View Full Version : Bhitarkanika: Less rains impact nesting birds

Sabyasachi Patra
16-09-2010, 06:33 PM
Updates from Bhitarkanika in Orissa.


The nesting birds in the Bhitarkanika national park are facing shortage of food because of lack of rainfall as a result only 20,000 birds arrived in 'Bagagahana' the heronry in this rainy season whereas 70,000 birds had arrived last year during monsoon season , said Manoj Kumar Mohapatra the divisional forest officer of Bhitarkanika national park on Sunday.

Like other years, a large number of open-bill storks, cormorants , herons and other birds have set up rookeries for breeding with the advent of the monsoon. But for the past three months, little rainfall has dried up the small water bodies within the park and its nearby areas, said Manoj Kumar Mohapatra the divisional forest officer of the park.

The Bagagahan extends over an area of four acres surrounded by Bhitarkanika river on the east, Suajhore creek on the north and Patijhore creek on the southern side.

The bulk of the winged population comprises the open-bill stork, which thrives mainly on snails and small fishes that they dig out from the moist beds of the river and its creeks.

"The birds usually begin nesting from the end of June and the activity picks up in August. The storks mainly feed on shellfish and zooplankton from the river and the creeks. As the birds are nesting, they cannot fly far and wide for food and prefer to obtain it from nearby water bodies. However, the dry spell has been affecting the feeding. If this carries on for long, there will be a crisis," the forest officer added.

The birds come from different parts of the nearby areas and leave during October when the chicks learn to fly. Eleven species of resident birds like stork, herons and egrets are found nesting in the Bagagahan which is the most secluded part of Bhitarkanika. The most important nesting birds are the Open billed stork, (Anastomus oscitans), Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger ), Median Egret (egretta intermedia), Large Egret (Ardea alba), Little Egret (Egretta grazetta), Purple Heron (ardea purpurea ) , Night Heron (Nycticoraxnicticorax) Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Darter (Anhinga melanogaster), White Ibis(Threskiornis melanocephala) and Cattle Egret (Bubbulcus coromandus), added the forest officer

Many birds are struggling to find enough food due to less rain. Poor rainfall has reduced supplies of the seeds, fruits and insects that the birds rely on to build up vital energy supplies, added Mohapatra.

The bird populations in Bhitarkanika fluctuate annually depending on the wet season rainfall levels . The local birds arrive in Bhitarkanika in the rainy season when there is a lot of food available, but over the following months conditions get drier. For winged beauties Bagagahana within the park was a haven till a few years ago. Deficit rainfall in the region played a cruel joke on Bhitarkanika , home to the birds for this year, added Mohapatra.
Birds have suffered severe declines in their numbers due to dry weather in Bhitarkanika, said Mohapatra.

The changes in rainfall in Bhitarknika could be leaving the birds less able to cope with growing pressures The changes in rainfall have a longer-lasting impact, added the forest officer. (THE END)

The source article can be found here: http://www.orissalive.co.in/sep155.aspx