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Old 8th February 2013, 06:38   #1
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Default Magical Manglajodi Marshes

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Black-tailed Godwits

Manglajodi in Orissa is increasingly becoming famous among bird lovers in India. It is a large marshland close to Chilika Lake that hosts a wealth of different migratory birds during winter. That’s perhaps an understatement to describe the beauty, serenity and bird population of Manglajodi. There are literally lakhs of birds populating Manglajodi marshes on any given winter day and witnessing them in action is quite a sight to behold.
Reaching Manglajodi is nothing very difficult. It’s about 70 kms from the state capital of Bhubaneswar at the end of a comfortable hour and a half’s drive from Bhubaneswar along the 4-laned NH-5. There is a basic Spartan accommodation in Manglajodi village run by Wild Orissa (an NGO working in the field of conservation in Orissa) called Godwit. Alternatively you can also stay at Balugaon – a fishing hamlet nestling around Chilika – and go to Manglajodi early in the morning.
If you go birding for the whole day in the marshes they will organise for your lunch to be sent to the field – a good 2/3 km away. There are very few nature spots in India today that is so easily approached from a major city and yet offers such a huge variety of avian population.
Since this is not a birding forum I shall not get into the detailed list of birds of Manglajodi. To put it in brief, there are all varieties of water birds like rails and crakes, ducks and geese. And at the top of them all are the raptors. However, the flagship species of Manglajodi are the Black-Tailed Godwits. There are literally millions of them. When they do a show of strength to a hovering Marsh Harrier it is like magic.
Any account of Manglajodi is incomplete without a mention of the name of Mr N.K. Bhujbal, a local from the nearby small town of Tangi, who over the years painstakingly converted the local poachers into protectors of birds. This group of ex-poachers who once used to kill the birds in thousands for its meat, now row small country boats taking tourists and birders around the marshes, spotting birds and identifying them with modern binoculars and Salim Ali books.
Every evening they meet together in their office to discuss the day’s sightings and even maintain a record of new sightings. This is perhaps a unique development in the conservation map of the country.

I won’t talk anymore but let the photographs do the talking. My facebook friends might have seen most or all of these photographs taken either in the winter of 2012 or 13

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Ruddy Shelducks

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Bluethroat

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Oriental Pratincole

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Northern Shoveler

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Northern Pintail

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Painted Snipe

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Northern Pintail

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Northern Pintail

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Pied Kingfisher Pair
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Old 8th February 2013, 07:08   #2
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Default Re: Magical Manglajodi Marshes

Amazing log and a great start. As you said this place is a dream for every birder and bird photographer ( so do i). This is on my wishlist and i would make it this year without fail. Glued on the thread. Please share more detailed info and pics for us to enjoy.
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Old 8th February 2013, 08:58   #3
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Default Re: Magical Manglajodi Marshes

Quote:
Originally Posted by aravind84 View Post
Amazing log and a great start. As you said this place is a dream for every birder and bird photographer ( so do i). This is on my wishlist and i would make it this year without fail. Glued on the thread. Please share more detailed info and pics for us to enjoy.
Arvind - why am not surprised to see your quote being the first one

Sudipto - Great pictures. Can you please share camera details & settings too. Will help someone like to me learn a lot about taking good picture if not great ones like you have..
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Old 8th February 2013, 11:26   #4
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Default Re: Magical Manglajodi Marshes

Amazing shots sudiptoda. Theres an OTDC Panthaniwaas in Balugaon IIRC, which is fairly good. Did u drive down? If yes let us know the condition of the road
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Old 8th February 2013, 13:23   #5
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Thanks Anand, Aravind and Sid-B. Basically in terms of facts and figures I don't have anything else to add except to say that unless you have an avid interest in nature and birds, please don't go to Manglajodi because it has nothing else to offer . The landscape is very very flat and may not hold anything of interest for the casual tourist.
If anyone needs any specific information about going like phone numbers etc, feel free to ask me.
Sid-B - OTDC does have a Panthaniwaas in Balugaon, as well as in Barkul which is a little farther away. Balugaon also has a decent private hotel called Digantika. However, if birding in Manglajodi is the intention then staying here is not a good option (though until last year that was the only option). Because you lose precious birding time in the morning in transportation. Also the transport cost to and from Manglajodi is pretty high (unless you are in your own vehicle).
And no I didn't drive to Manglajodi in my own car. In fact this is my first non-self drive travelogue on team-bhp. We went by overnight train to Bhubaneswar and took a taxi from there. The roads are excellent. Even the internal village road through Tangi is in excellent state.
Anand - thanks for your interest in the photographs. I normally don't add exif data with the images because that takes up a lot of time. I am giving you some basic idea about the equipment and settings and then if you need the details of any particular shot please feel free to ask me. I will fish it out for you.
General data about the shots is like this. I use a Canon 7D mated to a Canon 400 mm F5.6 prime lens. This is a non-IS lens but quality is excellent. You may call it the poor man's super tele. I always shoot with aperture priority and all my shots are at 5.6 aperture. Normally I use a -1/3 under exposure. For birds in flight I often over expose a bit depending upon the colour of the bird and condition/angle of the sun etc. Most shots are taken in AI Servo mode and generally with zone focusing, particularly for the BIF shots.
I hope it helped you. If you need additional info on some specific shot do let me know. By the way, I shoot in RAW mode. Use DPP and PS CS3 for post processing.
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Old 8th February 2013, 18:03   #6
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Default Re: Magical Manglajodi Marshes

