By Binu Shrestha Kathmandu, Sept. 30: The global COVID-19 pandemic has positive effects on migratory birds, as their activities are less disturbed due to sharp decrease in the movements of people and vehicles amid lockdowns and other restrictions. The limited movement of people means birds are less under human disturbance. Some rare migratory birds have been spotted in the Kathmandu Valley and other parts of the nation in recent weeks, said Hem Sagar Baral, a noted ornithologist of Nepal. In between the lockdowns in Nepal, some rare bird species like Eurasian Curlew and Kentish Plover were spotted in the Kathmandu Valley. Similarly, Whimbrel was seen for the first time in Dailekh district of Karnali State and Black-Capper Kingfisher in Koshi Tappu in State 1 after a gap of more than 20 years, he said. Winter migratory birds have started arriving in Nepal from the northern parts. A change has been witnessed in the breeding opportunity for the migratory birds, because their stay in Nepal is obviously going to be longer than the previous years due to favourable environment here, he added. Though a small country, Nepal is home to 9 per cent of the total bird species found worldwide. The country has 886 species of birds in record. Of them, 42 species are at risk globally. Nepal sees the arrival of 50 winter migratory bird species in winter season. They arrive here from Tibet of China, Korea, Mongolia, Siberia and Central Asia. As the number of such migratory birds is in hundreds it is not possible to count them with accuracy, he added. The peak migration time of such birds is mid-September to late October and they continue to fly towards Nepal till the end of November. Two types of migratory birds arrive in Nepal– wetland birds and terrestrial birds. The terrestrial birds can also be divided into two sub-groups-- forest birds and grassland birds. “We conduct the counting of only the wetland birds that will begin from January. Population of other kinds of migratory birds is based on assumption and estimates after tallying their number ascertained in some parts, said Baral. Duck species like Mallard, Ruddy, Shelduck and Gadwall migrate to Nepal. Eurasian teal, Freen Shank, Thrushes, Fly catcher and the Booted eagle are other migratory birds that visit Nepal during winter. Kathmandu Valley's Bagmati and Manohara river corridors, Ranibari Community Forest, Godawari, Pashupati forest area, Bajrabarahi, Phulchowki, Sankhu, Taudaha, Dakshinkali and other forest areas are considered better habitats for both wetland and terrestrial migratory birds.