Wildlife: Flying all the way from Tibetan Plateau covering a distance of more than 200 kilometres, 13 black necked cranes – 11 adults and two juveniles landed in their winter habitat, Phobjikha in Wangdue, yesterday.

The cranes arrived in three groups. The first group comprising of one juvenile and two adults landed at around 1:20pm, said black neck crane visitor centre’s manager in Phobjikha, Santa Lal Gajmer.

The second group of seven adult cranes landed at 1:40pm, followed by another group of one juvenile and two adults at around 2:30pm.

The three groups of cranes were the first to land in the winter roosting ground of Phobjikha, which host between 350-400 black necked cranes every year.

Santa Gajmer said last year the first group of cranes landed in Phobjikha on October 31, and the habitat counted a total of 396 cranes.

He said normally the cranes stay for five months, and start leaving either from first week of March or sometimes by last week of February. “We have installed five spotting scopes in and around black neck cranes visitor’s centre,” said the manager.

Since the start of migration, he said the cranes will continue to come till the end of December. The final bird counting would be held in January along with RSPN and forestry officials in Phobjikha.

Spread across 2,027 hectares, the Phobjikha wetland this time will host the cranes in seven roosts, of which three are artificial.

Scientifically known as Grus nigricollis, the cranes usually fly to their winter roosting habitat in Phobjikha in a group of about 30-40 cranes.

With the increasing number of cranes arriving in Phobjikha, in 2003, the place was established as conservation area for cranes. Phobjikha also host an annual crane festival.

Of the estimated 11,000 global black-necked crane population, 500 of them fly to winter habitats of Bumdeling in Trashiyangtse, Chumey in Bumthang and Phobjikha in Wangdue.

Dawa Gelmo