Berhampur: Migratory birds are now attracted by other wetlands in Ganjam district and this could be the main reason for the drop in the number of winged guests in the Chilika lake this year, experts and officials said.
The bird census conducted by forest officials this month in all major water bodies of the district show that Tampara lake, Baghua dam and other water bodies hosted many migratory birds, besides the Chilika.
"The water fowls might have landed on water bodies and some other areas on their way to Chilika due to availability of food. It may be one of the reasons for fewer birds at the lake this year," said retired Chief Conservator of Forest and an noted ornithologist, Sudhakar Mohapatra.
Divisional Forest Officer, Chilika, Bikash Ranjan Das seconded Mahapatra's view.
The annual bird census, undertaken in the brackish water lagoon of Chilika on January 3, put the count to 8,93,390 birds, which is 53,000 less compared to last year's figure.
Forest officials said 1,391 birds were sighed at the Tampara lake, and 1,214 at Baghua dam.
However, the DFO said, there could be at least two other reasons for the fewer number of birds being sighted in the Chilika this year.
The increase in the water level of the lagoon due to recent unseasonal rains and conducting of the census about 10 days ahead of schedule when birds were still landing.
Forest officials conducted the bird census in 37 water bodies of Berhampur forest division, and 22 sites in Buguda forest range in Ghumusara south forest division.
"We have spotted water fowls in 37 water bodies in our division this winter and the highest number of birds were spotted in the Tampara lake," said Divisional Forest Officer (Berhampur), A K Behera.
Forest Range Officer (Buguda), P K Sahu said 458 birds were found in Bhagabanpur minor irrigation project (MIP) and 405 at Banapalli MIP, he said.