Thursday, 31 January 2013

Mongalajodi - Birds' Own Country

After a hectic one day outing at vetnai, we were fully exhausted and tired. But the tour was not ended. We had to reach Mongalajodi by evening for our next day outing. So, we started the journey towards Mongalajodi by noon.

Actually it was a pre-planned, Subhamoy da and me left Kolkata by Friday evening and next morning reached Berhampur for our Vetnai visit. Subhankar, our 3rd group member hired a car from Puri and  joined us at rail station. We completed a successful trip at Vetnai grassland.

We reached Mongalajodi Eco Tourist Lodge before the Sun went into horizon. Mr.Shasank, the person in charge of the tourist lodge, was waiting for us and we got a warmed welcome. The tourist lodge was beautiful and eco friendly.

Mongalajodi is a vast wet land, surrounded by small villages and stack water, located North Eastern part of Chilka, under the Tangi district, Orissa. From Balugaon this place is 35 km away and from Khurda road it is 70km away. We traveled 110km from Vetnai village to reach Mongalajodi. The highway was pretty good and journey was comfortable.

“Mongalajodi is Birds’ Own Country now a days”. Full credit goes to Mr. Nanda Kishore Bhujwal. In early days, around in ‘80s, Mongalajodi was a land of fishermen. But in winter, their job was killing the migratory birds. The villagers used to poach the birds and sold them in market and it was their major earning throughout the season. Mr.Bhujwal took first step against this cruelty and built his own team to make understand villagers, that this could not be a way to earn money, this unkindness would finish them all. If poaching would not stop, after some years, the birds would not come and then there would be nothing to poach or sale. It would be better to protect the birds, so that, birds could feel more homely to that place and one day Mongalajodi would turn into a home land of birds. Tourists would come throughout the years and that would be a perfect way to earn money for the villagers.

Today, every body of Mongalajodi care about their their winter guests. The place became famous amongst the bird watchers and photographers. Tourists gather in Mongalajodi throughout the year, especially in winter. To Mr.Bhujwal, it is a “Dream comes True”. Now a days, the place Mongalajodi has been known as “The Birds’ Own Country”.

On the next day, we wake up as early as possible and took our first boat ride to the shallow water. The boat was like a perfect fishermen boat, in Bengali called “DingiNouka”. In our 3hrs ride we watched millions of migratory birds, they were flying, playing and calling.  Some of them were busy to protect their own territory. That was our first bird watching from boat and that was my first tour with my brand new lens. Till then I could not handle it perfectly. Subhamoy da and Subhankar helped me to take some snaps of flying birds. But seriously, all of us found that it was very difficult to catch them in our camera frame from a moving boat. But the ride was not in vain fully. Bronze Winged Jacana was jumping around; Black Winged Stilt showed its poses and proved that why its name was “Stilt”, Black Tailed Godwit and Sand Pipers were playing around. Purple Herons, Asian Open Billed Storks and Northern Pintals were flying around under the blue sky. Over all the beauty was amazing.

 Black Winged Stilt

 Black Winged Stilt in Flight and Godwit

 Asian Open Billed Stork

 Asian Open Billed Stork

 Asian Open Billed Stork and Cormorant in flight

 Purple Swamphen


Purple Heron

Northern Pintail

After our first ride, that was not too successful ‘cause off we failed to locate the Golden Duck i.e. Ruddy Shelduck. We requested to  Mr.Shasank for another ride at late afternoon.
After having a delicious lunch at our tourist lodge we walked around the wetlands and managed to catch in our lens some behaviour of Whiskered Tern, catchy poses of Asian Open Billed Stork, unique looks of Purple Swamphen. Suddenly a “parinda” sent by God, a Warbler spent a valuable time from its busy schedule and allowed us to take some images.

 Whiskered Tern: Who the hell are you in my territory.

 Purple Swamphen in flight

 Whistered Tern in flight


That was already 14.30 hrs and we were getting late for our second boat ride. We rushed to the start point, Mr.Shasank was waiting. We took a Dingi and our “Maji” sailed it in search of Ruddy Shelduck. This time we were more comfortable and tried to take some snaps around. A grey Heron helped us to frame a tourist boat. The Black Headed Ibis was busy in search of its dinner. Godwits and Stilts allowed us to take some photographs in golden light. Then suddenly Subhankar pointed towards the amazing beauty, the Ruddy Shelduck. The happy pairs were playing and moving around. We slowly moved towards them to shoot them for framing. But we were in vain, the shy ducks went away. The drama continued for 4/5 times.  Again we located them in far around. We moved on and this time they showed some kindness to us, allowing us to take some images.

Grey Heron
Black Headed Ibis

 Black Winged Stilt

Asian Open Billed Stork

 The Ruddy Shelduck

 The Ruddy Shelduck


Wetland in Golden light

As a one day trip, Mongalajodi was successful. We were getting late; we had to catch our Howrah bounding Yasbantpur Express. Subhankar dropped us at Balugaon Rail Station and left for his destination, Puri. The tour was at its end. Office was calling and Concrete City was waiting for us. But we will never forget Mongalajodi and will come back again in search of Lifers.

The Ruddy Shelduck :: Going Home

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