Monday, 12 January 2015

Birding in Patna and around.... Jan 15 (updated on 01 Feb 15)

I will start this with a note that I was scheduled to do a halt at Patna and wanted to tap into the birding community at Patna to guide me. Facebook and online search did not yield any strong communities. Then I searched for individuals who posted bird pictures from Patna. I contacted a couple of them but got no response. This leads me to believe that there are no strong birding presence around here. All the same the trees and the location of this city (on banks of river ganges) could not be without birds of so much variety...

Indian Golden Oriole

I then started the birding where I thought was the best place - the Patna Zoo. Though it is located in the heart of the city - I thought that it was a secure place I could roam around with a camera alone and the trees were huge and so was the foliage on the look of it. The area of the Zoo is fairly large with it sharing its grounds with a golf course - both claiming roughly half the real-estate between them. The decision was not bad. Other than the birds and animals in the cage I could see a lot of birds (listed below) Most of them were fairly common birds and the foliage and the huge trees just offered me glimpses off and on and no real photo opps. 
Lesser GoldenBack

Next day I had the opportunity to visit a close by city of Jehanabad and what a gold mine it presented me. I had a date with Indian Golden Oriole pictured above. That bird alone made my day. Other than this I saw a few more birds but this remained the highlight of the day.

The next day I went to see the Ganges. We hired the boat at Mahatma Gandhi Setu. This used to be the longest bridge in India (5,575m) before the mumbai sea-link took the title. Here we saw the three Ruddy Shelduck and a few wagtails with crows and a few raptors. Only Black Kites could be identified - rest were simply too far away. 

All the same the birds that I saw at the three places mentioned above were: -

Temminck's Stint (Lifer)
1.   Lesser GoldenBack
2.   Indian Golden Oriole
3.   Eastern Jungle Crow
4.   Indian Jungle Crow
5.   Asian Pied Starling
6.   White-throated Kingfisher
7.   Common Myna
8.   Rufous Treepie 
9.   Little Cormorant
10.  Ruddy Shelduck
11.  Scaly Breasted Munia
12.  Shrike (Juv - could not ID)
13.  Striated Prinia
14.  Asian Koel
15.  White Wagtail
16.  Black Kite
17.  Greater Coucal
White-throated Kingfisher
18.  Common Sandpiper
18.  Temminck's Stint
19.  Flycatcher (Could not ID)
20.  Red-Wattled Lapwing
21.  Common Stonechat
22.  Black Redstart
23.  Black Drongo
24. Eurasian Coot
25. Lesser Whistling Duck (In city)
26. White-breasted Waterhen
27. Bronze-winged Jacana (In city and Pawapuri)
28. Common moorhen
29. Common Kestral
30. Purple Swamphen
31. Shikra
32. Northern Pintail (at Jalmandir Pawapuri)
33. Gadwall
34. Common pochard.
35. Asian Openbill
36. Yellow-footed Green Pigeon
37. Purple sunbird
38. Rose-ringed Parakeet
39. Coppersmith Barbet
40. Brown-headed Barbet
41. Indian Grey Hornbill
42. Brown Shrike
43. Common Kingfisher

Striated Prinia

My observation is that the Wildlife in Bihar is under immense pressure due to the density of population in the state and some signs that I and my colleague saw of birds that were cleaned at a spot with feathers strewn about. The feathers were of cattle egret (Not sure) and Greater coucal at the same place. This ofcourse cannot constitute the absolute as I have time to roam about the Ganges plains only and the weather has been fairly cold and foggy perhaps restricting the movement of birds at this time of the year.

As I end this tour I have now covered a lot of ground in Bihar. I started the first day with birding in the Patna Zoo and nearby areas.  Next visit was to the ganges and some islands of ganges. Thereafter I got the shots of Indian Golden Oriole at Jehanabad, the place covered was the police station of Jehanabad and area around. Next I was at Khalagaon and Bausi. Next was Bihar Sharif, Pawapuri and Nalanda (Jalmandir at Pawapuri being a good hotspot). The east most I went was Barsoi and Karimganj. Here too was good birding. And today as I pen off this article - the last place was Danapur.

Danapur needs a special mention as it is one of the places where 10% of the world population of Asian Openbill come and set up a colony. We had gone there today (01 Feb) and there was virtually nothing to see except the empty nests. There was one laggard Juv that was still nesting there but all others were gone.

