Eco-travel

A Haven for Birds-Ranganathittoo

A Haven for Birds

 

-RagooRao

 

 

The River Kaveri, which takes it’s birth high up in the Western Ghats, flows down Karnataka state feeding the parched lands and turning them into bountiful yielders of precious food and then meanders through the valleys of Tamil Nadu blessing them with her bountiful precious water for their land, finally merging with the Bay of Bengal.

 

 

As the river flows through Karnataka over undulating terrain, plenty of small cataracts and some very impressive waterfalls are formed. This river is reverently called the Life-Line of Karnataka. As the river meanders through the terrain plenty of small islands are formed all the way along it’s course. These islands are a host to plenty of Flora and Fauna all evolving with nature and thriving. One such spot in the river’s course, close to Mysore-about 12 kilometers, is the Naturally formed group of islands filled with Pandanus plants, Pongamia trees, Mahua trees and a score of other plants playing host to many breeding birds. The banks of the river are filled with Bamboo and other tall majestic trees. This is The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, where regular nesting birds come to nest and raise their young.

 

 

The river being filled with a lot of boulders also plays host to the Marsh Crocodiles and the waters are filled with fish. A pristine home for breeding birds. The bamboo and other trees also provide a good habitat for most of the birds of Karnataka. The main season for the migratory breeding birds is from Aug to Sept. and  for the other breeding birds it is Dec to March. The islands are a very safe Haven for these nesting birds tucked away inside the deep waters of the river and safe from any land predators. The water being infested with Marsh crocodiles even human interference and vandalism is kept at bay, thanks to the Marsh crocodiles. In one of the islands even the crocodiles build their nests and breed. One can always find the crocodiles basking on the rocks. 

 

 

 

An ideal location for the birds. The river surroundings are all fertile paddy fields, which provide a good source of Crustaceans and other aquatic life as forage for the parenting birds. The Forest Dept. of Karnataka regulates the visitors to this place and unauthorized entry is prohibited. The serious visitors are taken around these breeding islands by row-boats to have a glimpse of these birds and their young.  Even motor boats are not used to keep noise pollution away.  Visitor facilities are excellent and good view locations are also provided.  There are rest-rooms, a small refreshment canteen a little away from the riverside is also provided. Overnight staying is not possible and also not encouraged by the Forest Dept. In all, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is a Haven for Nature Photographers, Ornithologists, and a beautiful place to visit. 

 

 

 

It is really reassuring to see such a Naturally evolved place still maintained in its Pristine condition. Any Nature Lover will enjoy the visit and would always love to come back often. A List of nesting birds is also displayed with all their details and with appeals to conserve them.

  

 

The Regular Birds: Open billed Storks, Painted storks, Spoonbills, White Ibis, Pond Heron, Little Heron, Plumed Heron, Night Heron, Darters, Little Cormorant, River Terns, Plovers, Red-wattled lapwing, Peacock, Black Ibis, Kingfishers and the River Otters which  are a source of amusement as they dive in and out of sight of the visitors.

 

 

 

Eco-travel

Chintpurni, Dharamshala, Pragpur

 

 

Chintpurni, Dharamshala, Pragpur……(Himachal Pradesh)

14-17 th April, 2007

 

-Partha Pratim Pal

 

 

It has been long time since we both (Kirti and myself) took a break from Delhi on religious reasons . As some of you are aware we had been blessed by a daughter some five months back – we undertook a visit to Chintpurni, Chamunda, Kangra Devi and Jwala ji along with Vanya (our daughter).

Incidentally it was also her second outing after her first being to the Corbett some three months back. Keeping in mind that I won’t find time for birding, I was little hesitant to carry the birding equipments – But as always heart prevailed over mind!

 
We reached Chintpurni on 14th evening. Since we had an Aarti appointment in the evening I could not do the Reiki of the surrounding area, though after dinner I
saw few trees.


