Offbeat

Migratory birds arrive in Bhitarkanika National Park

Kendrapara, Nov 3: Much to the ornithologists delight, migratory birds have started arriving at the wetland spots of the Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district. 

The marshy and swampy wetland spots in the Bhitarkanika National Park have again emerged as a congenial and human-interference-free winter habitat for feathered guests from cool northern hemisphere, officials said. 

"Their flight has started from the past one week. Roughly around 20,000 birds have so far been sighted. Their number will rise steadily in coming days," said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya. 

For the past one week, flocks of these winter guests are crowding the Satabhaya, Habelikhati, Ekakula, Raipatia water bodies and creeks. The habitat of these birds extends around ten km stretch, he said. 

There is ample food for the birds as the place is crisscrossed by innumerable water inlets and nullahs and is free of human interference, the DFO said. 

Prominent among the winged visitors to Bhitarkanika this time are Indian Skimmers, Grey Pelicans and White-backed Vultures, Lesser Adjutant and Grater Spotted Eagles. All of these sighted species are conferred endangered status under the International Union for Conservation for Nature (IUCN)s Red Book Data containing the list of highly threatened animals worldwide, said forest officials. 

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 and Black-necked Stork. 

These species barring the White-backed Vultures are winter migrant avian creatures from northern hemisphere and cool places like Ladakh. They prefer Bhitarkanika wetlands for its unique eco-system and cool and serene environment. 

Unbearable cold during winter months forces these migrant species to temporarily leave their original habitat. The Chilika lake and the Bhitarkanika wetland spots are the favoured destination of migratory birds, officials said. 

Lack of human interference, ideal climatic condition, cool breeze and the river system here 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. -PTI

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