Birdwatching is not only an interesting activity but also gives you an idea about the state of the environment. Despite demographic pressure and negligence, several areas in and around Kolkata still offer shelter to many species of birds. Here are five places, including one in the heart of the city, which you may explore depending on the time in hand, from a few hours to overnight.
The location of this birding zone along a stretch of one of busiest corners of south Kolkata will surprise the first-time visitor. But the ‘Lake’ or the ‘Dhakuria Lake’ as it is popularly known, is home to a large number of birds, from common species to winter migrants. The regular visitors are glad that the Painted Storks have retuned this season and some have noted that the Open-billed Storks have also started coming back. Check out Biodiversity of Rabindra Sarobar group for news of regular sightings.
Chintamoni Kar Bird Sanctuary
Located in the southern suburb of Kolkata, this bird sanctuary was born out of a public movement to preserve the orchard that was part of a private holding then. It has been named after a famous Bengali sculptor. The park is known for its birds, butterflies, spiders, small animals, etc. The sanctuary is near Ramakrishna Mission, Narendrapur. Entry is ticketed. Usually the park remains open between 7am and 5pm but do check for latest timings before planning a visit.
This once sprawling waterbody next to the Santragachi Railway Station of the South Eastern Railway is a popular wintering ground for ducks and other migratory birds in winter. The easiest way to reach is to take a train from Howrah Railway Station. By car, it takes less than an hour from central Kolkata, depending on traffic. Local nature clubs and eminent citizens have been trying to save the waterbody from encroachment and neglect, including holding clean-up programmes.
An obscure village in Hooghly district and around an hour’s journey by road from Kolkata, Basipota is one of the new birding spots near the city. The road lies via Dankuni and Raghunath Bazar. Take a train that stops at Uttarpara station from Howrah. You will find grain-eating birds here, mostly.
Located in Burdwan district, Chupir Char largely consists of an oxbow lake and a few islands on the Ganga, and is home to migratory ducks and other birds in winter. The nearest gateway is Purbasthali town. You have to hire a row boat (many local boatmen are excellent guides) to go birdwatching. The boats can approach the birds quite close and offer great photo opportunities. By road, Purbasthali is around 150km from Kolkata. It is best to spend a night here so that you can catch the morning birds. On weekends in winter, a lot of local people turn up for picnics in the vicinity.