Migratory birds overstaying in Chilika

Berhampur: The winged guests who had flown to Chilika during winter have continued their stay in the biggest waterfowl habitat of the country despite the mercury hovering around 40 degree celsius.

This was revealed from the summer bird count conducted by the wildlife division of the forest department. As many as 77,609 birds of 75 species were spotted in the 1100 sq km lake. These included several migratory birds, official sources said today.

Migratory species like the pelican, open billed stork, painted stork and little cormorant were overstaying in the lake. More birds were found in Badagotha and Mangalajodi areas in the lake than Nalabana bird sanctuary area in the summer, DFO (Chilika Wildlife) B P Acharya said. During last summer 41,259 birds had taken shelter in the lake, the sources said.

The presence of the birds in the lake during summer indicated they were accustomed to adverse conditions including scorching heat, a senior forest officer said. "Chilika is not only the paradise of birds in winter only, but is considered as the safe heaven for them for all seasons," the DFO said.
Strict protection measure was also one of the causes for their overstaying in the lake, he said.

A noted ornithologist, however, said the birds which were unable to fly back to their own habitats due to sickness remained in the lake. "Every year, many birds who are unable to fly back to their own countries stay back in the blue lagoon", he said.

Last winter, 8.83 lakh waterfowls of 169 species had flown to the lake, sources said. The winged guests mostly arrive from Northern Eurasia, Caspian region, Siberia, Kazakh, Lake Baikal and the remote areas of Russia and neighbouring countries every winter.

State`s forest and environment minister Debi Prasad Mishra has advised the officials to take steps for further improvement of the habitat to attract more birds.