BHUBANESWAR: More migratory birds have thronged Chilika lagoon this year compared to last winter. Over 7.61 lakh winged visitors were enumerated during the annual water bird survey which was carried out by the Chilika Wildlife Division on Friday.
The number is higher than last year when 7.19 lakh birds - migratory and resident migratory - had arrived at the 1,100 sq km brackish water lagoon. Super cyclone Phailin was the reason the number of birds had dropped during 2013-14 winter.
The results revealed that at least 172 species were sighted during the enumeration. Last year, at least 158 species were recorded.
Eurasian Wigeon and Northern Pintail were among the major species to have been recorded during the survey in which 77 enumerators in 20 groups took part. While the population of Eurasian Wigeons was over 1.78 lakh, Pintails were 1.28 lakh in number.
In Nalabana Bird Sanctuary, a protected area, over 3.90 lakh birds were enumerated during the survey. The number has seen a marginal drop compared to last winter during which 4.15 lakh birds were sighted.
However, the drop is attributed to temporary movement of the birds from the sanctuary area to other parts of the lagoon due to water level fluctuation in Nalabana which is a submersible island, a collection of mudflats.
"The drop may have been because of the untimely localised rain and weather which prompts the birds to head towards the fringe areas of the lagoon. With a temporary rise in water level, the birds move to other parts to roost. Once the water level drops, they would be back," Divisional Forest Officer of Chilika Bikash Ranjan Dash said.
The healthy number of bird population at Chilika was also because of their early arrival at the lagoon well before the onset of winter.
However, no new bird species was recorded this time, Dash said. Besides, no classification of migratory and resident migratory species was also made during the survey since a number of migratory species are showing a pattern of turning local.