Saturday, 17 December 2016

Chidiyatapu Where the birds find YOU

Chidiyatapu चिड़िया टापू which in Hindi means the Birds' Island, is a birdwatchers' paradise in South Andamans. Located 25 kms from Port Blair, it is the southern most point of South Andaman district. It is famous not only for birds but also for stunning views of the sun set. Ghumakkad was fortunate to visit this island in September this year. 



Port Blair has many attractions. For a quick pictorial walk around click here.

The unforgettable birding around Chidiyatapu was made possible because of Ram Vikas who works with the Forest Department of Andaman & Nicobar Administration. It was a chance encounter with Ram's sister in Gurgaon by another close friend Arun Dhupar which led to this connection. Two more birders Arun Singh (whose father worked in the forest department earlier and who runs a tourist agency in Port Blair) and Reuben a student of life sciences in Port Blair, made the foursome with Ghumakkad. My earlier post on Facebook calling birders in the region led me to few birders in Bangalore and another wildlife worker in Baratang island. So, had it not been for Ram, Arun and Reuben, Ghumakkad would have returned without experiencing the excitement of Chidiyatapu. Thanks much you three guys. 
Arun Singh is an excellent photographer as well. Pictures contributed by him have been given due credit. Thanks much Arun.

In fact, our birding trip started with a car ride in Arun's vehicle. It was a wet morning. But birders don't get deterred by rain!
Our car ride was interrupted by a road block. A tree had fallen on the road. Few local residents who also wanted to cross over on their bikes, were making an effort to clear the road. They said they did not need our help. So we pressed on.
These residents of Chidiyatapu appeared pretty experienced in road clearing. See the wedges inserted to roll over the broken tree.
Once on the other side of the blockade, birding began.
Chidiyatapu is a place where the birds find you-- instead of you finding the birds! 

As we continued on foot, the road got cleared. Our first stop was the Biological Park.

No vehicles are allowed inside the park. The Park thrives on rich bio-diversity. Tall trees, thick forest, birds, enclosures for Deer and Eagles, Lotus pond, Machaans for viewing/resting and so on. As I said it is a place where the birds find you! Pictures.


 "If you love a tree, you will be more beautiful than before", these words by Amit Ray seem to describe the experience of being in that park.
 All the birds with Andaman as the prefix in their name are endemic to Andaman islands. Like Andaman Dark Serpent Eagle and so on. Pictures.



















After birding in the Park, we drove to South Bay. You may view short videos recorded at the Bay. A 30 seconds intro by Ghumakkad.

Arun Singh summarises the birds sighted that morning.



Ram Vikas explains the conservation efforts in A&N islands.

Reuben, the youngest birder in the group, summed up his experience.

Here are some pictures of the Bay and sightings done there.

As if on a cue, the kingfisher with its extra long beak flew to another branch of the mangroves. And the Sun obliged us too peeking out of clouds! Ruthland island at the back continued to be dull. Picture for you.

Some more sightings around the South Bay.




On the return leg we drove via Sippighat and Teylrabad wetlands. Few more sightings in the wetlands.






It was already past 10.30 AM and we were to return. As we headed back, I saw these Lotus buds waiting for the Sun to shine when they will show their glory.

Thanks to Ram and Arun, our birding trip had been documented and reported on ebird.org.  A snapshot of the acknowledgement from Cornell University's world famous site is reproduced below:
____________________________________________________ 

From: <ebird-checklist@cornell.edu>
Date: Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 4:37 PM
Subject: eBird Report - Chidiyatapu, Sep 24, 2016
To: 
ram.vikas1@gmail.com


Chidiyatapu, South Andaman, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, IN
Sep 24, 2016 6:00 AM - 8:00 AM
Protocol: Traveling
3.0 kilometer(s)
Comments:     Birding at Biological park Chidiyatapu with Commodore Harsh Bhargava, Mr.Arun Singh and Mr. Rubean paul
19 species (+1 other taxa)

Cotton Pygmy-Goose  3
heron sp.  1     Andaman little green heron
Andaman Serpent-Eagle  2
White-bellied Sea-Eagle  2     captive a biological park
Andaman Green-Pigeon  2
Green Imperial-Pigeon  4
Glossy Swiftlet  4
Stork-billed Kingfisher  2
White-throated Kingfisher  5
Andaman Woodpecker  1
Long-tailed Parakeet  8
Brown Shrike  1
Black-naped Oriole  2
Andaman Drongo  1
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo  6
Black-naped Monarch  2
Red-whiskered Bulbul  4
Oriental White-eye  1
Asian Fairy-bluebird  4
White-headed Starling  8

View this checklist online at 
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S31792590

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (
http://ebird.org)
__________________________________________________ 

Of course all the birds which we sighted that morning could not be photographed. But as all birders will agree, each sighting leaves an imprint in our mind. More than taking pictures, every visit to a jungle or forest is like recharging of a battery. It leaves you rejuvenated, to come back again and to continue exploring.

Ghumakkad did not go to Andamans alone. He was part of the FFA gang (What is FFA? Click here). However, other FFA buddies could not see Chidiyatapu as there was another program lined up that morning.

We now reach the penultimate post on our Andaman trip-- a visit to the historic Ross Island. Wait till the next story.

Thanks for browsing
    -Harsh-the-Ghumakkad with inputs from Arun Singh/ 17th Dec 16