06 December 2012

Ruddy Shelduck- the Ill treated Guest in Bhutan

Today I went to photograph the migratory ducks on the sands of the Punatshangchu river with my family. I have seen them year after year and admired them since I know a little about them. It was at this time of the year my class teacher in junior school would ask me to join him down to the Paa Chhu in Paro to photograph these ducks. Mr. Karma Wangchuk, a born naturalist and self taught artist, is an encyclopedia of birds, plants, butterflies, and animals and has great love for nature. He now teaches in Paro College of Education. He told me about this bird that flies from Tibet to spend their winter with us like the famous black necked crane. The duck is known as Ruddy Shelduck and it's found along the banks of the Punatshangchu at this time of the year.
The Sands of Punatshangchhu
However, ruddy shelduck is not as fortunate as black necked cranes because they are not yet endangered. They are among the least concerned category of birds since there are plenty of them across the world. Perhaps the way we are treating this birds might explain why so many birds are already extinct or endangered.
Ruddy Shelduck in Punatshangchu
They are our winter guest as much as Black necked cranes are but they are left to their own fate. There are posters talking about conservation of herons and cranes but this bird is pushed aside.

They are preyed by wild dogs and there are also rumors of construction workers finding it easier to hunt duck then to buy chicken. With increasing number of workers in Wangdue the fate is this visiting bird is further doomed.
Group of Ruddy Shelduck basking in the sun
If we had records, we might discover that the sands along with Punatshangchu river were their homes long before we knew the sand could be used for construction but now our aggressive and indiscriminate excavation of sand has made them homeless. We are not even waiting for the water to dry up to excavate sand, hundreds of truckloads are carried away everyday. Soon the water will dry up in the place where the ducks are sitting now and then the trucks will come there, where would the birds go? They have come to spend their whole winter here.

The Ducks Flying over Trucks and Dozers 
Riverbed filled with machines 
Every guest coming to Bhutan goes back happy but we are forgetting to be Bhutanese with this poor guest.


  1. Oh I miss Wangdue... and the plenty of sun but not the wind though hehe..lovely post as always!

  2. The place is so beautiful. I always had this inner wish to visit Punakha but I never got there. I am so ready to meet this beautiful birds in future :)


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