Jan 12th 2014.
The slideshow below, put out by the local NGO says it all.
|To the north of Chilika is a freshwater wetland - Mangalajodi. A remarkable success story of conservation|
The driver told us that several areas here were without power for a couple of months.
And life goes on.
We turned off the main road, into a smaller village road, quiet and dusty. Nothing much going on. The local kids eyed us curiously.
We arrived at the Eco Tourism Centre, and waited thre until it was time to leave for the evening boat safari. We had a hot, delicious lunch there, though I now don't recollect whether we came back for it, or left only after lunch.
|We gorged on these sour-sweet star fruits that Sameer obliged us by climbing the wall and pulling down with the help of the family that lived there!|
|Aditya in the meantime was befriended by this little flea-bitten cheerful pup, whom all the members fed with biscuits and chapatis, at the end of which he was so full he just rolled over and went to sleep!|
|Opposite the Ecotourism centre was this "marriage" between the banyan - boro in oriya, and Peepul - oshtho.|
|a fallen tree|
|We walked through an orchard next door, where the barbets and drongos called, wheeled and flitted from one tree to another|
|This calote eyed us beadily, refusing to give up his sun perch or be bothered by us.|
What a wonderful day it was. moving silently among the reeds paddled by the locals who were expert in spotting and identifying birds, I had many lifers -
- Black-tailed Godwit
- Yellow bittern
- Plaintive Cuckoo
- Jack Snipe
- Ruddy breasted Crake
- Bailon's Crake
And the not so common ones - comb ducks, ruddy shelducks
But for me, I will always remember Mangalajodi for those Godwits. Limosa limosa, they are winter visitors to the Indian subcontinent, supposedly near threatened, and vulnerable, but they were everywhere!
After the initial excitement of seeing them, they then became like crows and pigeons! Flying, wading, roosting, squabbling, we saw them in all poses, up close and in singles, flying in huge formations in the sky, landing noisily in the canals.
These birds are monogamous, and even when they migrate across continents they arrive as pairs. Reportedly, a strong case for "divorce" is if your partner does not show up at the migration ground in time!!
I wonder if all these "singles" are divorcees?!
|...in flocks on the ground....|
|...doing sorties in the air.. their black tails showing us how they are different from the bar-tailed godwits.|
|Seen in the duller winter plumage|
|A jacana up close - kept a nervous eye on us|
|The shelducks were distinct and plump, their ruddy feathers further brunished by the sun|
|Mixed flocks of ducks, godwits, and other waders|
|Egrets would fly by, always looking like they were in slow motion replay!|
|The buffaloes moved around clumsily, and would sometimes break into a lumbering run causing much noise and splash|
|Fishing nets were cast, and the poles gave these whiskered terns a nice perch|
|Looked like the Godwit was asking the Pintails for directions!|
|It really was quite idyllic. And as we floated along, I daydreamed and felt like a lotus eater!|
|We got off for a bit on one of the bunds and walked on it for a while, from where we spotted the comb ducks|
|A grey lapwing skulked in a corner|
|While the OBS looked like it had found something interesting|
Most of us did, and we were a bunch of happy campers that evening back at Panthaniwas.
The group count for birds was some 130 species, I had seen about 81 of them. I went to see Chilika, but discovered Mangalajodi.