The Annual Waterbird count initiated by Ugyen Wangchuck Institute of Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bumthang under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has captured a range of water- birds species including the most endangered species like white-bellied Heron, Black necked Crane and Pallas’s Fish Eagle.
This is the institute’s fourth nationwide survey on water-birds roosting and thriving in Bhutan. It was done by scouring all the river systems in the country and tallying and recording the diversity of Bhutan’s Water-bird.
During the survey, a team from Thimphu recorded a female mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) for the first time along the Thimphu Chhu near Babesa.
Similarly, a team from UWICE involving the 4th batch of Nature Guide trainees also documented Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis) for the first time in Chamkhar Chhu in Bumthang.
The survey this year also recorded about 50 black stork (Ciconia nigra) along the Phibsu longa khola river. This according to the Ornithologist with the institute, Sherab, is deemed to be the largest flock recorded so far in Bhutan.
According to the Research Assistant with UWICE, Sangay Rinchen, such a survey will help generate comprehensive data and information on Bhutan’s Waterbird diversity and it will not only help reveal Bhutan’s avifaunal diversity but will also make information available for researchers and bird lovers.
He said the survey is intended to generate data from the identified areas for long term monitoring of habitat change and species response to the climate change.
Conducting such survey UWICE is also aimed at understanding and sharing data with the International Wetlands as Bhutan is one of the flyway corridors for the migratory birds in the Himalayan region.
Until the initiation of such survey, the information on Water-bird diversity was critically lacking where the bird record in Bhutan included only those documented by parks and other protected area systems during their regular biodiversity survey and other sporadic sighting of new species by forests officials and other bird fans.
By conducting such survey the institute will also be assessing how the bird responds to the climate change.
Bhutan is likely to have more than 120 water-bird species and at least two to three new species for the country are added during each survey.