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20,000 winged guests visited Keshopur Chhamb this season, less than last year

Hindustan Times, Gurdaspur | By Kamaljit Singh Kamal
PUBLISHED ON JAN 12, 2020 10:24 PM IST

Keshopur Chhamb in Gurdaspur, one of Asia’s biggest wetlands, has recorded a dip in the number of migratory birds this year. The annual bird census conducted on Saturday and Sunday pegged the number of winged guests that arrived in the wetland this year at 20,528 birds. The number was 22,500 last year.

A total of 80 bird species were spotted at the wetland, located 5km from the district headquarters.

Rare varieties, including northern lapwing, sarus crane, bar-headed geese, ruddy shelduck, osprey, pallied harrier and brahming kite were spotted during the census.

The census was conducted by Geetanjli Kanwar of the World Wide Fund for Nature (India), an international non-governmental organization working in the field of wilderness preservation, Rima Dhillon, member of the Punjab Wildlife Board, Sarbjit Kaur, Amandeep Singh and Balraj Singh of the Chandigarh Bird Club, Prabhat Bhatti of Birder Club, Nangal, and the employees of the Gurdaspur district wildlife department.

District wildlife officer Rajesh Mahajan said the spotted birds included 3,643 black common coots, 3,182 northern showlers, 2,985 gadwalls, 3,436 pintails and 1,270 common teals.

Keshopur Chhamb has been hosting the winged guests from the Middle East, Siberia, Afghanistan, Tibet, China and Russia. Some of the birds also migrate here every year from Manasarovar Lake — a high-altitude freshwater lake fed by the Kailash glaciers near Mount Kailash in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China.

Keshopur Chhamb was renamed Keshopur Chhamb Community Reserve in March 2013 after the wildlife department decided to develop it as a bird sanctuary.

Migratory birds that visit the wetland every year include northern shovler, northern pintail, gadwall, common coots, rudy shell, eurasian, wigeon, common moor hens, purple moor hens, purple moor hens, mallards, bar-headed geese and sarus cranes.

They arrive here on the advent of winter season every year and leave for their habitats by mid-March.

Keshopur Chhamb is spread over 850 acres in Keshopur, Miani, Dalla, Mattam and Maghar Mudhian villages having small and big ponds of shallow water.

Mahajan said the wetland has two-three pairs of sarus crane which are not found anywhere in the region, including Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.

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