Migratory birds keep date with Kashmir
Srinagar: Heralding the arrival of winter, migratory birds have started arriving in the wetlands of the Kashmir valley from Siberia, eastern Europe, China and the Philippines.
Life has again returned to the Hokersar wetland reserve, 12 km from city centre Lal Chowk, where over 100,000 migratory birds have already landed.
"As first arrivals, we have graylag geese, mallards, pintails, gadwalls, pochards, common teals, tufted ducks and coots thronging the Hokersar wetland reserve," Rouf Ahmad Zargar, wildlife warden (wetlands), told IANS.
"Birds of passage such as cormorants can also be spotted. But they are here for a short period. With advancing cold, they will move down to the plains."
Besides migratory birds, there are hundreds of purple moorhens and dabchicks that live permanently in the valley's wetland reserves.
"These are resident water birds. They live, feed and breed inside the wetland reserves here, but a new trend seen during the last decade or so has been that some species of migratory birds such as mallards stay back in the valley for the summers too," Zargar said.
"These birds are now seen laying and hatching eggs inside the wetland reserves here during the summer months. This phenomenon can be attributed to the congenial living conditions here," he said.
Other major wetland reserves of Kashmir such as Shallabugh, Hygam and Mirgund have also started receiving avian guests who come here to avoid the extreme winter cold of their summer homes.
"The passage of the migratory birds is a marvel of navigation unparalleled even by the most hi-tech aircraft. Leading by instinct, the birds cover thousands of miles flying into the valley from their summer homes," said Master Habibullah, a 72-year-old bird watcher from Chanduna village near the Shallabugh bird reserve in Ganderbal district.
"The discipline and formation in which the migratory birds fly is a sight to watch. The eldest of the flock pilots the flock while others fly behind.