Sunday, 3 December 2017

White Breasted Kingfisher in Flight

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Painted Storks arrive at the Basai Wetland

Finally, today I was able to spot a few Painted Storks at the Basai Wetland in Gurgaon. Strangely enough, the birds had arrived at the nearby  Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary way back in the month of October itself.

The Painted Storks, however, seem to be struggling for space with other species of birds, like the Purple Heron, which is another large bird. On my visit to the Wetland, I was able to spot a Brown Shrike too.

Besides, the resident White-throated Kingfisher entertained me with some of its aerial aerobatic skills, seen only in modern-day fighter jets!

I was mildly surprised to see more airborne Purple Swamphen than ever before. One of them was being chased by others of the same species, for it seemed as if they did not want him in their area. Strangely enough, Purple Swamphen might be territorial in nature, and they just don't allow outsiders into their fold!

Interestingly enough, I spotted a few fist-sized birds skimming the surface of the water, fishing for food, which I guess must be small fry and perhaps fresh-water shrimps.The birds are also known as swallows and they eat insects. Please note that the lower ones are reflections!

The spot-billed ducks stayed at a distance as it seems as if they had been disturbed by the frequent movement of people in the area. I saw a couple of men wading in the shallows with nets in their hands. It looked like they had been looking for small fish and fresh-water shrimps.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Makes Sense why Wetlands are deliberately not notified as Such

While going through the Hindustan Times Newspaper, recently, I was struck by the headline of an article appearing on the 13th page dedicated to the Nation. The headline read, "Land sharks eating into East Kolkata Wetlands".  It described how a real estate promoter purchased a pond spreading over 32 bighas for which he paid an advance payment before getting the water pumped out to create a level plot. What he did not realise was that he had walked into a trap. He had not realised that the land that has been labelled a wetland can't  be converted in character!

No wonder, The Basai Wetland does not seem to merit a wetland status it seems as doing so will forfeit the payments made by real estate promoters who want to acquire land in the area by converting the wetland into a level plot conducive to the building of flats for residential purposes. The Basai Wetland in Gurgaon is yet another victim of Administrative apathy since the administration is dragging its feet in declaring the Basai Wetland a Wetland!

Wikipedia describes the Basai Wetland as under:
Basai wetland (बसई झील), located in Basai village in Gurgaon tehsil in Gurgaon district in HaryanaIndia, is a flora and fauna rich water body. It is recognised as one of India's Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs)[1] and is of global conservation significance as it supports populations of several endangered, vulnerable, and threatened bird species.[2]

In spite of a lot of people calling out for the recognition of the Basai Wetland as a protected area, the administration is dragging its feet in doing so citing the fact that the Basai Wetland is close to a railway line and the Dwarka Expressway. One wonders if some planning should not have been done to prevent a rushed up construction of the Dwarka Expressway, that too close to this major wetland.

Wikipedia describes the uniqueness of the Basai Wetland in terms of the fauna it supports in the following words:
The wetland supports a high diversity of birds, with at least 239 species reported since 2001 in the area recognised as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.[2] The wetland is also recognised as a birding hotspot in eBird with 282 bird species recorded as of May 2017.[5] The bird life of Basai Wetland includes the following species of conservation concern[2][5] as per the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:[6]
The wetland supports a high diversity of birds, with at least 239 species reported since 2001 in the area recognised as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.[2] The wetland is also recognised as a birding hotspot in eBird with 282 bird species recorded as of May 2017.[5] The bird life of Basai Wetland includes the following species of conservation concern[2][5] as per the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:[6]
IUCN Redlist Status
Critically Endangered (CR)Endangered (EN)Vulnerable (VU)Near-Threatened (NT)
White-rumped vultureEgyptian vultureGreater spotted eagleAlexandrine parakeet
Red-headed vultureSteppe eagleEastern imperial eagleAsian dowitcher
Black-bellied ternIndian spotted eagleBlack-headed ibis
Sarus craneBlack-necked stork
Marbled duckBlack-tailed godwit
Common pochardCurlew sandpiper
Woolly-necked storkEurasian curlew
European roller
Ferruginous duck
Lesser flamingo
Northern lapwing
Oriental darter
Painted stork
Pallid harrier
Red-necked falcon
River lapwing
River tern
Looking at the facts enlisted in Wikipedia, it is clear that we should not delay declaring the Basai Wetland a protected area. The upkeep of the wetland should be given to the government so that it develops the area starting with a boundary wall and guards who might prevent encroachment in the area. The fact is that the Basai Wetland in Gurgaon is much more valuable as bird sanctuary than as prime real estate property! What belongs to a larger section of the people of Haryana should not be given away to a privileged few who would like to live in condominiums and penthouses robbing the thousands of species of birds their rightful breeding ground!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Black Winged Stilts foraging for Food at the Basai Wetland, Gurgaon

Black winged Stilts are a common species of waders seen wherever there are wetlands, ponds, lakes and marshes. They have long red coloured legs and stand tall in the water. I found these stilts particularly interesting because of the reflection that seemed to complement if not add to their beauty!

