Drastic fall in winged visitors to Chilka

Drastic fall in winged visitors to Chilka

The congregation of winged visitors on Odisha’s Chilka lake, Asia’s biggest brackish water lagoon and one of the important winter homes for migratory birds from across the globe, has drastically fallen by more than one and a half lakh this year compared to the corresponding period of 2013.

The bird census in the famous water body was jointly carried out by government-run Chilka Development Authority (CDA) and the local wildlife division of the Forest Department on Sunday with assistance from several other government and non-governmental organisations like the Mumbai-based Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). 

Nearly 110 enumerators divided into 20 teams had taken part in the day-long exercise.

According to the census, a total number of 7,19,262 avian guests made the Odisha lake their winter home this year compared to 8,77,322 in the same period in 2013. There has also been a reduction in the number of bird species. Last year, 158 species of birds were sighted in the lake where as this year, the number has come down to 99 only.

Some of the major species that were sighted by the census teams include Eurasian wigeons, pintails and gadwalls. 

What has disheartened bird lovers most is the drastic fall in the number of beautiful flamingoes. Last year, nearly 2,000 of this bird species had made the Odisha lake their winter home. However, this year, their number has reduced to only 200.

The only good news is that this year, more birds decided to stay in the Nalabana bird sanctuary located inside the lake rather than in the peripheries.

Of the 7.19 lakh birds congregated in the lake this year, nearly 4,15,135 had thronged the bird sanctuary compared to 3,46,080 last year.

Officials manning the popular lake attributed the arrival of less number of winged visitors to cyclone Phailin which had hit the state in the second week of October last year. 

According to them, migratory birds usually start arriving in the lake in the first and second week of October. 

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