Sabyasachi Patra

Birds in our Backyard

Birds in our Backyard

It was a winter morning, and I decided to have my morning cup of tea in the sun. Suddenly I noticed a bird in the swampy land adjoining my house taking bath. Minutes later, with my spectacles on I was delighted to have seen a Purple Moore Hen. Needless to say that the tea went cold as I was busy shooting frame after frame.

Purple Moorhen

Purple Moorhen

It would be pertinent to mention here that I was not staying in a Jungle. I had gone home in the winter vacation. Our house in Bhubaneswarhas a swampy land bordering it. This wetland is caused primarily due to the sewerage flowing into a patch of land that has now shrunk to approximately 3 to 4 acres due to constant land reclamation and housingcolony’scoming up. After an hour I was able to move much closer and could click this image.

Purple Moorhen

Purple Moorhen

I even tried slower shutter speed panning work etc.

Purple Moorhen in flight

Purple Moorhen in flight

Black Winged Stilts

Black Winged Stilt

 

Several species of birds can be found here, namely, golden oriole, bronze winged jacana, purple moore hen, pond heron, egret, black winged stilts, rufous tree pie, cuckoo, bee eaters, bablers, black drongo, parakeets, blue jay, Myna, Coucal, bablers etc etc.

 

Several species of birds can be found here, namely, golden oriole, bronze winged jacana, purple moore hen, pond heron, egret, black winged stilts, rufous tree pie, cuckoo, bee eaters, bablers, black drongo, parakeets, blue jay, Myna, Coucal, bablers etc etc.

Last year I had sighted a pair of whistling teals here. There are also several trees nearby. Among the raptors, common is the pariah kite and there have been occasional sightings of Sikra also.

One can regularly see the common whitebreasted kingfisher on guard either from a nearby tree, or the electric wires or in the rope used by my mom to dry her clothes.

Bee-Eater

Bee-Eater

Pied kingfishers were regular here till a year back, but tree felling for construction work have forced them to abandon this place.

Pied Kingfisher

Pied Kingfisher

The thought of losing sight of these birds in a year or two, when this unique wetland will vanish due to urbanisation and land reclamation makes me sad. In our childhood days, we used to see many colourful birds in our backyard. That sense of enjoyment will vanish forever.

Apart from birds there are many snakes, mongoose that can be seen. An interesting species that is found is the Asian palm civet which is mostly nocturnal. My mom often keeps her windows closed, else the civet comes and takes away the papaya and other fruits. Most of the fruits in the garden are also devoured by the asian palm civet. Unfortunately, one of those was killed by people who beat it with sticks.

Happy with the photographic opportunities present in my backyard, I decided to explore the outskirts of Bhubaneswar for any sign of birds. This led me to a village called Sisolo, about 17 kilometers from my house. There is a large pond about 100 meters by 150 meters. In winter this pond is frequented by whistling teals. You will find lot of lotus flowers blooming in this pond. Unfortunately when we visited this place, we could only find about 40 to 50 whistling teals in this pond. The pond is bordered on two sides by the road and by farmlands on the other two sides. When I parked my car nearby, there were may curious onlookers. The whistling teals appeared to be very wary of human presence. I thought probably because of the lot of traffic on the road, the birds are nervous. But villagers told me that three years back some body had shot a few birds. Since then, these birds had skipped this place for three years and for the first time in December 2004 made their reappearance.

Villagers told me that a major part of the marriage season is in winter and this coincides with the migratory birds routine. Since marriages are normally marked by bursting of firecrackers, it distracts the birds. Now the villagers are taking care of not bursting firecrackers near the pond. A couple of villagers and the tea vendor informed me that earlier a sizeable number of tourists visited the place to watch the birds. However, these days there are hardly any tourists due to drastic reduction in the number of migratory birds. This easy to understand impact of conservation on our bread and butter, if carried to other parts of our country might help in strengthening the conservation movement.

Would love to hear your views and comments onBirds in our Backyard.

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Sabyasachi Patra

Sabyasachi is an award winning Cinematographer and shoots for international broadcasters, feature films and corporates to make a living. He is a passionate wildlife filmmaker and photographer and has won awards and accolades for his documentary 'A Call in the Rainforest'. He has been striving to make his films and photographs full of life and emotion and write articles to educate and evangelise the need for conserving the last tracts of vanishing wilderness and wildlife in our country. He hopes that his wildlife films, photographs and writings force people to pause, look, ponder and ultimately take action.
Sabyasachi Patra
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