February 15, 2017Titash Chakrabarti

Purbasthali Oxbow Lake – Birding Diaries – Trip Report

The mighty Osprey provided some of the moments of the day with a partially devoured fish in its talons

Ten of us decided to cool off a bit after epic wedding celebrations of Kabya and Roopdatta during the first week of February 2017. The plan was made hastily but executed with precision.

Onset of our boat journey

Onset of our boat journey

The Plan:

Birding on fishing boats on the Ox-bow Lake at Chupi/Purbasthali (Burdwan, West Bengal). This 11 kms long lake in the shape of an Ox-bow has been the winter and permanent homes of thousands of ducks, waders and other birds from time immemorial, i suppose.

10 of Kabya’s friends would take this journey filled with awe inspiring moments,  on 3 boats. IMG_20170207_092405_HDR_1486479946885

The Group:

1. Arnab Ghosh

2. Etosha Chatterjee

3. Arghya Debnath

4. Anandarup Bhadra

5. Anirbit Ghosh

6. Anon Ray

7. Bijit Bhattacharya

8. Priyanka Dey

9. Souvik Ghosh

10. Titash Chakrabarti

The group - On the way to Purbasthali from Sealdah

The group – On the way to Purbasthali from Sealdah

Our boatmen were Alok Da, Subhabrata Da and another dada whose name eludes me right now.

Alok Da in his baul and ektara avatar. A very knowledgeable bird guide to say the least.

Alok Da in his baul and ektara avatar. A very knowledgeable bird guide to say the least.

The Journey:

Onward – Train no. 73151 Sealdah to Jangipur Raod DEMU at 5:35 am from Sealdah.

We reached Purbasthali station at 8:45 am, got up on Totos (Battery powered autos) and got down at ‘Kashthoshali More’ . From there it was just a 10 minutes walk to our boats, through a largely green patch of land that is the home for the beautiful Asian Paradise Flycatcher and other birds as well.

Return – Walk till ‘Kashthoshali More’ and Totos to Purbasthali Station, just in time for train no. 37750 Katwa-Bandel local at 18:04 pm. From Bandel we found a connecting train to Howrah soon after reaching; Train no. 37850 Barddhaman-Howrah Local.

 

The Birds:

1. Red-crested Pochard
2. Ferruginous Pochard
3. Tufted Duck
4. Lesser Whistling Duck

Lesser Whistling Ducks

Lesser Whistling Ducks

5. Cotton Pygmy Goose
6. Garganey
7. Northern Shoveler (f)
8. Little Grebe
9. Indian Cormorant
10. Great Cormorant

Great Cormorant on perch, Indian Cormorant in flight

Great Cormorant on perch, Indian Cormorant in flight

11. Little Cormorant
12. Purple Swamphen
13. Common Moorhen
14. Common Coot

A Common Coot with Red-crested Pochards in the background

A Common Coot with Red-crested Pochards in the background

15. Bronze-winged Jacana
16. Pheasant-tailed Jacana
17. Grey headed Lapwing

A star of Purbasthali, the Grey-headed Lapwings migrate every year in considerable numbers. Photo taken by Anon Ray.

A star of Purbasthali, the Grey-headed Lapwings migrate every year in considerable numbers. Photo taken by Anon Ray.

18. Red wattled Lapwing
19. Little Egret
20. Cattle Egret

21. Intermediate Egret

22. Great Egret
23. Purple Heron
24. Pond Heron
25. Yellow Bittern
26. Asian Openbill

The Asian Openbills are the boldest residents of the lake, rarely disturbed by approaching boats while basking in the warm post winter sunshine

The Asian Openbills are the boldest residents of the lake, rarely disturbed by approaching boats while basking in the warm post winter sunshine

IMG_0945

These little stints put on a magical display of formation flight as the flock twisted and turned as one before settling down by the rice fields that bordered the lake

27. Glossy Ibis
28. Black headed Ibis
29. Common Greenshank
30. Spotted Redshank

A Spotted Redshank (left) and a Common Greenshank

A Spotted Redshank (left) and a Common Greenshank

31. Kentish Plover
32. Little Stint
33. Green Sandpiper
34. Wood Sandpiper?
35. Common Snipe
36. Baillon’s Crake

A secretive customer caught on camera as it raced from on hiding towards another

A secretive customer caught on camera as it raced from on hiding towards another – Baillon’s Crake

37. Common Kingfisher
38. White-breasted Kingfisher
39. Stork billed Kingfisher
40. Plain Prinia
41. Paddyfield Pipit
42. Bengal Bushlark
43. Osprey

The mighty Osprey provided some of the moments of the day with a partially devoured fish in its talons

The mighty Osprey provided some of the moments of the day with a partially devoured fish in its talons. Photo taken by Anirbit Ghosh.

44. Marsh Harrier
45. Black-shouldered Kite
46. Black Drongo
47. Bronzed Drongo
48. Black-hooded Oriole
49. Asian Paradise Flycatcher

During a blank spell in the afternoon without much bird activity

During a blank spell in the afternoon without much bird activity

50. Green Bee-eater
51. Jungle Babbler
52. Oriental Magpie Robin
53. Red-vented Bulbul
54. Blue-throated Barbet
55. Large-billed Crow
56. Common Hawk Cuckoo
57. Spotted Dove
58. Pied Starling
59. Common Myna
60. Citrine Wagtail
61. White Wagtail
62. Greater Coucal

Just as we were about to reach shore with the sun dying with our camera batteries, Anon Ray captured one of the two Stork billed Kingfishers who reside in the periphery of the lake.

Just as we were about to reach shore with the sun dying with our camera batteries, Anon Ray captured one of the two Stork billed Kingfishers we saw, residing in the periphery of the lake.

63. Jungle Myna
64. Lesser Flameback
65. Black Kite
66. Collared Dove
67. Barn Swallow
68. Unidentified Martin
69. Palm Swift

 

The Food:

We came back to shore at about 4:30 pm. Hungry to the gut, we had one of the best meals of our lives, albeit with Tatai da (Bijit) a bit disappointed with the Chutney missing from the menu.

Menu – Rice (Bhaat), Brinjal fry (Begun bhaja), Cabbage dry curry (Bnadhakopir torkari) and Chicken curry (Murgir jhol).

Its hard to see days like these go by and one urges for it to stay a bit longer. However, the memories created will take years to fade and will still linger with their dim yet powerful impression on the mind and the soul.

Happy birding!

 

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About the Author

Titash Chakrabarti
Titash Chakrabarti Musician.Birdwatcher.Traveler.Dreamer.

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