Bhubaneswar: The wildlife wing of Odisha forest department on Sunday began the exercise of annual bird census in Chilika, Asia’s largest brackish water lake and the largest winter resort for migratory birds in the Indian subcontinent.

Forest department sources said as many as 20 teams, including research scholars and bird lovers of the state are participating in the bird enumeration with the help of Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and Chilika Development Authority (CDA).

“For the last 10 years, we have been counting birds in a scientific way. In the bird census, we are also finding how many species of birds are coming here and the trends. Some birds are very temperature sensitive and don’t come if winter is delayed or the temperature rises,” said Ajit Kumar Patnaik, chief executive of CDA.

However, though the arrival of the winged guests at Chilika has been normal so far, a rise in temperature and deficient rainfall in the state is likely to bring down the bird count this year, said an official.

Besides Chilika, bird count is also being conducted at Anshupa and 13 other places under the Athagarh subdivision area in Cuttack district. In Sambalpur district, the bird count at the Hirakud Reservoir was held on Saturday.

Sources said more than 95,000 birds have visited Hirakud water reservoir this year while enumerators have spotted nine new kinds of birds at the reservoir.

Winged guests from far off places like the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, remote parts of Russia, Central and South East Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas descend on Chilika every winter for feeding and roosting, said sources.

Last year, over 7.61 lakh migratory birds had thronged Chilika Lake during winter. About 7.19 lakh resident and migratory birds arrived at the 1,100 sq km brackish water lake in 2013.

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