Bird abundance of a flood plain wetland of Kashmir Himalayas
Masli Aijaz Ahmad, Dr. Imtiyaz Ahmad Bhat
Wetlands are regarded as fragile ecosystems harbouring rich biodiversity of fauna and flora. Among fauna, birds are considered as most conspicuous group of vertebrates that are used as reliable indicators of ecological health of an ecosystem. The present study was carried out at Chandhara wetland located in South Kashmir of India with an objective of assessing its bird fauna which can serve as first-hand baseline data for assigning conservation value to this important bird habitat. The study conducted during June, 2008 and November, 2008 recorded a total of twenty nine (29) species of birds belonging to fifteen (15) families as noticeable users of this wetland. Main contributors of avifauna belonged to Rallidae, Alcedinidae and Anatidae, each with three species of birds. Thirteen (13) species of birds were observed utilizing resources of wetland during summer of June 2008 whereas sixteen (16) species were noticed foraging in the wetland in November 2008. Based on abundance scale given by Komar and Herrera (1995), avifauna was categorized into Abundant, Locally abundant, Common, Uncommon and Rare species. Birds detected in June 2008 included Moorhen (Gallinule chloropus) as lone ‘abundant’ species. Five species of birds comprising of Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus), Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Rufous backed Shrike (Lanius schach), Little Bittern (Ixobrychus minutus) and Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii) were detected as ‘Common locally abundant’ species. Birds categorized as ‘Common’ species included Dabchick/Little Grebe (Tachybaptusrufficollis), Small Blue Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Water rail (Rallus aquaticus) and Rudy breasted crake (Porzana fusca). Three species of birds comprising of White breasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Pheasant tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirugus), and Yellow headed Wagtail (Motacilla citreola calcarata), detected in June 2008 were labelled as ‘Uncommon’. The avifauna detected in November included Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), Blue Throat (Erithacus svecicus ), Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii) and Pipit (Anthusnovaeseelandiae) sighted as ‘common locally abundant’ species. Birds like common Teal (Anas crecca), Common Snipe (Capella gallinago gallinago), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea rectrirostris) and Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) were detected as ‘common’ species. Largest number of avifaunal species comprising of Gadwall (Anas strepera), Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), Small Blue Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), Marsh Harrier (Circusaeroginosus), European Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), Great Tit (Parus major) and Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) occurred as ‘uncommon’ species in November2008.