KENDRAPARA: Migratory birds in large numbers have started arriving at the mangrove forest and water bodies of Bhitarkanika National Park here as part of their annual winter sojourn.
“Birds like Sandpiper, Oystercather, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Avocit, Sea Gulls and other Wader birds have already arrived in Bhitarkanika,” said Divisional Forest Officer of the park Bimal Prasanna Acharya.
The birds have started arriving recently and will stay put in the park throughout winter. The Bagagahan, a heronry of avian species within the park, is also a temporary abode for the winged guests. The migratory birds, after traversing thousands of kilometres, have made the water bodies of Hukitola, Satabhaya, Agaranashi and about six tiny islands near Bhitarkanika as their home, said Acharya.
The birds often frequent open wetlands adjoining the mangrove forest which has enough fish, prawns, frogs, snakes and molluscs. The area provides an extensive feeding ground for the winter visitors because of the availability of abundant fish in the river and creeks besides the distance of its location from human habitats, informed the forest officer.
Acharya further said the park authorities had taken steps to improve the habitat, especially Bagagahan, to ensure more number of the winged visitors. The forest guards patrol the park and its nearby areas to prevent poaching during the season.
“We have decided to organise awareness camps in villages within the park and urge locals to protect the avian guests”, he added.Noted ornithologist Salim Ali, during his visit to Bhitarkanika in 1981, had suggested that the Government declare the park as a biosphere reserve and get it scientifically surveyed. However, no action has been taken in this regard so far, said Hemant Rout, an environmentalist and retired teacher of Rajnagar.