Jan 4, 2009

There is something about Talawa……

My each visit to Talawa has been a last moment decision – mostly because no other birding plan has materialized. And every time, like a true friend, despite being the last choice, Talawa has not disappointed. In fact, this Christmas, it really poured its offerings like Santa Claus.

As stated earlier, the visit to Talawa was a last moment decision, the proverbial eleventh hour literally, by myself & Amit Gupta. Minoo was intending to join but decided to attend to the chores as we were also setting out to travel to Rajasthan to spend the year end.

Keeping in mind the winter mornings and last nights festivities, we decided to start a bit late & reached Talawa at about 8 in the morning. While the days were hotter till 24th, the morning of 25th was definitely crisper & colder. It being the high tide time, we decided to take a slow stroll towards the shore. The pond was calm with very little bird activity around. The trees at the far end from the road & closer to the shore, wearing different hues & colours ranging from Green to dried-up brown to Rust, looked like aloof watchers.

As we started walking, a Greater Coucal flew in from the road into the bushes and the sight of the goodluck bird itself seemed to be a good omen for our walk. Soon a pair of very curious & alert common stonechat came closer to scrutinise us. Also seen flying across hunting for pastures to settle down was a flock of Black-tailed Godwits, a few egrets, cormorants & lapwings and a very swift Peregrine Falcon.

Closer to us, but at a distance from each other, was a lone Red Shank & a slightly injured Green Shank, the distinction between whom was very patiently explained to me by Amit. As if to underline whatever Amit was explaining, both the birds decided to get together and allowed us to click them in one frame.

Also hovering around were a pair of Blue Throats, a few stonechats, a few red munias and plain prinias. While black-winged stilts were rummaging through water, and very patiently biding its time to catch its grub were a white Breasted Kingfisher and a common Kingfisher, a Marsh Harrier was eagerly patrolling the area for the same purpose. A White Stork flew over us while black drongos & long-tailed shrike kept watching a black kite being chased away by a crow.

Closer to the trees, we noticed a shroud of mist moving rapidly in from right of the shore and soon realised that it was a flock of what seemed to be common sandpipers or stints who were frolicking and waiting for tide to recede before settling down. Closer to the shore our friend Coucal once again decided to make its presence felt before disappearing among the mangroves. The shore was teeming with waders including common sandpipers, Curlews, Stints and Plovers. At a distance, few large & median egrets could be seen alongwith a couple of Black headed Ibis using the receding water to find their food, while a Caspian tern was hovering around. As the water receded & the day started getting warmer, the flock of flying waders also settled down at a distance indicating to us probably that it was time to move on and we started our walk back to the shore thinking about the absence of the raptors – apart from black kite & marsh harrier.

But as the phrase goes now-a-days “picture abhi baki hai mere dost”. Little were we aware of the treat that was in store for us. Within next 10-15 minutes, one after the other, we could see Common Kestrel, Shikra & Osprey from very close quarters. Also, while we were busy taking their pictures, a couple of raptors started hovering above us, which latter were identified as Juvenile Brahmny Kites.

Most interesting part about clicking the pictures of Kestrel was the boundary line that it had determined for us. It seemed okay till the time we were about 35-40 feet away but the moment we would overstep that boundary, it would fly away to another tree close by and would remain there allowing us to approach only till we overstep another such boundary. On the other hand The Shikra, after initially maintaining a similar line-of-control, decided to waive it away.

In all, it turned out to be a very fruitful morning, just a perfect way to begin the holidays, wherein we could see about 40 odd species within about 2 and a half hour. No wonder, there is something about Talawa which makes me return to it again & again.
For all those interested in seeing the pictures clicked during this walk can use the following link:

1 comment:

KB said...

Thanks Ashish for sharing the report. I recall with nostalgia our many visits to the same site and the wonderful birds that we saw there.
Happy new year and our best wishes.