Surveying water birds and the impact of climate change on them  

The Ugyen Wangchuck Institute of Conservation and Environment (UWICE) in Bumthang is building a reliable database on all Water birds roosting and thriving in Bhutan by conducting an annual nationwide Water birds survey.

The first such survey began from 2014 and officials from relevant organizations and bird enthusiasts have scoured all the river systems in the country tallying and recording the diversity of Bhutan’s Water birds.

Within three years officials travelled along the rivers of the country and recorded the Water birds they encounter and entered them into the ornithology database.

This year alone the institute has recorded about 55 species during their recent survey and this is expected to help disclose comprehensive data and information on Bhutan’s Water bird diversity and avifaunal bounty of the country.

According to sesearch assistant with UWICE, Rinchen Singye, Bhutan being a landlocked country has more forest birds than water birds.


Yet, he said that Bhutan is likely to have more than 120 water bird species event hough the recent survey could record only 55 species.

Rinchen Singye said that at least two to three new species are added during such surveys.

“The record of new water bird species has increased compared to the past,” Rinchen Singye said.

In the past except for the general bird tally, the information on Water bird diversity was critically lacking before the initiation of water bird survey.

The bird record in Bhutan included those documented by parks and other protected area systems during their regular biodiversity survey and other sporadic sighting of new species chanced upon by forests officials and other bird fans.

The survey team, during the exercise particularly looks into the types of habitat a particular species is found and adapted to. In addition, officials said that it will help estimate populations as to how many species of Water birds are thriving in the whole country.

The Research Assistant said that after 10 years, the institute can come out with some findings on how the bird responses to climate change and goes through mutation to adapt to the changing environment.

Climate change critically impacts the bird and their adaptability said the survey head and although initially a species of bird roost and live in certain ecological habitat, their habitat changes due to increase of temperature and other impacts of climate.

Hence, the survey team members also look into such components and accordingly come out with the findings.

Some of the Water bird already recorded and known to be thriving within the river ecosystem of Bhutan are Cormorants, Ducks, Egrets, Storks, Black-necked Crane, Plovers, Sandpipers, Wagtails, Kingfishers, Dippers and Herons.

Some of the most recent new species of birds recorded and entered in the database includes Ardeola Bacchus or Chinese Pond heron which was recorded in June 2014 by the Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, black-headed Gull, scientifically termed Larusridibundus first sighted in Royal Manas national Park, Hodgson’s Frogmouth (Batrachostomus hodgsoni) also in Royal Manas National Park, Barn Owl (Tyto Alba) in Jigme Dorji National Park and a few more.  


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