Beautiful shots! Also considering the fact that you have taken them with a non-IS lens is especially commendable - what did you use for stablising the setup?

Also feels good to hear about the efforts of a person in converting poachers into guides and boat operators Kudos to the person.

Pls keep the pics coming. Thanks.
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Old 8th February 2013, 18:26   #7
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Default Re: Magical Manglajodi Marshes

Simply awesome pictures. Weird that I have not heard of this place before. I was always told that the best place to watch birds in Chilika is the Nalban island. But again I must say you do proper justice to the photography equipment you own . Simply stunning. Rating this 5 stars. By the way would be you be kind enough to mark out this place on the map?

Last edited by samarjitdhar : 8th February 2013 at 18:27.
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Old 8th February 2013, 21:02   #8
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Default Re: Magical Manglajodi Marshes

Thanks Sach.sri and Samarjit. This lens is so feather light that for shots upto 1/125 my hands are now stable enough. Initially I used to need a tripod though, but grew out of it after a few months. Also on a gently rocking small country boat tripod is not really practical.

Samarjit - Manglajodi has become popular among birders in the last few years only. Nalaban is of course a different paradise altogether and I did go there too during this trip. The beauty of Nalaban is very different.

I have the GPS way points of the Manglajodi area marked out and will see if I can post a map. If you, or anyone else, needs the GPX file please let me know.

Meanwhile here are a few more feathered friends from the magic that is Manglajodi.

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Black-winged Stilt

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Yellow Bittern

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Grey Heron

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Ruddy-breasted Crake

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Citrine Wagtail

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Common Hoopoe

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Common Snipe

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Common Kingfisher

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Purple Heron

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Black-tailed Godwits doing a show of strength to a raptor
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Old 8th February 2013, 21:59   #9
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Great set of images! Just loved the Ruddy-breasted crake image. And your lens and body combo is definitely one of the best combos there is for the price,barring the high priced full frame bodies and the 500+ primes.
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Old 8th February 2013, 22:34   #10
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Default Re: Magical Manglajodi Marshes

Thanks Venkat. I am not too sure if I will use a 5D Mk II for birding, even if given free because it doesn't have zone focusing. I wouldn't mind a free 500 prime though ;-)

Regarding the Ruddy-breasted Crake we were indeed very lucky to get it from such close range in the golden light. But if you think about it those birds are visible only in golden light when they come out briefly for a snack. Only regret is we couldn't get down to its eye level. We were on a higher plane on the embankment.
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Old 8th February 2013, 23:14   #11
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Default Re: Magical Manglajodi Marshes

Awesome shots Sudipto-da. Outstanding!!

I was talking to a friend last week about Manglajodi and here you bring in a travelogue on that place. Thanks a lot.
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Old 14th February 2013, 10:21   #12
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I didn't know that .gpx files can be uploaded on team-bhp. Thanks a tonne. Here is the .gpx file of my trip. You can download the file and upload it in this website http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/ and they will create a googlemap based map of where I went. You can zoom in or out to see the map in detail.
Attached Files
File Type: gpx Waypoints_19-JAN-13.gpx (9.4 KB, 96 views)
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Old 14th February 2013, 10:54   #13
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Default Re: Magical Manglajodi Marshes

Wonderful pictures sir. Please post all your pictures in one go. Great clarity. Thanks for sharing them with us
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Old 23rd February 2013, 20:48   #14
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Great Pics ! I went there last year around January end. A relatively unknown place, but is being developed slowly. Your pics bring back all my memories. It is better to go early mornings as by noon or evening there are more boats. It is still very untouched and non-commercial. But, slowly and steadily it is becoming crowded (no, not with birds, but tourists :-) ).
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