Bird-watching @ Bhigwan and Veer dam

Bhigwan is another bird watching place in close proximity with Pune; famous primarily for the Greater Flamingos. It was on my list for this winter and when Bhavesh informed me about the Wild India local tour to Bhigwan & Veer dam, I blocked my calendar for the weekend (7-8th Feb 2015) immediately. Except me, everyone was from Mumbai and journey from Mumbai started at around 11:30 PM on 6th Feb. I was picked from my place by 2:30 AM and we finally managed to reach Kumbhargaon, Bhigwan at around 4:30 AM. There are multiple bird watching sights in Bhigwan; Kumbhargaon and Diksal being the key ones. Wild India team had decided to do the boat rides with Sandip Nagare’s Flamingo Point; who is undoubtedly the best guide you can get for Bhigwan. Reaching quite early, Sandip offered a room were we took rest for couple of hours; till the time we waited for our 1st boat ride.

It was around 7 AM and when we started for our 1st boat ride. Since we were a total of 9 people, 2 boats were hired. Even before we climbed the boat, we got busy clicking the gulls. Pallas’s gull, Brown-headed gull and Black-headed gull were seen in good numbers. As the boat ride began, we saw a lot more gulls and also terns. Garganey and Northern Shoveler ducks were also seen in flight quite a number of times. Soon we saw the 1st flock of flamingos in flight; looked beautiful indeed. As the boat was taken further ahead we could see a large group of Flamingos as well a group of Asian Openbills having their morning breakfast. I had seen flamingos before, but seeing so many of them together is a different experience indeed. We also saw Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Painted Storks, Black-winged Stilts and Marsh Harrier during the boat ride.

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The boat ride lasted for around 2 hours and we were back to the shore. The shore was also buzzing with birds where in we saw a pair of Common Kingfishers, Yellow-eyed Babbler, Long-tailed Shrike and warblers. After having a quick breakfast at Flamingo Point, we started our journey to a place nearby where in there is a colony of Painted Storks. True to its name, the moment we reached the place, we saw painted storks in large numbers. We could also see quite a number of other birds here; Greater Spotted Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Ruddy Shelducks, Oriental Darter, Indian Spot-billed ducks, warblers and Sunbirds. After spending a good 2 hours; we decided to return back to the Flamingo point for lunch.

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We had a good filling lunch and took a quick nap till the time we waited for our 2nd boat ride. Unfortunately our afternoon boat ride got cancelled as some officials had banned it. A similar thing had occurred the day before as well however I am not aware of the exact reason. (Will update the section once I have clarity on the exact issue). Sandip suggested that we can explore a place Diksal side where-in he sent couple of his folks to guide us. All I could say was that the cancellation of afternoon boat ride was a blessing in disguise as this place was buzzing with birds. We saw a good number of species here that included Black-tailed Godwits, Glossy Ibis, Greater Flamingos, Yellow-wattled Lapwings, Woolly-necked Storks, Little-ringed Plovers, Kentish Plovers, Greater Spotted Eagle, Bonelli’s Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Bar-headed Geese and Ruddy Shelducks. We spent a good 3 hours at this place and walked for at-least 6-7 KMs in total; exploring the place.

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It was late evening already and we were back to Flamingo point and after packing our bags and buying some local fruits (Please do not miss on Apple Bore from Bhigwan.. super tasty stuff); we started our journey to Baramati. Wild India team had booked good hotel to stay for the night were we enjoyed a good dinner and dozed off the sleep pretty quickly.

As with any bird watching trip, we were up and ready early and started for Veer dam by 6:30 AM. After having a quick tea on way to Veer dam, we managed to reach the place by 8:30 AM. We explored different spots at Veer dam and had some very good sightings. (For detailed report on bird watching at Veer dam; please click here -> Birding at Veer Dam). Some of the key species we saw at Veer dam were Indian Thick-Knee, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Greater Spotted Eagle, Common Pochard, Tufted Ducks, Eurasian Wigeon, Indian Courser, Small Pratincoles, Common Sandpiper, Pallas’s Gulls, Common Kestrel, Red Collared Dove, Common Hoopoe, Demoiselle Cranes, Ruddy Shelducks and Bar-headed Geese.

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We enjoyed exploring and bird watching at Veer for a good 5 hours or so, post which we had our lunch and started our return journey. Yet another awesome trip with Wild India; meeting new people into bird-watching, sharing experiences and knowledge, learning and trying out new things with respect to photography and making new friends is something I associate with Wild India trips now. Apart from Bhavesh, Suru, Saumitra who I have known previously; it was a pleasure to meet Mateen, Parveen, Akil, Yogesh and Suhaag. Hoping to meet you all again someday.

A half day trip to Bhigwan is good enough; which gives one enough time to combine the trip with a half day excursion at Mayureshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (Read our entire trip report here -> Birding at Mayureshwar).

How to reach
1. The way to Bhigwan is pretty straight forward; as it is on the Pune- Solapur Highway. Use the key words “Kumbhargaon Bird Sanctuary” on Google maps and you will reach Flamingo Point easily by following the route as shown by maps.

1. The shore can be a marshy; so wear appropriate footwear
2. For photography, keep a check on the exposure setting. Light is very good once the sun is up; hence you may want to reduce the exposure a bit to get good details.
3. Please do not litter and keep the place clean
4. Please do not force the guides to take the boat close to the birds for close shots / flight shots. If you stay calm at one place; birds will eventually come close.

Thanks for reading. Let us know in-case of any queries, suggestions, critics and we will be happy to respond.

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– Rudraksha & Shraddha

Here are some of the key bird species sighted in our trip:

At Bhigwan
– Greater Flamingo
– Asian Openbill
– Pallas’s Gull
– Brown-headed and Black-headed Gull
– Ruddy Shelduck
– Bar-headed Geese
– Greater Spotted Eagle
– Painted Stork

At Veer Dam
– Common Hoopoe
– Indian Thick-knee
– Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse
– Tufted Ducks
– Common Pochard
– Eurasian Wigeon

Find the entire list of bird species spotted by us at this link [105] -> Bird List at Bhigwan & Veer Dam trip 7-8 Feb 2015

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