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WILD LIFE

DISCOVERY OF WILDLIFE KASHMIR Day 1

BIRD WATCHING

Bird watching is a lifetime ticket to the theater of nature. This is about wild birds & ducks of Kashmir. Birding is for everyone who is interested in enjoying nature. Bird diversity varies seasonally and as many as 554 species belonging to 13 orders have been recorded in the State of Jammu & Kashmir. 262 species have been reported from the temperate and alpine regions of the Kashmir Valley ranging in elevation from 1800m to 7500m with an average annual rainfall of 733mm. 225 species have been reported from the cold high-level desert of Ladakh which ranges in elevation from 2750m to 7672m with an average annual rainfall of 160 mm.183 species have been reported from the sub-tropical plains of Jammu with an elevation of about 100 to 700m with an average annual rainfall of 1124mm. Staking out in the wild to identify and track birds that is the essence of bird watching. You have to spot a bird in its natural habitat and then try to discover its identity. It’s not tough to bird watch. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Carry a powerful pair of binoculars, a notebook and a pen, and plenty of patience on your bird watching holiday.Birds flock to a water source, such as in our lakes, rivers and all the mountain areas like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg etc. For wild ducks (migratory / seasonal) and other waterfowl you can visit Hokarsar, Anchar, Manasbal, Wular, Dal & Nageen Lakes. So that’s where you need to head out. Some of the important bird watching sites are: Hygam: The Hygam wetland located some 50kms from Srinagar has shrunk from 4.5 sq. kms to less than 1.5 sq. kms. Hokersar : Hokersar, 14 km north of Srinagar is another world class wetland spread over 13. 75 sq kms including lake and marshy area. It attracts birds from Siberia, Central Asia, China, North Europe and the Indian sub-continent. A record number (over 400,000) migratory birds were estimated to have been spotted at the Hokersar Wildlife Sanctuary this winter.

Shalibug: Shalibug is Kashmir's largest bird reserve

Tso Morari Lake, Ladakh: This freshwater to brackish lake lying at 4,595m above sea level is the world's highest Ramsar site. The lake is the only breeding ground outside of China for one of the most endangered cranes, the Black-necked crane Grus nigricollis, and the only breeding ground for Bar-headed Geese in India. A small northern offshore island forms the main nesting site for the Bar Headed Geese and the Brown Headed Gull. Dachigam National Park: Dachigam contains the last viable population of Hangul or Kashmir Stag in the world. The two sectors of the Park - Upper and Lower Dachigam are spread over an area of 141-sq-km. and altitudes vary between 1,700 and 4,300m. Over 150 species of birds have been reported including Crimson Tragopan, Monal Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Koklas Pheasant, Golden Eagle, Lammergeier etc. Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve: Gulmarg is located at a distance of 48-km to the south-west of Srinagar. It is a major tourist destination and a world-class Ski resort. Avifauna includes pheasants and upland birds amongst other resident and migratory species. Griffon Vulture, Monal Pheasant, Snow Cock, Koklas Pheasant, Blue Rock Pigeon, Kashmir Roller, Eurasian Hoopoe, Jungle Crow etc. are found there. BIO DIVERSITY IN J&K The highest, youngest & largest chain of mountains in the world, the Himalayan range is one of the most fascinating and spectacular natural wonders on earth. It is more than that: it is one of the richest stores of animal life. For instance, it is remarkable that almost one third of the world's mammalian species that may be called true mountain animals are native to these mountains. Jammu and Kashmir with its variety of geographical regions, climates and vegetation has many delights to offer the wildlife enthusiast. Perhaps no animal better epitomises the character and concerns of the mountain environment than the snow leopard, a beautiful and elusive survivor from the frigid Pleistocene era. Though its range is immense, extending over the entire Himalayan range, it is most advantageously sought in Jammu and Kashmir especially in the high ranges. Another rare animal is the Hangul or Kashmir stag, one of the most endangered species of red deer in the world. An enigmatic mammal is the Bharal; the controversy over whether it is a sheep or a goat is not yet settled. Many unique species of antelope, goat and sheep are found in the state. In winter high-altitude bird species move to the lower valleys and into the tourist's purview. Cinnamon sparrows, the black and yellow grosbeak, black bulbuls and Monal Pheasants (the male splendidly coloured) may be seen now. At this time, too large troops of the impressive Himalayan gray Langur visit for the duration. But nothing strikes the eye and imagination so much as in spring and summer, when the long foothills and deep valleys awake to life. Now also awakes the imposing Himalayan black bear and as the winter avifauna return to higher quarters the birds of the summer return. Among these is the lovely golden oriole. The Langurs and Hangful, too make their way to higher valleys that are not however inaccessible Though wildlife conservation in Ladakh began fairly recently, There is so much here that is not found in the lower ranges. Ladakh's ecosystem, lying at the confluence of three zoogeographic zones, is fascinating and uniquely varied. A dozen important mammals and over 100 species of birds make their home in this rugged terrain most of them, though endangered or rare.

RARE MAMMALS

The rare mammals of the region include the Kashmir stag or Hangul (Cervus elephus hanglu), the Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus), the Tibetan Antelope or Chiru (Panthelops hodgsoni), the Tibetan Gazelle (Procapra picticaudata), the Serow (Capricorms sumatraensis), the Markhor (Capra alconeri), the Amon, the Wild Yak (Bos grunniens), the Tibetan Wild Ass, the Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) and the Brown Bear (Ursus arctos), Ibex (Capra siberica) to name a few. During the year 2002 the number of Hangul in dachigam national park has been reported as 483.

RARE BIRDS

some of the rare and threatened birds found in the area include exotic species like the Himalayan Golden Eagle (Acquila chrysatos), the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus), the Monal Pheasant (Lophopherus impejanus), the Koklas (Pucrasia macrolopha), the Western Tragopan (Trogopan malanocephalus), the Black necked Crane (Grus nigricollis), the Himalayan Snow Cock (Tetrogallus himalayensis.) and the Bar-Headed Goose (Anser indicus).

MIGRATORY WATER BIRDS

Migratory Water birds include Duck, Geese and Swans. The most common water birds which visit the state during winter months are Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Common Teal (Anas crecca), Pintail (Anos acuta), Red Crested Pochard (Netta rufina), Greylag Goose (Anser), Wigeon (Anas penelope), Shoveller (A. clypeata), Garganay (A. guerguedula), Coot (Fulica atra) and Gadwall (Anas ctripera). Peak population of migratory birds during the year 2002 in Hakoora has been reported as 3.82 lakhs.

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