Kendrapara: With winter coming to an end and temperatures rising the migratory birds that came to Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP) in mid-October have started their homeward journey, said Rajnagar forest ranger Amaresh Nath Pradhan.
Although thousands of birds have started their return trip, there are still several flocks who have not yet gone back from the BNP’s meadows and water bodies as they have not dried up, Pradhan said.
Every year during winter the BNP water bodies turn colourful as migratory birds come here flying thousands of miles to escape the harsh winter in Siberia, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Asia and Central Europe. They generally stay in BNP for about three to four months and then go back.
This winter, an estimated 1,09,059 birds belonging to 74 species were seen by the BNP authorities during the annual bird status survey January 6.
Geese and ducks comprised more than half of the migratory birds. An estimated 58,309 birds of 12 types of geese and ducks were spotted during the survey. They were followed by 28 types of waders numbering 14,668.
But this year not even a single pelican or flamingo was seen at BNP. Around 640 grebes, four types of cormorants and darters numbering 3,357, nine types of herons, egrets and bitterns numbering 11,624, three types of storks numbering 5,210 and two types of ibises and spoon bill numbering 620 were also spotted during the status survey.
Similarly, rails, gullinules and coot numbering 5,117 and finfoot and jacanas numbering 506; 7558 gulls, terns and skimmers and 1,449 water birds were seen by the enumerators.
The BNP is a refuge for migratory birds during winter. The birds go back when the water bodies near the national park dry up, said DFO Bimal Prasanna Acharya of Rajnagar mangrove (forest) and wildlife division.