Thursday, December 24, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
While my train was moving from
For detailed photographs click on
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Monsoon fascinates everyone who is found of wild watching. So was I, along with my botanist friend Ugam Govari, who lives much close to Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary. Pre-decided to meet at vasai Rd. railway station, he was waiting for me at 06.30 AM of 23rd June, 09. Journey from my town started two hours before the scheduled time which is 60 kms away from Vasai. Having Idli and garma garam tea, at vasai station, we started our one day expedition to the holy world of WILDLIFE.
Thanks to welcome call of racket tailed drongo, just near the entrance gate of the WLS, ensured and guaranteed that this dense forest would be more rewarding in terms of sightings of flora and fauna of this less travelled PROTECTED FOREST near Mumbai. A rat snake criss-crossed our way and went into a burrow. Scarlet minivet gave us good pose to photograph it, but the lighting was other way round, which we given up. The flora of this pristine forest was at its bloom, as the monsoon had just started.
Wild Turmeric, Yellow ground Star and Forest lilies were seen on the forest floor, throughout the trail. Few activities of butterflies and birds, since it was sporadically drizzling on the day. But insect world was at its peak. Beetles, Bugs and flies were all around on every another step of the sanctuary. We ventured into a stream bed, where we saw red spurfowl last time, expecting similar sighting as well this day. But we were disappointed, when we saw that this stream bed seems to be lusting place for those who thinks this forest to be place for different enjoyment of teenage life. Packet of used condoms, cigarettes and broken bottles of beer were everywhere on the bed of this stream. The sanctuary was named after the Temple of Lord Shiva known as Tungareshwar in 2003, and at such holy sanctuary, these thing are never expected.
Blaming on the attitude of people, we headed towards the temple. A Local tribal woman, searching for jungle suran, gave few abusive words to us. I don’t know for what reason. Ignore her, was the only way out, to let her go ahead, on her way. Anyways, my tea addiction was not allowing me to focus on flora or fauna, but to search for tea stall. Having tea at stall near temple, we thought of taking water fall trail, which is just behind the temple, gushing down to the entrance gate. Here a local wished to guide us till the gate through this unknown waterfall trail. Which we agreed and with due respect, we offered him snacks and tea, which we had at temple. This local seemed to be a factory worker, a regular to the forest. Narrating his brief background and his attraction to the WLS, he spoke about his regular sightings in the sanctuary. He took us through the rocky terrain, where an Indian Spectacled Cobra was waiting for its feast. Slight movement and this reptile rushed away to the nearing burrow. But, its feast was really around, a garden lizard and forest calottes, on the branch of next tree to each other.
In a little time, our cameras came in deep trouble. Unequipped with proper rain gears, we welcomed or unwelcomed I should say the heavy rains. This is when I took my first WILD SHOWER on the stream of the season. But, how long I could have taken shower, concerned about my camera. I took a shelter in chakmak baba temple, nearing the gate. This temple is on the left hand side of the WLS, just after the main gate. A female land crab, carrying her next generation in her womb, given us good pose and so did a cicada, perhaps last of the season.
