Wings and Chirps

Wanderings of an Itchy Feet

#TravelDiaries – Sultanpur National Park

“Cultivate the habit of early rising. It is unwise to keep the head long on a level with the feet.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Northern Shoveler (Migratory)

Our interest in Wildlife, especially birds, started when the firstborn was about five years of age. Unlike other children who were hooked onto cartoon channels (courtesy the house-helps or us, parents), this girl used to watch wildlife documentaries on Animal Planet, Discovery and National Geographic. Her thoughtful father observed her interest in wildlife and encouraged her by gifting her various books/encyclopaedias on animals and birds. Our vacations also meant travelling to various forests within India.

And then a few years ago we watched this beautiful documentary together as a family. Do watch it. You can thank me later.

This little girl of ours could identify almost 60% of the birds that are discussed here. That was the turning point in my life as well. I did have an interest in nature photography, but my interest in birds is all thanks to this daughter. An early riser I am and hence my rendezvous with these winged creatures dates back to my school days. But I never bothered to find out what their names were, what they fed on, how they differ from each other and why some of them were visible only during certain seasons. These I started noticing only now.

Purple Moorhen or Western Swamphen (Resident)

Common Moorhen or Common Gallinule (Resident)

Bird watching is indeed a beautiful hobby for people like me who prefer solitude than company. I can gaze at them swimming in the lake or flying in the vast sky for hours and hours.

Spot-billed Duck

It is indeed the most refreshing thing to do in case you’re feeling down. Walk along the lake and watch these winged friends fly without inhibitions. No borders, no fences, no characterization can make them stop. They are just themselves. Vegetarian or non-vegetarian, water birds or field birds, residents or migratory, they coexist and share the resources provided by nature.

Purple Heron (Resident)

Painted Stork (Resident)

We, humans, have a lot to learn from them. Most importantly symbiosis and coexistence. Nature has provided us with enough to survive if only we learn to respect and value it.  These creatures in the wildlife teach us how to engage in a mutually beneficial relationship living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both parties.

Painted Stork

Painted Stork

Sultanpur Lake Bird Sanctuary is located about 15 km away from Gurgaon, Haryana. Established in 1972 as the Sultanpur Bird Reserve, this place was upgraded to a National Park in 1989. Spread over an area of 1.43 sq km, this bird sanctuary is inhabited by over 250 species of birds.

Little Grebe

Spoonbill

After our first visit to Sultanpur National Park, a birdwatcher’s paradise, on day two of our stay at Golden Creepers Farm Retreat, I was not very happy because the foggy day spoiled almost all my photographs. The birds were all very close yet the pictures were far from good. And in between the husband injured his ankle while playing with the children. He said it was just a sprain and so we continued our stay. The next day I visited the sanctuary again with the sun still playing hide and seek. The daughter, my got-to-person for wildlife information, gladly joined me ‘for my protection’. Such fun this date was!

Spoonbill

Darter or Snakebird (Resident)

With Li’l Love, my younger one, a visit to any place is fun yet crazy. She’s still too young to enjoy such places. She’s fine for some time but starts acting cranky almost at the same time when I start clicking. So this trip with just me and A was not only fun but absolutely perfect for my photography craze. She kept guiding me by spotting birds and identifying them while I clicked them. One of the few things we have in common is our love for photography.

Northern Pintail (Migratory)

Bar-headed Geese

Hand in hand, we kept walking around the lake, climbing on top of the watch tower and spotting various birds. This kind of individual time is very important with each child as it brings us closer in indescribable ways and also is a reassurance for the child that he/she can count on us for anything at all times.

Black-headed Ibis (Resident)

Blackwinged Stilt (Resident)

The park is right now abundant with lots of resident as well as migratory birds. Breeding has been extremely good this season and hence you have a good chance of witnessing a fairly good number of species.

Intermediate Egret (Resident)

Greylag Goose (Migratory)

I’m sure these pictures and my extempore around the trip has made you envious. And that’s why I need to share this incident. Wildlife is beautiful, peaceful and rejuvenating. But wildlife is also full of dangers from unexpected corners. The daughter and I were almost lost in the wilderness clicking non-stop when we saw a pair of Nilgais and started clicking.

 

She started recording them when she saw another pair a little farther. As I turned to click the other pair I saw about five more running from behind an island in the lake. It looked like once in a lifetime shot. But within seconds we realized that almost seven-eight of them were running fast towards us. The daughter was almost in tears as we were standing just a foot or two away from where they crossed us. It was not their fault at all. Some miscreants in the park were pelting stones at them. Trust me when I say that ‘we humans are the most disgusting species on planet earth‘.

Nilgai or Blue Bull

Not just the animals, these anti-social elements were passing lewd remarks on almost all of us and it took some of the professional photographers to warn them and get them out of the park with the help of the authorities. A forest is not a place for picnic. Unfortunately most of our people are not aware of it. It is a protected area. It is the home of these birds and animals. We are only visitors who must graciously exit after visiting them.

I have tried my best to leave you with the best shots possible. Yet I can vouch for the fact that what my eyes witnessed can never be caught on camera. Such is the grandeur of nature.

