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Monday, February 7, 2011

Thol Bird Sanctuary ??

Sanctuary -A reserved area in which birds and other animals, especially wild animals, are protected from hunting or molestation

I went to Thol after a long time. All my plans of spending a peaceful Sunday morning with the cacophony of the birds for company were dashed the moment i reached there. Flash bulbs were going off like crazy as a group of boys were photographing thier girlfriends and making enough noise to put a thousand cranes to shame.
Hope is all persevering, so I parked my car and started walking towards the far part of the lake hoping for some peace and quite only to be passed by 3 cars trying to race each other with music blaring at full volume. As they rounded a turn I spotted 3 startled Grey Francolins jump out of their skin. Cursing the drivers, I found a nice secluded spot and settled down on the wet grass and in the dim light could spot a a few water-hens foraging for food in the small swamp nearby.
Just when I thought things would get better, a bus full of people arrived for their "Picnic" and soon sounds of "Jay Ambe Maa" blaring from speakers filled the air. I looked at my watch, it was only 6:45am . . . it was going to be a long long day.... This continued till around 7:15 and I was thankful that the goddess had put some sense into her disciples.
Soon things became quiet again and a beautiful Purple heron came and landed a few feet away from me. Before I could take a shot it was chased away by someone blundering through the undergrowth to take a pee as one of his friend followed armed with a camera to post the image on Facebook !! I was so disgusted that I had half a mind to take a pic of them myself and send it to the local tabloid detailing their exploits.
At around 8:30 a few more vehicles poured in and I could hear people arguing about the best place to play cricket at Thol. Soon children were shouting at the top of their voice and rendering their version of the bird noises while "Sheila ki Jawani" competed with "Munni Badnam Hui" for the title of the track the pelicans liked the most.
By around 9:30 Thol was finally quite as most families had finised with their picnic baskets and headed back home a few "bird watchers" armed with their binoculars and cameras were left wondering where all the birds had gone. I could hear discussions of how the locals were encroaching on the habitat of the birds and how the farmers were responsible for chasing the birds away from their fields. Guess if they had seen what had happened that morning, they would have a different story to tell...
In between all this chaos I managed to get some nice images a marsh harrier as it flew up and down the swamp sending the smaller water-hens and lapwings scattering for the cover of the undergrowth. Also managed to grab images of the grey heron also posed for a few minutes before flying off to a quieter place where children would not throw stones at it and the cormorant who managed to catch a nice big cat-fish before flying away to dry itself of a tree stump far away.
I left Thol at around 12:00, memories of how beautiful and peaceful it had been a few years ago etched in my mind while I attempted to discard the happenings of the morning as nightmare that hopefully would soon be forgotten. Unfortunately the dreams did not go away and I am still left wondering if it’s right to call this place "Thol Bird Sanctuary" ???


Jayadev said...

Umang, good one! Could sense your anger and frustration - and the condition of Thol Bird Sanctuary!

Keep writing.


Somesh Goyal said...

Superb piece..Most of our easily accessible birding sites are plagued by such infringements.

Good that you have broached this subject. I am sure something positive will come out.