Introduction

Kashmir is a beautiful Himalayan valley with breathtaking mountain scenery, clear lakes, lush vegetation and magnificent forests. The capital city Srinagar (1,730m) is famous for its canals, houseboats and Mughal gardens. The valley is home to a rich biodiversity including a large number of bird species, many of which are unique to Kashmir.

Number of bird species: 550+

Ladakh is a a cold high altitude desert cut off from the monsoon clouds by the Great Himalayas. Wind, water and snow and chemical reactions within the rocks themselves have carved out a fantastic, and at places grotesque, landscape referred to as the moonscape. Ladakh lies at altitudes ranging from about 9,000 feet (2,750m) at Kargil to 25,170 feet (7,672m) at Saser Kangri in the Karakoram. Leh, the capital city lies at 3505m. Ladakh has a number of high-altitude lakes and is the only breeding ground for the black-necked crane outside China.

Click here for Orient Bird Club's excellent overview of birding in Ladakh.

Number of bird species: 300+

Top Birding Sites in Kashmir

1. Kashmir Wetlands [Wular Lake (Ramsar site no. 461) Hygam, Hokersar, Shalibug, Mirgund]

Migratory birds from Siberia and Central Asia use the wetlands in Kashmir as their transitory camps between September and October and again around spring.
Avifauna: Migratory ducks and geese include Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal and Eurasian Wigeon.

Status: Theatened by siltation and human encroachment.

2. Tso Morari Lake, Ladakh [Ramsar site no. 1213]

This freshwater to brackish lake lying at 4,595m above sea level is the world's highest Ramsar site.
Avifauna:
The lake is the only breeding ground outside of China for one of the most endangered cranes, the Black-necked crane (Grus nigricollis), and the only breeding ground for Bar-headed Geese in India. A small northern offshore island forms the main nesting site for the Bar Headed Geese and the Brown Headed Gull.
Status: Threatened by increased tourism. A Tso Morari Conservation Trust has been recently formed with the help of the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) Leh office for conservation of the lake.

3. Dal Lake

The famous Dal Lake of Srinagar has been described as "hardly what one would expect a lake to be like - it's a maze of intricate waterways and channels, floating islands of vegetation, houseboats that look so firmly moored they could almost be islands and hotels on islands which look like they could simply float away". The famous Dal Lake has shrunk from an area of 16 sq. kms in the 1980s to about 9 sq. kms today.
Avifauna:
All the lake birds on the www.kashmirnetwork.com/birds/ site have been photographed in and around the lake.
Status: Theatened by unplanned tourism, pollution, siltation, human encroachment and overgrowth of vegetation.

4. Dachigam National Park

This one-time exclusive hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Kashmir was declared a national park in 1951. Dachigam contains the last viable population of Hangul or Kashmir Stag in the world.
The two sectors of the Park - Upper and Lower Dachigam are spread over an area of 141-sq-km. and altitudes vary between 1,700 and 4,300m. Two steep ridges enclose the Park with its great topographical variety - deep ravines, rocky outcrops, steep wooded slopes and rolling alpine pastures. The Dagwan stream flows from the Marsar Lake (4,300m) through Lower Dachigam.
Avifauna:
Over 150 species of birds have been reported in Dachigam.
Status: Theatened by human encroachment.

5. Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve

Gulmarg is located at a distance of 48-km to the south-west of Srinagar. It is a world-class ski resort and a major tourist destination boasting of the worlds highest ropeway.
Avifauna:
A wide variety of bird life is seen in the biosphere which ranges from 2000m at Tangmarg to 4114m at Apharwat with the Gulmarg valley lying at 2,699m.
Status: Theatened by unplanned tourism.

ENVIS IMPORTANT BIRD AREAS in KASHMIR & LADAKH

KASHMIR

Dachigam:
IBA Code IN-JK-02
Site Name Dachigam
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Srinagar
Area 17125 sq. km.
Status National Park
Criteria Globally threatened species, Restricted range species, Biome-restricted assemblage (A1, A2, A3)
Habitat Type Alpine Moist Scrub, Himalayan Moist Temperate, Alpine Moist Pasture

Gulmarg:
IBA Code IN-JK-04
Site Name Gulmarg
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Baramulla
Area 13925 sq. km.
Status Wildlife Sanctuary
Criteria Globally threatened species, Restricted range species, Biome-restricted assemblage (A1, A2, A3)
Habitat Type Himalayan Wet Temperate, Alpine Moist Scrub, Alpine Moist Pasture

Haigam Rakh:
IBA Code IN-JK-05
Site Name Haigam Rakh
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Baramulla
Area 1400 sq. km.
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Globally threatened species, Congregations: Site known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, > 20,000 water birds or > 10,000 pairs of seabirds of one or more species (A1, A4iii)
Habitat Type Aquatic, Riverine Vegetation, Himalayan Secondary Scrub

