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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Forest welcomes winged guests
- Drop in number of avian species

Kendrapara, Dec. 27: Much to the ornithologists’ delight, migrant winged species have arrived in thousands bringing chirpy cacophony to the wetland sites in and around the Bhitarkanika national park in the district.

The region has become the seasonal sojourn for rare groups of winged species of central Asian origin, thereby re-establishing the national park as a prominent habitat of avian species.

Though there has been a drop in the number of winged guests this year, the marshy wetland spots in the park have again emerged as a congenial and human-interference-free winter habitat for feathered species from central Asian and Himalayan region.

Their arrival has been belated this time. Flocks of these winter guests are crowding the wetland sites, water bodies and creeks and the number is expected to swell in the coming weeks. The habitat of the birds extends around the stretch of a kilometre. There is ample food security for the birds as the place is criss-crossed by innumerable water inlets and nullahs, said divisional forest officer of the Rajnagar mangrove (wildlife) forest division Manoj Kumar Mahapatra.

Prominent among the winged visitors are Indian skimmers, grey pelicans and white-backed vultures, lesser adjutant, grater spotted eagles. All of these sighted species are conferred to endangered status under the International Union for Conservation for Nature’s Red Book Data containing the list of highly threatened animals worldwide.

These apart, other delicate and prominent birds sighted this time are black-tailed godwit, northern pin-tail, lesser whistling duck, grey plover, egret spotted bills, oriental darter, white belley seagull, and black-necked stork, he said.

Some of these species transmigrated from Siberia, Ladakh, the Mansarovar lake and the Himalayan region.

“It is a treat to watch feathered species with their humming adding colour to the vibrant eco-system of this region,” said Bijoy Kabi, a wildlife activist.

Lack of human interference, ideal climatic condition, cool breeze and the river system here have emerged to the liking of these delicate winged species.

This itself is a positive sign and thus further research on the behavioural pattern of these threatened species is being taken up, said a wildlife official.