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
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:
||Asian Palm Swift
|Indian Pond Heron
|Asian Pied Starling
||Blyth's Reed Warbler
||Common Ringed Plover
||Little Ringed Plover