Friday, June 19, 2009

Avian visitors are here again - Bhopal

This story with a load of pictures took the maxim time for any story which I have written. Anup Dutta a vivid bird watcher and who to my luck was working with me in the Hindustan Times – Bhopal edition and me planned it out and we set about ensuring that we get the main varieties of migratory birds which yearly visit the lake city of Bhopal. It took us two weeks ensuring that we visit the various lakes inhabited with these birds. But at the end of the two weeks when our editor asked if the story along with the images were ready we gave it a lot of thought and finally said yes. So what you get to read is of two weeks of hard work from sun rise to sun set. Since I did not have the proper lenses to photograph these beautiful birds we made use of whatever we found the best possible from the hundreds of pictures taken by me. This piece was published in February, 2002.

Every year in winters Bhopal is home to some airborne
visitors from across the globe who fly in irrespective of the prevailing socio-political climate. This year too they are in town ignoring the aftermath of September 11.
Over there, the dee
p corridors and marshes of Upper Lake and Van Vihar National Park have become an oasis of birds enveloped in breeze, fog and mist. Early in the morning the dawn chorus can be heard (but not seen) with the bird choir still indiscernible from the leftovers of the night fog.

(Top Left) A
group of migratory birds returning to the Van Vihar as the sun sets, (Top Right) The endangered Blackneck Stork and (Left) Saras Crane, also known as 'pair for life'.

The waterbed of the Upper Lake and Van Vihar provides tranquil environment and congenial habitat for the water birds.
This year too, thousands of migratory birds have made these areas their temporary abode after crossing thousands of kilometers to escape the cold northern winter. As always, the winged visitors are from Myanmar, Baluchistan, Himalayas, Pakistan and Tibbet. And, some of them are endangered species.

Fiesty times for the feathered kind (left), Spoonbill (black legs with spoon like bill) (right).

One Balcknecked Strok (endangered), Comb Duck (second record after a gap of two years), a group of Openbill Strok are among the ones been sighted this season. The HT team saw in the misty morning light, a pair of Brahminy Duck suddenly taking off from the group of Pintails and Common Teals. Within a wing beat a Comb Duck was followed by the group of Pintails. Next in line was the Spotbill breaking from the water almost as a group, honking lustily and pumping their wings. Close to them were the standing Spoonbills.

White Ibis (black color from the neck to the bill) and little egret (left), Openbill Stork (gap between bill and pink leg) (right).

Spotbill or Grey Duck (yellow tipped dark bill and spot on the end of the back in male (left) and Gery Heron (black dotted line on the mid part of the fore neck) (right).

Brahminy Duck in Flight (left) and Comb Duck or Nakta (second record after a gap of two years) (right).

A painted stork with a fisherman (left) and Greenshank (white eyebrow, black mark between eye and beak and three white stripes on tail) (right).

As the sky became brighter, the birds cleared the birches on the shore, and began to spread into two line trailing the leader. Then as the small flock circled just around the marshy land and wings creaked rhythmically, the birds drifted into their characteristics in a V-shaped formation. During the day, most of the birds prefer to stay in the middle of the lake only to return to the banks of the lake as the night sets in. The best place to encounter these flying beauties is the western part of the lake. White Ibis, Painted Strok and Large Egret can be seen masticating at the entrance of the park from the J S Swaminathan Marg.
Bird lovers are thrilled over the arrival of the migratory birds in the Upper Lake.
Over the years, the winged creatures have shown a special preference for this site on account of it being free from human interference.
One hopes that they continue to do so for all times to come.

1 comment:

Abeer said...

Hi Buddy,
Come back, this time, if we are lucky we will try to count nocturnal species also. Cheers