Bird Counting Seminar at Wildlife Department, Pong Dam in Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh, India
Wildlife Department of Himachal Pradesh organizes a two days event for counting Birds in Pong Dam. Idea of Bird counting is for better future planning on the basis of data and trend of Migratory birds in Pong Dam. Trends like - Why numbers of a particular bird is increasing and other is decreasing, Is there any change in Migration Routes or Jet Streams etc. For example, some of the birds are not coming to Pong because people have stopped sowing Paddy in agricultural land around Pong Lake. Let's go through this PHOTO JOURNEY to know more about seminar sessions conducted and other fun during two days at Nagrota Surian Forest Campus...
The very first Photograph of this Photo Journey shows three active members of Chandigarh Bird Club. Above Photograph is showing the main person who is successfully conducting this activity for last 9 years in Pong. He is Mr. Devender Singh Dhadwal, who was Range Officer in Pong and recently promoted and going to Great Himalayan National Park as Deputy Director. Mr. Dhadwal is very dedicated and passionate about Birding. He has also written a book on Pong under name - 'Wild Wings - Pong and It's Birds'. Most of us were very impressed by him and heard lot of good things about him from local folks, his juniors and seniors as well. His knowledge about birds was a clear example for his dedication and level of interest in his job !!
During theses two days of Bird Counting, a Seminar was organized for local folks, Wildlife Professionals from various parts of Himachal Pradesh, Birders from different states of North India and few Photographers like me. During this Seminar, Mr. Dhadwal told about main migratory birds which come to Pong every year, how the migrations happen and what are main factor that timings of these migrations vary from one year to another etc. Apart from basic knowledge around Migration mechanism, Mr. Dhadwal also raised some points about respecting the lifestyle of birds and their own ecosystem. As a Photographer I could relate to it and many of the Photographers need to respect the very basic things about the nature and life around them. That's most important thing before anything we do.
Basic seminars happened at Forest Campus in Nagrota Surian. Folks from Chandigarh, Delhi, UP, Chamba, Khajjiar, Kullu, Kaza, Hamirpur, Manali and lot of other parts of Himachal had come to join for these Seminars. After some knowledge sharing sessions, 21 teams were created to do counting in different parts of Pong Dam Lake. Team Leaders were decided on the basis of knowledge level of each individual about Birds. Mr. Dhadwal had made some slides with photographs of birds and each of us had to name those birds. Some of the folks sitting in the room had 30 correct out of 30 birds shown on the screen.
Here is Mr. Satish Gupta, Divisional Forest Officer in Hamirpur and Pong Water reservoir comes under him. He visit the place frequently and also loves to click Photographs of these colorful birds. In above photograph he is keeping an eye on team creation for counting process, as this is one of the important activity for Wildlife Conservation department.
After the formal seminar sessions, there were some snacks and bonfire planned near main Guest House inside Forest Campus of Nagrota Surian. During this some of the birders were invited on stage to share their experiences about Birding in Pong and how this interest built for watching Birds by visiting different places in World. Sarbjeet Kaur was first one to share her thoughts about Bird Watching and how it started in her life. She is an active member of Chandigarh Bird Club and this was second time she was visiting Bird Counting at pong Dam. She is quite regular in Uttrakhand as well.
Here is Mrs. Joshi, who is again a Birder from Shimla. She is a Professor by profession and love Bird watching. This was first time when she came to Pong Dam for Bird Watching. Her journey with birds started long time back when she was doing her researcher work during Ph.D. Since then she is regular bird watcher in Shimla region and also try to chase similar opportunities around Himachal Pradesh state of India.
Finally some folk dances of Himachal were presented by students of DAV School Nagrota Surian. Children had prepared very well and gave amazing performances.
There were some mix dance steps of Himachali Natti and Punjabi Bhagra. This particular region of Himachal is touching to Punjab and was initially part of Punjab only.
After few dance performances on Himachali Songs, a skit was shown on a very relevant topic where local people try to catch birds as they feel that birds destroy their crops and fish count goes down due to Migratory birds. At the same time, shown another side when forest department share appropriate information with local folks that birds are friendly and should be treated as guests in this Wetland of Himachal Pradesh.