Bar-headed Geese population is 47598 at Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary

Annual Water Bird Count 2022 at Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary was conducted on 31st January and 1st February 2022. This year the annual exercise was conducted under restrained conditions due to the prevailing COVID-19 Pandemic. The exercise was conducted by involving the field staff of Hamirpur Wildlife Division of the Wildlife wing of Himachal Pradesh. On 29th January the pre-census briefing was conducted online for the field staff regarding briefing and preparation of exercise. On 31st January 2022, 75 personnel were involved in 26 sections for counting the water dependent birds, strictly following the COVID appropriate behaviour and the prevailing guidelines. On 1st February, an exclusive estimation of Larks and Pipits was also carried out in draw drown areas by dividing it into 5 Grids.

The total number of Water dependent Birds counted during the exercise are 110309 of 110 species. Out of the total number the water dependent migratory birds are 100018 of 59 species and water dependent resident birds are 10291 of 51 species. The total population of the flagship species, Bar-headed Geese is 47598.

The other dominant species during this year are Eurasian Coot (23143), Northern Pintail (4665), Common Teal (4558), Common Pochard (4493), Eurasian Wigeon (4149), Little Cormorant (3616), Northern Shoveler (2869), and Great Cormorant (2100). The other uncommon species reported in the lake are Greater White-fronted Goose, Lesser White fronted Goose, Red Crested Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Pied Avocet, Northern Lapwing, Peregrine Falcon, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Hobby, Eurasian Spoonbill, etc. During the counting exercise one Bar-headed Goose with number marked as H74 also came to notice.

During Larks and Pipits estimation, 8 species of Larks and Pipits were identified and counted. As per the estimation, among the Larks and Pipits, Sand Larks were reported in the highest number i.e., 1222, Crested Lark (331), Oriental Skylark (265), Eurasian Skylark (231), Paddy field Pipit (181), Tawny Pipit (21), Richard’s Pipit (6) and Rosy Pipit (2).

Total population of Birds as well as species of birds has shown an increase over last year. Population has shown increase from 108578 to 110309 whereas species have increased from 96 to 110. The most noticeable increase in the population of the Bar Headed Geese has shown increase from 40570 to 47598 over the last year count. There is also increase in the total number of the species reported which is 14 species more from the last year. The counting exercise was concluded successfully even with limited number of participants.

Population of birds and number of species is expected to increase in coming days during return journey to their breeding grounds as birds from North-West, Central and South India will start arriving at Pong Lake. Most of these birds migrate from their breeding places in Trans-Himalayan region in Tibet, Central Asia, Russia and Siberia. Over the last few years, Pong Dam Lake also a Ramsar site, has become an ideal destination for winter sojourn for many species of Migratory birds.

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