Berhampur: The number of feathered guests to the famous Chilika lake in Odisha, the biggest waterfowl habitat in the country, increased this winter.
"Around 7.62 lakh birds of 172 species visited the blue lagoon this year. It was found during the annual bird count, conducted at 1,100 sq km vast lake," Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Chilika Wildlife Division Bikash Ranjan Das, said.
Last winter around 7.19 lakh birds of 158 species had visited the lake, he said.
Similarly, in 2013 and 2012, around 8.77 lakh of 180 species and 8.83 lakh birds of 167 species respectively had visited the lake.
There is no new species of bird sighted in the vast lake during the census, he said.
Around 80 persons, including the ornithologists from BNHS, Mumbai, officials of wildlife organisations, several ornithologists and wildlife activists took part in the bird count in the lake held from 6 AM to 11 AM.
While 7,61,940 winged guests of 172 different species were counted in the entire lake, highest number of 3,90,697 were sighted in Nalabana bird sanctuary area. Last winter, Nalabana Island had hosted around 4.15 lakh birds.
Increase in number of migratory birds in the lake is attributed to the safety measures taken by wildlife authorities and improvement of the habitat in the lake, said an ornithologist.
The 15.59-sq km area Nalabana Island was declared a as bird sanctuary as more number of birds congregated in the area.
Winged guests from far off places including Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, remote parts of Russia, central and South East Asia, Ladakh and Himalayas were descended in the lake in every winter for feeding and roosting. They start their homeward journey with the onset of summer.