Sharmili Mallick

Chilika: Over 12 lakh migratory birds were spotted during the annual bird census in Chilika Lake, the first Indian wetlands of international importance under Ramsar Convention and UNESCO world heritage site, on Tuesday. This is the highest ever bird count in the water lagoon in last two decades.

This year, the forest officials spotted 12,04,351, to be exact, migratory birds from across 111 species during the annual bird count in the Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon yesterday, said reports.

Last year, the number of birds was estimated at around 10.70 lakh. In 2019, around 10.47 lakh birds were counted at the lagoon.

Of the total bird population counted in Chilika this year, as many as 38,475 birds flocked the wetland from local areas, added reports.

"As compared to the last year data, the bird population in Chilika has increased by 1.35 lakh. Similarly, Nalabana saw an increase of 18,000 migratory birds and two new species of migratory duck-- Falcated teal and Mallard duck-- were spotted during the census in Mangalajodi sector," informed Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Of Chilika Wildlife, Kedar Kumar Swain.

Earlier on Tuesday, the annual bird census was conducted in five ranges under the Chilika wildlife division- Tangi, Balugaon, Rambha, Satapada and Chilika. As many as 21 teams comprising over 111 wildlife officials, experts, volunteers and environmentalists were engaged in the exercise which began at 6 AM and concluded at around 12.30 PM.

Spread across an area over 1,100 sq km, the brackish water lagoon is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds in India. Millions of migratory birds flock the lake every winter season. The lagoon hosts winged guests from the remotest corners of Russia, Mongolia, Siberia, Central and Southeast Asia, Caspian Sea, Ladakh and Himalayas every year during the migratory season.

(Edited By Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty)