Nestled in the picturesque Kangra valley, Pong Dam Wetland, a favorite destination of the migratory birds, is going to have a research station for deeper studies on life pattern of the feathered guests, descending here every winter from the Trans -Himalayan region.
The wildlife wing of Himachal Pradesh Forest Department would be setting up the research station in collaboration with Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), for which a preliminary plan is being chalked out.
A grant of Rs 50 lakh has been sanctioned for the project by state Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA).
Under the project, the wild life wing would set up an information center, a research lab, a museum, and a treatment center for injured birds at Nagtora Surian area.
Informing about the project, Hamirpur divisional forest officer (wildlife) Subhash Prashar said that the interpretation center would have display photographs of migratory birds visiting the Pong wetland, with complete information on their place of origin, feeding, breeding, nesting habits and identification.
The research center would also work as a coordination station for collaring, ringing and tagging of migratory birds with global positioning system being conducted by the department and BNHS jointly every year.
"A complete monitoring of collared birds will be done from the station," said Prashar, adding that the center would help ornithologists in having a better understanding of the migratory pattern of these birds.
"A research lab and a rescue and treatment center for injured birds will also be run at the center," he added. Apart from appointing permanent research associates, the department would also invite ornithologists from within the country and abroad at the center time to time.
Buzzing with cackle of sounds and flapping of wings, the Pong wetland become a sight to behold every winter, as feathered guests from as far as Siberia, Poland and China arrive to spend winters in its crystal clear waters, verdant forests and grassy swamps.
The influx of waterfowl in the wetland usually crosses the 1 lakh-mark. The arrival begins in the last week of October and continues till February end. Over 1,23000 birds of 113 species were recorded feeding and roosting at the Pong Dam, with the largest influx of the bar-headed geese- 34,000 in the avian count conducted last year. This winter, officials have recorded 55,000 birds roosting and feeding in the wetland so far.
Emerging after the construction of Pong Dam on Beas river in 1960, Pong Lake was declared a bird sanctuary in 1983, and in 1994 it was given the status of a wetland of national importance. In 2002, it was declared a Ramsar site. Currently, Pong Lake is on ninth spot in attracting the most number of migratory birds.