White Throated Kingfisher at the Basai Wetland - Different Takes

The Kingfisher continues to be an interesting bird to photograph. People like to suggest that spotting a Kingfisher Bird is likely to bring one good luck, old wives tale, no doubt! However, I have posted a few photographs of Kingfishers spotted at the Basai Wetland in Gurgaon, hope you like them!

White Winged Wood Duck and Northern Shoveller Spotted at Basai Wetland ?

On a visit to the Basai Wetland in Gurgaon today, two unique migratory ducks might have been spotted. The White Winged Wood Duck, Cairina Scutulati and a Northern Shoveller Duck, Anas Clypeata might seem to be part of a group of an assorted species of ducks including the spot-billed ducks. Photographs of the same, although taken from a great distance have been posted below.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Birds Spotted at the Basai Wetlands, Gurgaon in November-2017

Black-Winged Stilt with a Bronze-Winged Jacana (female)

White Throated Kingfisher with fish

Purple Swamphen

A Heron perched on the branch of a tree

A flock of Sandpipers

A Single Sandpiper foraging for food

A flock of Ducks

A Purple Heron

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Lake of Life and an open air Waste Treatment Plant

Slowly but surely, the Bassi Wetlands are slipping out of our hands. The changes taking place are purely man-made and people in the say have turned a blind eye to the ecological disaster that is taking place before our very eyes! Each week you visit the spot, you will notice how the waterbody is being filled up with mud and debris in such a way as to raise the ground level thus cutting off part of the lake. This is at a point closest to a gas cylinder depot.

It is true that the spot is visited by numerous birdwatchers with sophisticated cameras and zoom lenses, but they don't even move further or they would be horrified to see how a sewage canal running close to  parts of wetland  has breached its banks at some places and the toxic waste is getting mixed into the water of the wasteland.  One cannot help wondering whether this gross neglect of civic responsibility is intentional or otherwise. No wonder the plot demarcation markers are there, in the form of subtlety sunk wooden poles and the lines tied to them. Wouldn't be surprised to shells of buildings springing up from these spots in a couple of years with swanky names like Westville, or Paradise Gardens, that on the grave of migratory birds and a freshwater body, albeit tainted by the sewage of the city of Gurgaon. One wouldn't be surprised if these plots would be flooded during the monsoons because nature reclaims its own with a vengeance!

Gurgaon is a living laboratory of ecological disasters taking place before our very eyes and we are mute spectators to the tragedy unfolding! The Gurgaon of the early eighties was much different from what it is now. There were more trees, there were more water bodies, and the Arravalis stood tall. There were bunds made in strategic places by the British administration in the 1800s. All of these have gone. The bunds have gone, the water bodies have gone, one wonders about the pond in Sukhrali village, and in place of what used to be a huge pond on the way to Sohna is a stadium. Builders had not yet started building swanky condominiums on the Arravalis close to Bass Village, and sweet water was to be found at 120 feet! No wonder, we had a hand pump at our house! I wish I had taken more photographs of the Gurgaon of the eighties although one of my photographs of a nomad family taken in front of what is the main entrance to the stadium was selected by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting at one of its photo exhibitions!

It gives one great thrill to be able to photograph some of the migratory birds visiting the Basai Wetlands both for archival purposes and for the assurance and inner conviction that writing about them will be a point of reference for our future generations. The speed with which the landscape of Gurgaon is changing is simply mind-boggling! The changing of the name of this city cannot, however, detract us from recalling the Gurgaon that was once home to forests lakes rivers and fruit tree plantations. One could see Nilgai roaming around in the streets and Peacocks and Peahens moving around. But of these there none left, at least not in the center of the city. My father used to tell me that the road to the railway station was once lined with trees, Jamun trees and that it was like walking through a tunnel. Of these there are none!

If you thought the above shots bring out the beauty of nature, then think about the last two shots I am sharing with you below and do share a thought in the comments section of the Blog.

The above two pictures are of toxic sewage that has contaminated parts of the fresh water that forms part of the Basai Wetlands. While walking in the area, I could help noticing the foul smell emanating from the area. No wonder, the Basai Wetlands is turning into a cesspit of apathy, greed, and indifference. It seems this once freshwater body has, after all, become an open-air waste treatment plant!