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Endangered arctic bird spotted

Lesser white-fronted goose, an endangered migratory bird from Scandinavia and Arctic Russia, has been recorded for the first time in the region. It was recorded at the Pong Dam wetland at Nagrota Surian by Devinder Singh Dhadwal, Assistant Conservator of Forests. The bird has been listed as endangered on the IUCN list.

Talking to The Tribune, Dadwal said it had been recorded for the first time in the entire region. It is the 422nd species of birds recorded in the lake.

More than 70 per cent of the bird species, including migratory words that have been found in the entire region, have been recorded at the Pong Dam lake. This is an indicator of the varied habitat, including much-needed shelter and food that the Pong Dam wetland provides to bird species, he said.

The lesser white-fronted goose (anser erythropus) is a goose closely related to the larger white-fronted goose (a albifrons).

Both white-front species have a conspicuous white face and broad black bars which cross the belly.

The adult lesser white-fronted goose is smaller than white-fronted goose and has an obvious yellow eye-ring and a white facial blaze that goes up to the crown.

The species departs from its breeding grounds in northern Scandinavia and Arctic Russia in late August up to early September.

This species breeds in low-lying bogs, scrub-covered Tundra and Taiga-forest edges close to wetlands, up to 700 m above sea level. It can also be found on the slopes along lower parts of mountain streams, on mountain foothills, mountain lakes and on alpine precipices, often in thawing boggy areas or on stone fields.

Adults of this species undergo a post-breeding flightless summer mould while still in their breeding range that is in Siberia and Scandinavia. During winter and on migration, this species frequents open short grassland in the steppe and semi-arid zones, particularly in sodic (eg seashore) pastures, arable farmland, pastures.

This species is herbivorous feeding on grasses, roots, stems, leaves, fruits and green parts of aquatic and terrestrial plants along lake shores, rivers and marshes. Last year, hopper swan, another species in the league, was recorded at the Pong Dam wetland.

This year, the Pong Dam International Wetland received 1,28,200 birds of 119 species during winter season.

The data has come to the fore during a census of birds conducted by the Wildlife Department at the Pong Dam lake on January 29.

The Tribune (07-03-2014)