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3540Radio-collared bird returns to Pong from China

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  • chandwani01
    Dec 20, 2011
      Radio-collared bird returns to Pong from China
      Pratibha Chauhan
      Tribune News Service

      Shimla, December 19
      A project of the Wildlife Department where migratory birds had been radio collared last winter at Pong Dam seems to have yielded the desired results as one of the birds, a ruddy shelduck, has already returned from wetlands in North-West China while three other birds are on their return journey.

      The return of the lone ruddy shelduck that had been collared last year along with six other migratory birds brought cheer to wildlife experts when the bird once again descended on Pong Dam on December 11 after traversing a distance of 2200 km from its summer destination of Yixiao Dui and Kareqi Lan ai Rike wetlands in North-West China.

      This time the Wildlife Department will install a satellite telemetry chip on 18 new birds in April-May next year considering the success of its mission. The three bar-headed geese have been tracked about 100 km away from Pong Dam somewhere near Mt Kailash and are expected to arrive shortly at the wetland.

      It was in April and May this year that six birds — three bar-headed geese, one ruddy shelduck and two ducks — had been radio collared with assistance from the Bombay Natural History Society. While the two ducks chose to become locals and never left Pong, the other four birds left for their summer sojourn in cooler climes.

      "We now have details of the birds' stopover, route taken, duration of non-stop flight and their ultimate destination in Russia and China with the help of the global positioning system," said AK Gulati, Chief Wildlife Warden. He added that the route of three other bar-headed geese was also being tracked and they, too, were likely to reach Pong Dam shortly.

      Gulati said this year 18 new birds would be collared before they returned from Pong Dam towards Siberia and other cold areas for the summer. The basic concept of satellite telemetry is to attach a radio transmitter to a bird and track the signal to determine its movement. The cost of each chip is about Rs 2.50 lakh and it will send signals for four years with the batteries getting recharged through solar energy.

      More than 1.40 lakh migratory birds of 85 different species descend on Pong Dam every winter after crossing thousands of kilometres from places as far as China, Siberia, Russia and Nepal. The largest influx is of bar-headed geese, coots, common pochards, pintails, cormorants and spot bill ducks.