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Birding @ Bhigwan

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  • Salil Choksi
    Hi All, Thought I should add my 2 penny worth of notes to the lovely postings of Dr Usha Desai, Capt Haridasan, Shailaja et al.. Dunno whether to start with
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 9, 2008
      Hi All,

      Thought I should add my 2 penny worth of notes to the lovely postings of Dr
      Usha Desai, Capt Haridasan, Shailaja et al..

      Dunno whether to start with the place first or the leader (both being
      equally fabulous); let me start with the leader.

      * The Leader: Adesh Shivkar*
      Adesh, The Guru ( a name christened by me some 6-7 years ago for him ... He
      originally brought me into the World of Birds ) , was an epitome of
      knowledge, patience and perseverence... almost single handedly showing every
      bird to every participant. And his multi- tasking abilities are phenomenal
      ... arranging the trip, dealing with the accomodation and transport guys,
      handling accounts, handling the group so well that each person felt special
      ... and showing the birds !
      I am sure that over the years , his passion for birds and sharing it with
      others will brought in many converts to bird watching , and that will be
      great for the Mumbai Birding scene.

      *The Place : Bhigwan
      *Bhigwan, is a wetland formed by the back waters of the Ujaini Dam (the
      largest in Maharashtra , according to Adesh).
      Situated c 100 km beyond Pune, on the Solapur highway, the only downside in
      accessibility is the 90 minutes required to traverse the city of Pune each
      way .

      There are multiple waterbodies interspersed with roads and habitation. We
      visited Diksal, Kumbhargaon and Daalaj.
      At Diksal, birding was from a narrow, raised road with lakes on both sides.
      The narrow road had light local traffic; birders had to be vigilant in not
      getting themselves or their scopes knocked over.
      At Kumbhargaon , a large beautiful waterbody with small islands and
      vegetation masses offers a beautiful habitat ; we birded from the road with
      almost no traffic .. and further on we did some scrubland birding.
      Daalaj, by far the best place (approached through a dirt track, and later a
      walk cutting across paddy and sugarcane fields) has a huge lake stretching
      out into the distance, even the opposite shoreline is not visible. At this
      place itself , the birdlist would be well over hundred, there being multiple
      habitats - the lhuge lake, the mudbank, scrub vegetation and fields.

      *The Birds
      *Bhigwan, a mini Bharatpur, has an impressive bird list ( as per the
      checklist provided by Adesh) of c 180
      With Adesh's rapid-fire spotting skills, we saw 128 spp in 9 hours of
      birding spread over 2 sessions.

      There were waders and waterfowl, with some scrub / grassland species and a
      sprinkling of raptors.

      12 spp of ducks and teals were sighted, in large mixed congregations.
      Shovellers, Wigeons ,Common Teals, Cotton Teals, Ruddy Shelducks, Lesser
      Whistling Ducks, Comb Ducks, Spotbills were seen in hundreds at close
      quarters. Some Gadwalls, Garganeys , Pintails were scattered in the mixed
      flock.
      On the wide expanse of water at Daalaj, the ducks formed large sheets over
      a huge area in the distance. Identification was possible only by scoping, a
      few Common Pochards were seen amidst the vast numbers of other ducks.

      Amongst the other highlights were:

      - 05 Greater Flamingos
      - The elusive and camouflaged Yellow Wattled Lapwings.
      - A huge congregation of Palla's (Greater Black Headed) Gulls
      - The beautiful River Terns with their glistening yellow beak (to me
      remniscent of mango ice cream)
      - Waders were represented by assorted sandpipers, Ruffs, Black Tailed
      Godwits, Little Ringed Plovers.
      - A Booted Eagle hungrily devoured a struggling duck on the shore, an
      Osprey, Red Necked Falcon , Greater Spotted Eagle and Montagu's and Marsh
      Harriers were other raptor highlights.
      - The entire Ibis and spoonbill family with all 3 spp of Ibises was seen.
      - A Common Snipe close and in the open in beautiful light gave a long view
      to all
      - Egrets, Herons, Jacanas, moorhens, coots were omnipresent.
      - Chiffchaffs, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroats skulked in the
      bushes along the shoreline.
      - 3 spp of Kingfishers (including the Pied Kingfisher) and Hoopoes lent
      color to the scene
      - Red Avadavats, Indian Silverbills , Great Tits entralled everyone with
      their antics.
      - Paddyfield Pipits, 5 spp of Wagtails, 3 spp of Larks including the Syke's
      Lark gave everyone an opportunity to differentiate these species in the
      field.
      - Huge numbers of Swallows and Martins hawked insects in the air .. we
      looked hard for pratincoles in the constantly swirling mass, but in vain.

      The small area, with a varied habitat has amazing species richness.
      *
      The Birders

      *The group of 17 was represented across all ages, professions and passions.
      There was great enthusiasum and thirst for knowledge; even in young Veer (a
      3 year old toddler). The camaraderie was enjoyable, and the intensely joyful
      reactions of new birders was infectious, bringing back memories of early
      birding days.
      An interesting aside was a small star gazing session led by Sohail Sayani.


      *The Arrangements*

      Excellent overnight stay at Baramati, in a hotel (a local equivalent of
      luxury hotel) with running hot water, banquet hall where the quiz was
      conducted , unlimited la carte food , all on a shoestring budget !
      Kudos to Adesh for single handedly organising an overnight trip.

      For me personally, this trip was a good appetizer to my next week Chilika
      Lagoon trip; where the size of the waterbody and number of ducks (in lakhs,
      as told to me by the BNHS team stationed there) will be in mega proportion
      to Bhigwan !

      Cheers
      Salil

      PS: If you have reached this point, thanks for the patient reading :-)


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