Monday, November 15, 2004

Nilje - My Experiences

Hi Jacob and all,

You know what ?? I actually started my birding from Dombivili. I owe major part of my birdwatching to my good friend Mr.Nayan Khanolkar ( An excellent wildlife photographer now).

I used to bird with him or sometimes alone along the periphery of Dombivili / Diva in places like Nilje village , Bhopar village , along the railway tracks between Diva & Dombivili, Khidkali.....etc.

These places harbored some amazing bird life, However in the course of time these places have been exploited much to the loss of habitat and consequently birds.

Not long ago ( about 10 years back) the creek between Diva and Dombivili ( One could see through the train) used to be teemed with Ducks ( as mentioned by Survashis) like Grageny, Common teals, Gadwall ducks, Lesser whistling teals, Coots, Spotbill Ducks ( No Cotton Pigmy goose.. they do not prefer saline waters), Spoonbills,Numerous waders, White ibises and sometimes (2 occasions) even Greater Flamingos..............However too much of hunting was done ( Even today, I believe, the hunting still goes on), though good numbers ?? still can be seen today... However one accessible road to this creek ( Near old Dombivili / reti Bunder village) has been developed now as mini sea shore with people coming from all over Dombivili for a picnic.

The Nilje village was (is) my favorite birding ground.......this is where I was inspired to study the breeding ecology of Larks. It is a small village tank that had Gargeny, Lesser Whistling, Common Teals, Gadwalls, Cotton Pigmy goose visiting. The pond also was used to build the floating nests by Little grebes, The elegant nests on Lotus leaves by Jacanas, The huge nests of Purple swamp hens........ and the surrounding cultivation/sparse lands were used by the ground nesting birds.

I still remember ( Nilje) the enthusiasm to identify a species of Duck that did not match with any in the bird books that we had.......How we went waist deep in the water to have a closer look..and how we were encountered with a cobra right in front of us in the water..The chilly feeling we had as the Cobra stood in front of us with its hood upright and only about 3 meters away from us.......How we were frozen completely for a moment........ and how I went all the way home ( Sion) drenched with dirt in the local train...After some days the un identified ducks started to get there true plumage and turned out to be the Gargeny teals / Blue winged teals ( apparently they were in an eclipse plumage). Sadly though, while passing nilje a few days back ( It is on the Mumbai-Sheel fata -- Dombvili Highway) , to my shock, the lake was made dry for desilting or Construction??. I tried to take info, but could not get.Hope the lake to be back as it was.

The above places has some amazing bird life that are otherwise considered very rare to our region. I had some uncommon sightings from these regions ( Though I had never published these anywhere till now) like Scavenger Vulture, Wryneck, Small green bee-eater nesting, Common Rosefinches, Grey necked Bunting, Red headed Buntings, Blue breasted Quails nesting, Grey Francolins,woolly necked storks, Greater spotted eagles,Mallard Ducks,Various Harrier species ( Montagus, Hen, Pallied), Desert wheatears, Sirker Malkoha .......etc, etc..

We can still plan for a Birding trip to Nilje ( In February )..............

Well.....Errr....Sorry, am I boring you all ???.....Sort of got carried away a little with old memories.

Happy Birding
Addi the birde