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Flights of fancy at Santragachhi Lake

1

The Tourist Lodge signage

Pic 025

The Tourist Lodge

2

Cormorants

3

A bunch of geese

4

The clickers

5_Fulvous Whistling Duck

Fulvous whistling duck

7_ Eurasian or River Kingfisher

 Eurasian kingfisher

8_Common Moorhen

 Common moorhen

9_Northern Pintail duck

 Northern Pintail duck

10_Bronze winged Jacana

 Bronze-winged jacana

a

A bunch of flying geese 

b

Cormorant

c

 Gliding over the surface

d

 Gliding over the surface-2

e

 High up in the air

f

 A ballet of two birds

g

 Flying through the air

Kingfisher (1)

 Kingfisher

Kingfisher (2)

 Kingfishers

Kingfisher (3)

 Kingfisher-2 

Kingfisher (4)

Kingfisher-3

Kingfisher (5)

 Kingfisher-4 

Kingfisher (6)

 Kingfisher-5

Pic 004

 Do not click …courtesy Mom!

Pic 008

A cackling bunch 

Pic 020

 Gliding through the water

Pic 021

 Branches by the lake

Pic 028

 Row along the lake

Pic 030

A  cackling bunch of geese

Pic 031

 Crow up in the tree

Pic 033

 Cormorants in the lake

Pic 036

 Cormorants in the lake-2

Pic 044

 Birds in the tree

Pic 045

 Birds in the tree-2

Pic 048

 Birds in the tree-3

Pic 060

 Water sports of an avian kind

Pic 061

 In the midst of the lake

Pic 063

 Greenery, foliage and shadows

Pic 065

 A herd of geese

Pic 066

 A herd of geese-2

Pic 069

 A herd of geese-3

Pic 073

 Geese

Pic 075

 Lake Placid

Pic 078

 Lake Placid-2

Pic 079

 Lake Placid-3

Pic 080

 Lake Placid-4

Pic 082

 Lake Placid-5

Pic 083

 Lake Placid-6

Pic 087

 Lake Placid-7

Pic 088

 Lake Placid-8

Pic 091

 Water sports

Pic 094

Rippling waters

Pic 097

 Lake Placid

Pic 100

 Lake Placid

Pic 101

 A bunch in the air

Pic 102

 A bunch in the air-2

Pic 103

 A bunch in the air-3

Pic 105

 A bunch in the air-4

Pic 106

 A bunch in the air-5

Pic 109

 A bunch in the air-6

Pic 110

 Flying high

Pic 111

Rippling waters 

Pic 113

A flock of geese 

Pic 114

A flock of geese -2

Pic 116

 Over the water

Pic 118

 Over the water-2

Pic 121

 Lake Placid

Pic 123

Ripples and foliage 

Pic 136

An old temple 

Pic 138

The lake  

Pic 145

Solitary flyer 

Pic 147

A song of two birds 

Pic 156

 A melange of colours

Pic 158

The gull’s solitary flight 

Pic 166

Birds -1

Pic 168

 Birds-2

Pic 169

Birds -3

Pic 172

 Birds-4

Pic 173

Birds -5

Pic 175

 Birds-6

Pic 179

 Birds-7

Pic 180

 Birds-8

Pic 181

 Birds-9

Pic 184

 Birds-10

Pic 185

 Birds-11

Pic 186

 Birds-12

Pic 192

 Putting a point through

Pic 193

And back to where it began

( Some of the pictures: courtesy Sukanyadi and Pampadi)

Winter, the queen of seasons in and around Kolkata, brings its own unique charm and enjoyable atmosphere to the city and its environs. The chill in the air is pleasant enough for excursions to nearby places, such as the Alipore Zoo, which are thronged by masses of people on any given holiday. There is also another place which has gained prominence in the recent years, particularly with the flight of migratory birds who used to earlier frequent the Alipore Zoo, but now disturbed by the urban chaos and pollution, to more tranquil environs. This is the Santragacchi Jheel (Lake), around 12 km from the heart of the city (Esplanade).

The name Santragacchi comes from the Bengali Ol (elephant-foot yam of arum family), a vegetable which supposedly causes causing an itching throat if ingested. This vegetable is produced in good quantities in this place, which is a subdivision under the Howrah district. Santragacchi is today is a thriving village, connected by the Kona Expressway by road and the South Eastern railway ( the erstwhile Bengal Nagpur Railway) by railroad.

