Berhampur: Migratory birds including flamingoes and pelicans have stayed put at the famous Chilika Lake despite the sweltering heat, forest officials said.
"Around 50,000 birds have been spotted in the 15.59 sq-km Nalabana bird sanctuary despite the abnormal rise in temperature," said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Chilika Wildlife Division, Bikash Ranjan Das.
The DFO said flamingoes, pelicans, spot-billed duck, spoonbill, black-headed ibis, gulls and waders were sighted in the lake along with local birds like jacana, moorhen and herons. "The exact number of birds and the species would be known after the summer status survey next month," he said.
Forest officials said 43,156 water fowls of 121 different species were spotted in the lake during the survey last summer, of which 9,928 were found in Nalabana bird sanctuary.
Over 100 flamingoes which flocked to the lake last winter are yet to return home. The DFO attributed it to availability of food and good condition of the habitat. "A comprehensive study would help find the reason behind their prolonged stay," he added.
Around 8.86 lakh birds of 161 species visited the lake this winter as against 7,62 lakh of 172 species the previous year. The head count was conducted on January 10.
"Chilika has become a natural home to flamingoes and pelicans that have stayed on despite the gruelling heat," said Ornithologist and retired Chief Conservator of Forests Sudhakar Mohapatra.
Winged guests from far off places including Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, remote parts of Russia, central and South East Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas descend here every winter for feeding and roosting. They start their homeward journey with the onset of summer, officials said.