Sagar Coast

 
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Wetland area symbol © Sumit Sen                                 East coast of India
                     Sagar and Herobhanga Islands
 

 


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© Sumit Sen
Sagar Island


The Sagar and Sand Head group of islands are of fairly recent origin and consist mainly of a sandy upper strata. They are spread over 90 sq.km area at the estuarine mouth of the river Hugli.

© Sumit SenSagar island:
 
A
lso known as Sagar or Gangasagar, is a large (300km2) inhabited island at the mouth of the Hugli where it meets the sea. Sagar attracts thousands of Hindu pilgrims at the annual Gangasagr Mela held in January. The large island has a mixed coast of sand and mud flats and the area inland offers good agricultural habitat for birds.
Birds: Sagar Island's location and topography makes it an excellent bird-watching site. Many species have been recorded here and include good birds like Amur Falcon, Terek and Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlin, Sanderling and Great-crested Terns. A flock of over 500 Small Pratincoles was also observed here in October 2007. Really, anything from the checklist can turn up at Sagar and more field visits are required in this area.

© Sumit Sen
Richard's Pipit

How to reach: Sagar can be approached from Harwood Point ('Lot 8') or Kakdwip or Namkhana all of which can be reached by road from Kolkata. Transport Corporation buses ply daily to these destinations and local trains from Sealdah Station can also be used to reach Kakdwip Port or Namkhana. Harwood Point is 82kms from Kolkata and Namkhana 95kms. From Kakdwip, Namkhana or Harwood Point one has to take a ferry to to cross the Muriganga to reach Kachuberia jetty on Sagar. Access is also possible from the opposite shore to the west of Sagar. The island has one main arterial road going north to south for 34kms from Kachuberia. Most of the birds and all accommodation is located at the southern tip of the island. Boats to Herobhanga Island can be taken from Jetty No. 2 at Beguakhali. There is provision to transport cars by barge at Harwood Point. Timings depend on water levels.
Where to stay: Larica Sagar, State Youth Hostel
Best season: October to March
Latitude / Longitude: Jetty-2: 21° 39.496'N / 88° 2.610'E
Tips: 1.
The Muriganga cannot be crossed at low tide and visits to Sagar should take into account tide timings unless you want to wait for hours to cross.
2. Avoid the last half of January when hundreds and thousands of pilgrims swamp the island.
3. Accommodation
is basic and most hotels only open around the time when the pilgrims arrive. Check and book in advance.


© Sumit Sen
Herobhanga beach

Herobhanga Island or Haribhanga Dwip:  Formerly know as Lower Long Sand Island, this is an isolated little, almost entirely treeless, island which sits out in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Sagar Island. This 400- 500 hectare sandy outcrop was once proposed to be declared a marine wildlife sanctuary based on the rich marine biodiversity in and around the island. However, the plan was dropped when illegal occupants of Jambu Island had to be offered an alternative off-shore location to dry fish.
The mix of sandy beaches, inter-tidal mudflats and splendid isolation makes Herobhanga a winning destination for birders despite the logistical hurdles of reaching it.
Birds: The island is an excellent place to see birds at high-tide roost. Hundreds of waders and gulls and terns from surrounding smaller tidally submerged islands congregate at Herobhanga and many use it for both feeding and roosting. This is also a very likely place to see local vagrants and rare species. Birds noted at Herobhanga include Lesser and Greater Sand, Kentish, Grey and Pacific Golden Plovers; Terek and Curlew Sandpipers, Red-necked Stints, Pallas's, Brown and Steppe Gulls, Great Crested and Little Terns plus many of the commoner species. Concentrations here can be large and 2,800 Little Stints or 500 Curlew Sandpipers are not unusual numbers for Herobhanga as reported in Jan/Feb 2005.

© K S Ray

How to reach: The island has to be visited by motorized country boats hired from Sagar. There are no jetties and no shade of any kind. Dry landing is not possible. Boats can go around the island, and that is one way of watching the birds. The boast trip is not for the faint hearted as the distance is significant for the small crafts that have to be used in the open sea. Takes about 45 minutes to reach the island from Jetty-2 in Sagar.
Where to stay: At Sagar. See above.
Best season: October to March
Latitude / Longitude: 21° 34.467'N / 88° 1.097'E


Sagar route:
Kolkata
- Diamond Harbour - Kulpi - Harwood Point - Kakdwip: 88km
Kachuberia - Observatory: 36km

References: Wikitravel - Sagar island

Sumit K Sen
Kolkata, India

   
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