Bhitarkanika plays host to over 1 lakh migrant water birds

Kendrapara: Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district played host to over one lakh migrant water birds this monsoon, registering discernible rise in number of winged guests compared to last year.

With this, Bhitarkanika national park has once again re-established its place in the state as one of the congenial heronries for the migrant water birds.

As against 96,437 visiting birds enumerated last year, 1,03,853 birds were counted making Bhitarkanika wetland spots their nesting sites, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.

On August 22, the national park authorities had launched a week-long drive for the head-count of seasonal monsoon birds. Two teams comprising 10 ornithologists besides wildlife personnel of the national park, were on the job to conduct the headcount of these birds with the onset of monsoon. As rains were not uniform, their arrival was delayed this time. Still we have spotted impressive congregation of monsoon birds along the mangrove covers of the park, the DFO said.

As many as 21,204 nests were spotted on 2,098 treetops. Of the counted birds, 42,408 adults were enumerated arriving here for monsoon sojourn. The heronry at Bagagahana attracted the highest number (46,322) of birds.

The enumerators covered all major congregation zones both in and out of the park. Besides the core area of the national park, peripheral wetland sites like Satabhaya and Barunei were taken up for the census.

The birds’ habitat in the core area of the park is spread across around four hectares. There is ample food for the birds as the place, crisscrossed by innumerable water inlets and nullahs, is free of human interference, Acharya said.

Prominent among the species arriving here for nesting are Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Darter, Cormorant, Large Egret, Intermediary Egret and Little Egret, officials said.

Lack of human interference, ideal climatic condition, cool breeze and the river system here all have emerged to the liking of these winged species, they said.

Noted ornithologist Salim Ali had made a chance-discovery of this habitat of the birds habitat while on a visit to Bhitarkanika in 1981.