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39 hours among 49 thousand storks

A bird sanctuary beside the national highway!

The overnight bus from Calcutta travels a little more than 400 kilometers to drop us at Raiganj, in North Dinajpur. A fifteen minutes ride on cycle-rickshaws lead us to the Kulik Bird Sanctuary. On our way we meet our first Asian Openbilled Stork, a lone glider above the Kulik River.
Later, from the guesthouse we look at trees laden with thousands of nesting storks. Last years census records declare 49,000+. These large white birds with black wingtips and tails derive their name from their bills which always remain open in the middle, probably a tool for breaking open mussels and snails.
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Inside the sanctuary a meandering river is lined up with small trees bending down with birds and nests. Besides Openbilled Storks, we find glistening black Little Cormorants, Median Egrets in breeding plumes, and slate blue Night Herons. The forest floor is strewn with feathers, droppings and broken eggs which attract ants and other insects. A monitor lizard, scurries over dead leaves.
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Before sundown we cruise the river on a dinghy (manual boat). White-throated Kingfishers bob on transmission lines. Pied kingfishers hover and dive-bomb. At a bend of the river we find flocks of Openbilled Storks catching mussels and deftly prying them open for a tasty morsel.
The next morning we venture into the woods, on the opposite side of the sanctuary. Red capped Babblers flit around. Spotted Doves coo softly into the misty morning air. A Jungle Crow calls out in deep bass. Pond Herons scuttle around water lilies in the marsh. A Blue-throated Barbet keeps repeating, ‘Kuturruk, Kuturruk!’
Back at the guesthouse, we climb up to the terrace to watch the storks; courting and nest-building. Looking up at the sky, we find thousands of them riding in circles on ascending thermals (hot air currents).
At nightfall a full moon pops up behind the trees, silhouetting the roosting storks. Trucks rumble on the highway. Crickets sing in choir. The enigma of night descends slowly on Kulik. We pack up to be in time for the night bus.

Posted by Bix 03:10 Archived in India Tagged ecotourism

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Comments

This is a really wonderful piece. The author has been able to extract the essence of the natural beauty of a not-so-hot tourist destination of Bengal.Bix charms us with his conversational tone and holds our attention by keeping this concise. Good going, Bix. Now that I'm a member, I'll look forward to many more contributions from you. Best wishes for your next venture. Regards,
Rajiv

by anubis

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