Punjab: 40,000 to 50,000 migratory birds arrive at Harike wetland
The arrival of the avian guests was late this season because of the delay in the onset of the winter season
Around 40,000 to 50,000 migratory birds are estimated to have arrived at Punjab's Harike wetland so far.
The arrival of avian guests was late this season because of the delay in the onset of the winter season.
The Harike wetland, which is north India's largest wetland, spreads over 86 sq km across the Tarn Taran, Ferozepur and Kapurthala districts of Punjab, at the confluence of the Sutlej and Beas rivers.
It serves as a habitat to rare species of migratory water birds during the winter season.
Migratory birds of around 90 species from different countries, including Siberia, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Russia and other parts of the world, arrive at the Harike wetland every year after water bodies get frozen in their native regions in winter.
Winged birds which arrive at the Harike wetland stay till March and April.
"Around 40,000 to 50,000 migratory birds are estimated to have arrived at Harike (this winter)," said Gitanjali Kanwar, coordinator, World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) India.
The exact number of the arrival of migratory birds will be known after the census exercise of water birds is conducted this month, she further said.
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Migratory birds usually start coming in September but this season, they started arriving in November, said Kanwar, attributing the delay to the late commencement of the winter season.
The number of migratory birds is expected to rise further in the coming days, she said.
At the Harike wetland, species like greylag geese, coots, gadwall, northern pintail, common teal, common pochard, northern shoveler, godwits, redshank, spoonbills and painted storks have arrived.
"We expect pochard and ducks to come in more numbers," she added.
Meanwhile, district forest and wildlife officer (Ferozepur range) Lakhwinder Singh said teams have been deputed for undertaking round-the-clock patrolling at Harike to check poaching of migratory birds.
More than 65,000 migratory birds from different countries arrived in 2023, which is almost 12 per cent less than the number of winged guests that arrived in 2021.
There was no census of migratory birds in 2022 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 74,869 migratory birds of 88 different species arrived in 2021, while the number of winged visitors was 91,025 with 90 species in 2020 at the Harike wetland.
There were 94,771 birds of 94 species and 1,23,128 birds of 83 species in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Apart from the Harike wetland, Punjab has five more protected wetlands — the Keshopur Miani wetland, the Nangal wetland, the Ropar wetland, the Kanjli wetland and the Beas river wetland.
Besides these, the Ranjit Sagar Dam conservation reserve has also been recognised as a national wetland.