Kendrapara (Odisha): The Bhitarkanika National Park and adjoining wetland areas have witnessed a decrease in the number of migratory birds this winter. The latest figures released by the forest department showed that 1,06,356 feathered species from trans-Himalayan region made a flight towards the Bhitarkanika wetland sites for their winter sojourn this year, while it stood at 1,13,226 last year.
The rainfall was erratic this time. Besides there was no uniformity of day and night temperature which might not have proved congenial for visiting birds, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.
The enumerators spotted two rare groups of winged species of central Asian origin from the wetland spots of the park. The rare group of avian species sighted are greater scaup and ferragon pochard. These species were sighted for the first time in Bhitarkanika, he said.
There is ample food security for the birds as the place criss-crossed by innumerable water inlets and nullahs is free of human interference. This in itself was a positive sign and thus further research on the behavioural pattern of these threatened species was being taken up, said wildlife officials.
"The enumerators have also spotted hordes of Backheaded godwit, Greater crested tern, common shell duck and blue tailed godwits," they said. All these species come under rare and threatened category.
The prominent species who have also made Bhitarkanika their winter home are Brahmi n Duck, Bar-headed Geesse, Godwin, Pintail, painted stork, seagauls, common teal, tawny eagle and osprey.
Other prominent winged visitors to Bhitarkanika this time are Indian Skimmers, Grey Pelicans and White-backed vultures, Lesser adjutant, Grater spotted eagles. All of these sighted species are conferred endangered status under the International Union for Conservation for Nature (IUCN)'s Red Book Data, they said.