Visit to Pong Dam
Beauty is in Nature. We usually regard man-made interventions a threat to natural beauty. Like this dam above. It’s basic job is to harness the river water into electricity. But when birds, sometimes from trans Himalayan countries, find an oasis for their seasonal winter travel, even the government can do little but proclaim this as a bird sanctuary.
Thousands of birds every year , like this flock of bar headed geese, flock to the waters of Pong Dam. Living in the marshes, bathing in the cool waters, eating fish from the waters, eating crop out of the farmers fertile field! That last one is tricky.
This young boy, all of 16 is part of the village community farming on the fertile fields. At night, he along with few others keep guard on their paddy fields during the sowing season (right now). They use their torch lights, sometimes loud music to scare the birds, which arrive in flocks of hundreds. Early morning, he says is quite a sight, with over 4000- 5000 birds resting on the marshes.The number of birds used to be in lakhs a couple of years ago. But they created havoc to the villagers crop.
Although the dam area is concentrated, as in the first picture, the birding areas are all along the river. Many little villages have a nondescript street or lane towards what is the “sanctuary”. Most people around are not much aware of this area and that birds like bar headed geese, shelducks, green winged teal, seagulls, Egyptian vulture and many others have made this their winter home. Glad to have found it. Hardly 2 hrs from home.