A record 7.61 lakh migratory birds from all the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, Russia, central and South East Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas have landed for their annual winter sojourn in Chilika lake area and the surroundings in Odisha.
According to the annual bird census conducted on Friday, this year’s migratory birds population crossed last year’s record of 7.19 lakh resident and migratory birds at the 1,100 sq km brackish water lake in 2013. The annual census was carried out by ornithologists drawn from all over the world, including Mumbai and Karnataka.
Last year’s bird population at Chilika lake during the winter was relatively less due to the 2013 cyclone Phailin, which hit the coastal Odisha, devastating many areas, said officials. This year at least new bird species were sighted during the enumeration, more than last year’s figure at 158 species, pointed out Divisional Forest Officer Bikash Ranjan Dash.
This year’s attraction was species like Eurasian Wigeon and Northern Pintail, which were counted to be over 1.78 lakh and 1.28 lakh respectively, said Dash. In all, 7,61,940 birds of 172 different species were counted by over 80 ornithologists on Friday and the highest number 3,90,697 birds were sighted in Nalabana bird sanctuary, where 4.5 lakh birds were spotted last year.
The wildlife authorities of Odisha said “the improvement of the habitat” in the lakes.