We (a group of five people- Jhinukdi, Pampadi, Mom, Dad and myself) set out on a fine Sunday morning for Santragacchi , excited by the prospect of enjoying what is the largest congregation of migratory birds in the environs of Kolkata. Crossing the Vidyasagar Setu, and going onto Kona Expressway, it takes about 15 min (crossing 7 km) to reach Santragacchi. Keeping the station on the left hand, we went further up, took an underpass, and came back towards the station, parking our cars just outside the station.

We crossed the overbridge, reaching the other side of the station. Crossing a few hundred yards, we came across the sight that we had travelled so far to see- hundreds of migratory birds in and around the lake .

There are several species of birds that frequent the lake. The most common among these are of the Whistling Ducks, which are found in huge hordes all across the lake. Some of the other birds commonly seen here, are- Northern pintail duck, Cormorant, Kingfisher, Sarus crane, Northern shoveler,Cotton pygmy goose, Comb duck etc. Jacana and Moorhen are the resident species to be found here.

When we arrived, it was ten in the morning, and we could see a large gray mass in the centre of the lake, which, on closer inspection, we found were the whistling ducks. These birds have a typical body composed of grey, white and rust colour. As I zoomed in with my binoculars, I could see them moving about on the island in the centre of the lake.

As I was moving my binocular further ( and fervently taking pictures), I spotted a curiously shaped bird, pitch black, with a sharply cut body and head, sitting royally on a pole in the middle of the island. Then I spotted one more, and still one more. Being rather non-experienced in avian matters, I asked Jhinukdidi about this bird, and came to know that this was the cormorant, widely found around water bodies all across the Indian subcontinent.

For the benefit of birdwatchers who want to spend a tranquil evening by the lake, the Railways department (who own the Lake and the areas around it) has a guesthouse, aptly named “Bird view” . This place has facilities for overnight stay, and is situated bang on the edge of the Lake, from where one can get an uninterrupted view of the lake. From this vantage point, we took several pictures, and had an impromptu breakfast, before moving on.

We heard a sudden rumble in the foliage of the lake, and turned around, to see a curiously coloured bird , painted in streaks of black, indigo and white, with a white streak on its beak. This was the jacana, a common tropical bird found in the waters of the subcontinent. These birds have large webbed legs, which allow them to walk amongst the floating vegetation found in the lake.

It was nearing noontime now, and as we went around the lake, the large flocks of birds seemed to stir to life slowly but surely. Huge flocks of geese were lifting their mass of bodies above the water, rippling the surface with their motion. The excitement in the air was very much palpable, and all of us could feel it. It was quite an experience to see them take off, gracefully in flight, and then vanish into the air, in huge hordes. The “wings of flight” provided us an opportunity to experience the gracefulness and agility of these birds. We hurried to take out our cameras and click the birds as they went around, encircling the lake.

There were several old buildings ubiquitously placed around the lake. Unfortunately, so was the garbage dump which we encountered, which was giving out a putrid smell, and was a rather unsightly sight. Cleanliness was clearly not a virtue in these parts.

As we finished circling the lake, clicking away to glory, we were greeted by the sight of a colourful woodpecker, pecking away to glory , its red beak standing out conspicuously. And the next one was the clincher and biggest gift of all- two majestic kingfishers perched by the side of a smaller lake, adjacent to the Santragacchi jheel. It was the Eurasian or River Kingfisher, whose colour was absolutely stunning and very different from the Common kingfisher.

All in all, it was time well spent, and one Sunday that all of us enjoyed thoroughly.

Directions: Santragacchi is 12 km from Esplanade

Transport :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santragachhi#Transport

Best time to visit: Nov to Feb

Accomodation: 

> http://www.cleartrip.com/hotels/info/hotel-tulip-inn-santragachi-710432

> http://www.tripadvisor.in/ShowUserReviews-g1234703-d4138730-r255609408-Santragachi_Jheel-Howrah_West_Bengal.html

> http://www.tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g1234703-d4860333-Reviews-Hotel_Tulip_Inn_Santragachi-Howrah_West_Bengal.html

2 comments on “Flights of fancy at Santragachhi Lake

  1. joshi daniel says:

    that looks cool 🙂

    Like

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