Whirlwind Tour to Kulik and Maldah

#1 Aug 30th, 2011, 17:20
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#1
It was a hasty decision to spend a weekend somewhere out of Kolkata as the pressure of daily life was becoming unbearable. After weighing a couple of options, we zeroed in on north Bengal. So, on the afternoon of 26th August,2011 we started for Kolkata station to board Radhikapur express – the only direct train to Raiganj, the district headquarter of North Dinajpur.

One interesting incident deserves a special mention here. As we're going along the Canal East Road, we saw a large wholesale market of goats. As the Muslim festival of Eid was only a couple of days away, traders came here for a good deal. But the amount was not to be discussed publicly. The buyer had a piece of cloth hanging from his neck and behind this veil, his fingers met those of the seller and the price was being negotiated without uttering a single word ! We read about this method of striking a deal somewhere (does this take place in Sonepur cattle fair ?), but witnessed it here for the first time.

Day 1 : Kulik Bird Sanctuary

Kulik is said to be the second largest bird sanctuary in India, after Keoladao Ghana at Bharatpur, Rajasthan. It's located right on NH34, on the banks of the river Kulik. Every year almost seventy to eighty thousand migratory birds visit Kulik from south-east Asia and the coastal regions. They include Asian open bill storks, egrets, night herons and little cormorants. Apple snail, which is a staple diet of open-bill storks, is found in large quantities here and hence the birds come here during the hatching season. The birds start arriving here from June and July, August – September is the period of nesting, egg laying and hatching, then the young birds get the training of flying in October – November and finally they leave during December – January.

The train was late by an hour, so we had a chance of watching a nice sunrise at Harishchandrapur station. Our train took a right turn at Barsoi junction leaving the Shiliguri line on the left. The view around was pretty soothing – green fields, the engine of the train belching smoke while moving on a curved track towards a bridge over a small river, birds discussing their course of action for the day while sitting on telephone cables – all these were enough to make one delve into childhood memory – so nostalgic it was.

It was still early morning when we got down at Raiganj station. As we're proceeding towards the tourist lodge by rickshaws, we could see some open-bills in the very heart of the town, flying here and there. The lodge is just outside the sanctuary. However, storks can be found everywhere around the lodge. One can easily go to the terrace – a part of which is built as a watch-tower also. One will have a zoo-like feeling there. The mighty birds are almost at a hand-shaking distance, and there are so many of them ! They are accustomed to cameras and tourists, knowing very well that they are the star guests there. So they pose nonchalantly, with full attention on their daily chores.

We saw some birds swooping on their nests, with twigs in their beaks. They must have arrived later and hence were in the nesting phase. But most of the nests had one, two or three hatchlings, some had eggs, and a few had both. Some storks spread their wings to protect the young ones from the scorching sun. Some were sitting on the eggs. Some hatchlings were crying as the mother was trying to hatch the rest of the eggs and they couldn't bear her weight ! Some birds, perhaps tired of hatching for long, stood tall and were preening themselves.

We went to the sanctuary in the afternoon. First, we made a circular walk in the forest. One side of it was flooded. The farthest end is bordered with the river Kulik. There is a core area where we also saw some cormorants, spreading wings.

A nature interpretation centre cum watch tower has been built near the entrance. Although we've always found such centres very boring – this one was a pleasant exception. It was very informative indeed, and interesting also. But when we climbed atop the watch tower, the real surprise of the sanctuary unfolded before our eyes. We were now above almost all of the surrounding trees, and were mesmerized, to say the least. We could watch the whole realm of the open-bill storks ! Their tendering of the young ones, fighting with others for space perhaps, building nests by some – it was an amazing view of avian family chores.

We watched a beautiful sunset from the terrace of the lodge. The silhouette of the storks in the backdrop of an orange sky – it was a wonderful way to end the day.
Last edited by mousourik; Sep 1st, 2011 at 12:54..
#2 Aug 30th, 2011, 17:58
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#2
Quote:
Originally Posted by mousourik View Post Every year almost seventy to eighty thousand migratory birds visit Kulik from south-east Asia and the coastal regions. They include Asian open bill storks, egrets, night herons and little cormorants.
Nice little trip. Just one clarification on the bird information front. None of these birds you have mentioned here is a migratory bird. They are all resident birds. Kulik indeed is a very thriving heronry and a very important nesting site for Asian Openbills (Bengali = Shamuk Khol) in this part of the world.
The Kulik garden also has a lot of passerine birds. Please upload photographs if you have them.
#3 Aug 30th, 2011, 18:46
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#3
Whatta blissful trip you had Mousourik...
What about your Malda info,are you going to post them too? I've been xploring mursidabad on my bike since two days and tomorrow i will be leaving for malda,so any info you share might come to my aid...
#4 Aug 30th, 2011, 18:57
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#4
Nice write up. Waiting for your Maldah Part.