Sightings of the day
Gallus sonneratii (heard)
Megalaima zeylanica (heard)
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
06.30 AM was the time pre-scheduled for all we four (Ameesh, Niel, Saurabh & me) to assemble at kalian railway station platform no. 02. From here we were suppose to take train to Atgaon, which would have arrived at the atgaon station at 07.00 AM. No thanks to Saurabh for missing the train, and making us wait at the Atgaon station for almost 45 minutes. Another delayfull thanks to the Cab driver, who made us ait at the station for another hour of time, thus resulting in poor birding at tansa WLS. Anyways, having some Vadpav and cup of garma garam Tea, we left for Tansa WLS in the cab. We reached at around 10.00 AM at the main gate of Tansa WLS and after checking with the Forest guard Mr. Mhatre, we did bit of birding at the lake. Other than few garganeys and pond heron, cattle egrets, there was nothing, but few of tribal women washing their cloths with detergents at the edge of the lake. Far ahead, a guy was seen in tyre tube, catching the fishes of the lake. A single kestrel, few plum headed parakeets and lone hornbill made us feel their presence with single glimpse. Very soon Mhatre and two more guys joined us in the field trip. This field trip organized by Mr. Punam Singvi (Honorary wildlife warden of Thane Wildlife Division) to analyze the presence of predator-prey base in the degraded forest land of Tansa. Equipped with Binocs, Field guides on Mammals, reptiles, Birds, Flowers & Butterflies we decided to spend the whole day in search of anything which comes on our way, forming the base of wildlife. A first sighting on the Lake-Forest Rest Hose beat was of four common kestrel hovering above us in the sky. Soon, a spotted dove was chased away by single shikra. A rufous woodpecker and flameback woodpecker crossed our way. The flowerpeckers and sunbirds soon started dominating the sparse wooded area of the jungle. A rufous treepie and tickel’s blue flycatcher sat on single tree of Bombax Cieba near the rest house. A lesser spotted Eagle and black kite were seen up above the sky. By now it was almost 11.00 AM, and as usual I was desperate to have another cup of tea. My requested was granted and the FD personal agreed to serve us a black tea. Sipping the cup of tea and birding from the chair placed at Balcony, we spent five good hours talking about the fate of Indian wildlife and our experience to counter it. By 04.00 PM we were out again in the field. A lined birding was waiting here for us, with many surprises. The drongos and orioles were herewhere at many old grown trees, and so were the bulbuls and golden chloropsis. A sudden shout from Saurabh (actually excitement) invited all of us to look at the tree branch, he was looking at. It was none other but the Malabr Trogon, lifer for all of us. But, this excitement went of next second, when I realized, my camera’s battery went off, before could I had catch the snap of this bird. Anyways, it was fate of my luck, not to capture this momentous in my camera. We went ahead, by now we reached at the open grassland, near dry bed of stream. Argemone Mexicana (Dhotra in Marathi) dominated this dry bed stream, where the water existed some months back. This flower requires limited moisture to sprout, and that is I had seen this flower during the year, except monsoon.
Oops, forgot to mention, suddenly few ladies and many cattle (goats and cows) appeared n the grassland. And also a wasp searching for salt in our body. By now this was about 05.45 Pm and we had to return back to the office of sanctuary. We decided to pack off our day here and revert back. That walk took us another 30 minutes to reach the office, on the way we were interrogated by the BMC officials, patrolling the catchment area of the lake.
Finally after saying bye bye to FD guard Mr. Mhatre we took cab from the sanctuary to Atgaon station. On the way back to station, we were puzzled by the forest fire engulfed by the villagers.
With a commitment to revisit this BIRD rich area, we sat off to our home.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
End of 2004 Sariska lost its last tiger, and the state government took another 6 months to accept this bare fact that there are no more tigers in one of the best tiger reserve of this Nation. The State Government needed the evidence to prove that there are no tigers in its own Sariska, which were provided to them from the nation run WII.
Perhaps these were the evidence, strong enough to ensure that there can't be any tigers until unless these issues were not solved.
(1) 11 villages inside the tiger reserve, with 1000s of families living upon the forest resources - some having background of poaching ( AS PER THE MANAGEMENT PLAN OF TR).
(2) One of non-regulated traffic ( Round the calendar, round the clock ) running on state highway passing through the sanctuary.
All 22 ( As per the last census report ) tigers were wiped out by the poachers and illicit traders making money on wildlife trade, and so on. Does Sariska deserved the Tigers any more, after losing its every tiger due to sheer negligence of the state apathy and FDs commitment to save its wildlife.
In my opinion, The State Government didn't deserved the Sariska TR. It would have been better if Sariska would had been de-notified as TR and renamed as mere Wildlife Sanctuary.It would had been better if the current relocation should not had taken place, and 3.5 year male tiger , which was radio-collared and lifted with the help of Chopper of Indian Army. It would had been better if the Government of State would have lost its largest tiger reserve, due to its own mistake of not keeping any eye on its own pride.
One male tiger was relocated in Sariska on Saturday 28th at 12.34 PM from Ranthambore, keeping media out of the event ensured that there is no cross questioning and counter productive statements within the conservationist and state FD and WII officials. The second tiger ( female ) would be relocated by the end of this week. And three more would be brought in by the end of this year.
