The sighting of Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) in Haa on December 20 takes the bird count to 739 in the country.

The bird was spotted at a field in Gakidling gewog when a forester, Wangchuk, and two rangers, Gyeltshen Dorji and Sangay Wangchuk with Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve, were out on birding.

Gyeltshen Dorji said that he immediately clicked pictures, which were later send to the headquarters to verify. “It seemed different but we weren’t sure. We actually saw the bird in the morning at around 10:30 but went in the afternoon at around 1:30 again. The bird was identified and confirmed as a new record on the same day.”

He said that the nature reserve alone had a record of about 169 species of birds. “With advancement in technology, new equipment makes it easier for bird enthusiasts like us to explore the environment. I believe that the new sightings also mean that our biodiversity is rich with diverse fauna.”

Forester Wangchuk said that the three of them usually went in the morning and evening for birding because these were the times when birds were either roosting or feeding. “We found the bird about a half kilometre from Sombay dungkhag station.”

Wangchuk and Gyeltshen Dorji previously also spotted and recorded the little owl as a new record.

Ornithologist with the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research, Sherub (PhD), said that the record was the ninth one this year alone. “We are very excited as the number is getting closer to what international experts had estimated. It means that we have rich biodiversity. We are hoping that the number will exceed 770.”

He also identified the bird to be male.

According to the Birds of India, the horned lark, which is about 18cm long, resides in high Himalayas. The male has a black and white head pattern with black mask, “horns, and band across crown.

The bird breeds on stony ground and alpine pastures. In winter it breeds in fallow land, and on stony and sandy ground. It is a songbird.

The last discovered bird was Grey Plover at Gyalpoizhing in Mongar on November 4.

Rinchen Zangmo