Waterbird Count: Birdwatchers delight


Hundreds of avid bird lovers, including ornithologists, locals and students across the country, are taking part in the 24th Midwinter Waterbird Count from Jan. 9 to 25, the longest-running monitoring programme of any wildlife done on an annual basis in Nepal.

Nepal first participated in the midwinter waterbird count in January 1987 on behalf of Wetlands International. Since then, it has been participating every year along with other Asian countries including Pakistan, Malaysia, India, Japan and Korea.

Hem Sagar Baral, senior ornithologist and national coordinator of the Midwinter Waterbird Count Programme under Wetlands International said, a large network of passionate volunteers are mobilised nationwide to count birds in at least 30 different wetlands, which are known to harbour both residential and migratory water birds.

The programme is jointly supported by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife

Conservation, National Trust for Nature Conservation and the Wetland Project, Nepal among others. Bird counting has commenced with the involvement of community-based organisations in Ghodaghodi and Jagdishpur lakes, Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve and Chitwan National Park (CNP) from Saturday. The wetlands of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Pokhara, Bardia National Park and the remaining parts of CNP will be covered next week. Last year’s midwinter waterbird count put the total population from 79 species of water birds at 30,144. “Midwinter bird counting has become like a festival for many conservationists and passionate bird watchers who see it as an occasion to celebrate,” Baral said.

The data generated during the count provide an outlook on the status, distribution and population of waterbirds in the country. “This (count) also helps update the national red data list on birds of Nepal and feeds information to those who update the global bird list,” he added.

Of the 864 species of known birds in the country, nearly 200 are dependent on water. As many as 34 species of ducks have been known to Nepal, 30 of them are migrants with some coming from as far as Siberia.

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