But, are we still positive that the tigers tribe would prosper ? The villages are still inside, the highway still taking toll and also substitute of carrying the wildlife trade out of the borders of state, the temple is more controversial due to its position being in the core of the TR.
The questions remained unanswered from years passed away and would remain unanswered years to come, down the line.
Wild Mumbai Nature Conservation
"The tiger cannot be preserved in isolation. It is at the apex of a large and complex biotope. Its habitat, threatened by human intrusion, commercial forestry, and cattle grazing, must first be made inviolate." - Mrs. Indira Gandhi
Posted by Rajesh Sachdev at 12:26 AM
Yes i agree with you here Rajesh, naming it a wildlife sanctuary should have been better rather then the prime focus of having a viable population of tigers surviving in Sariska. To have the dynamics healthy we need to focus on areas and ask questions to why it went on a decline in the first place.
Many factors should have been looked into rather then the prime focus of being relocation. I am not against relocation and i think it’s important to understand that it was encouraging enough to see FD tackle the process well. Media was kept away from the relocation but now it is sure that there is a male in the park along with 11 villages a highway and many other distractions.
The existing problems in Sariska have not been wiped out. How are they going to tackle that? These are questions which should have been discussed and thought before the relocation. They may have been thought about by the FD but areas like human interference etc are very crucial points. The other factors like a SWOT analysis should have been made and problems linking to the Tigers disappearance in 2004 should have been areas which needed to be tackled before the shift.
Sariska should have not been once again created but now it has and we have to help and watch that it does not repeat 2004. I heard somewhere that the state govt is trying to keep away tourism from the park. Not so clever moves if it’s true as tourists are one of the prime eyes to an informal anti-poaching unit. A battle for us conservationist, but i guess with a positive start to relocation i hope it is a reasonable move.
Monday, February 23, 2009
The Osprey team, although not found a single osprey during the expedition, but had great chance to see many birds for the first time in life. And one among that as Pied Harrier, for which we won the "Bird of the day"category award.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The hunt is not an exercise of will
But patient love relaxing on a hill
To note the movement of a timid wing
—Nissim Ezekiel in
Poet, Lover, Birdwatcher
Years ago, Nissim Ezekiel drew similarities between a poet, lover and birdwatcher in one of his much appreciated poems. Over the years, the number of those who will agree with his words has only multiplied as the community of birdwatchers has increased in the city and continues to grow.
"Since Mumbai has the advantage of being a coastal city, it has a wide variety of bird species. Over 350 species of birds have been recorded over the years in the Mumbai surrounds," says naturalist Sunjoy Monga. Nearly 50 per cent of these species do not breed here, these are the various type of migrants or seasonal visitors to the region, he adds. And they are the ones who make the otherwise dull winter in Mumbai interesting. And bird-lovers take out their pairs of binoculars and reference books before setting out on the trail of two-winged creatures.
"Most of the people who come for our bird-watching outings in Mumbai are learners. These trips teach them how to use binoculars, reference books as well as study and document bird movements. They later on go to the spots outside Mumbai where birds population is higher," says Avinash Kubal of the Maharastra Nature Park. "With the surge in the number of birdwatchers, the documentation of birds has also got a boost," says Sujit Narwade of the Bombay Natural History Society.
Though with flamingoes, the Sewri Bay, especially the jetty, has become a famous stomping ground of birdwatchers along with the Uran wetlands, these nature lovers have found many other places across the city where the chances of sighting of birds—resident and rare—are high. Rajesh Sachdev's favourite haunt is Sanjay Gandhi National Park. "Any time of the year, one can spot at least 30 species of birds in the park if you spend a couple of hours there," says Sachdev, who is involved in the Mumbai Bird Race. The annual evented scheduled on February 22 is organised in the city since 2005.
In fact, it was after sighting a beautiful Paradise Flycatcher in the park three years back that he converted into an avid birdwatcher. Rajmachi and Matheran are the two other favourite weekend
getaways for Sachdev to study birds.
