Aquatic bird count underway across NepalCensus of aquatic birds is held every year in January in various water bodies and wetlands. Report will come in April-May.
A nationwide count of water birds kicked off in several parts of the country from Saturday. About 350 ornithologists, birding enthusiasts, nature guides and volunteers have been mobilised for the bird count.
“The counting of water birds began simultaneously in Kathmandu Valley, Chitwan, Koshi areas and Pokhara on Saturday. The ornithologists, nature guides and volunteers have been carrying out counts in the Manohara and Bagmati rivers and Taudaha Lake in Kathmandu,” said senior ornithologist Hem Sagar Baral, who is the national coordinator of water bird census this year. “Likewise, bird counting is underway in 15 different places in Chitwan, more than a dozen places in the Koshi areas and 10 places in Pokhara.”
Similarly, the bird census will be conducted in three Ramsar wetland sites of the country—Jagadishpur Lake in Kapilvastu, Bishajari Lake in Chitwan and Ghodaghodi Lake in Kailali. The conservationists plan to carry out bird counts in the Lumbini area, Rapti River, Dhanusha, Dang, Makawanpur and Gaidahawa as well as Gajedi in Rupandehi district.
According to Baral, the bird count will be conducted shortly in six different places in Shuklaphanta National Park; five places in Nawalpur and three places in Bardiya. “The bird census will conclude on January 21. We will publish the final report of the aquatic bird count in April-May,” he added.
The national water bird census is being conducted in coordination with Himalayan Nature and with the support of Wetlands International. The Bird Conservation Nepal, Bird Education Society, Pokhara Bird Society, Koshi Bird Society and other organisations working in the bird conservation sector are also involved in the bird census.
The counting is generally done using the direct method. According to the ornithologists, they use telescopes, binoculars, GPS, sound recorders and cameras to count birds.
The counting of water birds is currently underway globally. The census of aquatic birds is held every year in January in various water bodies and wetlands. Nepal conducted its first water bird count in 1967 and has conducted it annually since 1987.
The bird count, according to ornithologists, is very important to prepare policies and programmes for nature conservation. “The rise or fall of bird population helps to gauge the impact of climate change and the whole ecosystem. The bird census is also helpful to promote birding tourism in the country,” said Hathan Chaudhary, another ornithologist. According to him, around eight percent of the total foreign tourists visit Nepal for bird watching.
The bird census is carried out in mid-winter keeping in view the winter migratory birds. Nepal welcomes around 150 species of migratory birds every year and more than 100 of them are water bird species. The aquatic birds, according to ornithologists, migrate to various lakes, rivers and wetlands in Nepal from Siberia, China, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries with the onset of winter and stay here until February.
However, conservationists are worried about the decline of the aquatic bird population in various places in Nepal including Jagadishpur Lake, a bird sanctuary which is a major habitat of winter migratory birds.
“The shrinking wetland areas, use of insecticides and pesticides in agricultural farmlands and water bodies, unsafe electricity lines, and hunting are the leading causes behind the falling water bird population in the country lately,” said ornithologist Krishna Bhusal. According to him, climate change is another cause of the declining aquatic bird population in Nepal.