Monday, November 14, 2011

Return to Killa Gaothan (July 2008)


Kalpana gave Rajashree and me the opportunity for a wonderful, wonderful half day of birdwatching. Thanks, K, it was one of the best times I've had.
First we went to Killa Gaothan where we had been with Rajesh and Ramesh last sunday. It began to drizzle as we got out of the car, but soon the rain stopped and we had absolutely fantastic weather thereafter. We stood at the entrance to the CIDCO guesthouse road and waited. Kalpana has always said that we should stick to one place for a while, instead of running about anxiously looking for birds! She was right.
As we lingered there, we first saw the red munias or avadavats, and prinias - both ashy and plain - feeding in the grass. Then a lifer for R! The crimson sunbird came out and sat on the self same branch it had on the previous Sunday! It was there for quite a while enabling us to get a good look at it. R was over the moon. A wonderful bronze winged, ruby-eyed coucal flew into a bush nearby and feasted on caterpillars for about 15 minutes. The bush literally shook with its activity.
Then we saw a laughing dove sitting on the fence. 4-5 purple herons performed a flypast, which was quite a rare thing. There were cormorants everywhere too, and R commented that they were becoming as ubiquitous as crows!
As we walked ahead, we saw Indian robins and a tailorbird. We tried hard to spot the sunbird nest and the tailorbird nest but no luck! We need Adesh's eyes for that I think! Halfway down the road, we spotted some yellow-brown male weaver birds and scaly breasted munias! Wow, what a sight! The weavers were busy eating some seeds in a flock of some 5-6 birds and so were the munias. We spotted some bulbuls too, the red vented and red whiskered. We watched these birds for quite a while. We also spotted the 'did you do it bird' the red wattled lapwing.
Time for breakfast and out came R's egg sandwiches and my aloo poha. A good tuck in later, we were on the road again. We walked right up to the Institute gates, went in and around. I thought that there were some birds in the sea, but they turned out to be some thermocol pieces!!
We enjoyed the cool breeze for a while in the company of some stray dogs, then walked around the building and out again. We again saw the weavers and munias and a magpie robin. As we came out at the entrance, we saw a strange yellow bird! It was a bald myna!! I believe this is an aberrant form - its head was devoid of feathers and completely yellow - it looked a lot like a mini vulture.
Now we drove down to Uran. A white breasted waterhen flew over the car! None of us had ever seen one flying! On the way near the road, were great patches of water. Here we saw a large egret, some little egrets and a pond heron. As also coots with their brilliant white little caps!On the pipe, a wire tailed swallow, pretty close by! A few pheasant tailed jacanas flew restlessly over the water. This was the first time I saw them so close and glimpsed the glowing golden neck feathers! Woweee!!
Saw some grebes, coots as well as purple moorhens near the police station. And the icing on the cake: some weaver birds busy building nests on a tree very close to the road! No cameras with any of us or we'd have had a breathtaking photo op. We wished Rohan had been there to capture the sight with the lens. On the other side, a few black winged stilts and common redshanks. The water was filthy and yet these birds were there...lucky for us, I'd say. There was the loud report of a gun(?) or some explosive going off twice, which quite disturbed the birds and us. Was it someone shooting the birds or was it someone dynamiting the fish?? Someone has to investigate this...hope it's not like the flamingo shooting some time ago.
Another eat break - this time K's theplas with pickle...yummy! Further ahead, we parked the car and walked up the turning, but nothing much to see, except a prinia and a brief glimpse of a white breasted waterhen. A raptor(?) and a gull billed tern (?) in the sky. There was some speculation as to whether it was a black kite or something else. So in all the count was 33 species, K and R! I have actually written this down!! An achievement for me...
Time to return for it was almost 12.30 and our stomachs were growling all over again. At Chembur K treated us to some cold sweet delicious lassi at Vig's.
Back to sooty, noisy Mumbai and the daily grind...but our hearts were still in the tranquil green of the forest with only the chirping of the birds. Sigh...! Yeh dil maange more...and more....:)

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