There are more: Elephanta Island, Vikhroli grasslands, Thane creek and
margins, Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary, near Vasai, Lotus Pond on the Malad-Marve Road and Talzan Hills in Charkop. According to Monga, several city parks and groves too attract birds. "Actually, birds exist all around us. One just needs to learn to notice them," says Neeta Deb. She admits to being a
"beginner birdwatcher" and tries to spend as much time as her nine-year-old old allow her to be with the nature.
Bird-watching has also become a
perfect excuse to get wildlife activists and lovers together. On February 1, Rishi Agarwal is organising one such event at Lokhandwala Lake. His motive, other than spotting the winged creatures, will be to draw attention to the condition of the lake. In 1999, he, along with a group of friends, had stopped the BMC from dumping garbage at the lake. His inspiration might have come from a bird-watching trip to the area that this environmental activist had undertaken with a group. "We had spotted 45 species of birds that day," he recalls, and adds, "On a regular day one can spot pond heron, bar-headed geese, common kingfisher, pied kingfisher and medium egret among others there."
The pollution, concrete growth and demolition of forest have taken a toll on the bird population in Mumbai. Sachdev wants vultures, who are now extinct in the city, to be back. Till that happens the sighting of 'Indian pitta', locally known as 'navrang' can make him happy.
Wildlife Activist & Photographer
Sunday, January 11, 2009
As and when I along with five of my co-travelers (including 2 Canadians) started the track through the open scrub land and few of human settlements, we were greeted by the Petronias, Bulbuls, Drongos, wood swallows and Sunbirds. A Hoopoe flittering here there and chasing away a common myna was a scene which was much of excitement for all of us. At the water body near the settlements, a white wagtail and White breasted kingfisher started our day. Suddenly, the Drongos and Bee-eaters dominated the forest, as we went it bit deeper. Eranthemum roseum and Hibiscus hirtus were on the tail seen on both the sides. A scat of predator was seen on the rock at lower waterfall, this is also the place where I encountered day’s first blue oakleaf butterfly and it was around 09.00 AM, perhaps too early for this creature. We went on in search of more wild world, and every another step turned out to be the fruitfull not only for us but also for those locals who live nearby. A group of 5 men and 3 women were active nearby for cutting trees. One among them carrying headload of wood allowed me photographing him in that position.
By now at around 10.30, the temperature risen to 24 degree and butterflies started basking on the plants. Psyches, grass blues and darters were all around. Tawny coaster, angled perriot and bush brown were scattered here there. Spotted dove and plum headed parakeet, along with brown headed barbet felt us their presence through their identical calls. The Red cotton tree was just in bloom and couple of trees had good flowerings throughout the trail. On the upper waterfall, we took some rest, and had some pet pooja. Suddenly, the group started staring at the lone bird perched on the high anjan tree. Pravin, wondered to identify it as Eurasian Black bird, whereas we had some reservation on its timing. I am of an opinion that I had seen this specie at the Tungareshwar & Rajmachi in monsoon season, where as the bird was just off late. Anyways, leaving this bird on its tree, we headed ahead.
Now, at 1.00 PM the day started becoming hot and we were just on the dark and steep woods of Teak and drying pods of Karvi. Urena lobata and Blepharis asperrimawre was seen on the green carpet of this dense region. Raptors were hovering above in the sky. The Serpent Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle and others were out on the hunt. The bracket fungus on the ground also started drying. On one among the teak branch, here we came across a beetle, which we have never seen before. Jennifer got mesmerized looking at this insect, Although I shown her so many anything on the forest floor or under the canopy of leaf litter, but this was the one among, whome she photographed as memory to take it in her home land Canada.
By 02.30 PM we were on the top of the forest, Leon said it to be the upper upper water fall. We took some rest here looking at the raptors of the horizon and many tiny creature in and around the place. Like minded people (Naturalists or nature lovers) are still to short list this area as their preferred outing in Mumbai. But, some other element took lead in frequent around this area very commonly along with the bottles of wine and what not. This is the most polluted part, full of bottles, wrappers and …..The time passed by nicely having the food, we were carrying along with us. By 3.30 PM we decided descending down. Leaving alone, one of the best Wildlife Habitats at its own.