With the winter setting in, migratory birds have started arriving at the Hirakud Dam Reservoir in Odisha's Sambalpur district from across continents.
Winged guests like Gull and Black Cormorant have been spotted by the forest officials at the Hirakud Dam Reservoir site recently, an official said.
"Birds have already started flocking the reservoir for their winter sojourn. More number of birds of various species will arrive at the reservoir in next few days," said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Hirakud Wildlife Division, Pratap Kottapalli.
A number of measures have been taken to ensure the safety and protection of the birds. Regular boat patrolling is being conducted to prevent poaching and hunting of the winged guests. Bird protection teams have already been deployed at zero point, Barakhandia, Parbatitong and Gobindpur, he said.
Thousands of exotic birds visit the Hirakud Dam Reservoir in November and stay here till March during every winter.
The migratory birds such as Common Pochard, Red Crested Pochard, Great Duck Bill, Spot Bill (Grey Duck), Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pond Heron, Painted Stork, Whiskered Tern, Indian River Tern, Gadwall and many more are sighted during this period every year, another forest official said.
The Hirakud Dam Reservoir becomes a haven for these winged guests during winter. These birds are seen along the Hirkud reservoir, Lakhanpur, Kamgaon, Rengali, Gobindpur and Debrigarh sanctuary area.
"The reservoir has always been a centre of attraction for the migratory birds. The birds come from Caspian Sea, Baikal Lake, Aral Sea, Mongolia, Central and South East Asia and Himalaya region during the winter. The 746 square kilometre reservoir becomes a habitat for these exotic birds during this time," he said.
The climate and the hills around the reservoir soothe these winged visitors. Moreover, they avail sufficient food in the area, said the official.
Around 1.60 lakh birds of 97 species had visited Hirakud Dam Reservoir during the last winter, he added.