Next morning I woke up very early more due to people’s voice walking in the street – All eager to do a darshan early morning being Basaikhi weekend .Not expecting any bird life in that cacophony of people ,Radio, Stereo and of course Mandir mike – I moved out of the Dharamshala with heavy feet and heart with my Binoculars hanging on my neck .




Just 200 mtrs from the Dharamshala, I hit upon a dirt road, which took me to semi jungle kind of a habitat, which lifted my spirit. There was a sudden expectancy in the air . Probably God sensed my mood and in strange twist of nature – there was flood of Bird activity.  I could not believe my luck - nearly 15 pairs of Asian paradise flycatcher with their long white tail fleeting around with few just couple of meters away.  A pair of
Blue rock thrush, Flocks of Plum headed Parakeet and Common Rose finches, Ten odd golden orioles and quite a few more species were sighted within span of hour. More than satisfied since I didn’t expect any – happily I went back to Dharamshala to attend the morning havan.  Only regret being I didn’t listen to Kirti’s advice of carrying the camera for the walk.

 




16th afternoon we reached Paragpur our destination for next two days. We stayed in a resort called “Judge’s Court” basically a Pre independence Haveli turned into Welcome heritage resort owned by Mr. Vijay Lal whose ancestors made the Haveli in 1913. As expected luxury at its best mixed with old royal eloquence,  wonderful food (that includes some great pickles and jams personally made by Mrs. Lal herself – Most of the vegetables and fruits are all grown in the property itself), great hospitality and very very warm hearted host made the stay wonderful.  It has been on our wish list for some time now, finally it materialized.  Interestingly, Paragpur also has a Heritage village for people who are interested in historical facts and architecture.  Lot of its credit goes to Mr.Lal and his family.  It is an excellent and well maintained property with lots and lots of trees both fruiting and flowering and of course 120 odd bird species across the year. Paradise flycatcher once again was the highlight of the little birding I did around the property, not to miss the Grey Hornbill’s fight for nest with the Rose ringed parakeet who ultimately lost all the three juveniles to aggressive Hornbill, omnipresent brown headed, Blue throated barbet, tiptoeing Grey wagtail, various warblers, various Myna & starlings,  huge flocks of Common Rose finches etc.

 



17th was again an out and out  religious day with three of us visiting the balance temples as mentioned above.  Except an odd sighting of Egyptian vulture and Himalayan Griffon at Kangra fort area, no birding.   Down with a severe headache due to excessive heat,  I didn’t have the strength to do any birding that day , though we reached the hotel by 5pm.

18th morning was the D day marked for my morning birding at Maharana Pratap Sagar wetland which is 20 odd kms from the hotel.  Armed with my camera and binoculars ably supported by driver Daler Singh we reached the destination early morning.  Initial scanning of the area was very disappointing though villagers informed us in advance that all migratory ducks have flown back.


I was awe struck by the huge water body. (Sagar is so aptly named) Water riding on the wind when hit the shores reminded me of the seashore.  Initial disappointment gave away to some relief when I saw a Little Ringed plover feeding at the edge of the water.

 


There was no looking back, slowly and gradually one after the other species came tumbling out as if they were hidden in some closet – only favouring the brave who can fight the ever rising temperature which was getting unbearable with every minute , though cold draft from the Sagar did help me to stay there for nearly two hours . Whether it was different terns, different wagtails, larks, pipits, Blue tailed Beeaters, Bar headed geese,  First winter Palas Gull, Eurasion wigeon, Small pratincole, Different Lapwings and of course my only two lifer of the trip Richard Pipit and Eurasian Skylark (confirmed by Mr. Bill Harvey after seeing the Photographs)- I enjoyed every bit of the two hour of birding.

Promising myself that I have to be here in winter we drove back to the hotel .On our return journey a solitary Oriental honey buzzard was sighted.  Comparatively to our earlier birding trips I just clocked probably 5 hours of birding, however it turned out to be Ok with nearly Ninety odd species seen including common ones.

God of all seasons, please bring winter fast – I cannot wait to visit the
birding paradise again.


 


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