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Migratory Bird Arrivals At Punjab's Harike Wetland Decline This Season, Latest Census Shows

The birds start arriving at Harike, also known as Hari ke Pattan, in September before setting off on their return journey by March. "The reverse migration has already started," Kanwar said.

Migratory Birds
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The arrival of migratory birds this year to Harike, northern India's largest wetland, declined 12 per cent from 2021, according to the latest census of these water birds.

The Forest and Wildlife Preservation department census counted 65,624 birds from 85 species at Harike, World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) India Coordinator Gitanjali Kanwar said. Every winter, 90 species of migratory birds from Siberia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Russia, among others, arrive at the wetland site once the water bodies in their native places start to freeze.

In 2021, the census recorded 74,869 migratory birds from 88 species. The year before, 91,025 from 90 species were counted. There was no census in 2022 due to COVID-19. In 2018 and 2019, 94,771 birds of 94 species and 1,23,128 birds of 83 species arrived at the wetland site, respectively.

The reason behind the decline in migratory bird arrivals this year is yet to be ascertained. Whether the drop is at a global or a regional level is yet to be seen, Kanwar said. Punjab witnessed fewer migratory bird arrivals at all wetlands this year, she added. Spread over 86 square kilometres at the confluence of the Sutlej and the Beas rivers in Tarn Taran, Ferozepur and Kapurthala districts, the Harike wetland is home to rare species of migratory water birds during winters.

The birds start arriving at Harike, also known as Hari ke Pattan, in September before setting off on their return journey by March. "The reverse migration has already started," Kanwar said.

Among the species that arrived at Harike this season included 34,523 Eurasian coots, 8,381 greylag geese, 7,432 gadwalls, 2,262 common pochards and 1,807 northern shovelers. Spoonbills, painted storks, ruddy shelducks, bar-headed geese, common teals and shoreline birds such as gulls, terns, sandpipers and plovers were also counted.

Kanwar said some species such as the merlin, black-necked grebe and the common merganser were spotted after a long time. Apart from Harike, these water birds also arrive at wetlands in Keshopur Miani, Nangal, Ropar, Kanjli and the Beas river.

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