Hirapora:
IBA Code IN-JK-08
Site Name Hirapora
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Pulwama
Area 11450 sq. km.
Status Wildlife Sanctuary
Criteria Globally threatened species, Data deficient (A1, DD)
Habitat Type Himalayan Wet Temperate, Himalayan Moist Temperate, Himalayan Secondary Scrub

Hokarsar:
IBA Code IN-JK-09
Site Name Hokarsar
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Budgam and Srinagar
Area 1375 sq. km.
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Globally threatened species, Congregations: Site known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, > 20,000 water birds or > 10,000 pairs of seabirds of one or more species (A1, A4iii)
Habitat Type Seasonal Marsh

Lachipora:
IBA Code IN-JK-11
Site Name Lachipora
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Baramulla
Area 9350 sq. km.
Status Wildlife Sanctuary
Criteria Globally threatened species, Restricted range species (A1, A2)
Habitat Type Sub Tropical Pine Forest, Alpine Moist Pasture

Limber:
IBA Code IN-JK-12
Site Name Limber
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Baramulla
Area 4375 sq. km.
Status Wildlife Sanctuary
Criteria Globally threatened species, Restricted range species, Biome-restricted assemblage (A1, A2, A3)
Habitat Type Sub Tropical Pine Forest

Mirgund Jheel:
IBA Code IN-JK-13
Site Name Mirgund Jheel
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Budgam
Area 300 sq. km.
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Globally threatened species, Congregations: Site known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, > 1% of a biogeographic population of a congregatory waterbird species (A1, A4i)
Habitat Type Flooded Valley Grassland, Freshwater Swamp, Himalayan Secondary Scrub

Overa - Aru:
IBA Code IN-JK-14
Site Name Overa - Aru
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Anantnag
Area 51100 sq. km.
Status Wildlife Sanctuary
Criteria Globally threatened species, Restricted range species, Biome-restricted assemblage (A1, A2, A3)
Habitat Type Himalayan Dry Temperate, Alpine Moist Scrub, Alpine Dry Scrub

Shallabugh Lake and Marshes:
IBA Code IN-JK-17
Site Name Shallabugh Lake and Marshes
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Srinagar
Area 700 sq. km.
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Congregations: Site known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, > 20,000 water birds or > 10,000 pairs of waterbirds of one or more species (A4iii)
Habitat Type Freshwater Swamp, Himalayan Secondary Scrub

Wular Lake:
IBA Code IN-JK-20
Site Name Wular Lake
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Baramulla
Area 12200 sq. km.
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Globally threatened species, Congregations: Site known or thought to hold, on a regular basis, > 20,000 water birds or > 10,000 pairs of seabirds of one or more species (A1, A4iii)
Habitat Type Freshwater Swamp, Riverine Vegetation, Flooded Valley Grassland, Himalayan Secondary Scrub

LADAKH

Chushul Marshes:
IBA Code IN-JK-01
Site Name Chushul Marshes
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Leh, Ladakh
Area 1500 sq. km.
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Globally threatened species (A1)
Habitat Type Aquatic, Flooded Valley Grassland

Hanle Shado - Bug:
BA Code IN-JK-06
Site Name Hanle Shado - Bug
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Leh, Ladakh
Area 8000 sq. km.
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Globally threatened species, Data deficient (A1, DD)
Habitat Type Riverine Vegetation, Flooded Valley Grassland, Alpine Moist Pasture

Hemis:
IBA Code IN-JK-07
Site Name Hemis
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Ladakh
Area 410000 sq. km.
Status National Park
Criteria Biome-restricted assemblage (A3)
Habitat Type Alpine Dry Pasture, Riverine Vegetation, Alpine Moist Scrub

Pangong Tso:
IBA Code IN-JK-15
Site Name Pangong Tso
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Leh, Ladakh
Area 65000 sq. km.
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Globally threatened species, Biome-restricted assemblage (A1, A3)
Habitat Type Aquatic

Tsokar Basin:
IBA Code IN-JK-18
Site Name Tsokar Basin
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Leh, Ladakh
Area 10000 sq. km.
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Globally threatened species (A1)
Habitat Type Aquatic

Tso Morari Lake and Adjacent Marsh:
IBA Code IN-JK-19
Site Name Tso Morari Lake and Adjacent Marsh
Province Jammu & Kashmir
Districts Leh
Area Not Defined
Status Non Officially Protected
Criteria Globally threatened species (A1)
Habitat Type Aquatic, Alpine Moist Pasture

Source: ENVIS

 

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