Over 11 lakh migratory birds visit Odisha’s Chilika lake this winter

The number of migratory birds visiting the famous Chilika lake has increased to 11,05,040 this winter, at least 57,000 more than the previous year, according to the latest bird census in the lagoon.

Apart from sighting of the new species, more number of feathered guests have visited the vast lake this winter compared to the previous winters, said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Chilika wildlife division, Alok Ranjan Hota.

He said the annual bird count, conducted over 1,100 square kilometre of the lake area found 11,05,040 birds of 184 different species. These included 10,71,477 waterfowls of 109 species and 33,563 of 75 species of wetland dependants, Hota said.

Increase in number of migratory birds in the lake is attributed due to the safety measures taken by the wildlife authorities and improvement of the habitat in the lake, said the DFO.

Ornithologists said the huge arrival of migratory birds indicates that cyclone Fani, which battered the lake at Puri in May this year had no impact on the winged visitors.

Bird watchers are excited over the re-sighting of a number of birds after around five years in the Chilika lake, the biggest waterfowl habitat in the country, this winter.

“At least two number of Great Knot, a medium-size shore-bird were found in the Chilika during the annual survey of the birds in the lake on Sunday,” the DFO said, adding that this species of bird, scientifically known as Calidris tenuirostris, which is found in the Central Asia, had visited the lake in 2015.

After a five year, this species along with others visited the blue-lagoon this time, the DFO said.

In the last winter, as many as 10,47,868 birds of 161 different species had taken shelter in the lake. It included 10,21,563 waterfowls and 26,405 water-dependent birds, sources said.

Out of total birds found in Chilika lake this year, 4,06,308 of 102 species have been located in the Nalabana island of the blue lagoon. The 15.59 sqkm Nalabana Island inside the lake was declared as the bird sanctuary.

After Nalabana, the migratory birds second choice site was Mangalajodi, where as many as 2,42,660 different species of them have descended, sources said.

Among the different species the highest number was that of Gadwall (2,05,883) followed by Northern Pintail (1,82,177) and Eurasian bill (1,43,418) visited the lake, sources said.

Winged guests from far off places including Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, remote parts of Russia, Central and South East Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas come to the Chilika lake in every winter for feeding and roosting. They start their homeward journey with the onset of summer, the official said.

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