The first time I heard the name "Santragachi", steam engines, diesel engines, locos and pantographs and railway-stuff crowded my mind. I have crossed that railway station countless number of times, oblivious to the fact that it houses rather in a clandestine manner - a full fledged lake or Jheel capable of supporting thousands of migratory birds. If you haven't been there, you might find it very hard to believe. Many photographers and bird watchers and bird enthusiasts flock this Jheel in huge numbers to catch a glimpse of these foreigners from faraway shores. And in case you were wondering why, read on.You climb down the Santragachi bridge, make a left turn, proceed along and reach the railway crossing. Most probably a train will be there before you and so you have to wait up until the coast (or the track) is clear again. Cross the railway lines and enter the bazaar. Take a right turn and soon you will reach the lake-shore.
At first , you feel like you have come a long way from the city.You will start to miss the honking and the shouts and the city-noises immediately.The cacophony of the birds is the only sound punctuated by tired train horns.There is greenery all around and they manage to enhance the ambience of the Jheel very easily.By now you are ready to take the first shot.
A flock of lesser whistling ducks greet you ! "Cheerio" , they say ! Say "hi" to them !
Okay so now that we are done with the greetings and formalities we can proceed further !
They have given you permission to take their photographs !
And your shutter goes on and off , on and off .. And the results are quite stunning !
The Lesser whistling Duck (Dendrocygna javanica) is found in profusion.
Sadly I am not an authority on Lesser Whistling Ducks or their habits and habitat.I just love to observe them and take their photographs ! If you are interested in knowing more about them, you can always consult Dear Old Wikipedia !
The common Indian pond heron is indeed a beautiful creature.It holds itself in a very graceful stance most of the time. For all your heron-ry needs it is advisable that you give Wiki a visit.
Calcutta winters can be a bit gloomy and overcast.But you have hit the Sunny Side Up time of the Day ! Thanks to the Sun's "happydent smile" the surroundings , the lake waters and the birds offer a beautiful contrast and you go clicking happily ever after.
And because the light conditions were favourable here's an Egret captured in Monochrome.
The following picture presents the relativity between time and space for three "very" different kinds of birds ! A Common Crow , A Cormorant and A Flock of Lesser Whistling Teals frozen in time in a single shot.
Translated into Bengali , one reads : " Ek Dhil e Teen Pakhi."
These migratory birds are a joy for ever.They have been travelling for the greater part of their lives.The word dynamic has found a new meaning in these birds.They come here every winter and go back when their time comes.They leave behind a few precious shots that we cherish for an entire year and then revisit the Jheel to get new pictures.Sure they age but they never grow old.And everytime I see a bird taking flight I am reminded of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.A bird that taught us to keep chasing our dreams irrespective of the wind direction.This blog is dedicated to all these foreigners and local birds who flock the lake shores and give us the inspiration to keep flying higher and higher every moment.
No one ever saw it come back.
This trip was first published on Lonely Tintin Diaries.