Migratory birds start arriving at Chilika, numbers are down

Winged visitors likely to increase once the mudflats below the lake are exposed

October 26, 2018 09:54 pm | Updated 09:59 pm IST - BHUBANESWAR

A file photo of migratory birds in Chilika lake.

A file photo of migratory birds in Chilika lake.

Migratory birds have started arriving at the wetlands of Odisha’s Chilika Lake — one of the largest wintering grounds in Asia, but not in their usual numbers this year.

The arrival of migratory birds is awaited with the onset of winter every year. This year, however, fewer winged visitors have descended on the mudflats of the lake.

“Around this time, Chilika is usually filled with a cacophony of birds. As acres of patches are still under water, birds are not descending on the lake,” said Susanta Nanda, chief executive of the Chilika Development Authority.

Close to one million birds congregate on the mudflats of the lake during winter. The lake, spread over 1,000 sq km, is home to 230 bird species, out of which 97 are intercontinental migrants from the Artic and Eurasian regions.

The lake has been a designated Ramsar site (a wetland of international importance) since 1981.

Rain-induced flooding

The Nalabana Bird Sanctuary and Mangalajodi, the two major places where the birds congregate, also have not received the usual numbers. “Many migratory birds are flying in v-shape over Chilika and assessing the situation. Once the mudflats are exposed, birds will descend in lakhs,” said Mr. Nanda.

One of the reasons behind the low turnout is the flooding after incessant rain triggered by cyclone Titli that hit the Odisha coast in the second week of October.

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