A change in the climate because of the severe storm Phailin that hit Orissa earlier is perhaps the reason behind migratory birds staying away from Chilika this winter.
Their number has fallen by more than 1.5 lakh compared to the previous season.
At least 7.19 lakh birds were enumerated during the annual enumeration, which concluded on Sunday at the 1,100 sq km brackish water lagoon, a major winter birding site of the country. In 2013, their number stood at 8.77 lakh.
The very severe cyclonic storm Phailin, which was followed by rains in October, is believed to have made the water birds susceptible to changes in their migratory sojourn. When wind direction changes, the individual birds fail to complete their migratory journey.
Chilka Lake (Chilika Lake) is a brackish water lagoon and is spread over the Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts of Orissa state on the east coast of India. It is the largest coastal lagoon in India and the second largest lagoon in the World.
It is the largest wintering ground for migratory birds on the Indian sub-continent. The lake is home to a number of threatened species of plants and animals. In 1981, Chilika Lake was designated the first Indian wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Image credit: J.M.Garg