Thank You.
#5 Aug 30th, 2011, 19:30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Calcuttan View Post None of these birds you have mentioned here is a migratory bird. They are all resident birds.
Please refer this :

Several types of migratory birds arrive here each year from South Asian countries and coastal regions.[3] They start arriving from June. The migratory species includes open-bill storks, egrets, night herons and cormorants.[7] The resident birds are kites, flycatchers, owls, kingfishers, woodpeckers, drongoes, etc.[7]

And this :

Raiganj Bird Sanctuary - Situated in the district and along the National Highway and by the side of the Kulik river is the Raiganj Bird Sanctuary with an area of 35 acre and buffer area of 286.23 acre. The forest, water bodies and the river attract the migratory birds like Open Bill Strok, Night heron, cormorant, little cormorant & Egrets from South Asian countries and coastal regions
#6 Aug 30th, 2011, 19:40
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I don't know which site is mentioning Asian Openbills and night herons or egrets or cormorants as migratory birds. It is downright laughable. If indeed it is saying that then please don't refer to that site :-) It is completely wrong and laughable.
Read any decent book on the subject of Indian birds and it is very elementary knowledge.
Incidentally, a cormorant means a pankouri in Bengali. An egret is nothing but a bok and an Asian Openbill is nothing but a shamuk khol. These are resident birds because they can be seen all year round in our Bengal. You don't have to go very far to see these birds round the year. Rajarhat or even our good old Dhakuria lake is good enough to see these birds.
#7 Aug 30th, 2011, 22:25
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#7
The sites are mentioned in the links provided in the previous post, and one of them is wikipedia. Let wikipedia change its contents, then i'll change mine.

Outlook traveller also says the same. Of course, the debate can go on whether these sites are laudable or laughable.
#8 Aug 30th, 2011, 23:12
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#8
Photo 1 : Stork protecting hatchlings from the sun

Photo 4 : Little cormorant spreading wings
Attached Images
1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 
#9 Aug 30th, 2011, 23:18
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Photo 2 : Night Heron

Photo 3 : Sunset from the tourist lodge
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6.jpg 7.jpg 8.jpg 
#10 Aug 30th, 2011, 23:26
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Facts about the sanctuary as available at the nature interpretation centre.
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#11 Aug 31st, 2011, 00:49
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If you are quoting wikipedia then I would suggest take a look at the wikipedia link on Asian Openbills. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_Openbill
It mentions that Asian Openbills are rersident breeders, in the very second sentence.
After so many years I don't think I want to get into an argument over such simple elementary truths about Indian birds with someone who pins his entire knowledge on wikipedia.
If you want to believe that these birds are migratory then you are most welcome to do that. If a site says 2+2 = 5 you are most welcome to believe it. I will not. I will not even look at it. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
#12 Aug 31st, 2011, 03:54
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#12
mousourik,

Great write-up and wonderful photos! Thank you for sharing this.
"Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to row the boat."
(Jean-Paul Sartre)
#13 Aug 31st, 2011, 09:18
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#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calcuttan View Post A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
Yes, i do acknowledge to have little knowledge and that's the reason i look forward to information sources. The photo posted in post #10 above is taken within the bird sanctuary boundary.

It's my last post on this matter. Let other vessels sound much.
#14 Aug 31st, 2011, 14:20
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#14
Oopz seems like a miniature coldwar(turning hot!) here... CALM DOWN GENTLEMEN...
I've reached Malda but this futile argumnt prevented me from getting malda info from mousourik (sigh...)
by the way, just a thought which i felt like sharing- ego can make us greatest loser @ modesty can make us the biggest winner...cheerz :-)
#15 Aug 31st, 2011, 14:24
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#15
Please continue your travel report, mousourik, as we are eagerly awaiting the next episode.
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