Black-necked crane arrives with a sunny day in Gangtey – Phobjikha
The Gangtey-Phobjikha valley's outlook is very pleasant with sunny skies when the first three, a family with a juvenile Black-necked crane swooped into the valley on 27 October at 12 noon, followed by 10 cranes on the next day.
As count followed by, 18 cranes have now been recorded in the valley including two juveniles until yesterday. The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) in Phobjikha expects more cranes in the following days.
A day prior to the arrival of cranes, the RSPN in Phobjikha carried out annual Black-necked crane roost maintenance with the volunteers from Amankora and Gangtey lodge in Phobjikha.
According to the record with Black-necked crane visitor centre in Phobjikha, the cranes arrive at different time of the day and mostly during mid day on clear days.
In 2016, the first lone crane arrived on 22 October at 2:30-pm and three cranes flew to the valley at 1:23-pm on 6 November in 2015. A group of five cranes arrived on 31 October at 1-pm in 2014 and three cranes arrived on 27 October at 12:30pm in 2012. In 2011, four cranes arrived on 7 November at 10-am and three cranes arrived on 2 November at 1:25-pm in 2010, while three cranes arrived on 29 October at 3:10-pm in 2009.
This winter visitor to Bhutan generally arrives in late October and remains enjoying mild winter grounds until early March, when it departs for summer breeding grounds in Tibet.
The RSPN is the organi- zation responsible for undertaking all management and activities in the valley. To monitor the crane in the valley, RSPN also established a Black-necked crane information centre in Phobjikha.
Phobjikha, as one of the worldwide wetlands for watching birds, the spot attracts highest number of cranes each year.
According to the RSPN, the black-necked crane visitor centre in Phobjikha recorded 626 Blacknecked cranes including 77 juvenile from October 2017 to February 2018. Of the total, Phobjikha recorded the highest number with 504 including 55 juvenile and one Eurasian.
In 2016 – 2017, the total count was 555 cranes including 52 juveniles. Of the total, 437 cranes spent their winter in Phobjikha.
However, some habitats have been seeing lesser birds. Last year, Bumdeling received the second highest at 102 cranes including 17 juveniles, while Lhuntse had only two cranes with a juvenile.
As seasons change, Black-necked crane winters in Phobjikha and Khotakha in Wangdue Phodrang, Bumdeling in Trashi Yangtse, Bumtang and Lhuntse.
The RSPN record shows an increase in the number of the cranes flying to Bhutan from over 300 birds in the mid 1980's to over 600 in the recent years.
Over 30 years of its effort in conservation of the first- class protective birds, the RSPN noted the highest count of 609 cranes in 2015 – 2016.
The legend dictates that the first cranes circle the ancient monastery at Gangtey three times before landing on the broad marshes that line the Phobjikha Valley. It is one of the Bhutan's six conservation areas, and a potential candidate for Ramsar site designation.
Black-necked crane is categorized as vulnerable in the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of threatened species.
The black-necked crane is an endangered bird species and legally protected in Bhutan. A person committing offence in relation to the protected bird species is liable for a criminal offence of fourth degree felony under the Penal Code of Bhutan.
The RSPN celebrates the annual migration with the Black-necked crane festival on 11 November, when students in crane costumes perform swirling dances in the courtyard of Gangtey monastery in Phobjikha.
The Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) in Phobjikha expects more cranes in the coming days.