater flamingoes in the Bassai wetlands of Haryana during the winters, but this season we’ve hardly had any sightings. Common cranes have not been sighted in Delhi at all this year,” he said.

    Leapfrog migration, where the birds decide to shift from one flocking location to another because of more favourable conditions, is said to be another reason for the declining numbers.

    In the wake of fast dwindling habitats, the experts and enthusiasts are urging greater attention to manmade sanctuaries. However, the government’s inaction is compounding the problem.

    At the Okhla Pakshi Vihar in south Delhi, the birds brave filthy waters, a thin tree cover and high voltage cables overhead. Visitors feel the government should develop the sanctuary properly.

    Lamenting the lack of general maintenance of the park, Jeetendra Parashar, an amateur photographer, said: “One of the trails to the watchtowers is broken. If the authorities can’t maintain them, what’s the use of constructing watchtowers?”

    He claimed that the state of most of the other bird sanctuaries in the region is similar, except for the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary in Gurgaon, where the birds have flocked in substantial numbers this winter.

    Agrees Prakash, “The authorities need to pay more attention to proper maintenance of manmade reserves.”

    (Nikhil Walia can be contacted at nikhilwalia87@gmail.com)


  2. Pingback: Ganges river dolphins, good news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Indian birdwatching day | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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