Kendrapara: Migratory birds have embarked on their homeward journey from Bhitarakanika National Park in Odisha`s Kendrapara district after a four-month-long winter sojourn.
A large number of birds came to the water bodies and the forest cover of Bhitarakanika this winter to avoid the intense cold in far-off places beyond the Himalayas, said Kedar Kumar Swain, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the park.
Birds fly thousands of miles to Bhitarakanika to escape the harsh winter in northern Asia and some central European countries. They stayed in Bhitarakanika for four months before flying back.
The first batch of migratory birds usually touches down at Bhitarakanika in the second week of November. However, their arrival was delayed by a couple of weeks this year due to late arrival of winter.
A large number have already flown out of Bhitarakanika, while wader birds were preparing to leave. The birds, who flew to the water bodies from places as far off as Siberia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Himalayan region and central Europe have been leaving Bhitarakanika almost everyday, said the forest officer.
Bhitarakanika, mainly its Bagagahana, received a large number of migratory birds belonging to 87 species. The bird census was conducted in January by forest officials with the help of environmentalists and NGOs, the forest officer said.
"We hope that more birds will arrive before the advent of next winter", said the forest officer.
Though birds like shoveller, pintail, gadwal, wigen, Common Pochard, Garganey, Tuffed Duck, Common Teal, Coot and other species of avian species have started leaving, some wader species like curlew, pipit and white eye have not shown any urgency to leave yet, said the DFO.
The district veterinary officials in last December collected blood samples of at least 140 migratory and local birds to detect the presence of any flu-affected avian species. But could not trace out any H5N1 (flu virus) affected birds, said the chief district veterinary officer, Rabindra Kumar Sahu.