Thursday, December 3, 2009

Birdwatching


Last Sunday I took me down to the Asan wetland conservation area near Dehradun. It is a wetland created by a barrage across the Asan river. The route I followed was vikram to Premnagar-bus to Herbertpur-bus to Asan barrage. The route is initially a little dreary- typical outskirts of a town. But later on, it is all farmland and the names give one a nice sense of the history of the place. There’s Herbertpur (Herbert’s land, dating to when swathes of land were granted to colonial settlers) and Khushalpur (land of well-being, perhaps dating to the Partition when refugees were settled here?).

When I got off the bus, I was a little disappointed. A road runs right next to the wetlands, and while there ARE a lot of birds, there is no place to sit and watch them- no place to lose oneself in the experience, as it were. I did sit down facing the lake with my back against a culvert for a while, but the experience was not great. I did see the gadwalls the place is famous for, but the horns of the vehicles passing by competed with their honking. So I gave up, and decided to try and walk the circumference of the lake. As I look back, I think that I should probably have emerged out of the culvert a little gradually. As it is, I popped out from under the road like a mushroom on a caffeine high and startled a blameless farmer cycling to work.


I walked back towards Dehradun and took a right from the chowk- towards the electricity-supply colony. A right again, and so directly towards the lake. This path becomes unpaved pretty soon, but seems to be frequently used by buffaloes, their tenders, and the occasional birdwatcher.

The surroundings are sad, in the sense that the area is overrun by exotics. There is a plantation with an undergrowth of lantana, congress grass, and ipomea. Despite that, there are many little babblers and wrens skulking in the undergrowth, and kites above. And of course the little chap to the left here.


I took another right when the road ended, and walked along a little path that ended in the most perfect little beach possible. A river flows into the lake here and the beach is right at the inlet. It can comfortable accommodate one person and her backpack, and two people if they are willing to snuggle up. Hmm..
Here, finally, was the experience I was looking for. Sitting at the water’s edge,in the gently warm winter sun, and watching a myriad birds casually doing their thing just metres away. They had all flown away when i arrived, but were back within half an hour.

The water was clear, and inviting, and I longed to swim. Sadly, swimming in unknown waters is one of the few things that the solo traveler cannot do, and so I needed to content myself with laving my face and hands. The air was full of the birds’ honking and trilling, and of the scent of lantana and a purple-flowered herb. It was warm enough to remove a layer or two, but not so hot as to induce a migraine.

In short, life was perfect.

2 comments:

Unmana said...

How lovely. May I say again I love your blog? I live through you, as it were!

Anonymous said...

Everybody who reads this is going to laugh
"you don't know That?"

but -

please tell me what does overrun by exotics mean?
why is it bad?

nadi