Migratory birds flock to Kashmir with the onset of winters

Friday, November 19, 2010

SRINAGAR - With the onset of winters in Jammu and Kashmir, more than two hundred thousand migratory birds from Central Asia and China have migrated to the region, flocking various wetland reserves.

The state wildlife authorities claim to have received more avian visitors this year than they expected at the three famous wetland reserves established at Haygam, Hokersar and Shalibag in the picturesque valley.

The early arrival of birds from traditional habitats like Central Asia, China and Eastern Europe signals that the temperatures in those areas also have taken a dip, forcing the birds to move earlier than expected.

Officials at the Hokersar reserve asserted that comfortable climatic conditions, better protection and the easy availability of food in the region were the prime reasons behind the massive migration of birds.

“These birds migrate to Kashmir to escape the extremely low temperatures in the Central Asian countries this time of the year.

The conditions are extremely harsh and cold. In some places, the temperatures dip to minus 40 and minus 35 also. This is a natural phenomenon, if humans are exposed to such temperatures, they will also migrate to warmers havens,” said Ghulam Mohammad Lone, Wildlife Warden, Hokersar Wetland Reserve.

The winged visitors from Siberia, China, Central Asia and Northern Europe add colours and vibrancy with their chirping at the regional wetlands and fresh water lakes.

These birds begin their flight to Kashmir in early September and stay till spring heralds in the next year.

Locals maintain that the birds have been keeping their winter sojourn to Kashmir since times immemorial.

“These are beautiful and colourful birds. I feel very happy when I see them here. All the visitors who come to see these birds also find them very beautiful. These birds come from across the world,” said Farooq Ahmad, an employee at the Hokersar Wetland Reserve.

The Hokersar wetland, which used to be spread over a sprawling 13.5 square kilometres land, has been gradually reduced through the years due to encroachments.

Besides, Hokersar, Hygam and Shalibag the other prominent destination for these migratory birds is at Mirgund.

Hundreds of thousands of exotic birds such as Mallards, Greyleg Geese, Gadwalls, Teals, Shovellers, Pochards and Coots make their temporary nests here. (ANI)

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