There has been a drop in the number of birds visiting the wetlands of Bhitarkanika national park in Kendrapara district though some of the rare species have been spotted this time.
Rare bird species of central Asian origin have been spotted in the wetland spots of the park.
Though there has been discernible drop in number of winged species this year, the marshy and swampy wetland spots in Bhitarkanika have again emerged as a congenial and human-interference-free winter habitat for feathered guests from central Asian and Himalayan region.
"As many as 76,268 winter migrant winged species were counted to have visited this year while the headcount of last year stood at 1,06,156. The number has dropped. The factors leading to fall in number are being studied by ornithologists", said Divisional Forest Officer, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.
"The drop in number is more than 30 per cent than the number recorded in 2016. In all probability, frequent depression and cyclonic weather acted as a major deterrent for birds' flight to Bhitarkanika from far off places," he said.
Despite the drop in feathered guests' number, the highlight of this year's headcount exercise was the sighting of endangered and rare bird species.
These species trans migrated from Siberia, Ladakh, Lake Mansarovar and Himalayan region. The enumerators found these species fatigued after their long flight.
"The enumerators have spotted hordes of Greater crested tern, common shell duck and blue tailed godwits. All these species come under rare and threatened category.
"This is for the first time that these species were sighted in Bhitarkanika although the number of these species sighted was less than a hundred. Their arrival was not recorded by enumerators earlier. Their flight owed its origin to Central Asian region.
"Unable to cope with extreme cold in their original habitat, the feathered species preferred these congenial wetland spots," said wildlife expert, Biswajit Mohanty, who took part in the headcount drive.
Prominent species who made Bhitarkanika their winter home are Brahmin Duck, Bar-headed Geesse, godwin, Pintail, painted stork, seagauls, commonteal, tawny eagle and osprey.
These species were spotted mainly along the wetland spots of Satabhaya, Raipatia, Agarnasi, Bhitarkanika, Hukitola, Gupti Rajagada, Batighar, Jatadhara and Kalibhanjadiha.
There is ample food security for the birds as the place crisscrossed by innumerable water inlets and nullahs is free of human interference, officials said.
Other prominent winged visitors to Bhitarkanika this time are Indian Skimmers, Grey Pelicans and White-backed vultures, Lesser adjutant, Grater spotted eagles. All of these species are conferred endangered status under International Union for Conservation for Nature (IUCN)'s Red Book Data containing the list of highly threatened animals worldwide.
These apart, other delicate and prominent birds sighted this time are Black-tailed godwit, Northern pin-tail, Lesser whistling duck, Grey plover, Egret spotted bills, Oriental darter, White belley seagull.
Unbearable cool atmospheric condition during winter months forces these migrant species to temporarily leave their original habitat. The Chilka and Bhitarkanika wetland spots in the state are the favoured destination of migratory birds.
Lack of human interference, ideal climatic condition, cool breeze and the river system here all have emerged to the liking of these delicate chirpy winged species. This itself is a positive sign and thus further research on the behavioural pattern of these threatened species is being taken up, said wildlife officials.
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