Three black-necked cranes, two adults and a juvenile, were sighted at Lamthang paddy field alongside Drangmechu in Udzorong gewog at around 11am on November 15.

This is the third consecutive year where the endangered birds were spotted in the gewog, away from their regular roosting and feeding habitats (Bumdeling and Yangtse gewogs) in the east.

Forest ranger in Udzorong, Karma Tenzin, said that they were informed about the arrival of the cranes around 1pm.

He said that farmers around this time of the year are engaged in planting potatoes and also many herders flock the area. “We have informed the residents not to disturb the cranes as some of them are working in the fields nearby.”

The ranger said that people are excited to see the winged visitors, as it is not a common sight in the area. “Many of them have not seen the cranes in real and they wanted to go and observe,” he said. “But since the cranes are shy, we have asked farmers to refrain from going near and attack the cranes in any form.”

Last year two black-necked cranes were seen in the same area. The duo spent almost a month feeding in the area. In 2016 another lone crane had also landed in the gewog and after feeding for about two weeks, it flew back.

Karma Tenzin said that they could not identify the roosting area of the cranes. “This year if the three cranes stay for a longer duration, we would like to study where it roosts at night.”

Park manager with Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS) in Trashiyangtse, Karma Tempa, said that wrong navigation due to the gloomy weather might have let the cranes land in the area.

He said that a similar incident was observed earlier this month when three cranes had miss-landed in Berpa village in Khoma, Lhuentse, due to bad weather. “As soon as we received the information, we sent our staffs to monitor the cranes but the cranes had flown back to Bumdeling the next day.”

Karma Tempa said that they could affirm that the three cranes were the same who had miss-landed because the number of cranes in Bumdeling increased by three the next day.

“We are quite certain that the cranes in Udzorong would also return here (Bumdeling) after a few days. The foggy weather might have interrupted their flight navigation,” said the park manager.

As of yesterday, BWS has recorded 18 black-necked cranes in Bumdeling of which four are juvenile. The park expects more than 100 cranes to arrive by February next year.

Meanwhile, to mark the annual black-necked crane festival that is celebrated in Phobjikha valley, Wangdue, BWS will observe the day with local community and conservation support groups along with officials from Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) today in Trashiyangtse.

The day is observed to celebrate the arrival of the endangered birds and to make people aware of the importance of conserving the black-necked cranes.

Younten Tshedup | Trashigang