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Winged wonders

Chandan Sen |

Winters and the migratory season for birds are both in full bloom in Hadoti, Rajasthan. The rich ecology of Chambal-dominated Hadoti with grasslands, riverine areas, dry deciduous forests and the wetlands of Bundi, Kota, Baran and Jhalawar (and Sawai Madhopur) are being thronged by numerous colourful birds. A maiden watching bird fair was jointly organised by the Hadoti Naturalist Society and Mukundara Hills Tiger Reserve recently at Ummedganj, a haven for resident and migratory birds near Kota in Rajasthan. The two-day fair was attended by students, researchers, ornithologists and bird watchers in large numbers.

Bird researcher, photographer and organizer, Ravindra Singh Tomar from Kota, informed that “the visitors were apprised of the bird arrival this season in the zone and the habitat, specifications of the birds (both migratory and resident) at Ummedganj Bird Zone with telescopes, binoculars, cameras et al. The visitors were also taken to the nearby Sawan Bhadon Dam on the second day. On the occasion, bird expert Abrar Khan from Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur gave valuable inputs. An exotic exhibition featuring more than 200 rare bird pictures of the region was also held near Brij Vilas Kala Dirgha in Kota.”

District collector, Kota, Ravi Kumar Surpur; chief conservator of forests, PK Upadhyaya and former minister Bharat Singh were special guests. Richa, a student from Kota, said “The fair was a good opportunity to explore nature and watch the colorful birds. I have captured their activities on my camera. However, much more needs to be done for the zone with facilitation and prohibition. It is surprising to know that the migratory species traverse thousands of kilometres from Europe to reach here.” A book on birds will also be released soon.

The birds in focus at the fair were Red Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Comduck, Shoveller, Gadwell, Rivtern, Black Kite, Purple Moore Hen, Glossy Iris, Egret, Paragret, Cormorant, Lesser Whistling Teal and Kingfisher. Veteran photographer AH Zaidi from Kota said, “This year the visit has been better than normal. Places like Sorsan, Amalsara, Nayana, Seemliya, Udpuria and others in the region have decent bird arrivals. The Ruddy Shell duck, common coot, waders, black headed tern, river tern and cotton teal has arrived. The Comduck is camping at Sorsan for the last year. The Flamingos were present at Alniya and the pelicans have also arrived.”

The birds that are currently camping in Hadoti are tufted duck, Eurasian roller, Siberian Stonechat, Pied Bushchat, Black Redstart, all Waders like Sandpipers (common, wood, green), Common Redshanks, Common Greenshanks, Plovers stints, Harriers and Buzzards like Montagu’s, Marsh Harrier, White-eye Buzzard and Red-necked falcon among others. Bird watcher Sunil Singhal said, “Birds have thronged Jait Sagar Lake in Bundi — it has become a special attraction for tourists although the arrivals are quite less. After three consecutive years of the presence of the Demoiselle cranes in large numbers at the Ram Nagar Talab this year, they have arrived (around 300) but their stay has not been stable. Flamingos and a few other species have also arrived at Shambhu Sagar. Storks are present at Ramnagar Lake. I look forward to a great season but after the release of water from the canals there seems to be a little scarcity of wetlands in the region.”

The migratory species can be seen near the water belts at many places here but the resident birds are equally important. Illegal trade in wildlife, uncontrolled fishing and inaction on the part of the departments concerned are still matters of serious concern for the safety and security of migratory visitors.

About Ummedganj: It is situated on the outskirts of Kota (6 kms away), and is at par with the Ghana Bird sanctuary. It is also a tourist spot.