Smog delays winged visitors’ flight to Punjab and surrounding areas

Presence of smog in the region has delayed the arrival of migratory birds in some water bodies and natural wetlands across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.
Hundreds of species of rare birds fly from higher altitudes in search of food and shelter as the winter in their native habitats is too severe.(HT FIle)
Hundreds of species of rare birds fly from higher altitudes in search of food and shelter as the winter in their native habitats is too severe.(HT FIle)
Updated on Nov 16, 2017 09:58 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | ByHT Correspondents

The all-pervasive smog in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi has hit daily life. The smog has hit natural life as well, with the arrival of migratory birds delayed in some water bodies and natural wetlands across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. HT takes stock of how the arrival of migratory birds — considered a natural miracle — is playing out this year.

Drop in arrival in Haryana

Hundreds of species of rare birds fly in from higher altitudes in search of food and shelter as the winter in their native habitats is too severe and Haryana has always been their favourite destination. Yet, forest department officials claim that this year’s smog has reduced their number by 30%, so far.

“Migratory birds come from Siberia and Russia, the countries that are very clean. They don’t like dirty and polluted environment. Many species of birds that used to come here have now stopped,” said Sunder Sambharya, Jhajjar district forest officer.

Last year, bird watchers in Jhajjar, which houses Bhindawas Bird Sanctuary, and thousands of acres of waterlogged wetlands, had spotted 100 different species of migratory birds, going up to 25,000 in number. This year, only around 4,000 birds have reached. The arrival of migratory birds in Sirsa’s Ottu lake is delayed as well.

So far, more than 22,000 migratory birds have landed at Harike from Russia and Siberia.

Harike in Punjab unaffected; No arrival in Kanjli yet

Presence of smog in the region has delayed the arrival of migratory birds at the Keshopur Chhamb wetland, 5km from Gurdaspur. District wildlife officer Rajesh Mahajan said the winged visitors may have changed their course or destination due to smog. So far, only 5,000 birds have descended on the wetland, compared to last season’s 25,000.

At the Kanjli wetland in Kapurthala, divisional wildlife officer Khushwant Singh says, “Only around 100 local birds have arrived, a significant drop over last year due to smog. No long distance bird has arrived yet.”

The arrival of migratory birds at Harike Wetland in Ferozepur has remained unaffected. So far, more than 22,000 migratory birds have landed, from Russia and Siberia. “Last year, about 55,000 migratory birds visited Harike,” Jarnail Singh, DFO (wildlife), Harike, told HT.

At Himachal’s Pong wetland; 1st fortnightly count starts

At the Pong Dam wetlands, officials of the wildlife wing of state forest department will be carrying out the first fortnightly count on Wednesday (November 15) to estimate the number of winged visitors roosting at the wetland.

(Inputs by Hardik Anand, Bhaskar Mukherjee, Kamaljit Singh Kamal, Jatinder Mahal, Gaurav Sagar Bhaskar, Naresh K Thakur)

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