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Old 2nd January 2013, 11:41   #1
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Default Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!

Its been couple of years now that I wanted to visit Bhigwan but could never manage it in time. This year, I had promised my wifey that come whatever, we will visit the place. Even Mayans and their prediction can not hold a candle. We decided to visit the place on 15th Dec 2012 but the lens I was looking for was not available by then. Finally, 30th Dec 2012 was shortlisted since some of my wifey's friends wanted to join us for the treat.

So finally 30th Dec arrived and I woke up at 3 AM. Wifey and her friends had packed all the food items like cakes and wafers just in case if we can not find a good eatery. The car was washed and cleaned up one day prior to the trip. I also tanked her up since we would be living Pune very early in the morning.

We started at 4 AM from my place and dropped our 8 months old son to my parent's place. He was all awake by 4 AM and was smiling at us as if he is also invited. We decided against taking him to Bhigwan since the place is not very friendly for toddlers. Most of the time we would be in boat so it would be difficult for us to manage him if he starts throwing tantrums.

At 4:30 AM we hit the Pune - Solapur highway and were cruising comfortably at 70-80. The road till the Loni toll is descent and then it improves further. The only hiccup is that the road widening work is in progress and at times you can find people in your lane from opposite direction. Its difficult to see when the Pune bound traffic is diverted into your right lane. Be careful while travelling on this road specially between Loni and the 2nd toll booth. Post this booth its a nice 4 lane tar road which invites you to go faster. I still rank the Pune - Banglore highway way above this road as far as safety and quality of road is concerned.

By 6:30 AM we reached one hotel just before Bhigwan (10 KM) which was open. There were no hotels opened on this route except this one. The temp outside was around 8-10C and it was cold like anything. We had a nice tea and home made egg curry with bread. Finally by 7 AM, we started for Bhigwan.

You have to get off the highway at Bhigwan which is well marked. Further after this exit, you have to take left for "Diksal" village. The road from here is a typical single lane village road. At around 4-5 KMs from Bhigwan turn, there is a right turn which goes to the older railway bridge which is now used as a normal road. The railway line is shifted and so its open for vehicles. After this bridge one has to take left and park your vehicle. From here you can board a boat. The fishermen have started this side business of taking people into the "Bhima river" (Ujani dam) backwaters.

From here the fun starts. Even before you get on board of a boat, you can start spotting Egrets and Herons. They are in ample numbers to outnumber the people getting on the boats. The attraction of Bhigwan is the most beautiful bird "Flamingo". These guys travel thousands of KMs to reach Bhigwan and similar low water lakes. The shallow water makes it easy for them to feast on the fish and other water bugs. The birds which are dominantly present in Bhigwan are: Flamingo, Egrets, Herons, Ducks, Wagtails, Shrikes, Storks, Kingfisher, Gulls etc.

The distance from my place to Bhigwan turned out to be 115 KMs one way and it took me 2.5 hrs in the morning and 2 hours while returning. Be very careful while you travel on the Pune-Solapur road. Trucks easily outnumber cars on this road and they drive insanely at some places. The best birdning time is from 7 AM - 11 AM and then 4 PM - 6 PM. Make sure you reach in time and if possible avoid weekends. On any weekday the boatmen are happy to take you into water for hours together. We were charged 900/- for 2 hours for 5 people. Make sure you bargain as I think I could have managed it in 600-700/-. Dont disappoint them too much since its in their hands to take you to places which are exotics for Flamingos. There are no motorboats and for very good reason. These birds are extremely shy and would fly away if the boat comes 50-60 feet closer to them. If you have a DSLR, make sure you have a good lens (100-400/300/400/500 etc). I was surprised to see a shop in Bhigwan which had a board saying lenses for rent. I rented Canon 100-400mm lens from a known source in Pune for 1000/- a day.

