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Winter has arrived in our city. And, so have the winter birds. Every year between Dec-Feb months, Pune becomes a migratory abode to more than 100 species of birds from the Himalayan region, Russia and Europe. These winged visitors gather in large flocks to feed and roost, creating a majestic spectacle, which leaves all the bird watchers in awe.
With the holiday season around the corner, we highly recommend a one day birding trip for your kids. So, grab your binoculars, take the explorer’s kit & bird book out, and get ready for a magnificent bird watching odyssey. Jayesh Paranjape, the founder of The Western Routes (an organization conducting nature, wildlife and cultural tours in Maharashtra), recommends four winter birding hotspots around Pune – Bhigwan, Kavdi, Pashan Lake and Sinhagad Valley. You can also participate in the annual IndiaBirdRaces event to be held in January.
Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary, located on Pune-Solapur Road, has been a winter paradise for bird lovers, nature enthusiasts and avian photographers for many years. Also known as ‘Bharatpur of Maharashtra’, the main attractions of Bhigwan are the beautiful, pink flamingos and Brahmani ducks that fly all over from the northernmost parts of the world every year around this time. But what will make the bird watching experience truly mesmerizing for your children is hopping on to a boat, which will take the visitors through the backwaters of the Ujjain dam to watch these feathered beauties at closer quarters. After returning to the shores, you can also catch a glimpse of herons, gulls, egrets, terns and other rare waders. If the lady luck is on your side, few raptors namely osprey, marsh harrier and spotted eagles, may also show up.
How to get there:
The best way to reach Bhigwan is to drive yourself there. From Pune, you can take Hadapsar- Loni – Bhigwan route. There are two birding spots in Bhigwan – Diksal and Kumbharwadi. You may have to ask the local villagers for the right directions to these spots and hire boats.
(Image Source: Mr Vidyut Singh)
Kavdi is a small village about 20 kms away from Pune. It is the river at Kavdi, where all the birding excitement lies. Though the river is now filled with pollutants, it still remains a home to a few beautiful species migratory birds in the winters. Some of the birds that the children can look forward to watching here are kingfishers, white browed wagtail, heron, red vented bulbuls, sunbird, drongo, small grean beeeaters, Indian robin, egrets, coots ducks and hoopoe, among a few others.
How to get there:
Again, taking a car is the best way to reach Kavdi. Take this route: Solapur Highway – Hadapsar- Loni Kalbhor Plaza – Manali Resort – Kavdi.
3. Pashan Lake
Did you know that Pune’s very own artificial lake too is one of the best birding spots around? Sadly, the number of birds visiting this lake have reduced over the past few years, owing to the garbage disposal by the residents. None the less, this water body has a lovely walking footpath to view wetland birds such as herons, kingfishers, storks, ibis, and ducks along with tree birds such as barbets, wagtails and great tits, to name a few.
How to get there:
Pashan is only a little away from the main city, so you can drive your car through this route to reach there: Paud Road- Chandni Chowk-Pashan Road-Pashan Circle. From Pashan Circle, you can ask directions to the lake. Or else, you can even consider taking the local bus from Swargate.
4. Sinhagad Valley
One of the greenest trekking spots in the outskirts of the city, Sinhagad Valley lies at the foothills of the famous Sinhagad Fort near village Achkarwadi. The wooded valley is famous for sighting lovely species of birds like chestnut shouldered petronia, fan tailed flycatcher, Asian paradise flycatcher, plum headed parakeet, changeable hawk Eagle, spotted dove, small minivet, common iora, oriental white eye, tickle’s blue flycatcher, Indian roller coppersmith barbet and many more. After the birding session, you can take your kids to the famous Sinhagad Fort to get a 360 degree view of the city and enjoy kaanda bhaji (onion pakoras). A pit stop at Khadakwasla Lake enroute to Sinhagad valley is also recommended to watch some more species of birds and enjoy the serenity of Mother Nature.
How to get there:
Take this route, if going by a private transport – Swargate – Sinhagad Road – Khadkwasala Dam-Sinhagad Base, Village Achkarwadi. Once you reach the base, you can decide where you want to go first – the bird valley or the fort.
Organized Birdwatching Tours
In case you are looking for an expert birdwatching guidance, then you may join the organized tours conducted by city based tour operators.
The Western Routes: For more details, please click here.
Date: 11th January 2015
Registration ongoing here.
IndiaBirdRaces is one of the most anticipated annual winter events, where all bird lovers and bird watchers across the country come together to spot and record various species of featherfolk in and around their respective cities. The bird recordings are to be made in a Bird Logbook provided the by the organizers and which contains an elaborate list of all birds sighted in the last 20 years in that region. Make sure your children participate in the Pune Bird Race to enjoy an educational outing and also be sensitized about the importance of birds in our ecosystem.