Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Birding at Purbasthali
Imagine that you are in a remote village of West Bengal to spend your winter holiday where words like “pollution”, “stress”, “ hectic life” are treated as trespassers, where your morning are covered with veils of mist, where thousands of migratory and local birds take the responsibility of playing the background music by continuous chirping. Would you then complain about the non-availability of amenities of a modern cosmopolitan city? I do have doubt..
Purbasthali is such a small village in the district of Burdwan near Katwa. The Ganges has changed her track here and the abandoned path is still there in the form of an ox bow lake, which is known as “Chai Ganga” to the local people.
Daily life in "Chari Ganga"
The shallow, still water of the lake helps in the enormous growth of aquatic plants which in turn serves as the source of plentiful food to the fish and aquatic birds. So during November-February you’ll find this “ Chari Ganga” decorated with multifarious wings of thousands of migratory birds like Northern Shoveller , Pintail, Gadwal, Red Crested Poachard, Common Coot, Lesser Whistling Teal and so on. Not only these winter guests, Purbasthali is permanent home of birds like Pond Heron, Red Wattled Lapwing, different types of snipes, Sand Pipers, Purple Heron, Gray Heron, Purple Moor Hen, Open Billed Stork, Kingfishers, Cormorants etc. A boat ride in the lake will take you to their colorful world. The water is so clear that you can see the riverbed.
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Red Wattled Lapwing: Vanellus indicus (Hattiti Pakhi )
Red Crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Though now a days it is a bit difficult to get very close to the bird. Fishing in the lake is one of the main professions of the people. They use a special type f net called “Chabi Jaal” for fishing. After installing this net they beat the water with such efficiency that the fishes are guided towards the net from their bushy shelter. But this turbulence also scares the bird. That’s why whenever you will try to have proximity they will fly away to land at a safer area. Picnics in the riverbanks and chaos thus generated have also caused in decreased in the number of these visitor birds.
Fishing with "Chabi Jaal"
Installation of Chabi Jaal
Driving the fishes towards the net
After the boat ride start to walk through the village paths. If you keep your eye busy, in the tree branches you’ll find Golden Oriole, Purple sunbird, Bee-eater, Magpie Robin, Babblers, Indian Tree Pie, Drongo, Crow Pheasant here and there. And if you are looking at the village huts to get an idea of village life of Bengal, you’ll get a chance to be acquainted with the cottage industry of Bengal. Yes, almost every family here is engaged in production of hand made Saree (famous Tant of Bengal),Gamcha(hand kitten thin towel). So there is chance to collect memento of the trip and some excellent gift for your dear one’s.