Monday, November 14, 2011

Killa Gaothan (July 2008)

Kalpana, Rajesh, Palvi, Ramesh and I joined the walk organised by the Mumbai Bird Club at Killa Gaothan, Belapur, led by our inimitable duo - Adesh Shivkar and Julius Rego.
It was a lovely day - no rain but just cloudy enough for an invigorating breeze. Everywhere one turned, it was an absolutely marvellous lush green. As usual, I for one, was surprised that a place like this existed within the confines of the concrete jungle!
We started at around 7.15 a.m. and right in the beginning we were treated to the sight of a small flock of avadavats or red munias! On the wire overhead were scaly-breasted munias and a red-whiskered bulbul. A white-throated kingfisher posed for the click-happy members of the group on a fence nearby. According to Adesh, it probably had its nest in the vicinity. We could see a huge nest built by asian pied starlings and the birds themselves hovering around. A couple of ashy prinias were jingle-jangling away in the lush grass. A pair of laughing doves alighted on a tree and provided a fantastic view for a long time. A small blue kingfisher and little cormorants winged their way past us as we continued walking up the road towards the CIDCO guest house.
We came upon a 'mava cake mushroom' next! The mushroom looked exactly like a delicious mava cake providing a beautiful photograph but probably not a scrumptious mouthful! The nest of a crimson sunbird hung like a jumble of untidy cobwebs on a tree. In contrast was the neatly stitched home of a tailorbird - two broad leaves joined perfectly with the stuffing barely visible.
A black-capped night heron was preening itself on a tree that was a bit faraway, but it was clearly visible through the binoculars, plume and all. We could see a red-wattled lapwing on the ground and Adesh produced a remarkable imitation of its 'did you do it' call! The fantail flycatcher was whistling its merry 7-note ditty but we couldn't catch sight of it. We could also hear the grey-bellied cuckoo but again could not spot it anywhere.
Further ahead, were a bunch of jungle babblers in noisy conversation. An igloo-shaped pied starling nest high up on a tree and we reached the gates of an institute offering various courses. We wandered inside and spotted a purple-rumped sunbird rootling in some hibiscus flowers and heard the soft cheeping of a flowerpecker. At the back of the building, we got a magnificent view of the sea and the valley below. It was very pleasant there, so much so, that some people wanted to sun themselves and stretch out for a snooze! Stomachs were growling by this time, so the eats came out, sandwiches, biscuits et al. A magnificent brahminy kite hovered above our heads, taking advantage of the wind to soar effortlessly. A white-cheeked bulbul perched on a bush close to the wall. In the distance we could see many cattle egrets near some grazing cows.We could hear the calls of the water hens in a patch of water and reeds far below but no sign of the birds themselves.
The four of us decided to walk back down the road slowly. We were rewarded with the sight of the white-breasted water hen! On the road ahead were a female and male Indian robin. They were there for quite a while, pecking at something on the side of the road, till a biker roared towards them and they took flight in fright! There were many more butterflies than birds and this engrossed the photographers among us, including Rajesh who was trying out his brand-new camera!
At the end of the road, we all lingered, reluctant to leave and were rewarded with the glimpse of a glorious crimson sunbird! It sat on the edge of a branch for quite a while. I spotted a black drongo, too, but that was a lone one. A thick-billed flowerpecker alighted on the wire and the couple of ashy prinias were still sporting in the grass.
We stopped by at Talava on the way back home. Lots of cormorants, egrets in breeding plumage, a caspian tern(!) and gulls. Palvi saw a yellow bittern which didn't deign to make an appearance for the rest of us! Lots of ashy and plain prinias warbling away, red munias, scaly breasted munias and the best of all, black headed munias with gleaming chestnut wings! We walked ahead through some very slushy ground and saw weaverbirds flying about busily. We went right up to the sea, but were stopped by acres of trash which no one wanted to wade through. On our way back, Kalpana sighted a spotbill duck far off near a hut. We saw many terns/gulls flying above including a Caspian tern. Some of the birds, we were unable to identify - whether they were terns or gulls and Kalpana was wondering what they were still doing here! A snake glided past in the water just then.
Back in the car, a further feast of sandwiches awaited us,an appropriate end to a feast of birdwatching! A Sunday morning well-spent, thanks to the MBC.
And that prompts me to ask: when is the next MBC outing? :)

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