In a boost to the study of waterfowl migration, a bar-headed goose that had been red-tagged around the neck with an identification number, H55, at Pong dam on March 16 has been observed and photographed near the Katli fish farm, Rupnagar, on the Sutlej river on December 1. This is the third such sighting across India of geese caught, tagged and released at Pong by the Bombay Natural History Society and the Himachal Pradesh forest and wildlife department.
The goose migrates to the Indian plains from China, Central Asia, Tibet and Ladakh in late autumn, and returns there in spring. DS Dhadwal, assistant conservator (forests) at Pong, said: “The goose ( H55) was again recorded at Pong lake on November 11, 2013; it stayed at Pong for some days before flying down to Ropar and was photographed there by Parbhat Bhatti.
This sighting not only helps us map migration, but also encourages more people to observe and photograph birds as finding such tagged specimens is considered a rarity. It elevates bird-watching from a mere pastime to a participation in a scientific project as many such field sightings are reported to scientists by amateurs and bird enthusiasts.’’
The two other sightings of geese, which were collared at Pong, include a goose tagged, H19, at the Tsokar wetlands in Ladakh on August 28, 2013, and a goose tagged, H73, at the Kadamkulam lake in Kerala on December 26, 2012. The goose was observed at Tsokar by a team of the WWF-India and the Jammu and Kashmir wildlife department.
In Kerala, the goose was photographed by birdwatchers Rajesh Balakrishnan, Jayachandran Sankaran and Raju Sankaran. These three Kerala birdwatchers also sighted another green-tagged goose, K39, along with H73 in the same flock.
On inquiry, it was found that K39 had been tagged on July 12, 2011, at Terkhiin Tsagaan lake in the Arkhangai province of Mongolia. This bird (K39) was previously reported seen at Magadi lake, Karnataka, in December 2011.
While geese are caught and tagged red at Pong, the geese tagged in Mongolia by the Wildlife Science and Conservation Centre (WSCC) bear green tags. Yet another series of geese tagged in Mongolia by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have yellow neck tags. Some amazing records of geese migration include the one tagged ` NU’ by the WCS, which was photographed four winters in a row till 2011 at Paradagaon lake, Nagpur, Maharashtra. This lake was 4,500 km from NU’s breeding grounds in Mongolia.
Or, take the flight log of a goose, X37. “This bird was first captured on July 16, 2010, at Terkhiin Tsagaan lake. Since then, this bird has been reported eight times a year at three different locations in Maharashtra and Karnataka states of India.
This is fantastic news because it tells us that there is a strong connectivity between these locations in India and Terkhiin Tsagaan lake. I must declare that without our volunteer observers in India it was impossible to learn of all these records,’’ Nyambayar Batbayar, director, WSCC, told HT.