During winters (the time when this blog is being written), a lot of wild-life enthusiasts prepare their lenses to capture the avian migration to the wetlands and water reserves of various parts of India. For some of them, of course with telephoto lenses, this serves as a feast of numerous birds who leave their home in the far-off countries; in search of warmer places take rest in the water-sheds of villages, towns and cities. The places that get maximum number of migratory birds from different countries are famous and quite well known throughout India. However, I have noticed that various types of ponds, water pools, rain-water collectors, water-sheds across the country also attract fair amount of these and could give you some opportunity. Why? –it has the possibility of converting itself into a seasonal tourist place.
This is a village around 6 Km from my town Nabha in the district of Patiala. One of my friend’s friend took us there around 3 years back in February. It was a delight to note that so close to my town, migratory birds have perched. I could see crowned spoonbills, painted storks, herons, mallards, darters, cormorants, coots, stilts, Teals, ducks, geese, Ibises, and wooly-necked storks.
Without doubt, it was a revelation to me. How can somebody miss so many birds? Talking to villagers, I found that they did not know anything about them–they just believed that they come and go.
“Very large beaked birds come here every year. But what’s so strange in that?”,
A small boy asked me when he saw me excited to take a shot.
I have visited this place regularly since then and have found that the diversity and quantity of birds change almost every year. In fact, the timings also tend to differ. There is some connection with the level of water that is present in the pond based on the rains in summer season.
Missing these spots and the business opportunity
This is one of such ponds and I have noticed 2-3 more around my town where these birds migrate during winter season. Though the quantity and diversity may differ, but the spots are worth visiting.
Now comes the point of turning such places into tourist spots which can generate some business opportunities for villagers. The problem with birds is that they like attraction-free spots. Bird sanctuaries across India provide access to larger pools of water in the form of lakes where when even tourists flock, birds are not disturbed. The ponds we are talking are smaller in size and if tourist hustle-bustle is built around them, we may lose the birds altogether as they may shift to some other place.
Apart from this, there is very little knowledge about such a potential among the village-folks and they don’t know how to organize some tours or stays for ornithologists.
However, I am sure that for a single or small group of shooters, such ponds and pools can give almost a similar experience comparable to what they might expect in designated bird sanctuaries.