26 December 2010

Harike Pattan | A day of Amritsari birding

I'm home in Amritsar for the week, got here last night and forced the family up to Harike Pattan today. My dad knows the man who's in charge of WWF's work in Punjab so we got to go with him along with the two researchers currently stationed at Harike.

It's the largest wetland in northern India (806 square km apparently), just downstream of the confluence of the Beas and Sutlej river. Going to a wetland in Punjab, a part of me was scared of what I might see, the amount of pollution in this state is disgusting. At the actual confluence, you can see the difference in the water of the two rivers so clearly, the Beas is brown and the Sutlej black and putrid with industrial and urban waste. But apart from that, the wetland is in surprisingly good condition. There are some areas where because of the pollution, the area is choked with water hyacinths. Hopefully they'll clear it up soon, would be nice if they didn't have to call in the army to do it this time. Unfortunately we didn't see any Indus river dolphins or smooth-coated otters but the bird life there is fantastic. Being new to birding, trying to identify and record them was quite overwhelming for me. But I tried (and asked the researches to help with a lot of them). All the migratory species have been late in arriving this year (all over India), but even then, I had enough to excite me. Quite irritated that there's some we couldn't identify..

little cormorant

Eurasian spoonbill flock

white-throated kingfisher 

purple swamphen

3 pied kingfishers, little cormorant & a pond heron

List for the day (including the common/urban ones):
- common myna
- grey heron
- indian pond heron
- cattle egret
- great egret
- pied kingfisher
- little egret
- white-throated kingfisher
- pariah kite
- indian cormorant
- rose-ringed parakeet
- red-vented bulbul
- house crow
- jungle babbler
- greylag goose
- bar-headed goose
- asian koel
- greater coucal
- purple swamphen (moorhen)
- common coot
- black-winged stilt
- pied avocet
- river lapwing
- river tern
- pallas's fish eagle
- little cormorant
- purple heron
- black-headed ibis
- eurasian spoonbill
- black drongo
- bank myna (still not sure if it wasn't just a common one, but definitely looked different)

All in all a good day of birding :)

Time to watch the new season of Austin Stevens :)

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  1. Very nice write-up. I am glad young people are taking interest in Harike, one of the finest examples of riverine wildnerness. Do introduce your friends abroad to this great wildnerness and get more people to visit it. It will help preserve the area, as it is under many threats. I have been going to Harike and writing about it as a journalist since 1979, when Dr Salim Ali and the BNHS started a bird-ringing programme.

  2. Thanks so much. I'm glad I visited Harike, it's such a huge part of our natural heritage. It'd be such a shame to lose it due to our carelessness. I'll definitely spread the word on it and hopefully visit again soon