The Chilika Lake, largest wintering ground of the migratory birds in the Indian sub-continent, has recorded a congregation of more than 12 lakh birds, mostly migratory ones, this winter.
“The census taken up on Tuesday revealed record presence of more than 12 lakhs winged guests. More than 11 lakh birds were estimated last year. For three successive years, we have been seeing more than a million congregation,” said Susanta Nanda, Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority (CDA).
As many as 21 teams comprising wildlife lovers, forest department staff and students had participated in the census in the area which varies between 1,165 to 900 sq km during monsoon and summer respectively.
According to the CDA, Chilika is the largest wintering ground for migratory waterfowl found anywhere on the sub-continent.
The lake hosts birds migrating thousands of miles away from the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Aral Sea, remote parts of Russia, Kirghiz steppes of Mongolia, Central and South East Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas. They find the vast mud-field and abundant fish stock suitable to congregate.
“This year, Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside Chilika has hosted 5 to 6 lakh birds while other sectors have seen rise in the number. The exact population and species distribution would be known after its final analysis,” said Mr. Nanda.
Three to four varieties of docks were most common species sighted in the lake. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, tourist inflow was considerably low, which made the place more suitable for migratory birds to flock. Eviction of fishing enclosures and clearance of over 160 sq km has created the new areas of congregation. In 2019, the congregation was estimated above a million for the first time.