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2-day annual bird counting at Pong Dam from Jan 29

SHIMLA: With over one lakh migratory birdsalready flocking Pong Dam wetland in Kangra district, the state wildlife department is going to hold an annual two-day counting of birds on January 29 and 30 in which bird watchers, wildlife officials and experts would participate. Besides counting the exact number of birds in the wetland, efforts would also be made to identify rare species visiting the dam site.

After its creation in 1975, Pong Dam has become a favourite destination for migratory birds during winters. The lake is a well-known wildlife sanctuary and one of the 25 international wetland sites declared in India by the Ramsar Convention, covering total area of 24,529 hectares (60,610 acres), with wetlands spread over 15,662 hectares (38,700 acres).

Divisional forest officer (wildlife) Subhash Prashar said that census of migratory birds conducted till January 14 has shown their number to be 1.05 lakh and of them highest count is of Barheaded Geese, whose number is calculated to be around 40,000.

Prashar saud that during the two-day annual counting, exact number of migratory birds would be known. "So far counting is done by wildlife staff only. But for the two-day counting event, we invite bird watchers, experts and others," he added. He said that on January 28 those participating in the event would be informed about the rules and regulations and preliminary counting of birds will be held on January 29.

Prasahar said that final counting would be held on January 30. "During the counting we would also try to spot and identify rare species of birds. So far we have found none," he added.

Pong Dam was declared as a bird sanctuary in 1983. A 5-kilometre belt from the periphery of the lake has been declared a buffer zone for the management of the bird sanctuary. The main bird species reported are barheaded geese (goose), Anser indicus, northern lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), northern pintail (Anas acuta), common teal (Anas crecca), spot-billed duck (Anas poecilorhyncha), Eurasian Coot Fulica atra, red-necked grebe (Podiceps griseigena), black-headed gulls, plovers, black stork, terns, water-fowl and egrets.

The Times of India (26-01-2014)