Thursday, 30 January 2014

Bird Paradise - Bhigwan, Diksal bird watching trip 2014

I visit Bhigwan at least once a year for bird watching and this year was not an exception for my activity. I and Renuka decided to visit this place on 22 Jan 2014 and our friend Amit Gujar accompanied us. To avoid crowd we decided to visit on weekdays. Plan was to spend 4-5 hours in Bhigwan (main location is known as Diksal village) and come back home by late afternoon.

Greater Flamingo in take off position
Greater Flamingo in take off position

About Bhigwan Bird sanctuary:
             Bhigwan, a catchment area of Ujani Dam, is about 105 km from Pune on the Pune-Solapur highway (NH 9). An area of about 18000 hectares has been proposed as a sanctuary for migratory birds. It is an amazing place to see wet land migratory birds like Bar-Headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, many spices of ducks and many more birds.
             To reach at Diksal village (near Bhigwan), easy way is Pune – Hadapsar – Join Solapur highway – Drive your vehicle 100km from Pune on Highway – Do not use Bhigwan flyover – Take left at Bhigwan square on highway – Drive 3 to 3.5km – Take right for sanctuary. How to identify correct right turn is; you can spot water tank tower (yellow colored) on that T junction at left hand side of road. Otherwise ask local villagers about Diksal / “where can we see Rohit bird (Marathi name of Greater Flamingo bird)?”

You can spend half day or full day along with your camera and binocular. More than 60 bird’s species can be found in this backwater.

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo

22nd Jan 2014: Bhigwan Bird sanctuary (Total distance travel by car: 230km):
            As we had to cover around 105-110km we decided to leave Pune by 3.30 AM and we managed to leave on time. Soon we touched Solapur highway. Road condition of highway was excellent. Due to wide and smooth road, we were able to reach Bhigwan in less than 2 hours. We told our boatman friend to arrange some breakfast. We all were excited to see migratory birds.


Whiskered Tern

Whiskered Tern in Flight
Whiskered Tern in Flight

              When we reached the village at around 5.30 AM, I was surprise by looking at back water. It was looking like sea. We took some rest at Bharat’s place and after some tasty breakfast we left for bird watching in his boat. It was tough task for him due to the high wind. Since it was an odd day, we were the only bird watchers in the catchment area. Soon we spotted a group of Flamingoes. We set our cameras and kept pin drop silence. Slowly Bharat took us close to birds. He promised me last year that if we came on an odd day he will take us close to birds. He is an expert to handle such conditions just that he doesn’t want to do it on weekends due to crowd. Also birds get disturb quickly.
             Soon we were so close to birds that we were able to hear they movement as well. It was shallow water hence Bharat hid behind the boat (In water) whereas we took position in such way that only our head were out of the boat. It was an amazing moment for me to witness flamingo hardly at 15-18 feet distance. We spend around 1.5 hours watching their activity without disturbing them. By any chance if they noticed us, they were just moving their position. A couple of times they flew away but again settled down close to our boat.

Check my Neck - Greater Flamingo
Check my Neck - Greater Flamingo


Talk and walk - Greater flamingo
Talk and walk - Greater flamingo

           After spending a lot of time with greater flamingo, we left that place to spot other birds. Besides Flamingo, we spotted Woolly Necked Stork, Coot, ibis, painted stork, bar headed gooses, Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck), Northern Shoveler, Garganey Duck, Comb Duck and many more.

Grey heron and Spoonbill (L to R) and Cormorants and egret at bottom

Stilt bird
Looking for something? - Stilt bird

Purple Moorhen
Purple Moorhen

Bar Headed Goose
Bar Headed Goose and Open-Bill in flight

             It was quite bright now, and we slowly made our way back to village by boat. During our return journey, I saw a duck in the middle of water and he was trying to run from that spot. When I asked Bharat, he told that duck was trapped in fishing net. Either he will die or when fisherman will come they will eat him. I didn’t like that and I told him to sail the boat towards duck. It’s time to save him. Now we were on our rescue operation. Duck was a male Pochard duck. When we reach close to duck, they started struggling to get rid of fishing net. We slowly approached towards duck and started moving net from boat. Now he realized that we were helping them. Now he sat claim which helped us to remove net. I and my wife able to remove some part of net from duck but still his fins were trapped badly. Bharat came and he cut the reaming part of net by hands. It was difficult but somehow we manage to free him. When we released him, He ran away and we were watching him with smile and satisfaction. He went away from us, settled in shallow water and looked at us. It was like he wanted to say thank you. It was great feeling. Flamingo sighting and Pochard Duck rescue operation made our day. Our trail ends on a good note.

