Bhigwan birding Dec 2007 end

For a new birdwatcher, Bhigwan is a satisfying place to visit. Located about 100 kms from Pune, off Solapur road, this is probably one of the biggest freshwater wetlands in the region. Several species of migratory birds arrive each winter in great quantities. Some of these like the brahminy ducks, common coots, jacanas and swamphens are visible at a relatively close distance. Then you have the striking ones which can be made out easily from their silhouettes, like the cormorants perched on dried trees with wings spread out; the graceful grey and purple herons. River terns are easily identifiable by their graceful form and flight. A good 10x50 binocular can pick out the painted storks on the opposite bank. Somewhere in between on the water, swim a large gaggle of motley ducks. A focused scan might pick out the odd pintail among the coots, shovelers and ever-so-cute dabchicks. Along comes a raptor like the Marsh Harrier and a large flock gets up amidst great squawking and flies off to settle in another part of the reservoir.

We had spent close to two hours watching winter migrants from the banks of the lake. It was nearing twelve noon. News had reached us that the flamingoes were resting deep inside the lake. We decided to hire a boat. The muscled boatman must have rowed us for at least 40 minutes, to reach a marshy place thick with water vegetation. There, feeding in total silence, stood about twenty of the lanky birds. Their white wings were laced with pink, the color that comes from eating a red shelled mollusc. More of them were visible further away, half hidden from view by the verdant growth. Nearby stood some brahminy ducks, their saffron plumage glowing in the sun. Black winged stilts were reflected in the still, satiny water. The whole setting had a magical quality about it.

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