Kendrapara, August 23 (LocalWire): The week-long monsoon bird census at Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district was kicked-off by the forest department today to create a scientific database of the number of birds in the park.
‘We want to ascertain the bird species and their preferred season when they come to nest here in the monsoons. In addition, the type of vegetation preferred by the birds will also be scientifically documented,’ said Subrat Patra, the forest range officer of the park.
In 2018, we counted 91,224 birds. In 2017 we recorded 1,04,490 birds during the annual bird census during the monsoons whereas we counted 1,03,853 birds in 2016 during the rainy season.
We are monitoring all the water bodies and mangrove forest areas of Bhitarkanika during the week-long bird survey and census. We are allowing tourists to visit Bhitarkanika during the avian census,’ added the forest officer.
Two teams are counting birds and their chicks on the mangrove and other trees in Bagagahana covering 3.5 hectares of mangrove forest, the famous heronry of nesting birds and Mathaadia, a 2.5 hectare area and other places.
‘Eleven species of resident birds like Open Bill Stork, Herons and Egrets were found nesting last year. Monsoons are the breeding period of many local birds in the park. The most important nesting birds are the Open Billed Stork, Little Cormorant, Median Egret, Large Egret, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Darter, White Ibis and Cattle Egret,’ added the forest officer.
Monsoon showers have given a new lease of life to Bhitarkanika this year as myriad birds flocked the mangroves. In monsoon, local birds arrive while during winter, migratory birds arrive in Bhitarkanika.
The rich avifauna of mangrove forests can be attributed to the structural diversity of habitat conditions, added the forest officer.
Abundant fish in the river and creeks and distance from human habitation has made it a congenial breeding place for thousands of birds.
In 1981, the noted ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali, had visited Bhitarkanika and suggested the government to declare it as a biosphere reserve and to get it surveyed by scientific organisations. But the suggestion has been gathering dust, said Hemant Rout, the secretary of Gahiramatha Marine Turtles Protection and Mangrove Conservation Society, Kendrapara.