Our Rescue operation
Our Rescue operation

            We returned to Bharat’s house and had lunch. After some rest, we went in wet land area on foot to spot more birds. We saw a lot of ducks, heron, ibis etc. After some quick photography, we returned to his place for rest. It was 3.30 and we decided to leave this beautiful place. During our return journey we had our snacks at Kanchan Dhaba and returned home by 6 PM.

            After this trip, I had 2 more trips to Bhigwan in which I took corporate groups (from other IT company) to teach them how to identify birds, Basic photography tips and to increase awareness about nature. I am sharing some photographs from my 2-3 visits. If you want to witness beauty of migratory birds (Our guest) then what you are waiting for.

Bird List which we saw in Bhigwan:

Greater Flamingo 
Northern Shoveler 
Little Cormorant 
Pueple Swamphen 
Ruddy Shelduck
Yellow Wagtail 
Common Moorhen 
Spot-billed Duck 
Grey Wagtail 
White-breasted Waterhen 
Common Coot 
Green nee eater 
Osprey Western Marsh Harrier
Comb Duck 
Red Avadavat 
Brown headed seagulls 
Garganey Duck 
Spotted Munia 
Black headed seagulls 
Pochard Duck 
Black Drango 
Pallas Gull 
Bar headed Duck 
Oriental Ibis 
Asian Open bill Stork 
Black Tailed Godwit 
Glossy Ibis 
Painted Stork 
Black Winged Stilts 
Black Ibis 
Woolly Necked Stork 
River Tern 
Common Sandpiper 
Common Kingfisher 
Common tern 
Spotted Sandpiper 
White Throated Kingfisher 
Gull billed Tern 
Curlew Sandpiper 
Pied Kingfisher 
Grey Heron 

Red-Wattled Lapwing 
Purple Heron 

Yellow-Wattled Lapwing 
Pond Heron 

Purple Rumped Sunbird 
Cattle Egret 

Wire-tailed Swallow 
Median Egret 

Common Swallow 
Large Egret 

Red Rumped Swallow 
Eurasian Spoonbill 

Below are snaps taken during my various visits to Bhigwan


I am too Shy - SeaGull


SeaGull in Flight

Bay Backed Shrike
Bay Backed Shrike

Black ibis
Black ibis

Landing is an art - Brahminy Duck a.k.a. Ruddy Shelduck

Let's Fly - Greater Flamingo

Flamingo Airline

  • Car Petrol: INR 1500/- (Avg INR 72/Lit, Total distance cover by car was 230km) 
  • Toll on NH-09: INR 30/- (Return toll) 
  • Toll 2 on NH-09: INR 50/- (Return Toll) 
  • Boat ride: INR 1000/- for boat (Normal chargers are INR 1200-1400/- per boat)
Contact number:
Bharat (Boatman from Diksal): 9766292989.

I will try to upload more and more travel blogs. Thanks for reading this Travel Blog.

Pritesh Kulkarni 



  1. Great experience.. Must visit Place for bird watching as well photography..

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you very much...Happy traveling...!!!

  3. Simply awesome!!!!!!! It will helpful for everyone and nice photo's......

    1. Thank you very much...Happy traveling...!!!

  4. Awesome blogs mate. I am newly into birding and have been following your blogs to visit places. Last weekend I had been to Pashan & Kavdi pat.. Off season still managed to see quite a few.

    Any other places you can suggest? Like within 50 kms from Pune. This weekend we are planning Vetal tekdi..

  5. Please ignore the previous comment.

    Awesome blogs mate. I am newly into birding and have been following your blogs to visit places. Last weekend I had been to Pashan & Kavdi pat.. Off season still managed to see quite a few.

    Any other places you can suggest? Like within 50 kms from Pune. This weekend we are planning Vetal tekdi..

    1. Hi,
      Thanks for your comments.

      U can try Sinhgad bird valley for forest birds. Its nice place to spot many birds in morning time.
      Check my blog on sihagad valley which will give U idea how to visit that place.

      Happy traveling...!!!

  6. Lovely pictures

    I almost went to Bhigwan today, but for other commitments. Do u recommend going on 14-15 March this year?

    1. yes, you can visit there by 14-15 March....

  7. Fantastic Stuff !!! Excellent Photography !
    Do you suggest any place near by to stay overnight.

    1. Thank you....nearby stay options are in Baramati or in khumbargaon village