birding, had curry. ‘Nuff said.
day in New Delhi during the monsoon
is likely to involve intense rain at some point. The sky was overcast, but the
clouds didn’t look too heavy as we arrived, so I grabbed a cab straight away
and took a drive out to Kalindi Kunj
while it was still dry.
There is a
hooked spit that is built upstream of the bridge over the Jamuna River at Google Earth ref; 28 32 57N 77 18 56E. It must have
been built with a specific purpose in mind, but I have no idea what that
purpose might have been. It has stone clad banks and steps by the bridge which
give access to the waters of this Ganges tributary.
marks the border between New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh (UP). Taxi drivers will be
charged a toll and a border tax for crossing, so they are understandably
reticent to drop you at the hook spit. I was dropped on the Delhi side and had
to walk half-way across the bridge to get there. In the distance upstream I
could see a feeding throng of Great
White Pelicans, Greater Flamingos
and Painted Storks.
Indian Pond Herons stood on the bridge
supports and amongst the mats of floating weed. The river was flowing quickly
from the rains, but the levels are managed by a set of barrages under the
about 15 minutes to walk to the spit and the madness of the traffic on the
bridge faded quickly behind me as I looked out across the river. A movement
caught my attention and I looked down to
see a Three-striped Palm Squirrel
facing down a young Shikra. I
clumsily reached for my camera and broke the spell. With less to lose, the sparrow
hawk blinked first and flew off leaving the squirrel puffed and pumped. It
alighted not too far off and was still available for a picture, but a good
chance had been missed.
The steps by
the bridge lead down to the water’s edge where the floating weeds got caught up
in the bankside vegetation. A Purple Swamphen
looked up from the weeds and a Lesser
Coucal peered out from the reeds. Delhi is very close to the edge of the Lesser
Coucal’s range, but fits well with the Greater
Coucal’s distribution. I only got a very brief look at the bird, but
decided to go with Lesser as they prefer damper conditions in my experience.
River Terns and Whiskered Terns patrolled the river. I took a decision for Whiskered
despite their status as a winter visitor. On the first day of August, the more likely
sternid should have been the resident
Black-bellied Tern, but I preferred
the markings of the Whiskered.
A mud path runs
the length of the spit though it was stitched closed by spiders’webbing today.
Obviously no-one had been along the path for a while except for a family of Common Mongooses which leave their
footprints on soft parts of the path and must pass beneath the silk strands.
A pair of Jungle Babblers looked down from a high
branch, but soon lost interest and turned their attention back to each other.
along the spit, the trees become taller and come together overhead to form an
arch and the feeling of being in a leafy cavern. The view out onto the river is
blocked by the foliage and the House
Crows had gathered to berate me. At first I thought that the crows were
mobbing another Shikra that had just flown in, but they followed me for the
rest of the walk and drowned out any other sounds with their cawing.
I wanted to
get a closer look at the pelicans that I had seen from the bridge and had to
clamber down the overgrown bank to find a viewpoint. A White-breasted Kingfisher perched on a snag surrounded by floating
mats of weed. Stakes and posts had been driven into the riverbed and the mats
were catching on them and forming larger rafts. The stakes may have been installed
for just this reason, or perhaps they were to anchor fishing nets. The river is
very polluted, but recent initiatives have been ordered to try to clean it up.
Judging by the fishing activity below the bridge, there is still plenty to
appeared to be actively feeding. The Great White Pelicans formed a flotilla and
corralled fish into a tight shoal before plunging their beaks in to scoop some
up. The Greater Flamingos sieved as they moved slowly and quietly along.
A Common Tailorbird sang for me as I
returned to the start of the spit.
Back on the bridge, I crossed the traffic
and took a look downstream. The sandbanks move around and had migrated
downstream compared to my last visit. I wanted to see if any River Lapwings
might be found, but the small Vanellus shapes were too distant to identify.
Back on the Delhi shore, I found that it was possible to cut along the bank and
followed it downstream hoping to get a closer look. It looks as if the Metro is
extending its influence to here as a boarded work-site seems to indicate. Unfinished
pilings in the water suggest that it may eventually even cross the river.
As I got
closer, it became clear that the distant shapes were those of the sought after
River Lapwing and I was also able to add Red-wattled Lapwing and Ashy Prinia
before heading back to the road.
Spot-billed Duck 40, Greater Flamingo 45, Painted Stork 16, Great White Pelican
18, Grey Heron 1, Purple Heron 10, Cattle Egret 8, Indian Pond Heron 20, Black-crowned
Night Heron 2, Red-naped Ibis 3, Black Kite 15, Shikra 2, White-breasted
Waterhen 2, Purple Swamphen 2, River Lapwing 6, Red-wattled Lapwing 5, Whiskered
Tern 10, River Tern 30, Eurasian Collared Dove 2, Lesser Coucal 1,
White-throated Kingfisher 2, Green Bee-eater 8, Indian Roller 1, Black Drongo
2, House Crow 60, Red-vented Bulbul1, Common Tailorbird 1, Yellow-bellied
Prinia 1, Ashy Prinia 1, Jungle Babbler 2, Bank Myna 30, Common Myna 40, Asian
Pied Starling 2, Purple Sunbird 4.
Taxi (around IR300) or private
car is the only way for a visitor to Delhi to get to the bridge at the moment,
though the Metro may reach there in the future. To return, it may be worth
considering asking the driver to wait for you.
Taxis do not
cross the bridge without a fare, so the ones coming in my direction were all
full and there were not many punters who wanted to be dropped at the end of the
bridge. There is a car park where tuk-tuks gather (upstream of the bridge on
the Delhi side at Google Earth ref; 28
32 45.46N 77 18 26.46E), but I had difficulty finding a driver that knew the
way back to my hotel and the one who did, demanded three times the price for
the outbound journey in an air-conditioned car!