Rise in winged visitors to Chilka

In the winter of 2008-09, the internationally known wetland had become temporary home to 8.90 lakh migratory birds. According to a bird census carried out recently in the picturesque lake, of the 9.24 lakh migratory birds sighted in the lagoon this winter, a little over 5.8 lakh avian guests were seen at the Nalabana bird sanctuary located inside the lake.

The rest 4.16 lakh birds had made their winter abode in the islands and villages in and around the world famous water body.

Though the migratory birds’ overall number in the lake has gone up, their congregation at the Nalabana sanctuary has recorded a decrease compared to the last year. Last winter, the 15 sq km sanctuary had played host to 5.13 lakh avian guests compared to this year’s figure of 5.8 lakh.

As per the census, 180 species of migratory birds were sighted in the 1,100 sq km wetland this winter, of which 114 belonged to foreign varieties. The rest 66 were from domestic categories.

Some new species like white-tailed sea eagles and comb ducks were sighted in the lake for the first time during the census.

The maximum number of 9.95 lakh migratory birds had landed in the popular water body in the winter of 2000-2001, according to the bird census figures for the last one decade.
Volunteers and officials of a number of government and non-governmental agencies like the Orissa Forest Department, the Chilka Development Authority and the Bombay Natural History Society besides students of several colleges and universities in the state had participated in the day-long bird census conducted on January 12.

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