Nima | Gelephu

A youth group in Panbang, Zhemgang spotted four black-necked cranes in the area for the first time yesterday. 

The residents from Panbang and forestry officials said that the cranes could have landed on Tuesday, as they heard the birds calling. 

Royal Manas National Park’s (RMNP) senior forest ranger, Dorji Wangchuk, said the cranes could be exploring new habitats because the cranes have been seen for the first time in many new places in recent years. “Earlier we thought birds might have become lost on the migratory route because of the weather. But we are seeing more of these incidents.”

He said that two black-necked cranes were sighted near the park in Assam, India, earlier this year. “The cranes were spotted at the confluence of Mangdechhu and Drangmechhu, a common migratory route for the cranes.”

Listed as ‘near-threatened birds’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list, this sacred and revered bird in the country is mostly sighted in Bumdelling, Trashiyangtse, and Phobjikha in Wangdue.

Chief communication officer with the Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN), Jigme Tshering, said the location of the current sighting was at the base of Chamkhar river.

“The cranes migrating to Bumthang from Tibet would have continued their journey following the Chamkhar Chu valley until Panbang. Long-distance migration sometimes fatigues birds like cranes and they make a stopover to regain energy,” he said.

According to Jigme Tshering, cranes are known to be opportunists. “Disturbances in their historic sites will drive the birds to new locations looking for ideal habitats. The migrating birds land in new locations while escaping from predators.”

Bird watchers from Thimphu say that sightings of cranes in new areas probably aren’t new, but with increased awareness, there are more reports of birds sighted in different places.

Black necked cranes were also spotted in Samdrupjongkhar, Punakha, and Sarpang for the first time in the past three years, according to the officials from the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP).

Edited by Tashi Dema