Points to ponder:

1. From Pune this place is around 100 KM on Solapur highway. Bhigwan marking is very well put up on the highway. Get off at this point from the highway.
2. There are NO good/descent hotels on this highway and if you are traveling early in the morning (Which you have to), make sure you have enough food with you.
3. The birding spot is in Bhigwan (Diksal) where you can get boats to go into the backwaters for birding. Bargain with the fishermen. Typically you should pay 150/- per head for couple of hours ride.
4. Have a good lens handy. You might visit this place once in a year, so make the most out of it. You can spend the entire day here if you are not fuzzy about packed food.
5. Drive very carefully on this road in the early morning. There are sections where the Pune bound traffic is diverted in the right most lane.
6. The birds are extremely shy so avoid taking kids who get louder as you get closer to birds.
7. If possible have binoculars for people who are not into photography.

Pictures to follow in the next thread. If you want any information, drop me a PM.

Last edited by neoonwheels : 2nd January 2013 at 13:34.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 12:17   #2
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Some of the clicks of the day:

1. Bee Eater with the catch of the day !!

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-bee-eater-2.jpg

2. Common White breasted Kingfisher

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-wb-king-fisher.jpg

3. Its breakfast time !! - Stilt

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-blacknecked-stilt-1.jpg

4. Yet another Stilt

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-blacknecked-stilt-2.jpg

5. Beautiful Brahmini Kite

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-brahmini-kite.jpg

6. The evolution of Flamingo

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-greater-flamingo-1.jpg

7. Flying high

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-greater-flemingo-2.jpg

8. Three is NOT a crowd

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-greater-flemingo-5.jpg

9. The lone flyer

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-greater-flemingo-6.jpg
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Old 2nd January 2013, 12:23   #3
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Close encounter - Grey Heron

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-grey-heron-2.jpg

See how bandly its been injured around neck - Grey Heron

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-grey-heron-3.jpg

Indian River Tern

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-indian-river-tern.jpg

Marsh Harrier

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-kite-2.jpg

Large Egret

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-large-egret.jpg

Pied Kingfisher - Not very sure though

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-pied-king-fisher.jpg

Fearless Pond Heron

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-pond-heron-2.jpg

Spotted Sandpiper

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-sand-piper.jpg

Brahmini Shell Duck

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-shell-duck.jpg

Flying high Shell ducks

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-shell-ducks.jpg
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Old 2nd January 2013, 12:28   #4
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Shrike

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-shrike.jpg

Snowy Egret

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-snowy-egret.jpg

Painted Stork - Take off

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-stork-1.jpg

Catch me if you can - Painted Stork

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-stork-2.jpg

Two friends - Painted Stork

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-stork-3.jpg

Wagtail

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-wagtail.jpg

Whiskered Tern

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-whiskered-gull.jpg
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Old 2nd January 2013, 15:18   #5
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 2nd January 2013, 16:05   #6
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Neo, beautiful snaps! Thanks for sharing the detailed information about how to reach, best time-slots, boat-rentals etc. These details are really helpful while planning for a trip.

As I am based out of Mumbai, reaching Bhigwan at 6:30-7am means starting at 2:30AM from Mumbai. Would become a bit too hectic.

If possible, I want to travel a day before (late afternoon start from Mumbai), stay overnight at a hotel near Bhigwan and visit Bhigwan early in the morning. Don't want to stay in Pune. That would still be a long way for early morning drive in the winter. Any decent stay options on this route? - as close as possible to Bhigwan?

Last edited by SDP : 2nd January 2013 at 16:07.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 16:22   #7
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Quote:
Originally Posted by SDP View Post
Neo, beautiful snaps! Thanks for sharing the detailed information about how to reach, best time-slots, boat-rentals etc. These details are really helpful while planning for a trip.

As I am based out of Mumbai, reaching Bhigwan at 6:30-7am means starting at 2:30AM from Mumbai. Would become a bit too hectic.

