Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dighal wetlands in Haryana

Dighal is a really neat place in Haryana just before Rohtak where the village is literally surrounded with lakes of all shapes and sizes and which attract birds of all shapes and sizes nd particularly so in the winter time. Migratory species from the north come down to stop over... or stay.... as they wish. The bird count is maintained by a really cool young man called Rakesh. he is the local bird wallah and everyone knows that if they mess with the birds he is going to come up and say something about it. he has spent time educating the villagers not to trouble the birds. In a half a day trip i made with friends recently we saw an inordinate number of species and if we had actually kept count it was surely over about 60 or 70 species of birds, fromt he huge majestic Sarus cranes to the egyptian vultures also called Pharaohs chickens to the little bravest of the lot; the siberian blue throat.
For me this was the highlight of the trip. To see a bird smaller than a myna that came in from Siberia. That takes some doing. It was the bird of the day.
We saw some very tempting kingfisher action but it was usually too far away for a shot. we saw the osprey hover high above the fields taking stock of the situation and deciding against any fishing he left;
bar headed geese with their acrobatics thrilled us as well as some of the northern shoveller and pintails who put on a show but I keep coming back to that tough little bird who is here from siberia. Hats off little buddy!!

Kokkare Belllur, stork city.

The first birding adventure of mine in the south was at this rather cutely named hamlet called Kokkare Bellur. The name means "Stork Bellur" and its named for the huge numbers of large water birds mainly storks cranes pelicans and herons that make it their home and their nursery in the winter months. A short dash from Bangalore in the car at 4 a.m. brought me to stork city at about 6 a.m. on a december morning. It was really too early to see much and the sun was not up. My dream was to shoot the rising sun over the heronry and so made sure that i was there with time to spare. The thing I had not reckoned on was that I would need someone to tell me where the storks were in stork city.
All the info I had prior to this was that they were everywhere and that was fairly clear but as with the early bird getting the worm the early birder had to make do with a coffee and a wait. " there are only pelicans now sir and they are on top of that tree there." The top of that tree was about 40 feet off the ground and the whole sun rise shot idea bit the dust as it were. Apparently not only was I early in the day but I was also too late in the year by 11 months. "The cranes and storks arrive in january Sir, this is still early". Very well, so i determined to make good my trip and soon enough fell in with a bunch of little urchins who were actually very helpful telling me where the river was and where the birds would be and so on. The river proved to be a dud for the most part but the news of the dam on the river that made a lake was very useful. The flat green expanse of water was edged with water hyacinth and huge water lily leaves that like of which i had not seen before. Numbers of bronze winged jacana, egrets, purple swamp hen, herons,among others were there having a gala time. The dam itself is about 50 meters long and encloses the river with a lake behind it for about 4-5 acres.
The pelicans came into view as the sun rose over the trees and got a few good shots there too. They are the world's heaviest flying birds and you can hear the whirr of their wings as they come in to land. there were 2-3 trees with about 40 or more birds on them very high up though so could not really see the nests and so on.
Another nice coffee at the local set me up for my leisurely drive back home. A nice mornings work.