After a long flight of thousands of miles, not often punctuated by breaks, lakhs of migratory birds have made their way to the Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lagoon.Major bird congregations have been spotted in the wetlands of the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside Chilika and Mangalajodi, a major village on the banks of the lake.“Usually, congregation of migratory birds are noticed from the second week of October. By this time, Nalabana alone would have hosted more than 4 lakh birds. But brewing of a low pressure area over the Bay of Bengal and heavy rain experienced for four days during the second week of November delayed the arrival of birds,” said Sushant Nanda, Chief Executive of Chilika Development Authority.Mr. Nanda said several portions of the vast mudflats are still under water. “As of now about 2 lakh birds have arrived. Most of these bird species can adapt to watery areas,” he said.Nalabana with a 15.59-sq.-km area is hosting the highest number of migratory birds this time round. Similarly, the wetlands of Mangalajodi have begun to fill up with lakhs of ruffs, godwits, plovers, sandpipers and migratory ducks. With 11.59 sq km of mudflats, Mangalajodi receives about 3 lakh birds during winter.Better facilities “This year, tourists would experience better facilities as boats have been equipped with facilities for drinking water and toilets,” said Mr. Nanda, who dedicated the Mangalajodi Bird Interpretation Centre to the public on Wednesday.Only 30 boats carrying tourists would be allowed in the Chilika Lake near Mangalajodi to savour the beauty of bird congregation.This year, Chilika has witnessed the arrival of 9,47,119 birds compared with 8,58,855 in 2016. As per bird census, 167 species of bird had arrived in Chilika in January 2017.Migratory birds fly across continents from Caspian Sea, Baikal Lake and remote parts of Russia, Mongolia and Siberia and flock to the marshy lands of the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary inside the Chilika Lake, which is spread across over 1000 sq. km.The Odisha government has announced a bird festival for the first time in January, showcasing the diversity of migratory birds and their numbers.