Srinagar, Mar 22: With the recent rise in daytime temperatures in Kashmir, winged visitors are departing the valley wetlands earlier this year. According to authorities, over 13 lakh migrating birds have visited the region so far this year.
Ifshan Dewan, Wildlife Warden (Wetlands) Kashmir, informed Rising Kashmir that the current warm weather conditions have forced migrating birds to depart Kashmir.
"As per census estimates, roughly 13 lakh migratory birds visited Kashmir this year." "About 12 lakh migrating birds were reported last year," she said, adding that this year, more migratory birds visited the valley, indicating a positive trend.
“The increase in daytime temperatures in the region has forced winged tourists to leave Valley. Most of these birds have been migrating from Kashmir to other areas of the world in the last week,” ifshan added.
On February 2, the wildlife department conducted a census in Hokersar, Shalabugh, Hygam, Mirgund, Chatlum, Kranchoo, Manibugh, Freshkhoori, and 25 other water bodies in the Valley.
“We conducted a census in eight protected wetlands and other water bodies which included Dal and Wular. During the census, some rare species had also made Kashmir their winter abode, we hope this trend continues in the future," Ifshan said.
She said new species include falcated duck, whooper swan, long-tail duck, and others. Some first-time visitors rested in our wetlands, which is a very good indication of the improvement in the conservation of their habitat in Kashmir, the wildlife warden said.
In recent decades the number of visiting birds has declined, which experts say is due to a combination of climate change and urban development.
Dr. Irfan Rashid, Senior Assistant Professor at the Department of Geoinformatics, University of Kashmir said given that winter was not so harsh and also the fact that we observed more than 5 °C higher temperatures in February and March that continue to rise, migratory birds started early departure to colder northern latitudes.
"However, this needs to be further researched, given that Hokersar, a major nesting place for migratory waterfowl, has dried up completely," he said.
Another wildlife department said that valley wetlands witnessed more migratory birds as compared to past years.“With the sudden increase in temperatures, most of the migratory birds are leaving Kashmir,” he said.
Each year migratory birds from Siberia, China, central Asia, Eastern Europe, and various other inclement terrains visit Kashmir. For the transitory birds, however, the Kashmir arrival occurs during September and October and then they return around February for the reverse migration.
Falling in the Central-Asian Flyway zone, Kashmir, since the dawn of time, has been the home of various migratory birds during the winter.
There are around nine wetlands in Kashmir including Hokersar, Hygam, Pampore, and Bandipora where these birds rest their flights during the winter.