In Quest of the Flamingos

Sometime in the beginning of July (2102), I got some scattered news about flamingos being seen in and around Delhi. On 8th July, Anurag had uploaded one picture from Okhla Bird Sanctuary – otherwise a comparatively ignored place these days for birds.

Mid July, I have also visited the bird park and spotted one lonely flamingo in OBS. I have searched almost the entire park for good few hours, but didn’t see a second one. Delhi or around Delhi is not a migratory destination for flamingos. But some years back, there were reports of seeing them in hundreds in various water bodies around Delhi. Basically it is their pit stop in their long migratory path.

28th July: Anurag (as I have made many trips with him, it is natural that his name is featuring in here) called me and asked for Basai for 29th July – Sunday. Instead I preferred to join Anshul for our first trip together to Bharatpur. The very next day i.e., Monday, Anshul updated via a FB message to all of us – someone spotted flamingos in Basai on that Sunday – a group of around 50 of them.

_MG_0177Darter, Bharatpur

So I missed my first chance to see those beauties in Basai – a shallow wetland near Gurgaon, currently under threats from rapidly ongoing constructions. Basai is a favorite destination for many bird watchers, next to Sultanpur. As Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is closed now, Basai is getting the popularity and with the arrival of the flamingos, it is getting even more exciting.

Anurag, Anshul, Ankit and me (joined by Vaibhav later on) – started conversing in the same FB thread for visiting Basai and were eagerly waiting for the Saturday to come.

3rd August: Me and Anurag reached Basai with certainly high hopes of seeing them. We spent around 3 hours and finally I saw a flock of birds flying towards me from a distance. It took few seconds for me to realize, and once I realized, holding the camera and pointing towards them, in one hand, I took out my mobile with the other to call Anurag who was few meters away from me in ankle deep water, to look upwards – a flock of around 40 flamingos flying over our head. The overcast sky didn’t let us have a clear picture. They came and they gone. They didn’t stop at Basai wetland. After this we went to certain nearby areas to look for them. But they were not anywhere closer.

4th August – After pretty long discussion on the same FB thread, against the interest of Anurag, we went to Surajpur on 4th August, Sunday, instead of Basai. I was OK to explore a new place as there was no guarantee of seeing the flamingos in Basai [this is how Anshul convinced me with much support from Ankit] as there are plenty of wetlands around Basai. I have called Madhu too for Surajpur. Surjapur bird sanctuary is without any doubt has lots of potential. It was humid and for the very first time I felt I was actually dehydrated a lot. My hands were swelling. No good click but yes, a place where we must come more often to explore newer species.

IMG_9076Sarus Crane, Surajpur.

The day went well for us except for Anurag [he had to walk that long distance – around 3-4KM carrying his heavy gear]. We went to Hauz Khas village for brunch and post that I slept for almost 3 hours.

The breaking news came then. Once I got up, I checked Indian Birds – a popular page in FB looking for updates from Basai. A beautiful picture of flamingos by Nittoo Das.

I posted the link to our thread and within minutes reactions started coming in. “Surajpur ka bhoot chad gaya tha sabko” – Anurag Commented. We could very well felt his anger.

10th, 11th and 15th- We went to Basai on every holiday but there were no sign of any flamingos. Updated reports from various forums confirmed that those flamingos have again taken their path of migration and gone leaving only a record shot for me to cherish. The ongoing construction which is growing so rapidly left little hope for us to believe that the wetland in Basai will be so attractive in the next season.

IMG_8917

The quest for clicking Flamingos in this part of the country ends here – at least for the season. Many naturalist do mentioned that hundreds of flamingoes used to visit Okhla Bird Park till few years back. I wish this come true sometime soon.

Basai, Sultanpur and surrounding areas still hold many excitements for bird watchers and photographers and our quest lead us to situations which were beyond the pleasure of bird watching and added lots of fun to cherish.

IMG_9314

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