The area of the Danapur Cantonment is approx 848.40  acres. As per census 2011, the population of the Danapur Cantonment is  28,200.                        . 
In June-July Danapur Cantonment area become a bird sanctuary as a large number of migratory birds arrive here. These birds belong to the family of cranes. These are called “Open Bill Storks” popularly known as “Jhangils”. These birds are of rare species, mostly found in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Srilanka and Thailand. Danapur Cantonment is a shelter and hatchery for the migrating “Open Bill Storks”. “Open Bill Storks” are sensitive but disciplined birds, which folly in groups in search of food. They travel long distances in search for amenable environment. “Open Bill Storks” find the Cantonment Area a safe heaven and thus flock the place each year before monsoon. These birds are also find an all welcoming host in the Danapur Cantonment. The Danapur Cantonment being quite old has quite well developed trees in large areas which have been protected. This place provides a calm and safe environment for these migratory birds.They come to Danapur Cantonment since there are a lot of trees, they are not hunted here, which is why they come here. “Open Bill Storks” liked the logged rain water in the area and this area is the logged rainwater, which results in the breeding of small fish. The presence of ample food in the Ganga plain and Sone River provides food security to them. Coming of these birds is the information of coming monsoon. People of Danapur Cantonment assume that their arrival is the indication of monsoon.They come and live here for about three to four months. They lay eggs here. When the eggs hatch, they leave the place. 

The “Open Bill Storks” begin descending the area in late May and early June. They start nesting soon after. The birds usually finish raising their young ones by the end of summer. These birds are not only protected from poaching and hunting, but also they are fed regularly. They fly down to Danapur Cantonment from far-off places for centuries as they find this place safe for themselves. They come here every year for nesting. Once their eggs are hatched, they fly back to their native place with the onset of winter. Many ornithologists visit this place every year to watch and study the activities of these migratory birds...

I am not ending this since I intend to continue this blog article till the time I am in Bihar and go to more places and do more birding. Today after more than a month I am wrapping up the blog article because this more or less finishes the birding in Bihar.

Common Stonechat (Male)

Indian Roller

The birds pictured below were a surprise from a visit to Jalmandir at Pawapuri. the waterbirds there were in hundreds - just goes to show that some protection in the state actually can do so much. The Jalmandir is a manmade pond around a Mandir 'Temple'. The temple is Jain temple and the protection granted there to these birds was for all to see. Thank GOD for small mercies I would say appropriately.
Bronze-winged Jacana

Northern Pintail
Lesser Whistling-duck

The picture below is from Karimganj

Common Kingfisher
The Picture below is from Danapur Cantonment

Asian Openbill (Juv)

Monday, 5 January 2015

Visit to Chakki Modh: 04 Jan 15

I got up yesterday morning with a good mind to do some birding and Chakki Mod was ideal spot or so I thought. The weather at chandigarh was predicted to be gloomy, I had a feeling that the Chakki Mod would be okay so I decided to take a chance and just got up and went. I was late in the sense that I generally am out of the house by 5 / 5:30 but today I was just walking to my car at 0700 - the sunrise being at 07:22 or so. 

Reaching the turn of Chakki Mod - there was not bird at all behind the shops. It was a disappointment and not a good beginning so as to say. Next stop was at the fan factory tea stall and it made up for all the short comings. The highlight was an Albino - red-vented bulbul. It seemed to be of a larger size but finding no reference I summed up the bird to be an albino bird only.

Albino Red-vented Bulbul
Long Tailed Minivet
This is also the place where I saw a Long-tailed Minivet, Crimson Sunbird and a pair of Slaty-blue Flycatcher. The male of Slaty-blue Flycatcher gave a photo opportunity but the female was just too busy.

Crimson Sunbird

Crimson Sunbird

Slaty-blue Flycatcher

 Other than this I drove upto 3 km short of Bhognagar and the list of species I was was impressive. However the main attractions during the period were: -

Black chinned Babbler
Verditer Flycatcher
Rusty Cheeked Scimiter Babbler
Rufous-breasted Accentor
Whiskered Yuhina
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker
Red-fronted Serin
Rufous bellied Niltava
Red-billed Leiothrix
Black Chinned Babbler

Verditer Flycatcher

Rusty-cheeked Scimiter Babbler

Flock of Red-fronted Serin

Closeup of tree with Serins

Rufous-breasted Accentor

Rufous bellied Niltava (Male)

Whiskered Yuhina

Whiskered Yuhina

Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker

Red-billed Leiothrix (also know as Peking Robin)