Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Pashan Lake, 26.5.2011

This time I ain't alone. . .

I got hold of my school pal Shaishav and we decided to go to Pashan Lake famous for its waterfowl.
Our main aim - Pheasant-tailed Jacana.

As usual, we were off in the light blue Honda City no later than 5 am on a cool morning, streaking dangerously through the early morning traffic before eventually landing up at 6, just next to the lake. We parked ourselves, I took my camera into position and handed over the binocs to Shaishav. and birding began... :)

As soon as we got close to the lake, a bunch of Pond Herons screamed and fluttered away noisily, also scaring a Red-Wattled Lapwing in their wake. Hmmm. . . . not bad. . . Actually, it was at this point that I really thought I was lucky to be born and brought up in Pune - such beautiful areas it had under its ugly face!

But no Jacana! Not a big deal, we ploughed ahead through deep slude and dead hyacinth. I even lost my shoe to the quicksand-like surface of the lake side. Thankfully, I had someone with to help me then! This was towards the right side of the lake. Not a great area, all the more because there was no hard ground to stand on. Shaishav was least amused by the mushy surroundings, so we decided to try the left side.

What a relief!!! I seriously recommend the left side of the lake to any bird-watcher out there at Pashan Lake. This area was slightly at a height and we could clearly see the entire lake. Its beauty spread out before us, and the early sun was still dawning.

The first bird I caught on camera was a hardy Asian Koel to the left of the track. Surprisingly, not near the lake. But it was the clearest pic of the bird so far. Brilliant yellow curved bill and flaring red eyes. . . and that lovely tune it plays. . . Love this bird. I wish its body was a more pleasant colour. But a good sight nevertheless.

Then Shaishav(!) spotted a Little Blue Kingfisher from the corner of his eye, quietly resting on a projecting twig, probably brooding about the lack of fish :) But it was beautiful. This was my first sighting of the Little Blue Kingfisher. It was a bit too far to photograph but I still managed to get it in the dimming morning light.
The cutest of all Kingfishers, I'd say. . .

We then walked ahead and reached a swamp-like area where there were around fifty egrets and herons grazing like wild cattle on a paddyfield! We went and perched ourselves at a safe distance from them so as not to alert them (and to prevent anymore quicksand scenarios). But we got the whole view. Cattle Egrets, Pond Herons, Purple Moorhen, Little Egrets and Common Coots were grazing together like a joint family feeding at night. They were clustered so close together, it was difficult to distinguish one bird from the other. A must for all Bird-Lovers! And there was this majestic Purple Heron seated imperiously in the middle of the lake on a mound just projecting out of the lake surface. What a beauty!

I was just surveying the muddle of birds on the swamo, when I spotted a long curved black tail wavering in the background of a grazing Pond Heron. Slightly towards the left, and I saw the Pheasant-Tailed Jacana. It was there! Much more majestic than any of the herons, with a brilliant splash of colours and a nice slender body. . . It was a bit far - had to be watched through the binoculars. I did take few pics, but the bird was almost camouflaged in the mess of green. . .

We watched it in turns through the binocs and the camera zoom . . . Even Shaishav was in a state of consternation! I watched it for about fifteen minutes till finally took flight and skimmed over the lake to the other end. It was magnificent!!! And for the first time, I had spotted the bird I had sought!


We then saw many other common birds, and I tried my cam on a group of Jungle Babblers who unknowingly wandered a bit too close. I also caught a Common Myna and House Sparrow against the rising sun near the marshes. A White-Breasted Kingfisher perched on a tree took off just as I spotted it and showed Shaishav, and a Little Cormorant was fishing in the rear end of the lake. I showed him the Purple Sunbirds, Martins and Lapwings with great pride as if they were my prized possessions . . . :) It was after a long time I was birding with a pal. . . (apart from my cousins)

We then headed out on our way back since I had to return in time to go to office. On our way out we spotted a grey wagtail burrowing into a pile of gravel and a couple of cool apathetic Wire-Tailed Swallows hanging out on their favourite wire. :) A male Purple Sunbird also ran across us on the way to another flower and we could clearly see its purple plumage!

Not a bad day birding at all! Just one and a half hours and the bird turnout was amazing.

A quick recap of the birds I spotted at Pashan lake:
House Sparrow, Wire-Tailed Swallow, Dusky Crag Martin, Purple Sunbird, Purple-Rumped Sunbird, Common Coot, Spot-Billed Duck, Little Cormorant, Asian Koel, Red-Wattled Lapwing, Greater Coucal, Grey Wagtail, House Crow, Large-Billed Crow, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Purple Moorhen, Pied Kingfisher, Little Blue Kingfisher, White-Breasted Kingfisher, Pond Heron, Pheasant-Tailed Jacana, Purple Heron, Oriental Magpie Robin, Indian Robin, Crimson-Backed Sunbird, Jungle Babbler, Common Myna, Jungle Myna, Brahminy Myna, Little Grebe

Whoa! Either Shaishav was a lucky mascot or I was getting better at bird-spotting! I'd prefer to believe the latter :) But a definite recommend for all bird-lovers. . .