Birds of India

Mangalajodi Wetlands
Chilka, Orissa

Checklist I Trip Report



Introduction
Mangalajodi wetlands are a freshwater swamp at the north-eastern edge of Chilka Lake and is located between 19° 54.823'N 85° 26.184'E and 19° 53.755'N 85° 26.332'E. Mangalajodi hamlet is about 60kms south south-west of Bhubaneshwar city off NH 5 and 4 kms south-east of Tangi town in Khurda district of Orissa, India.


The area (about 10sq. kms) is primarily a freshwater zone connected, by channels cut through the reed beds, with the brackish waters of Chilka lagoon. It is covered with emergent vegetation and reeds consisting mostly of Typha angustata and Phragmites karka. The main channel runs north to south for about 3 kms and has a nature trail running parallel to it for about 2 kms terminating in a watchtower.

Birds


Black-tailed Godwit
'Mangalajodi Ghera' is a waterfowl haven, attracting thousands of winter migrants and playing host to significant and diverse populations of breeding residents. Recognized as an IBA, Mangalajodi supports over 200,000 - 300,000 waterfowl in winter with populations of 15 species exceeding 1% of their bio-geographical population.
These include Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Tufted Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Fulvous Whistling-duck, Cotton Pygmy-goose, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Garganey, Eurasian Wigeon, Ruddy Shelduck, Purple Swamphen, Asian Openbill, snipes, sandpipers, pratincoles, crakes, bitterns, egrets, herons and other resident birds. Raptors include Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Brahminy Kite, Peregrine Falcon and White-bellied Sea Eagle, while the Whiskered Tern is abundant in season. Black-tailed Godwits are the most evident species on the marshes.


Northern Pintail
Conservation
Large scale poaching has historically been a major threat to the avifauna of Mangalajodi wetland. Poaching provided an alternate livelihood to the 3,000 odd residents of the village and threatened to destroy the area as a bird breeding and wintering habitat of immense importance.
Efforts to curb poaching and provide alternate means of livelihood to the families were started in 1996-1997 by Mr. Nanda Kishor Bhujabal and the members of Wild Orissa, an organization working on wildlife conservation issues. These efforts bore fruit with the formation of Sri Mahavir Pakhshi Surakshya Samiti, on 10th December 2000. Poachers were converted to protectors and were made members of this Samiti (committee). The Orissa Wildlife Department also chipped in by has provided seasonal employment to some Samiti members. Wild Orissa provided small wooden boats for patrolling and monitoring and the Chilka Development authority provided much needed funding for this conservation initiative.

These efforts bore fruit with the official census bird count at Mangalajodi rising from 5000 birds in 1999-2000, to 10,000 birds in 2000-2001 reaching a figure of 3, 00,000 birds in the year 2003-2004. The effort was recognized by the Government of Orissa with the Pakhshi Bandhu (Friends of birds) Award" for the year 2001being bestowed on the Sri Mahavir Pakhshi Surakshya Samiti.


Yellow Bittern
How to reach:


Mangalajodi lies at the north-eastern tip of Chilka Lake. It is 30 kms from Khurdah Road Railway station and lies off National Highway 5 connecting Kolkata to Chennai. The nearest railhead is Kalupadaghat on S.E. Railway's Howrah-Chennai line and Tangi on NH5 is the nearest town. Bhubaneshwar city is a 2 hour drive from Mangalajodi.

Where to stay: Mangalajodi Ecotourism provides basic accomodation at the site. They can be reached at: Tel.: +91 88952 88955 or at their website
Alternative, and better equipped, accommodation is available at Balugaon, Barkul (OTDC Panthanivas), Kalupada.and Khurda Road - all are within driving distance of the site.

Tips: If you don't have a vehicle with you, arrange one from the place you are staying at. Boat rides at Mangalajodi cost around INR 1000 to INR 2000 (check currect rates), depending upon time and distance covered. You can carry packed food or inform the guides beforehand to prepare lunch for you.
Recommended boatman: Madhu Behera. Tel: +91 96921 22456

Places of interest: A visit to Mangalajodi should be combined with a visit to Chilka Lake and Nalabana Bird Sanctuary. Chilka Lake is a 1165 sq km. brackish water estuarine lagoon of international importance for waterfowl. Every winter, Chilka and its surrounding areas host a staggering 7-800,000 birds comprising 121 species.

Best time: November to March

References:
1.
Wikpedia
2.
The Magic Of Mangalajodi - Sanctuary Asia

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