More than 70,000 birds visit Bagagahan for breeding and nesting

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Kendrapara, Sep 4 (UNI) More than 70,000 birds visited Bagagahan, within the Bhitarkanika National Park during this monsoon, Rajnagar Mangrove Forest Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) P K Behera said.

Mr Behera said as per a census conducted by the forest officials, as many as 71,383 monsoon birds thronged Bagagahan for nesting and breeding this monsoon in comparison to 52,000 last year.

The census of the birds was carried out by the officials of Bhitarkanika National Park from August 21 to 28, he said.

The DFO said during the census, the forest officials sighted 13,594 nests at the Bagagahan, extending over an area of 8.1 hectares.

He said high-tech GPS (Global Positioning System) was used by the forest officials to count the nests. The wildlife researchers and ornithologists did extensive use of navigational and mapping tools to arrive at a near-accurate estimate of the birds.

According to the forest officials, the birds congregate in large numbers with the onset of monsoons in early June for nesting and the process gets over by the end of November.

The birds choose Guan, Sundari, Jagula and Bani trees of mangroves for nesting.

Darter, Grey heron and Purple heron start breeding early and often their young are seen during the month of August while the chicks of the Open Bill stork and White Ibis are seen during September.

Mr Behera said open bill stork constititutes about 60 per cent of the total visiting birds and are abundantly seen. This year about 40,000 open bill storks were sighted at the Bagagahan, he said.

''Open bill stork prefers to make its nest at the top of the Guan tree while smaller birds like little cormorants make their nest on the lowermost branches,'' he said.

While the highly productive ecosystem of Bhitarkanika provides enough food to the thousands of breeding birds and their chicks, the dense mangrove vegetation and its serene pollution free atmosphere attracts the winged visitors.

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