Shimla: Over 130,000 birds of 93 species have been spotted in the Pong Dam wetlands in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, which is 7,000 more than last year when the count stood at 1.28 lakh.
However, the number of species has come down from 119 recorded last year to 93 this year, said state Wildlife Department officials who conducted the two-day annual census of waterfowl -- birds that depend on water bodies for roosting and feeding -- that concluded yesterday.
Most prominent among the birds sighted at the Pong dam was bar-headed geese, a rare winter migrant in other Indian wetlands, the state wildlife wing said.
Pong Dam wetlands is one of the biggest man-made wetlands in northern India and flocks of birds from distant places like Siberia and the West Asia visit the reservoir during winters every year.
The largest influx was of the bar-headed goose (71,800), followed by northern pintail (11,800), common coots (9,500), common teals (8,100), common pochards (6,900), little cormorants (5,700), tufted ducks (2,800), ruddy shelduck (2,800) and great cormorants (2,400).
Other species recorded in the lake were the greater white-fronted geese (53), pied avocet (42), osprey (nine), sarus crane (five), black bellied tern (five), common shelduck (two), buff bellied pipit (two), water pipit (two) and little gull (one).
The other noticeable species were the great crested grebe, graylag goose, red crested pochard, ferruginous pochard, common merganser, Eurasian spoonbill, and garganey and long billed pipits.
Built in 1976, the Pong wetlands occupy an area of at least 18,000 hectares and extend up to 30,000 hectares in the peak monsoon season.
An area of about 20,000 hectares within a radius of five km has been notified as a buffer zone dedicated to wildlife.
After the Bharatpur sanctuary in Rajasthan, this reservoir is the only place in India where the red-necked grebe descends every year.