<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The boom of guns has given way to more soothing sounds along the Indo-Pak international border after winged guests kept their date with the famous Gharana wetland in the RS Pora sector of Jammu division.Earlier the shelling from across the border would scare the birds away. Now that the guns have fallen silent, the birds have stayed for the winter. “Fifteen days ago a shell landed near my quarter smashing its window panes. Since the arrival of birds there is no incident of shelling. If there is shelling again there will be effects on birds, they will flee to some other place,” Amit Kumar Sharma, Wildlife Warden, Jammu, told DNA.More than 1,300 migratory birds from different countries have arrived in the Gharana Wetland Conservation Reserve. Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Protection Department officials are expecting more than 3,000 birds to arrive in the wetland this fall.“More than 750 bar-headed geese, which is our special feature, have so far arrived in the Gharana wetland. Other species which have arrived so far include pintail, common teal, mallard, black-headed ibis etc,” Sharma, Wildlife Warden said.The arrival of five pairs of majestic black-headed ibis at the wetland has rejuvenated enthusiasm among local bird watchers who await the arrival of their guests every year. “Last year, only one black-headed ibis had arrived at the wetland. This year, five black- headed ibis have arrived so far. This bird has a black head with curved beak,” said Sharma.Spread over 1,600 kanals (20 kanal equals one hectare) of land, the Gharana wetland has been notified as a Wetland Conservation Reserve. Falling under the North West Himalayan bio-geographical zone with sub-tropical climate, the major source of precipitation in the area is monsoon rains.This year, the birds which had earlier been fitted with tracking collars also arrived at the reserve, helping wildlife authorities monitor their migratory patterns and to map their routes. “Two bar-headed geese with neck collars have also arrived. For example, data from one neck collar reveal that the bird was first spotted at Pong Dam from which it has taken a flight to Gharana,” said Sharma.Jammu and Kashmir government has gone on an overdrive to promote the Gharana wetland as an eco-tourism paradise in the state. Every year before the arrival of the migratory birds, the authorities de-weed and de-silt the area to ensure the birds are comfortable in their winter homes. “Lots of bird watchers also visit this site,” said Sharma.
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