A meticulous counting of waterbirds has begun in the wetlands and marshes of India's portion of the Himalayan region of Kashmir, home to species that migrated from as far as northern Europe and Japan.

Wildlife officials and volunteers were performing the region's second formal census, after scientists for years criticized less formal counts as unreliable.

Since last year, however, Kashmir's wildlife officials have been working as part of the global effort led by environment groups in accounting for the world's waterbirds.

Kashmir's wildlife warden Imtiyaz Lone said Tuesday that the region was now "counting birds in a proper, scientific way."

Last year's census counted over half a million waterbirds visiting 13 wetlands in Kashmir. Up to 21 wetlands will be covered this year.