Winged guests start arriving in Chilika lake

Divisional forest officer of Chilika wildlife division B P Acharya said the first batch of migratory birds have been seen wandering near the lake in the Nalabana bird sanctuary."Since a number of birds take shelter in the periphery of the lake, we think they will swoop down on the lake very soon," said another wildlife officer.

Their arrival was, however, delayed by about a fortnight compared to the previous years, the high water level in the blue lagoon of the Nalabana being the reason, the DFO said.
Former wildlife warden S K Patnaik said the erratic weather condition and delay in the onset of winter in the state might be the cause of their delayed arrival.

The birds generally migrate to other places when they face scarcity of food and heavy snowfall in their habitats and in the present case those reasons could very well apply, retired forest officer Sudhakar Mohapatra said.

The delay, wildlife scientist Sudhakar Kar explained, could also be because of the stopovers they had to make on way to Chilika on account of bad weather. Chilika's winter guests mostly come from the region beyond the Himalayas in northern Eurasia, Caspian region, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Lake Baikal and remote areas of Russia and neighbouring countries.The birds generally come to the lake in mid-October and start homeward journey from the last week of February or the first week of March.

Around this time last year, several migratory birds had already arrived in the lake, said the DFO. Around 9.24 lakh birds of 210 different species had thronged the lake last winter.

Most of the migratory birds, however, congregated in the 15.53 sq. km Nalabana Island inside the lake. The Island was notified as a bird sanctuary in 1987.Sources said that out of a total of 9.24 lakh birds that visited the lake last year, 5.08 lakh had taken shelter in the Nalabana area only.

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