Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kulik Bird Sanctuary (Part II)

Jackal, wild cat, lizard, bat and snakes are the main predators here. The yellow monitor lizard , a very rare species, is also seen here. But the main attaraction of this area is the birds. Dove, Bulbul, Sparrow, Vulture, Owl, Parakeet, Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Duck and Cuckoo have their permanent address in this sanctuary. Again among the birds the real VIP is The Asian Open-billed Stork(Anastomus oscitans).Acoording to some people , Kulik does have the largest colony of Open billed stork in Asia.This bird belongs to the stork family and is a common species widely distributed across Asia. This medium-sized dull white bird with black or grey wings and tail stands at an average 70 cms and has dull pink legs. Its bill is heavy, with a gap between the mandibles, which explains its name. In West Bengal it is commonly called samukh khol (snail eater), because it feeds mainly on mollusks (main diet is apple snail), though frogs, lizard and fish also feature on the menu.

looking for food

It is definitely not a visitor from Siberia as many are given to believe and can be sighted in marshy wetlands, near waterbodies, ditches, river sides and paddy fields. When breeding, they assemble in a place known as a heronry.The Asian Open bill sotks start flocking in this heronry from the month of July or the arrival of monsoon and stayed up to the month of January of next year. In the first phase, a group of birds arrives and inspects the area and selected the nesting trees. At the end of July or first of August the whole group of Asian Openbill arrives and starts their nest building activities in various selected trees.

All the trees are occupied

Competition for selection of nesting trees and nest building is high in this heronry. Individuals those who are not able to get some nesting trees they prefer to build nests outside the protected areas along the National Highway 34 and sometimes in the garden or backyard trees of adjacent human settlements. Sometimes Asian Open bill stork build nests with other species of water birds. Their nests sometimes are close to two meters apart from each nest.

Here in Kulik, your day starts with a panoramic view of birds in flight with nesting materials between the bills.


Take a suitable position on either one of the few watchtowers made by the authority or by a bush along the river Kulik and watch how they collect these materials, how they construct their tiny nests. If you have sufficient patience , a must for wildlife photography, then some exclusive scenes like the mating of the birds is not rare here.

Cooperation and construction


You can go as close as to get such photographs which shows the date marked by the forest dept.

Just Landed

Close view

At this time sighting of parents protecting their chicks from scorching sun is a beautiful sight.

Protection from sunlight


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kulik Bird Sanctuary (Part I)

Birds, the language of freedom,

Are here for your eyes!
They never ask for anything

Except a little corner in the Earth!

Let them fly in the blue………

& create eternity only for you!!

If you really love birds, & specially if you are a resident of Kolkata or adjacent areas, then Kulik Bird Sanctuary is the right place for you. Because it is only a few hours drive from Kolkata. The Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary alias Kulik Bird Sanctuary is located at Raiganj which is the District head quarter of Uttar Dinajpur District of West Bengal Sate of India. It is about 450 Km From Kolkata and 250 Km from Darjeeling.It was officially designated as the "Raiganj Wildlife Sanctuary" in the year 1985and lies just 4km North from Raiganj town.along NH 34. As river Kulik flows beside the sanctuary and acts as the boundary in its Eastern and Southern parts , hence the sanctuary got the name.

The Kulik Heronry actually a mixed breeding of various species of waterbirds mainly Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger), Indian Shag (Phalacrocorax fuscicillis), Black Crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Large Egret (Casmerodius albus), Median Egret (Mesophoyx intermedia) and Pond Heron (Aedeola grayii) and the most important Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) here since 1984.

Kulik River

This sanctuary is basicaly an artificial planted tropical dry deciduous forest under the social forestry programme of West Bengal forest department which had began in 1970 with main tree species like Kadam (Anthocephalus cadamba), Jarul (Lagerstroemia flosreginae), Sisoo( Dalbergia sisoo) and Eucalyptus etc. The area of the sanctuary is 1.30 sq km in which Core Area c. 0.14 Sq km and Buffer Area c. 1.16 Sq km. The shape of the sanctuary is that of the English alphabet "U" with a network of artificial canals connected with the river Kulik. There is also a small island in the core area of the sanctuary, mainly surrounded by the Eucalyptus trees and surrounded by artificial canals is the main breeding ground for Asian Openbills. During monsoon the river water enters the sanctuary, which supports a wide variety of food for the birds, particularly for the Asian Openbill, whose main diet is Apple Snail (Pila globosa).

Inside the Sanctuary

According to many, Kulik (Raiganj) Bird Sanctuary is one of the largest bird sanctuaries in Asia. The sanctuary is themed for conserving birds, after all the sanctuary hosts almost 70,000 to 80,000 migratory birds every year!