KENDRAPARA:The number of resident birds in Bhitarkanika National Park rose marginally with forest officials recording the presence of 1,04,490 winged creatures during the recent annual census. Last year, 1,03,853 birds were counted in the park.
“During the annual bird survey, two teams monitored all the water bodies and mangrove forest areas of Bhitarkanika from August 24 to 30,” said Divisional Forest Officer of the park Bimal Prasanna Acharya.
The teams counted 43,912 birds and 60,568 chicks in 3.5 hectares of Bagagahana, 2.5 hectares in Mathaadia and other places during the six-day long census in the park. Eleven species of resident birds like open bill stork, herons and egrets were found nesting in Bagagahana which is the most secluded part of Bhitarkanika. ‘’The monsoon season is the breeding period of many local birds. Some of the major nesting birds are Little Cormorant, Median Egret, Large Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Darter, White Ibis and Cattle Egret,’’ informed the Forest Officer.
Acharya further said monsoon showers have given a new lease of life to Bhitarkanika this year as myriad birds flocked the mangrove trees for nesting. ‘’Given the magnitude of the rise in number of birds, one cannot rule out influxes of the winged visitors from other locations where water conditions and prey supplies are not as favourable as in Bhitarkanika,’’ he said.
In monsoon season, local birds arrive in Bhitarkanika to lay eggs. But in winter, migratory birds arrive from far-off places beyond the Himalayas. The rich avifauna of mangrove forests in Bhitarkanika can be attributed to the structural diversity of habitat conditions. Abundant fish in rivers and creeks and distance from human habitation has made the park a suitable congenial breeding place for thousands of birds, Acharya added.