Berhampur: Number of birds found taking shelter in Chilika, the biggest waterfowl habitat in the country, has come down during this summer as compared to that in 2012.
As many as 59,687 birds of different species were counted in 1100 sq. Km sprawling lake this summer according to counts conduced by Chilika wildlife division, official sources said today.
Last summer, 77,609 different birds had been counted in the lake located in Odisha, sources said.
Shifting of mouth towards the outer channel resulting in reduction in tidal water inflow has changed the salinity of the water in central and northern sector and this might have affected the dwindling of bird population in the lagoon this summer, said divisional forest officer (Chilika wildlife), B P Acharya.
The weed infestation in the northern sector of the lagoon appears to be another reason for fewer numbers of birds taking shelter in Chilika, he added.
The bird species like lesser whistling duck (8050), black tailed godwit (6911) and little cormorant (6561) were found highest numbers during the status survey of the avifauna in the lake, DFO stated.
The winged guests who had flown to the Chilika during the last winter, however seen to stay in lake this summer, despite the mercury hovering around 40 degrees Celsius in the lake.
Similarly the scattered population of greater flamingoes (655) and grey pelican (177) were counted in and around the Nalabana bird sanctuary in the lake and still attract the tourists to the Chilika this summer, sources said.
U N Deo, a noted ornithologist, however, said the birds which were unable to fly back to their own habitats due to sickness remained in the lake.
Last winter, about 8.77 lakh waterfowls of 180 species had flown to the lake. The winged guests mostly from beyond the Himalayas in Northern Eurasia, Caspian region, Siberia, Kazakh, Lake Baikal and remote areas of Russia and Neighbouring countries visit Chilika every winter.