I have several hobbies. This category mainly includes painting, singing, reading books, listening to music and there’s bird watching. Bird watching is the newest addition to the list. And now a day I do a lot of it.
To me, finding a bird is easy. A place with trees is a place for birds provided that the trees are food bearing and flower-bearing ones. Thus when people hear that I watch Birds (along with photographing them), they usually tend to understand that I visit a lot of places and spend so much on travelling. To them, I usually don’t.
Whenever I don’t feel like staying indoors, I just head outside with my camera dangling like a riffle on my shoulder. What I do? I bird in my own locality. It is quite healthy as I get to walk a lot. Living in a suburb and trying to find trees is difficult if it’s Kolkata. So yeah I have to walk a lot to find a patch of green.
Birds are in abundance in my locality. Though most of them are residents I get to see several monsoon visitors and winter visitors. Patuli, a place near my house is my most visited place along with the banyan tree in front of my house. There was a silk cotton tree in front of my house but the land is now getting what society calls “upgraded”. So Silky had to die.
Patuli was mainly a fisheries area some 20-30 years ago. Several man-made reservoirs were dug out and they hosted several species of fish. So practically it was a wetland. Now it’s a wasteland, the major dumpster for all the apartments and houses near the area.
The Q-block is the hot spot of the region. Some jheels (Bengali for ponds) exist around Q-block and birds do visit them.
The most common of them all is the Cormorant; Indian Cormorants. These black waders surely know their ways with fish. The Kingfishers, both white throated and small blue, are common visitors. Bronze winged Jacanas are residents here. Even the crows enjoy a feast here along with game of chasing big birds of prey like Black Kites and Oriental Honey Buzzards. It is really great to watch the beautiful mutual understanding and the small territorial fights between the species: crows, mynas, bulbuls, starlings, finches, etc.
But this season brought something special or rather I have seen them for the first time this season. Wagtails and Wryneck! Wagtails are said to be the harbinger of winter and wryneck well they are just another winter visitor. This season Patuli gave me all that I ever needed. Scaly Breasted Munias, Strawberry Finches, White Wagtails, Eurasian Wryneck, Citrine Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail (Yes I got 3 wagtails this season), Breeding White browed Wren Warbler and some superb shots of the commoners. Not only birds, there are also the common reptiles like Skinks, Snakes, Lizards, etc.
But I have my doubts. Since land acquisition has turned into a spree at present, these lands are at the verge of collapsing into tall apartments and complexes. The jheels might also get filled up to support another real estate project. If only people like us, the wildlife and nature enthusiasts joined hands and protected the area from the land mongers. But let us hope for the best.