Nalban Bheri
Kolkata

 
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Wetland area symbol © Sumit Sen
Salt Lake City, Kolkata ~ Urban Wetlands
 


© Sumit
Northern Shoveler

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Introduction:
Just a 20 minute drive from the center of Kolkata towards the northeastern part of the city lies one of the largest wetlands in India. Although used predominantly for commercial fishery today, this huge drainage bowl attracts water birds in variety and quantity. Waders dominate but ducks and other birds also find refuge here. The marsh land starts within the city limits and spreads out in all directions. I have recorded 70+ species over a short period of casual bird watching, and that too from just the city edges. I estimate another 30 species can easily be found, making this a 100+ species area.

Salt Lake's Nalaban has a beauty in it's simplicity. Although squeezed in on the edges by rapid urbanization, the vast stretches of clear and shallow water gives a sense of serenity and openness.

Birds here make a home with hostile human neighbours. As they primarily feed on the fish which is the only source of income for the population, there is competition with the humans having the upper hand. Slings are the instruments of aggression against the trespassers (although it is debatable who is trespassing) and the birds have learnt to keep sling shot distance.

Large waders dominate this water body along with cormorants. Great Egrets and Grey Herons are the star attractions and I have counted upwards of  80 Grey Herons in the Nalban bheri itself.

How to reach: Salt Lake is easily accessed from the city. You can drive up to the Technology Park and the water body is right across the approach road. It pays to go straight up to the end of the road and walk along the the edges of the fish tanks. Another approach is from near the water tank next to the Fisheries office. This part is more pristine.

Best time: November to January when the temperatures dip. Early mornings (6.30 am) and late afternoon (3.30 pm onwards) are the best time(s) of the day.

List of birds noted:


Red Avadavat

Key:      Abundant Numerous/Common Few/single
     
Gadwall Tufted Duck Northern Shoveler
Black-Rumped Flameback Blue-Throated Barbet Coppersmith Barbet
Indian Roller Common Kingfisher White Throated Kingfisher
Green Bee-Eater Asian Koel Greater Coucal
Rose-Ringed Parakeet Alexandrine Parakeet Asian Palm Swift
House Swift Spotted Dove Eurasian Collared Dove
White-Breasted Waterhen Common Coot Common Snipe
Green Sandpiper Wood Sandpiper Common Sandpiper
Temmink's Stint Black-Headed Gull Black Kite
White-Rumped Vulture Shikra Little Grebe
Little Cormorant Great Cormorant Little Egret
Intermediate Egret Great Egret Cattle Egret
Indian Pond Heron Grey Heron Purple Heron
Asian Openbill Pied Avocet Black-winged Stilt
Yellow Bittern Cinnamon Bittern Brown Shrike
Long-tailed Shrike Rufous Treepie Large-Billed Crow
Black-Hooded Oriole Black Drongo Red-Throated Flycatcher
Bluethroat Oriental Magpie Robin Chestnut-tailed Starling
Asian Pied Starling Common Myna Bank Myna
Jungle Myna Barn Swallow Red-whiskered Bulbul
Red-vented Bulbul Plain Prinia Blyth's Reed Warbler
Clamorous Reed  Warbler Common Tailorbird Purple Sunbird
White Wagtail Citrine  Wagtail Yellow Wagtail
Grey Wagtail Paddyfield Pipit Baya Weaver
Black-headed Munia Scaly-breasted Munia Eurasian Golden Oriole
Lesser Whistling-duck Ruddy-breasted Crake Brahminy Kite
Red Avadavat Common Starling Purple Swamphen
Striated Grassbird Painted Stork Common Shelduck
Pied Harrier Common Ringed Plover Darter
Blunt-winged Warbler Little Ringed Plover Baillon's Crake
Booted Warbler Siberian Rubythroat Rusty-rumped Warbler
Northern Pintail Yellow-bellied Prinia Garganey

Sumit K Sen
Kolkata, India

   
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