Well below their winter habitats

Four birds have been spotted in the relatively warmers climes of Gelephu

Really Warmer Climes: Either they’re lost or searching out new stamping grounds

Black Necked Cranes 2 December, 2010 – If tigers are roaming mountains above the snowline, black-necked cranes, a bird native to the cold heights of Tibet and Bhutan, are being spotted in the warmer plains of Bhutan.
In what was an unusual sighting for farmers of Dawatang and Karbithang of Chuzergang gewog in Gelephu, they spotted four black-necked cranes foraging in their rice fields. Chuzergang is about 265 m above sea level, 2,635 m below their usual roosting grounds in Phobjikha.

The cranes, two adults and two juveniles were spotted first on November 14 in Karbithang village, not far away from the Mao Khola. Dungkhag officials informed the royal society for the protection of nature (RSPN) on November 22.

Chuzergang gup Sangay Tshering said the birds were not spotted before November 14, and believes that it was the first time the birds arrived in their village.

RSPN, which has monitored and conducted research on the endangered cranes since 1986, confirmed that it was the first spotting of black-necked cranes in the southern dzongkhags. But this is nothing to be so surprised about, according to a senior research officer of RSPN, Rebecca Pradhan. “Cranes were spotted in other low altitudes of eastern dzongkhags, although this is the first time being spotted in southern foothills,” she said.

While the newcomers have raised curiousity among the villagers, experts say the cranes must be adapting to changing environments. Bird specialist Sherub from Ugyen Wangchuck institute of conservation and environment in Lamigoenpa, Bumthang, said there could be two possible reasons. “The birds could have lost their way while migrating to Bhutan, because of overcast by clouds,” said Sherub. “Or they could be exploring new wintering areas.”

Sherub said that it would be interesting to observe the cranes; see if they stay throughout the winter and come back to the same place next season. Then it might possibly be that they are exploring new habitats.

Rebecca Pradhan said there were instances of birds landing in wrong places because of the sky overcast by clouds. “It happened in 2007 once.” According to her, in 2007, the cranes were spotted scattered around the Pelela pass not reaching the Phobjikha, having lost their landing place because of overcast conditions. “Black-necked cranes were found roosting at sea level in Vietnam.”

The other possibility, she explained, could be exploring new areas. “With the roosting place hit by flood in Bomdeling, they might also be looking for places with enough grain and exploring new areas.”

Meanwhile, RSPN officials have urged local people to protect the cranes, which are not only legally protected in Bhutan but of immense global importance.


Source: Kuensel Newspaper