Migratory birds are flocking to the Hokersar Wetland Reserve near Srinagar with the onset of winters in the Kashmir Valley.
Hokersar is located 14 kilometres north of Srinagar. It is a world class wetland that is most accessible with a record number of migratory birds visiting in the winter season.
Thousands of migratory birds come to Hokersar from Siberia and other regions of Central Asia.
Mudasir Ahmed, a guard at the wetland reserve, said: "We wait for these migratory birds to come over here and when the birds come, we take care of them. This is a tradition which is going on for centuries. They are our guests and we wait for them. We are happy and the tourists are also thrilled to see these birds."
Ahmed also said that locals and tourists were thrilled to see the migratory birds.
Officials at the Hokersar reserve asserted that comfortable climatic conditions, better protection and the easy availability of food in the region were the prime reasons behind the massive migration of birds.
Gulam Rasool Bhat, a range officer, said that over 900,000 birds have migrated to the reserve.
"Migratory birds which come to our Hokersar wetland reserve are very famous. Many birds come over here from Siberia and other countries. When they gather we estimate their number. Earlier, when the water level was low, less birds use to flock. But now as the water level has increased, more birds are coming. Approximately, more than 9 lakh (900,000) birds have come," said Bhat.
The Hokersar wetland, which used to be spread over a sprawling 13.5 square kilometres land, has been gradually reduced through the years due to encroachments.
Besides, Hokersar, Hygam and Shalibag the other prominent destination for these migratory birds is at Mirgund.
Hundreds of thousands of exotic birds such as Mallards, Greyleg Geese, Gadwalls, Teals, Shovellers, Pochards and Coots make their temporary nests here. (ANI)