Kendrapada, August 31 (Odisha.in) The forest officials have spotted recently at least 20 endangered white bellied – Sea Eagles in the forests of Bhitarkanika national park, A.K. Mishra a senior forest officer of the park said Friday.
“We found the nests of the white bellied sea eagles in Habalipadia forest block within the park. The rare avian species prefer to nest on the tall trees in the banks of the rivers and creeks within Bhitarkanika, he said.
Last, year the forest officials collected two eggs of these birds from a nest and released the hatchlings after their birth in a centre here, he said.
The White –bellied sea eagle has white on the head, rump and under parts and dark grey on the back and wings. In flight, the black flight feathers on the wings are easily seen when the bird is viewed from the below.
The large, hooked bird is grey with a darker trip, and the eye is dark brown. The legs and feet are cream-white, with long black talons.
The sexes are similar. Males (around 75 cm in height” and slightly smaller than females (up to 85 cm)”, added the forest officer.
“Young white –bellied sea eagles are brown as juveniles than slowly become to resemble adults in a patchwork manner, acquiring the complete adult plumage by their fourth day.
Their loud “goose-like” honking call is familiar sound, particularly during the breeding season. In addition to coastal areas of India particularly in Orissa, West Bengal Andaman and Andhra Pradesh, the species is found in New Guinea, Indonesia, China, and South East Asia.
White –bellied sea eagle feeds mainly of aquatic animals, such as fish, sea snakes etc, but it takes birds and mammals as well. It is a skilled hunter and will attack pray up to the size of a swan.
They harass smaller bird, forcing them to drop any food that they are carrying, said the forest officer.
.Bhitarakanika is the home of about 269 species of birds including 98 species of migratory birds.
But the presence of 20 nests of White –Bellied Sea Eagles are baffling the wildlife officials as Bhitarakanika perhaps is the only forest in India where so many rare birds nested this year”, said the senior forest officer.
The populations of rare birds are rising in Bhitarakanika due to availability of sufficient fish and other aquatic foods and calm and serene environment.
Poachers are not able to poach avian species in the park as the rivers and creeks of the park are being guard by forest guards, said the forest officer.
According to the forest officer that 10 rare avian species of winter migrant were sighted last year in Bhitarakanika and the rare birds are Grey-backed Shrike, Ruddy kingfisher, Red-necked Phalarrope, Western Reef Egret, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Blue-Winged Leafbird , Great Thick-knee, Great Knot, Tawny Pipit and Goliath Heron.
Two years back, two Goliath Heron were sighted after many years by a team of World Water Institute, Pune near the village Dangamala within the park.
Three years ago one rare Western Reef egret was also sighted for the first time at Raipatia within the park. Ruddy kingfisher had been last time sighted in February, 2001 in Khola creek.
Grey –backed shrike was sighted only twice in Dangamala area six years back. Red-necked Phalarope was also sighted only once during October 2002 at Bhanditutha Patia near the park, said the forest officer.
The sight of more rare migratory birds in Bhitarakanika testifies that about 269 species of migratory and resident birds including many rare birds have been coming to Bhitarakanika, said the forest officer.
Many ornithologists, environmentalists and forest officials count each year the birds and other animals during the annual census of avian census in the park, said the forest officer .