Kolkata - The "City of Joy"
City : 185 sq. kms
Metropolitan Area : 1886 sq. km.
City : 4.5 million ( 2011)
Metropolitan Area : 14 million (2011)
Population Density 24,000 / sq. km. (2011)
Altitude: 20 feet above sea level
Geography & Topography:
Located at 22°54.35N, 88°33.42E, Kolkata is situated on the banks of the River Hugli and is close to the Bay of Bengal. The Sunderbans biosphere is only a 100kms from the city. Kolkata is on the Indo-Gangetic plain and is at sea level throughout. Most of the city was originally marshy wetlands and remnants are still to be found where it has escaped urbanisation or has not been converted into commercial wetland fishery use. 300+ years of human habitation has led to the establishment of mature trees and shrubs and large groves and gardens are common today. This has effectively changed the original marshland to a primarily moist deciduous habitat which flourishes in the high rainfall and sunny humid climate.
Sunny and humid. High rainfall in the monsoons.
Summer ( April - Sept) temperatures : Hi: 37 C / Lo : 28 C
Winter ( Nov - Feb ) temperatures : Hi: 30 C / Lo : 13 C
Birding Season: Winter
How to reach: Kolkata has an international airport and is well connected with India and rest of the world by air. Howrah Station serves as the railhead and is connected to the rest of the country.
Where to stay: Kolkata has numerous hotels/lodges to suit all budgets including top-end star hotels.
Birding around Kolkata
Most large cities in India hold a surprisingly diverse population of birds despite the ever-increasing bustle of humanity, dwindling habitat and life-threatening pollution. Kolkata city is no exception. Both local residents and the traveler to the city can expect to see well over a hundred species, over a few pleasant winter mornings, in the immediate neighbourhood of the city. Good birds like Stork-billed Kingfisher, Lineated and Blue-throated Barbet, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Black-hooded Oriole, Bronze-winged Jacana, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Richard’s Pipit, Bengal Bushlark, Brown Shrike and others are relatively widespread and often common in and around the city. And who knows, you may even stumble over a colony of nesting Finn's Weavers!
1.The Sunderbans National Park is only a 100 kms ( 3 hrs driving) from Kolkata. The Sunderbans, an UNESCO World Heritage Site is the world’s largest estuarine delta covered by mangrove forests and vast saline mud flats. The Sunderbans plays host to over 240 bird species.
2. Santragachi Jheel is located just 20 minutes from central Kolkata. This waterbody, on the Kona Expressway, plays host to thousands of migratory winter birds from September to March. Protected by local citizens the birds are remarkably tame and allow close approach. While Lesser Whistling Ducks are the most abundant, Pintail, Gadwall, Shoveler, Garganey, Comb Duck, Common Moorhen and Cotton Pygmy Goose are easily spotted.
3. Indian Botanic Garden, Shibpur, Howrah is spread over 270 acres on the banks of the Hugli River. Eastablished in 1787, this historic garden is a haven for passerine birds and also attracts a small number of water dependent species. All common garden species are found in the area can be seen here, plus a few local rarities. Rufous Woodpecker, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Black Bittern, Lineated Barbet, Black-naped Oriole, Brown Hawk Owl, Bronzed Drongo, Yellow-browed and Greenish Warbler, Booted Eagle are some of the species that you will come across on a walk in the garden. Rarities like Asian Brown Flycatcher, Eurasian Cuckoo and Black-capped Kingfisher have been recorded in passage and more are waiting to be observed. A feral breeding population of Red-breasted Parakeet is an added attraction.
This is an all season birding site. Do check timings and restrictions before visiting.
4. Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary is a tiny (17 acre) sanctuary which is a short drive to the south of the city. The sanctuary is an old abandoned orchard and the area surrounding it is a mix of orchards and grassland. Many forest species are found in the area and include Rarities include Tickell’s Thrush, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Slaty-legged Crake, Eurasian Woodcock, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Scaly Thrush, Little Spiderhunter, Blue-throated Flycatcher and White-eyed Buzzard. The recently rediscovered Large-billed Reed Warbler was found at the edges of the Sanctuary.
Common birds, relatively abundant across the city through the year, are:
House Crow I Spotted Dove I Jungle Babbler I House Sparrow I Chestnut-tailed Starling
Black-rumped Flameback I Black Kite I Asian Koel I Greater Coucal I Common Myna
Coppersmith Barbet I Common Tailorbird I Rock Pigeon I Purple Sunbird I Rufous Treepie
Asian Pied Starling I White-throated Kingfisher I Spotted Owlet I Jungle Myna I Little Cormorant
Black-hooded Oriole I Oriental Magpie Robin I House Swift I Rose-ringed Parakeet
Indian Pond Heron I Blue-throated Barbet I Black Drongo I Cattle Egret I Red-vented Bulbul
Purple-rumped Sunbird I Asian Palm Swift I White-breasted Waterhen