Although the number of Black Necked Cranes coming to their winter feeding grounds in Bumdeling, Tashiyangtse, fluctuates every season, this time the count is only 74 – down from 123 last winter, say Bumdeling wildlife sanctuary officials.
“There’s little hope of more arriving, because the time for arrival is over,” said senior ranger of the park-range office under Bumdeling wildlife sanctuary, Kuenga.
Kuenga said the first flock normally arrives by the last week of October but this year, the first flock arrived late, on November 3. “Most of the cranes arrived in the first week of November and the weather turned cloudy for the next three weeks, which was the time for the cranes to come here,” he said. “Some arrived during days when the sky cleared up.”
Another park official said the cranes needed clear weather to migrate. The weather affects them a lot, especially during the time of migration.
However, officials also said there was a small possibility of one big last flock arriving but within the next few days.
Kuenga said the other reason why the number might have decreased could be because of the Barekang flood that destroyed acres of paddy fields, the birds’ feeding grounds, at Bumdelingthang since 2003. This year though there were no floods.
Tenzin Pelden, 66, from Phandung village, said that for many years she watched flocks of cranes fly to their feeding grounds in the mornings and return to roost in the evenings. “You can easily tell the numbers have decreased nowadays,” she said.
Another elderly villager said the cranes served as a timer. “We went to attend to our field work when they flew to their feeding grounds in the mornings, and we returned when the cranes flew back to the roost in the evenings,” she said.
“I’m getting old and the number of cranes that come here are also decreasing,” said Sangay Wangmo, who could be in her late 50s. “It makes me feel sad when I think about how it used to be in the past.”
Regarded as a harbinger of good luck and fortune, the cranes start flying back north from February end.