A birders’ Paradise
Flying over the mighty Himalayas, covering thousands of miles, the highest flying bird in the world deems it suitable to call Uttarakhand one of its Winter Homes. The headed Geese crosses harsh barriers and weather conditions to reach and rest in the land of gods and among the gods, where it truly belongs, as this species is not only known for its great feet of strength and perseverance, but has been long associated with Hindu gods and mythology as “Hamsa” or “Raj Hansa“.
The Bar Headed Geese is one of the many species of water birds, which fly long distances and call Asan their home for the winter season. From the flamboyant Painted Stork to the masculine and the world’s largest duck species, the Comb duck; from species which mate for life, such as Pallas’s Fishing Eagle, and Ruddy Shelduck to species like Mallard, where one male keeps several females in his haram, Asan is a winter host for tens of species with such multiple facets and personaliteis.
The Asan Conservation Reserve (ACR), a man made wetland, is a 444- hectare stretch of the river Asan running down to its confluence with the Yamuna River in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand, near Uttarakhand-Himachal border region. The Yamuna flows gently nearby. The conservation reserve ccomprises stretches of rivers Asan and Yamuna, a reservoir area, islands, areas covered with terrestrial vegetation, which include a natural forest patch, scrublands and plantation. The aquatic vegetation of the Asan reservoir is primarily typha elephantina, Potamogeton pectinatus, Ceratophylium demersum and Eichhornia crassppes. Of course, Thypha covers the largest area.
The main function of the wetland, for which it was created, is water regulation for downstream hydel-generating stations, namely Kulhar and Kharra situated in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. Over the years, Asan has emerged as a centre for recreational tourism targeting both water sports as well as the rich biodiversity, particularly migrated birds. This has led to income generation for the local people.
Through conservation Reserve may not be large in size, the sheer abundance of avifauna makes it an ideal place for bird lovers, ornithologists and naturalists alike, who can travel easily up to the site, and see thousands of birds, who have travelled miles to be there.
Trans-Himalayan migratory birds halt in Asan Barrage during the winters. It is a favorable wetland for migratory waterfowl during this season and their population swells to more than 6000 birds. It is best known sites for congregation of ruddy shelduck estimated up to 2000 individuals.
The strategic location of the Asan wetland has immense eco-tourism potential. Presently, it is being used more for recreational tourism as many travelers on the national highway like halt there for a while.