Pong Dam welcomes first two pair of Greater Flamingos


    The highest earth filled man made water body, Pong Dam located in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh spotted first two pairs of Greater Flamingos as was traced in month of December last year near the bank, senior officer of wildlife authority confirmed to Himvani. The Assistant conservator of forests of State wild life authority D S Dadwal told that four birds in two similar pairs were spotted on the bank of Pong Dam in first week of December.


    He informed that it was first occasion when these rarest birds were found in the state water bodies and this wetland. ”The bird which stands four feet tall with its S-curved neck and is a common migrant to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, has been spotted in the marshy areas of Nagrota Suriyan.” he said.


    The identification of birds have been made as Phoenicopterus roseus (Greater flamingo). During the bird censuses about 1 lakh 27 thousand water fowls and other exotic birds were counted by its officials which include the Greater Flamingo in the Dam. The greater flamingos are common migratory species in coastal areas, been spotted for the first time by its officials who was associated with the exercise, during a three-day census of waterfowl species birds depend on water bodies for roosting and feeding.


    Among 93 different species Barheaded Gease continue to lead with more than 80,000 number. The Dam spread over 317 square kilometer was currently paying the hospitality to 1.27 lakh birds which came here from Central Asia, Siberia, Trans Himalayan, Leh, Jammu and Kashmir, Nepal, China and Tibet during the winter season before on set of snowfall in the region and thrive on the fresh water fishes of rivers  originate from  Himalayan ranges. The other noticeable species recorded are Bar-headed Geese, Common Pochards, Common Coots, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovellers, Common Teals, cormorants, shell ducks, gulls  great crested grebe, graylag goose, red crested pochard, ferruginous pochard, common merganser, Eurasian spoonbill, Richard’s pipit, Blyth’s pipit and many species of larks etc.


    The man-made Pong Dam wetlands, one of the largest such in the foothills of the Himalayas in the Kangra Valley, are located 250 km from Shimla. The alarming change in water levels turned the region a strategic birding site over last three decades as over a hundred thousand avian guests at this wetland. The lake was harnessed for irrigation and electricity generation, five main types of avian habitats appeared in the draw-down area: mudflats and mudspits long the receding shore-line (for lapwings, egrets, Grey Herons, Purple Herons); open deep water (mainly for grebes and cormorants); dry sand banks with little or no vegetation (for stone curlews and pratincoles); waterside vegetation and swamps below the out-fall from the dam (warblers, babblers, munias, kingfishers, moorhens, herons and predators); and shallow water at the reservoir margin for dabbling ducks such as pintails, shovellers, gadwalls and wigeons).


    These were non-existent prior to the creation of Pong lake, which increased the concentration of organic matter, worms, insects, and molluscs in the mudflats, shallow and open water. English ornithologist, Hugh Whistler. Whistler reported some 39 bird species from the area in the list, which was published in the journal Ibis in 1926. The Pong lake supports several species of waterfowl. In his book Birds of Kangra, Jan Van Besten suggests that over 400 species can be found in and around Pong. Annual highest count of 1,44,000 migratory birds were recorded at Pong in the year 2010.

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    ML Verma is a Senior journalist, with more than a decade of experience of active reporting for electronic media, news agencies and fast paced online media.

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