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Manohara River becoming sanctuary for exotic birds



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By Indira Aryal
Bhaktapur, Mar. 14: Just 12 kilometres away from Kathmandu lies a lesser-known haven for bird watching. A variety of exotic birds flocking in and around the Manohara River near Bode, Bhaktapur is an ideal place to observe migratory and water birds.
Some 200 species of birds were spotted in the Manohara River wetland area situated in Madhyapur Thimi Municipality this winter. The endangered striated grassbird (Narkat Ghasechari) was recently recorded for the first time in the area. A team of tourism workers, ornithologists, observers and wildlife photographers Sanjay Tha Shrestha, Gopi Shrestha, Sugam Tamrakar and Samyam Rumba have made an important record of the bird in the area on November 19, 2020, taking a photograph of an endangered striated grassbird, which was found only in the lowlands of the Terai. So far, this species has been recorded up to 250 meters above the sea level, but it has not been recorded above that altitude so far, said Shrestha, who is also a wildlife photographer and tourism entrepreneur.
Shrestha claimed his team recorded this species of bird at Kamalpokhari wetland in Bode, near Manohara River, with photographic evidence.
The species was first sampled in Nepal in 1938 on the banks of Koshi River. It was occasionally seen in some places until 1953, but then it was not seen until 1982 when it was recorded by senior British ornithologists Tim and Carol Inskipp in Shuklaphanta National Park, according to Shrestha.
The species is commonly seen in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and Koshi Barrage Area, also sighted in Chitwan National Park, Jagadishpur water reservoir and Rapti River in Makawanpur district.
Madhyapur Thimi Municipality, which is not only famous for temples, heritage sites and archaeology, has also become a go-to destination for birdwatching.
Mayor of the Municipality Madan Sundar Shrestha said that the Manohara expanse has now become very suitable for bird watching and taking photographs during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Mayor Shrestha, leisure bird watchers and wildlife photographers, who lost their jobs during the global epidemic and lockdown period, have found the area a suitable place for birdwatching.
The municipality had started plotting the Manohara area but they are planning to leave over 200 hectares of land for birds, he said. The municipality has been working to reconstruct heritage sites and temples in the area, most of which were destroyed by the April 2015 earthquake.
“Keeping the wetlands and heritage sites alive has been our main focus since we started our duty. We are also working to make the Manohara wetland a tourist spot and a suitable place for bird-lovers and researchers,” Mayor Shrestha said.
According to Tha Shrestha, who is also a resident of the area, endangered whiskered tern (Thimaha Falfyale) was also spotted in the area this winter. Due to this, this year, one after another, there has been a remarkable record of migratory and winter migratory species of birds.
A total of 886 species of birds have been officially recorded in Nepal so far. However, according to senior ornithologist Dr. Hem Sagar Baral, the country hosts 888 bird species. Among them, 168 species are in the ‘nationally threatened’ status while 42 are in the "threatened" status globally.
Himalayan Monal, Cheer Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Bengal Florican, Lesser Florican, Great Hornbill, Sarus Crane, Black Stork and White Stork are among the protected birds of Nepal.