Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Balugaon, Jan 12:
Chilika has seen a substantial increase in the number of migratory birds this winter with the total winged guests being 8, 58, 855 belonging to 161 species were counted by the forest officials in the Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon spread over three districts in Odisha.
The headcount was done under the joint supervision of Chilika Development Authority (CDA) and Chilika Wildlife Division with the help of specialists, scientists, NGOs and local fishermen. All the volunteers were given training at Chilika Development Authority office in Chandrapur on January 9-10. The counting began at 5:30 am in the morning and lasted till 12 pm noon.
The bird strength was jointly counted in Balugaon, Tangi, Chilika, Satapada and Rambha ranges. As many as 20 groups took part in the Chilika bird census comprising of 86 forest officials involved in the counting.
In the year 2015-16, there has been an increase of 96, 915 migratory birds in Chilika, while, there has seen an increase of 7, 128 winged visitors in the Nalabana area making the total number of birds reaching here at 3, 97, 825.
Every year from November to February there is a crowd of foreign birds coming to Chilika. This year, the largest number of bird flocks are the Gharwal birds, whose numbers are more than 2 lakhs, while the smallest numbers are of baillon’s crake which is just two of them. The lake also boasts of 980 beautiful and colourful Flemingoes, the department officials said.
Among the five ranges in Chilika, Balugaon range has the highest number of birds 5, 63, 725, while, the lowest numbers 3, 416 were found in Rambha range.
In Tangi area, 1, 48, 307 birds were sighted, Chilika had 11, 946 and in Satapada range 1, 31, 461 birds have gathered. In toto, Chilika saw an increase of 12 per cent and Nalabana an increase of two percent of bird population this year.
Two experts from Bombay Natural History Society– Dr. S. Balachandran and Dr. Gahir Abiddin– were involved in the bird census. Besides, CCF Madhusudan Panda and DFO Bikash Ranjan were actively involved in the annual enumeration drive.