If possible, I want to travel a day before (late afternoon start from Mumbai), stay overnight at a hotel near Bhigwan and visit Bhigwan early in the morning. Don't want to stay in Pune. That would still be a long way for early morning drive in the winter. Any decent stay options on this route? - as close as possible to Bhigwan?
No idea. Most of the hotels/eateries etc were closed when I traveled. Max you can do is to look for a hotel in "Daud". From Daud its around 40 mins drive to Bhigwan. BTW thanks for your kind words
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Old 2nd January 2013, 16:45   #8
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Neo - Got you

Amazing shots, worth much more than the 1000 bucks rent you paid for the 100-400 lens. Let me pass on this photologue to my friend in Pune who can really utilize this information.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 16:50   #9
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Wow. excellent clarity and nice shots. Your pictures are well exposed. Please do share the gear in use. Amazing work buddy and really enjoyed.

Just thought will share couple of pointers

1. One of the pics where you had marked Pied Kingfisher - It is actually the Gull billed Tern. Also on the other shot you had marked it as Whiskered Tern but seeing the forked tail and a pointed beak i am assuming it is a Gull Billed Tern.

2. Is it the Spotted Sandpiper or the Wood Sandpiper?


Its raining birds in T-BHP and oh boy i am glued. Guess need to make a visit to this place at the earliest.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 16:57   #10
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Quote:
Originally Posted by aravind84 View Post
Wow. excellent clarity and nice shots. Your pictures are well exposed. Please do share the gear in use. Amazing work buddy and really enjoyed.

Just thought will share couple of pointers

1. One of the pics where you had marked Pied Kingfisher - It is actually the Gull billed Tern. Also on the other shot you had marked it as Whiskered Tern but seeing the forked tail and a pointed beak i am assuming it is a Gull Billed Tern.

2. Is it the Spotted Sandpiper or the Wood Sandpiper?


Its raining birds in T-BHP and oh boy i am glued. Guess need to make a visit to this place at the earliest.
Thanks a lot buddy. I was not sure about the Pied KF thing. Thanks for the actual identity. I would see if I can edit the name. About the 2nd pic, its indeed the Whiskered Tern. Got to know about it from a reliable source and again google showed similar pics. The sandpiper is a spotted sandpiper.

The gear is used is: Canon 1100D + 100-400L lens and edited in LightRoom.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jacs View Post
Neo - Got you

Amazing shots, worth much more than the 1000 bucks rent you paid for the 100-400 lens. Let me pass on this photologue to my friend in Pune who can really utilize this information.
Sure, let your friend know about this place. The birding season is till Feb-early March. Once the heat increases, all migratory birds move on.

Last edited by neoonwheels : 2nd January 2013 at 17:01.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 17:08   #11
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Nice one @neo. The sheer variety itself means, you can spend many many more hours here.

And thanks for pointing this place out. You see ignorance is bliss. Once you know about it, the itch to visit;
slowly takes over ! Thats the state I am in now !
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Old 2nd January 2013, 17:26   #12
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Quote:
Originally Posted by neoonwheels View Post
Close encounter -

Marsh Harrier

Attachment 1033494
Do you have another shot of this bird? Is this a Juvenile?

Great set. Seems very nice place.

Can be a Black Kite too, due to the markings on the wings.

and yeah those are Greater Flamingos

Last edited by guyonblackybx : 2nd January 2013 at 17:42.
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Old 2nd January 2013, 17:39   #13
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Here is one of the flight shots of Black Kite
Attached Images
 
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Old 2nd January 2013, 17:39   #14
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Uploading another shot of the Marsh Harrier/Black Kite. Please identify the bird.
Also couple of other shots.
Attached Thumbnails
Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-kite.jpg  

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-grey-heron-1.jpg  

Birding at its best. EDIT: December 2015 updates!-pond-heron-1.jpg  

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Old 2nd January 2013, 18:29   #15
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Default re: Birding at its best - "Updated for Jan 2013 visit"

Quote:
Originally Posted by aravind84 View Post
...Its raining birds in T-BHP and oh boy i am glued. Guess need to make a visit to this place at the earliest.
Quote:
Originally Posted by guyonblackybx View Post
...
and yeah those are Greater Flamingos
Neo and other birding experts,
How exactly do you differentiate between a Greater and a Lesser Flamingo? I have read vague descriptions on the net, but really find it difficult to differentiate between them.

Last edited by SDP : 2nd January 2013 at 18:30.
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