Friday, February 18, 2011

Bhigwan Batch-1 (5th & 6th Feb.11) & Batch-2 (12th & 13th Feb.11)

One place in Maharashtra, which can be compared to Bharatpur is "Bhigwan". About 110kms from Pune city on Pune-Solapur road. The catchment area or backwater of Ujani dam provides ideal habitat for Ducks & waterfowl. Every year we (Nature India) arrange at least 2 trips to this place. Because of its proximity to Mumbai, the trips can be arranged on weekends i.e. Sat. & Sun. This is year Batch-1 was from 5th & 6th Feb. and Batch-2 from 12th & 13th Feb.

Bus started from Dadar (Chandu Halwai) at 6.30Am. All members coming to Dadar, including me :-), were on time. Adesh boarded at Sion. As per every year we got some biscuits, namkeen and water at Sion. We stppoed for Breakfast at Navratna Hotel, Vashi. It took about 2.30pm to reach Bhigwan. Post lunch we started for Diksal. As usual Diksal was full of birds, the birds seen here include, Red Avadvats, Northern Shovellers & Pintails, Eurasian Wigeons, Common Teals, Little Grebe, Common Coot, Purple Swamphen, Glossy, Oriental White, Back Ibis, Black-tailed Godwits, Marsh, Wood, Common & Green Sandpipers, huge congregation of Whiskered Terns, Painted, Wooly Necked & Openbill Storks and the special sighting was of Bar-headed Geese. After eventful session we headed for Hotel Amardeep, which is about 22kms from Bhigwan, towards Baramati. As the day was hectic with lot of travel we all heade for early bed.

Next day we started early morning with tea. After quick breakfast we started our morning session at Kumbhargaon. Along with waterbirds, this site also gives opportunity to see dry land and scrubland birds. First we stopped for Barn, Red-rumped & Streak-throated Swallow. Then the Clamerous Reed Warbler gave us some rare nice views. It was in open for quite a long time. Other birds seen were Black Redstart, Iora, Small Minivets, Indian Silverbill, Yellow Wagtail, Bluethroat, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Ospray, Ruddy Shell Ducks and many more.... In just two sessions, we all saw more than 100 birds. After lunch we started for Mumbai and reached by 10pm.

Identical to Batch-1, this trip was also seccessful with all the sightings than Batch1 had, plus close sighting of Red-headed Falcon.

Next trip is, 3rd Batch for Jamnagar from 19th to 24th Feb.2011. Hope to see lots of Crab Plovers, Great-crested Grebes, Common Cranes, Lesser Flamingos along with other usual Jamnagar birds!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary & Mannar - Batch2 - 29th Jan. to 01st Feb. 2011

After 3 hectic, hard working days in Cochin, we were ready for Thattekkad Batch-2. I went to Airport to receive almost half of the members and Adesh went to Railway station to receive others. Unfortunately the train was late by about 4 hours. I along with members coming by flight reached early to Thattekkad. After an hour or so Pallavi also joined us. We decided to go for a small walk nearby sanctuary. The light was fading, but still we could see White-bellied Treepie, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Racket-tailed Drongo etc.... The train people came by late night and we all together had diner.

All the schedule was exact the replica of first batch. But each visit to same place is different. At the same rocky patch apart from all other birds, we saw Black Baza going overhead, also saw White-bellied Woodpeckers with nest. The evening session was something special!! You can always expect unexpected in jungle. After looking at Frogmouth, we suddenly came upon on small stream inside the jungle. We decided to wait there for some time and check if some birds come there to drink water before going for roosting. And our efforts paid off.... Next half an hour was something amazing!! Stage was set, audience was ready and the play began. First to arrive was courageous Yellow-browed Bulbul, it was his brave effort that gave confidence to others to come down to drink water. The Bulbul was followed by Rusty-tailed, White-bellied Blue, Brown-breasted Flycatchers, Malabar Blue Whistling Thrush, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, Indian Blue Robin, White-bellied Treepie .... wow..what a show!!! Adesh and me also saw a glimpse of Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher!!! That was an icing on the cake!!

Day 2 Munnar....As usual we started early morning at 4.30. The Eravikulam National Park was as good as last batch. We saw all the specialties, including White-bellied Shortwing, Black & Orange and Nilgiri Flycatcher, Grey-breasted Laughingthrush and Nilgiri Pipit. In the evening we went to Dr. Sugathan's office in the sanctuary to hear about this experiences in Thattekkad.

Last Day.... for the morning session we went to another place a bit far from Thettekkad. It was a nice forest patch, we saw Sri-lanka Frogmouth, Paradise Flycatcher, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Drongo & Banded Bay Cuckoo, Oriental Honey Buzzard etc... Those going by flight left early after lunch. Rest we all went to forest patch, opposite to sanctuary. Apart from Racket-tailed Drongo, Black-hooded Oriole, Emerald Dove etc... I was fortunate to see a lifer!! A Chestnut-winged Cuckoo came and sat on a tree for few the time I called others it flew:-(... I was delighted to see a lifer, but was disappointed as others couldn't see it.

Both the batches to Thattekkad were amazing. We got to see almost all the specialties of the region. Me & Adesh were more than happy and satisfied with the overall trip.