“Birds travel thousands of kilometers. They leave their country when winter starts and their food-herbs and shrubs get deeply covered with snow. Bhigavan is one of few places where many species of birds arrive and stay for two to three months. They reach habitable land crossing thousands of kilometers is an extraordinary act to continue their race.” From early morning 5:30 our bus was running towards the Bhigawan and the guide of our Bird watching trek Pritesh was giving information about birds.
“I have seen more than 40 different species of birds at Bhigavan. Being regal traveler, I have I have done many more bird watching trips across the country including Bird Sanctuary at Bharatpur. I have travelled places like Andaman, did snorkeling at Goa… I would be guiding this Bird watching journey.” Pritesh was introducing himself. Now we will be able to see different rarely available species. Flamingo is main attraction. It has tall orange brownish legs and neck shining and shaping in character ‘S’. It’s 5 to 6 feet tall. That’s almost height of a human.” Our bus was going to touch the Bhigawan within few minutes. We reached the village Diksal and bus took left turn and reverted back. During the time we were browsing through the Ornithology study book about the Birds. Pritesh keeps that book with him during bird watching travels.
Around 8: 30 AM
The bus passed over the bridge and Pritesh asked driver to stop the bus. We crossed down the bridge reaching the bank of water reservoir. Two boats were waiting for us. Both red colored boats were having capacity to carry around 10-15 people. Our team of fifteen could occupy easily in two boats. Boatman told to divide us into two groups and enter six to seven people in each boat. Everyone is too excited to rush into first boat. I jumped into second one. Amit followed behind me. We were eight people in our boat- Amit, Achyut, Shweta, Keyur and Sunil along with his wife Sonali and their little daughter Abha. As first boat moved ahead, ours also left the shore.
Boatman started rowing holding the oars on both sides. He was looking energetic as it was his first sailing of that day. He was pushing the boat ahead. Bhigawan water reservoir was very wide. We were moving along the left edge. Water was greenish dark and cold. The morning sun was warmer and soothing. Cold in the air had disappeared at that time. Winds were beating momentarily. Water boating is an exuberant moment when we were moving through water on all four sides. I was realizing the reason I came with this team getting fulfilled.
Within only few minutes we are welcomed by bright white colored birds on both sides. We were approaching nearer to them; one bird took a plunge into sky. On the next moment, the whole flock followed the movement and lifted into the air. They flied as if we are chasing them. Yes! It was ours uninvited entry into their habitat. I felt, now the message of dangers would be spread by them in their community. This moment didn’t fade out so easily because our team of photographers had taken these moments with digital cameras- birds moving upwards with wide open wings and the whole elongated horizontal body.
No one missed to take the photographs. Sunil took photographs with his Samsung tab. Achyut was testing his photography skills. Shweta sitting lecturing beside, “You need this much passion and that for Photography.. And to become best photographer…” I tried to take pics with Canon Poweshot, but sun was in front of me. So, I put my camera down.
As we moving ahead, the squealing and cluttering noise of birds entering our ears. Seventeen odd lives had entered among community of thousand birds of different casts. There were only two binoculars in our team. Pritesh shouted from the first boat to share and rotate it amongst us. Pritesh was telling names and information of these different types of birds.
Next moment, I saw splendid plain white birds. Few were truly busy undisturbed in their work and few were challenging us to approach. One bird was busy searching it breakfast. It pushed its long flexible neck deep into water and started stirring inside. While struggling to pick up its victim, it pulled its head out, two few steps ahead and again stirred its neck into the water. I prayed for that bird to have its food at the earliest. Birds were not shy like rabbit, but they were easily sensing the unfamiliar group of intruder ruining their congregation. They has no way to fly away to safeguard their families.
We were moving ahead. When the climate was festive and we sensed the odor of fish. Everyone could easily detect that fishers had swept the net in the morning. It was unconscious feeling to come out of fish market and I saw why first boat was bit far ahead.
Now, we have truly entered into habitat of birds. Birds were cluttering. First boat was little faster that moved ahead. I was unable to hear Pritesh. We were warned to keep quiet as birds would fly ways if we make noise. Now, Boatman turned the guide and he told number of birds and their names. He may not remember scientific names of each bird, but tried to tell the information whatever he knew. “In this winter season, he does boating for 9 hours every day. We are in the Ujani Dam backwater. It takes around three hours to reach the main dam, which is responsible for this backwater reservoir “Now, it was more than hour we were going through the water, fighting against the tide. I was there on the front side and water waves were hitting the boat from front side. Boatman was sweating, but he had not choice than following the first boat that was run by younger one. Sometimes, boat was getting imbalanced as Keyur stood up to take photographs. Boatman asked us to balance the boat that was getting heavier on one side. I felt if we could take a break for few minutes, but our boat was lagged behind the first one.
We were looking very different kinds of birds. One moment, we saw angry looking bird grayish white bird with long beak pointed forward. It was Heron. There were many little ducklets floating on the water.
“Wow..!” I cleared my eyes. It’s special appearance today. It is the largest bird I have ever seen. Yellowish beak as if sword hanged around the orange head having dark pointed eyes. Body was white colored and it was covered with comb like design of black feathers. Pritesh mentioned.. “Look at this! It’s painted stock!” Our boatman repeated, “Its painted stork!!” We saw flock of painted storks. These birds usually reside in the shallow water so that they could easily prey food. “They are migrated from North and East Asian countries like Russia, China, Bangladesh and Myanmar. “
Almost within couple of hours we had seen many more birds. We newbie couldn’t distinguish different birds easily like Gray Heron, Brown-headed gull, Bar headed Goose, Brahmini Duck.
After moving a long distance through the water, we never know how much far we are going to move. Boatman said, “We will move until we see Flamingo. And we will see within few minutes”
It was wide wetland area.. Swampy one. Powerful and magnificent birds like Flamingos stay very much away and bit unreachable place for humans. They are able to prey fishes and insects that get caught in the shrubs in the water. And Yess. We saw a group of around 200 birds. These were flamingos. Both boats anchored some distance apart from these birds.
We got over the swampy land by coming through knee high mud. I scratched legs to remove mud on the grass. Everyone was warned to keep silent and not to walk towards the flock. Keyur and Pritesh knew the way to approach these birds. Both of them lied down on the ground and started crawling like the army that moves with their gun in the land of enemy. They got very near about 5 to 10 feet apart and took photographs. We watched through Binocular. “This bird walks with very elegant style. They look very beautiful when they take flight into the air. Among this group, beautiful one is the male and other is female.” Someone added the information.
The whole group of Flamingo took a flight; we were able to see their colorful wings and magnificent body. The 6 feet vertical body turned horizontal, neck stretched ahead and two wide wings to helping to float in the air. The flock of this migratory birds fly in V-shaped group with male leading the group, Females and juveniles behind”
11: 30 AM
We enjoyed being among birds for around half an hour and returned back. Sun has reached the top and heat in air was growing. Most of us were exhausted. Boatman served all of us tea prepared over urban chulha. After sipping a cup of tea, we returned back with beautiful memories.