40,000 winged guests at Harike


GS Paul

Amritsar, December 27

With extreme cold conditions in the Central Asian region, a large number of birds have been converging in a number of clusters at Harike, India’s second largest wetland, in Tarn Taran district.

It is expected that the winged guests would stay till March, offering a delight for bird watchers at Harike wetland, also known as “Hari-ke-Pattan”, situated on the confluence of the Sutlej and Beas.

Kamaljeet Singh, Forest Range Officer, Tarn Taran, said the exact count would be known in the middle of January when the census of water birds will be conducted.

“Currently, over 40,000 birds of different species from far flung regions of some European countries and Siberia and Mongolia have been spotted,” he said.

According to the Forest and Wildlife Department, over 90,000 birds of 90 different species from different countries, including Siberia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and other parts of the world arrive at the wetland every year after water bodies in their native places get frozen in winter.

The number of rare avifauna coming to the area is expected to rise in the coming weeks, he said.

The department has already set up temporary check posts to carry on 24×7 patrolling to keep a check on poaching.

“Round-the-clock patrolling is being undertaken, a lot of it through motorboats as well. We are also conducting exercises for the riparian communities living near the wetland for their involvement in preserving the area for the avian guests,” he said.

The department also plans to depute guides to facilitate visits by tourists.

Due to the pandemic, the bird census could not be carried out last year, though there was arrival of almost 80 species of rare birds.

In 2020, a total of 74,869 migratory birds of 88 different species had arrived in the wetland, the lowest number in recent years. In 2019, the number of the winged visitors was 1,23,000 which was the highest in recent years, followed by 94,771 in 2018 and 93,385 in 2017.

Already here

Birds like Siberian chiff chaff, Eurasia coot, white wag tail, isabelline shire, blue throat, tricolour munia, hen harrier, spoonbills, painted storks, white crowned penduline tit and rosy starling have landed at Hari-ke-Pattan