Balugaon: With the onset of winter, migratory birds have started arriving at Lake Chilika, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon, in Khurda district, a report said here Tuesday.
According to the Balugaon Wild Animal Department, more than 15,000 birds of different colours have arrived in the lake after flying thousands of miles till Monday evening. The avian arrival has gladdened the hearts of forest officials and bird watchers.
As against their usual landing that happens October 1, this year it has been delayed by three weeks. Out of the 15,000 migratory birds, 6,243 have arrived at Nalabana area.
As many as 160 species of birds come to the lake every year. Out of them till now only 31 species of birds have arrived at the lake.
From the 15,000 birds, 2,643 birds are of Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, 2,458 Gadwall, 1.532 Northern Pintail, 1,100 Shoveler, 9,45 Common Koot and 50 Shelduck. The remaining are of Greater Flamingo, Plovers and Sandpiper species.
The birds are also sighted in Mangaljodi, a major village on the banks of the lake.
Migratory birds fly thousands of miles across continents, from snow-covered Siberia, Caspian Sea, Baikal Lake to remote parts of Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Ladakh, US and Canada, to the marshy lands of Nalabana inside Chilika which is spread across 1,000 sq km.
They make the lake their winter retreat during the harsh winter. The birds move over the lake in the shape of ‘U’ and ‘V’ searching for proper places to build nests before descending on the lake. While many of them are seen flying over Nalabana, some of them have descended inside the sanctuary.
The forest officials have taken several steps to ensure the security of birds. They have set up 19 camps and formed a mobile squad to oversee their security.
These camps have been set up at Balugaon, Tangi, Rambha, Satapada and Chilika forest ranges under Balugaon wildlife division. Tangi range has the highest 10 camps while Nalabana has four, Satapada two, Rambha two and Chilika one.
The mobile squad will keep a tab on poaching and serving of bird meat in various dhabas and hotels. Every camp will be equipped with a motorised boat and will be manned by a forester or forest guard and three members of the bird protection committee comprising villagers adjoining the Chilika Lake.
That apart, various awareness programmes to sensitize villagers against bird poaching are being conducted, said Assistant Conservator of Forest Sarat Kumar Mishra.
Notably, in 2019 a total of 11,40,000 migratory birds visited Chilika during the winter season.