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22 Comments

  1. Wow!! Such beautiful pictures of different birds! I don’t know majority of names but it surely is a wonderful activity to learn about nature and birds.
    Rohan Kachalia recently posted…Claustrophobia – A #HaikuMy Profile

  2. These are wonderful shots, so many birds! Must have been an awesome experience. I think these trips encourage our kids to respect nature. Even though the Army gives us lot of opportunities to visit Wildlife this would be a good trip, will plan one soon. Thanks, Rekha

  3. Wonderful pictures of those birdies. Off late, I have been taking a lot of interest in capturing them too…makes me feel I am giving them company in their enjoyment!

    • Thanks, Alok! Once you get into it there’s no looking back. Trust me, slowly but surely you’ll start noticing the calls of the different birds. I can now identify so many of them even when I am not able to view them. It’s very exciting.
      Rekha recently posted…#MythicalMondays – SampatiMy Profile

  4. Lovely pictures, I adore your photography skills. I have very recently began taking interest in birds, mainly because I see so many new birds around my home and would like to know more about them. Your knowledge and interest is highly commendable Rekha!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Menaka! If there are lots of birds visiting your place of residence you must make good use of this opportunity. Knowledge of any form is good for us. We never know when it comes handy.
      Rekha recently posted…#MythicalMondays – SampatiMy Profile

  5. We have some very avid bird watchers in the extended family and so I got acquainted with some of them (the birds, I mean 🙂 ). I love bird watching because it is one of the most peaceful hobbies to have. I love the silence and the wait for the bird song, then finally finding it hidden between the leaves. The idea of a one on one date with the kids is absolutely delightful. I try to do that too but it comes through only rarely, specially now with the husband being away.

    • That silent wait and the anticipation is what makes it all worthwhile. I know how difficult it can be to spend that one on one date with each child. This was after a very long time that I managed it. But thoroughly enjoyed it.
      Rekha recently posted…#MythicalMondays – SampatiMy Profile

  6. These pictures resemble those I used to see in the National Geographic magazine in my childhood. Superb shots, each one of them, Rekha! And, the fact that your daughter is now an avid bird watcher/animal lover…you really need not worry about her. At such young an age, she comes across as a very well sorted human being, with her heart in the right place!

    • Truly humbled, Shilpa! I have miles to go before I can match those pictures on National Geographic. 🙂 But for now, absolutely happy with whatever I have been able to manage. We are encouraging her as much as we can. If she gets to do what she loves, she will be sorted. IFS (Forestry) is what she is aspiring to be. Hope her wishes come true.
      Rekha recently posted…#MythicalMondays – SampatiMy Profile

  7. When I read the title I thought this place must be in UP. Such amazing captures, Rekha. So nice to hear about your daughter re-igniting the passion of photographing birds in you. Unfortunately, I don’t have much interest in birds and can’t name birds to save my life. But I did enjoy hearing your tale of the visit.

    And I do agree with you that humans are so callous around animals. Last year, we had visited Mysore Zoo and I was disgusted when people started clapping and making noises to attract the attention of animals. It just puts me off.

    That was a close encounter for you guys and lucky that you are safe.

    • I can understand, Rachna. Because earlier when I used to see all those Nat Geo documentaries I couldn’t relate to any of it. But now I find it all very interesting.

      I love wildlife photographers for the discipline they have and the respect they give to birds and animals. We ought to learn a lot from them. Some people behave as if the entire earth happens to be their property alone and all other living beings are here because of their favour. Crazy!

      A still gets goosebumps remembering that episode. Will take a while before she forgets it.
      Rekha recently posted…#MythicalMondays – SampatiMy Profile

  8. A must visit for NCR residents. This place is a superb for photographers, nature lovers and people like us who prefer solitude. Also, your girls are superb. I don’t know the names of that many birds.

  9. The pictures are beautiful. Bird watching seems like a soothing hobby. Yes, it would be more than a hobby for bird lovers. And it is highly educative too. Good to know that you had a great time 🙂

  10. Wow Rekha…. Amazing photos. You gals sure did have a whale of a time.

  11. Never been to Sultanpur… Infact hearing of it the first time. Did take my kiddo to Bharatpur though and she loved it. Your pics are awesome. Worth a frame.
    Ramya Abhinand recently posted…Road From Delhi to Wagah-Attari BorderMy Profile

    • Ramya, do visit. Your daughter will love it. It’s not as huge as Bharatpur but because of the proximity of the lake, you get a much more beautiful and closer view of the birds. I had heard of this place earlier but never took it seriously. I’m glad that we decided to be there this time. Totally worth every penny spent.
      Rekha recently posted…New Beginnings: Finding Your CallingMy Profile

  12. Wow Rekha! Such lovely pictures. I am no expert on birdwatching but I love their pictures. And you have done an amazing job. Why don’t you put it together as a Desktop calendar? They are so pretty.
    Lata Sunil recently posted…Review : Uncanny Magazine Issue #14 January / FebruaryMy Profile

    • Thank you so much, Lata! Birdwatching is like a therapy to me. I can spend hours and hours doing just this. The pictures are far from being perfect. But yes, one day I’ll get a calendar done of the best out of the lot. May be soon. 🙂
      Rekha recently posted…New Beginnings: Finding Your CallingMy Profile

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