First sighting of White-bellied Heron in Phrumsengla National Park

It was on 9 October 2018 at 4pm, an adult White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis) was found feeding at one of the shallow river sites towards the right river bank of Kurichu near Lingmethang, Mongar (N27°16’7.79″, E91°11′ 30.30″, Altitude-520m). The area where the bird was sighted falls within the jurisdiction of the Phrumsengla National Park with Chirpine forest (Pinus roxburghii) as dominant vegetation. The bird is suspected to have migrated from Yangbari from the downstream of Kurichu since its presence was reported by Dr. Sherub from UWICER during last summer.

As of now, the park has 364 bird species inhabiting in diverse habitat types. The recent sighting of White-bellied Heron along Kurichu River as reported by Pema Tobgay, the Park Range Officer and his staffs from Central Park Range has added another milestone history to the existing bird list. With the addition of this critically endangered bird, the park is proud to declare the total bird species to 365. This makes the park as one of the top bird watching spots in Bhutan.

White-bellied Heron is assessed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. This bird can be seen in Bhutan, India, Myanmar and Nepal. Currently, there are 50-249 matured birds in the world which equates to 75-374 birds (IUCN, 2018). Out of these, Bhutan has 24 birds (RSPN, 2018) and it is considered as having highest number of birds dwelling in the small size of country. Degradation and disturbance of forest and wetlands were the major threats to its survival. The rapid decline of population is suspected in future due to habitat degradation and widespread disturbance even in the remotest parts of species range (IUCN, 2018).

Submitted by Phrumsengla National Park

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