While the novel Coronavirus was gradually setting its foot (or I shall say its spikes) on India along with the international fliers during the prime Springtime, least aware of the upcoming grave situation, we decided to have a birdwatching Sunday at Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary where the migratory birds arrive during the winters. From winter to spring, this town hosts a large group of migratory species making it a bird watcher’s paradise.
Bhigwan is a small town on the Pune-Solapur highway adjoining the large backwater area of the Ujani Dam on River Bhima. This backwater serves as the winter ground for numerous migratory species of birds with an abundance of some protein-rich diet thus making it an ideal roosting spot.
With this small introduction let me take you through my journey to Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary. I have been to Bhigwan before, probably during the late summers or early monsoon the previous year and it was altogether a different sight. Even after google map brought us to the bird watching point or the boating point there were hardly any sight or indication of any such activity or facility there.
It was long before the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed on India, although the infection was spreading fast in different parts of the world and taking its toll. And here it was a handful of cases with a few international passengers arriving with symptoms who were then taken to isolation. All things seemed to be well under control. Our wishful mind was far away from the time that was supposed to come.
Since our visit, the situation changed rapidly increasing anxiety and anticipation for our uncertain future and finally, we all came under the lockdown. I am penning down this post now in a grave situation where the number of infected people and deceased are on the rise it is really tough to concentrate on any other thing. The days seem to be gloomy and depressing so to divert my undived attention from the news of the current situation I decided to draft the post – the post of good times.
It was the time when humans were free to move out of their house when they were free to travel anywhere they desired when they were free from this Novel Coronal Virus, just like the birds, the birds of Bhigwan careless and carefree foraging on fish, snails and other available food.
It was the bird watching season so the scenario was different this time. The village was prepared to welcome the birders from every corner. There were banners and placards guiding the direction to the bird-watching spots with pictures of various migratory birds and the phone number of the organiser who organises such bird watching trips.
We came to know that there are multiple spots around the backwater area which serves as a boating point operated by different organisers or some eco-tourism resorts. The other famous and nearby area was the Kumbhargaon Bird Sanctuary, located a few kilometres from Bhigwan towards Solapur.
We boarded on our boat and it was our enthusiastic and happy boatman cum guide who took us to spots designated for various species one after the other. We knew we were in the wrong time of the day for bird watching. The afternoon sun was burning us with its scorching rays and most of the birds were far away into their shady corners to have some afternoon siesta.
I had no complaints as the afternoon time birding was satisfying enough. Our boatman suggested us to visit there sometime in April during the late afternoon when the number of Flamingoes rises to about thousands as the water level recedes during the summers and become an ideal feeding ground for them to gain enough weight and energy to before they start their long journey back home.
While drafting this post in April I am thinking about those birds who must be preparing to leave their winter grounds by now. Alas! We are jailed and could not bid them a farewell this year. Overcoming my depressed mood and negative thoughts I feel grateful for all that I have during these serious times as there are many who does not even have a home to keep safe distance or food to develop immunity. I end my post wishful thoughts that this grave situation will come to an end soon and things to be normal when we all can be free again – humans as well as wildlife, living and loving all.