Mrunal Manmay Dash

The annual bird census in Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lagoon in Asia, began on Thursday morning.

The counting began at 5:30 this morning and will continue till 1pm. During this time, tourist boating is prohibited in the lake.

At least 21 teams comprising 5-6 ornithologists in each have been deployed in the counting of the migratory and domestic birds in Chilika lagoon spreading over Rambha, Balugaon, Tangi, Satapada and Chilika ranges.

As per reports, the forest department has adopted a new technique and introduced a mobile application, ‘E-Bird’ for counting.

Speaking about the new technology, a bird expert at Chilika said, “E-Bird is a mobile application. We will feed real-time data of the birds in the application after which it will be made available to everybody in the world.”

“The bird count seems to be encouraging. We just began the count and already saw more than 20,000 Northern Pintails. We have also seen some Northern Soblers and Little Grebes. We have already counted more than 40,000 birds in the lake. We hope to get a good number of birds,” he added.

Attracting a huge number of bird and nature lovers, millions of feathered guests have started arriving from all over the globe to Chilika. The faraway guests mostly arrive from regions like the Caspian region, northern Eurasia, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Lake Baikal, Russia and other neighbouring countries every year.

They spend the winter here before returning home before the onset of summer.

Meanwhile, the forest department has started counting tigers at Sunabeda sanctuary in Nuapada district after eight years.

With the anticipation of a rise in the big cat population in the sanctuary spread over 600 sqkm, the department has employed trap cameras to ascertain the tiger numbers.

Census is continuing in all three ranges of the sanctuary - Komna, Sunabeda, and Nuapada and 10 sections under them.

Speaking about the census, Sunabeda DFO Mahadev Budek said, “We have assigned one unit to every beat in the range. We have conducted a sign survey in every beat. As per the survey, we are installing trap cameras at places with probabilities of tiger presence.”

“Though we have never found tigers in this area, I hope the leopard count will definitely rise this time,” Budek said.

The census is scheduled to end by January 15.