Feather touch

Two to tango: A pair of pintails take flight at the wetlands of Mangalajodi

Row, row, row: Country boats venture out for fishing on the Chilika Lake

Off you go: A moorhen watches a ruddy shelduck take flight

Keen eye: A kingfisher looks out for prey

Small fry: A fisherman looks for a catch in shallow waters

Country roads: A herd of buffaloes heads home in a single file

Mangalajodi in Odisha is a success story in the conservation of birds and a unique ecosystem

Mangalajodi is a green speck on the north-eastern fringes of Chilika lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon that stretches across 1,100 sq km. One of the 130-odd villages on the banks of the Chilika, Mangalajodi’s wetlands provide refuge to nearly three lakh migratory birds every winter, adding several colours to its marshy waters.

The migration season kicks off in October. The early birds are soon followed by rafts of ducks and bevies of several other kinds. The village echoes with the trilling of the feathered visitors, some of whom stay till early summer, while the permanent residents can be seen through the year.

The expansive wetlands, mostly covered by reeds, are also a source of income for the fishing community from the nearby villages. The birds are often seen resting on the edges of country boats as the fishermen wait after casting their nets in the shallow waters.

Mangalajodi is also one of those conservation success stories in which poachers have turned protectors of a unique ecosystem and its rich avian life. Some of them are now employed as birding guides for tourists. Less than 100 km from Odisha capital Bhubaneswar, Mangalajodi is a birdwatcher’s delight minus the ugly trappings of commercial tourism.

Photos: Ashoke Chakraborty

Published on March 11, 2016
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