Avian guests fed paddy grains at frozen Hokersar

SRINAGAR: As Hokersar Wetland Reserve has frozen, the authorities have been dispersing food grains at select places so that the thousands of migratory birds that make the water body home in winters do not go hungry.
Imtiaz Ahmad Lone, Warden Wetlands, said a layer of ice that has covered most of the wetland is hampering the natural feeding of the birds.
Therefore officials spray paddy grains on both frozen and unfrozen pools in the wetland, which are soon flocked by the hungry birds.
An employee who feeds the birds said paddy grains work well because the seeds float on water.
Although most of the migratory birds have moved to wetlands in Indian plains to escape the harsh winter period in the Valley—they will return by the February—thousands who have stayed back need to be fed.
According to Lone, the boats that carry the grains to feeding spots break ice and expose the birds’ natural feeding habitat in the process.
“The feeding will continue till such frozen conditions exist here,” Lone said.
“We were quite apprehensive about the lake ecosystem that got disrupted due to floods in September. But we worked overtime to make the birds comfortable,” Lone said.
He said that services of Dal dwellers, who are adept at removing land mass from water bodies, were hired to smoothen water circulation in the wetland.
The wetland that spans several square kilometers received about five lakh migratory birds this year. It is one of the major stopovers and nestling grounds for the birds arriving from cold habitats of Central Asia, Russia and China. These birds fly back to their native places by March.
The reserve is the Valley’s major migratory bird habitat for thousands of Graylag Geese, Mallards, Wigeons, Shovellers, Teals, Coots and Pochards, Brahmany ducks.

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