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Winged visitors keep their date with Kashmir wetlands

PTI 21 Nov 2014, 13:33:49 PM IST

Srinagar: Lakhs of winged visitors from Europe and Central Asia have kept their date with the Kashmir Valley this time as the wildlife department worked overtime toensure that they made it to the wetlands despite the flooddevastation.

The deluge brought in a layer of oil which settled overwater in the Hokersar wetland, causing enormous damage to theecosystem of the wetland, Wildlife Warden of Wetlands ImtiyazAhmad told PTI.

"We drained out the water with oily layer to ensure thatthe visiting birds do not face any difficulty in finding food.

We then allowed fresh water to enter the wetland," Ahmad said.The official said due to the hectic efforts and liberalfinancial assistance from the state government, more thanthree lakh birds from various parts of Europe and CentralAsia have arrived at Hokersar wetland alone.

"The numbers are picking up in other wetlands of theValley too," he said.

Ahmad said there was no comparative data available forthe number of bird arrivals last year at this time as thefloods washed away all the records.

Last year, over 12 lakh birds visited wetlands of Kashmir Valley by middle of December.
Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy
Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon are some of the most sighted birds in these wetlands of Kashmir.

The birds, who feed on insects and fish in these water bodies, present a beautiful picture, changing the Valley landscape amidst the onset of gloomy winter.

The birds are on a long distance flight from various places like Siberia, China and Japan which are witnessing freezing temperatures.

With the arrival of the birds, the Wildlife department has also geared up to combat the poachers. "The protection of birds is being taken care of. So far there are no reports of any poaching or attempts at poaching this year," Ahmad said.
He said the department is setting up over a dozen watch towers to keep an eye on any illegal activity within the wetlands.

Special squads have also been formed to keep poachers away from the migratory birds.
Besides Hokersar, the migratory birds flock the Wullar Lake and other wetlands like Hygam, Shalibugh and Mirgund in surrounding areas, bringing cheer to bird watchers.