Record number of migratory birds arrives in Hirakud Reservoir

Sambalpur (Odisha): The Hirakud Dam Reservoir in Odisha's Sambalpur district witnessed arrival of a record number of migratory birds this winter. The waterfowl census, conducted over the weekend, at the reservoir area recorded arrival of 95,912 birds of 60 species this year, an official of the Wildlife Division said Tuesday.

The five most numerous birds species visiting area are Lesser Whistling Duck, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and Common Coot, the official said.

A total of 16,547 Lesser Whistling Duck, 16,473 Common Pochard, 11,506 Tufted Duck, 10,886 Great Crested Grebe and 9,148 Common Coot have been counted in the reservoir area this season.

Other migratory birds found in the reservoir area this year include, 6,112 Little Cormorant, 5,724 Black Headed Gull, 3,560 Red Crested Grebe and 2,260 Brown Headed Gull, the official said.

During this time of the year, the 746 sq km reservoir, becomes a haven for these winged visitors who arrive during the first week of November and leave in the month of March.

These birds fly from Caspian Sea, Baikal Lake, Aral Sea, Mongolia, Central and South East Asia and Himalayan region during winter to escape the biting cold. Moreover, they get sufficient food here.

"The soothing climate, hills around the reservoir and availability of food attract these birds from far flung areas. Some birds arrive here for breeding during this time," said Range Officer of Hirakud Wildlife Division, Madan Lal Sharma.

Stating that adequate arrangements were made for security of the migratory birds, he said, "Ten staff and four boats have been engaged to regularly patrol the area."

For the census, 14 teams were formed with five persons in each including two boatmen and a bird expert. Census kits comprising binoculars, bird field-guides and census sheets were given to the teams.

Around 58,057 birds of 63 species were counted in the Hirakud Reservoir during the Waterfowl Census last year.