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Winged guests flock Bhitarkanika

Statesman News Service |

Bhitarkanika National Park played host to over one lakh migrant water birds this monsoon, registering a discernible rise in the number of winged guests in comparison to preceding 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 avian species were counted making Bhitarkanika wetland spots their nesting sites. Earlier on 22 August, the national park authorities had launched a week-long drive for the head-count of seasonal monsoon birds. Two teams comprising ten ornithologists besides wildlife personnel of the national park were on the job to conduct the headcount of these avian species. The onset of monsoon had triggered chirpy cacophony along the marshy wetland spots in Bhitarkanika national park. 

As the spell of rains was not uniform, their arrival was delayed this time. Still we have spotted impressive congregation of monsoon birds along the mangrove covers of the park, said Divisional Forest Officer Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.As many as 21,204 nests were spotted along 2,098 treetops. 

Of the counted birds, 42,408 adult feathered species were enumerated arriving here for monsoon sojourn. The heronry at Bagagahana attracted the highest number (46, 322) of birds. The enumerators covered all the major congregation zones both in and outside the national park. Besides the core area of the national park, peripheral wetland sites like Satabhaya and Barunei were taken up for census programme. 

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

Prominent among the species arriving here for nesting are Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Darter, Cormorant, Large Egret, Intermediary Egret and Little Egret. 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. It’s pertinent to note here that noted ornithologist Dr Salim Ali made a chance-discovery of Bhitarkanika birds’ habitat while on a casual visit to Bhitarkanika in 1981.