Sunday, 13 January 2013

Diksal-Bhigwan Bird watching trip

From last 5-6 years, I visit Bhigwan once in a year for bird watching and this year was not an exception to my activity. This was my first trip from the year 2013 and that too with bird watching event. I and Renuka decided to visit this place on 13 Jan and my friend Tejas Katke and his wife Mayuri accompanied us. The plan was to spend 4-5 hours in Bhigwan (the main location is known as Diksal village) and come back home by late afternoon.

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo

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. The water catchment area is spread across around the town of Bhigwan. It is an amazing place to see wetland migratory birds like Bar-Headed Goose, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, many spices of ducks and many more birds.
            To reach Diksal village (near Bhigwan), the easy way is Pune – Hadapsar – Join Solapur highway – Drive your vehicle 100km from Pune on Highway – Do not use Bhigwan flyover – Take a left at Bhigwan square on the highway – Drive 3 to 3.5km – Take right for sanctuary. How to identify correct right turn is; you can spot water tank tower (yellow coloured) on that T junction at the left-hand side of the 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 binoculars. More than 60 bird’s species can be found in this backwater.

Travelers for this trip were Me, Renuka (My wife) and my friend Tejas and his wife Mayuri.

13th Jan 2013: Bhigwan Bird sanctuary (Total distance travel by car: 230km):
              As we had to cover around 105-110km so we decided to left Pune by 5-5.15 AM and we managed to leave on time. Soon we touched Solapur highway. I was aware of highway issue as last year it was under construction and I was hoping it to be almost in the same condition. But surprisingly road condition beyond Choufula Phata was excellent. Due to the wide and smooth road, we were able to reach Bhigwan in less than 2 hours. We skipped our breakfast and had some bread-butter during the journey itself. We all were excited to see migratory birds.
            When we reached the village at around 7 AM, I was shocked! No backwater and farming were in progress on land where we were supposed to see massive backwater and a huge quantity of birds. I didn’t want to go back without watching bird’s beauty. With the hope, we drive further for some km and local fisherman started asking for boat drive for bird spotting. I was aware of this bird spotting by boat and we decided to take a chance with a boat ride. When we asked him about water level; we got to know water level was at dead stock level due to less rainfall and summer is going to be harsh this time. All birds went far inside for food and will only able to see it after the 1.5hr ride. We were ready and after 30 min we were on the boat for birds. During the journey, we got to know that after 1993, the first-time water level went at such low level.

Painted Stork
Painted Stork


My Catch!!!


          We shared our boat with one old doctor couple. Once boat sailed, we started spotting many wetland birds like Oriental White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Black Ibis, Asian Openbill Stork, 2-3 types of Pond herons, River Tern, Painted Stork etc. but still missing Greater flamingo! (Check the Bird list below which we saw in Bhigwan) We were busy with our Camera and binocular. Boatman promised us to show at list 1000 Flamingo and we were too excited. It has never happened to me that I have returned home without spotting Flamingo from last 5-6 years. I was worried for my wife and friends as they hadn’t seen Flamingo till date. After 1 hour’s journey, we saw many birds expect Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck), Northern Shoveler, Garganey Duck and Comb Duck.

Grey Heron
Grey Heron

River tern
River tern

Black-headed gull
Brown-headed gull

          When we were about to give up, Boatman showed us direction where we saw Greater Flamingo.  It was like small lake joined main water stream with small water channel. When we entered in that small lake through the channel, we were stunned by a large number of flamingo. We were in front of at least 1500 Greater Flamingo. What a treat to our eyes. We spend a lot of time while watching their activity without disturbing them. 2 boats were already in the lake and few more joined us. All boatmen were taking care that no one will make any noise and we can enjoy beautiful nature treat. Besides Flamingo, we spot Ruddy Shelduck (aka Brahmini Duck), Northern Shoveler, Garganey Duck and Comb Duck.

Bar-headed Goose
Bar-headed Goose

Bar-headed Goose in flight
Bar-headed Goose in flight

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo in Flight

Ruddy Shelduck aka Brahmini Duck
Ruddy Shelduck aka Brahmini Duck

Ducks & only Ducks!

            After some time one boat moved closed to birds (all members from the boat were carrying big lens camera and for better photographs then went ahead) all of sudden all the birds flew away and we saw their colour spreading flight. When they were flying in the sky, most of the boats were moved out from that area and we started watching the activity of ducks with a safe distance. What kind of luck we were carrying as half of the flamingo came back on their original spot and we enjoyed that time.

Greater Flamingo
Greater Flamingo

Bird List which we saw in Bhigwan:

Pueple Swamphen
Ruddy Shelduck
Little Cormorant
Common Moorhen
Spot-billed Duck
Common Kingfisher
Small pratincole
Common Coot
White Throated Kingfisher
Glossy Ibis
Comb Duck
Pied Kingfisher
Black Ibis
Garganey Duck
Wire-tailed Swallow
Oriental White Ibis
Pallas Gull
Common Swallow
Asian Open bill Stork
River Tern
Red Rumped Swallow
Painted Stork
Gull billed Tern
Purple Rumped Sunbird
Woolly Necked Stork
Grey Heron
Yellow Wagtail
Common Sandpiper
Purple Heron
Grey Wagtail
Spotted Sandpiper
Pond Heron
Greater Flamingo
Curlew Sandpiper
Cattle Egret
Black Tailed Godwit
Median Egret
Western Marsh Harrier
Black Winged Stilts
Large Egret
White-breasted Waterhen
Northern Shoveler
Eurasian Spoonbill

           It was quite bright now, and we slowly made our way back to the village by boat. On the return journey we saw Osprey and black eagle. Our trail ends on a good note. Once we came at the village, it was 12 in the clock and we decided to leave this beautiful place. I was very happy that my wife and friends able to see flamingo closely, in huge quality for the first time and their satisfied faces told me the success story of our trip.
         During our return journey, we had our lunch at Dhaba and returned home by 3 PM. If you want to witness the beauty of migratory birds (Our guest) then what you are waiting for.

  • Car Petrol: INR 1300/- (Avg INR 72/Lit, Total distance cover by car was 230km)
  • Toll on NH-09: INR 30/- (Return toll)
  • Boat ride: INR 225/- per person (It is between 200-250/- per person)
  • Lunch: approx. INR 100-120/- per person (for starter + Meal + Rice)
Happy travelling.

Pritesh Kulkarni.