Who doesn’t love birds with their multi-hued feathers and different forms of the body flying high in the azure sky, perched on branches of trees, swimming effortlessly on the still water of the lakes or driving into the water in search of their prey? The sight of these beautiful avians, one of God’s most attractive gifts to man, always gladdens one’s mind and soul.
Well-known all over the world is the glorious cultural and historic past of Mewar. The intricate sculpture and fascinating folk traditions of the region are unique. In addition to all this, 24 important bird areas in the states, there are six in Udaipur viz Jaisamand lake and sanctuary Phulwari Ki Naal and Sajjangarh sanctuary Sei Dam, Udaipur lakes and Baghdara crocodile park. There are four more such regions in the neighboring districts namely Kumbhalgarh sanctuary, Sita Mata sanctuary, Mount Abu sanctuary and Serari Dam. Thus, South Rajasthan can boast of ten important bird areas. To all these, two more Todgarh-Raoli and Bassi can be added that is home to a huge variety of water and other kinds of bird. No less than 242 bird species have been sighted in Udaipur region.
Out of them, about 102 species are water birds and the remaining ones belong to the categories that live on earth and trees. About 150 species of migratory birds visit the lakes of Udaipur and neighboring area during the winter season. The district has its own identity as the sight of a large number birds of different species and wild animals can be seen easily. When in the months of October November as winter sets in, the number suddenly goes up.
Udaipurites who are lucky enough to be able to watch a good number of migratory birds in the winter season are often curious to know why the birds leave their country and come all the way to distant India. From the European countries and North Asian that become extremely cold during winter, they fly thousands of km away. At home, on the surface of winter bodies, there is snow, as also on the ground. The result is that the insects and the fishes that the birds feed on, either die or hibernate till the end of the winter season. In the absence of easy availability of food the birds fly long distance and migrate to countries that are warm, where lakes do not freeze and there is ample supply of food. In countries like India at that time summer season is just over and monsoon sets in. The lakes are almost full and there is greenery all around. So, food is available in plenty. Migratory birds live and lay eggs in Europe and Russia during summer, experts tell us. As the days are long they get enough time to hatch their eggs. Food is also available in good quantity, so the chicks grow faster.
How these migratory birds passing through narrow passages make their way without being hindered by obstacles?
In the case of animals, when they move forward, they feel that objects that are near them seem to come close to them faster than those which are far. Similarly, birds ensure that the pictures of objects on their both sides are in keeping with their speed and then they feel secure.
To save energy for long flights, migratory birds start accumulating fats in their body months in advance in the summer season. Another interesting thing about such birds is that they fly only during the night and rest in the day as to avoid human disturbances and for safety. They fly continuously without any break. During long journeys, they fly in a V-formation or line. When one feels tired it takes a position at the back and is replaced by one who is fresh. Bar-headed goose is a migratory bird that can fly at the highest level that is 10-12 km from the ground. Flying at such a height where there is little oxygen and temperature is minus fifty degree Celsius it reaches Udaipur and other places in Mewar region and Rajasthan. The amazing thing is that they sleep in the air while flying overseas and oceans. Their brain sleeps while their muscles keep functioning covering a distance about 5000 km at the rate of 500-600 km per day, they reach Udaipur to add to the beauty of the water bodies. The longest journey of 11,000 km from North pole to South pole from the Arctic to Antarctica is undertaken by the bird named Arctic Turn. Out of the about 150 species migrating birds that come to Udaipur every year 170 were spotted in the Bird Fair held in December last year.
One can easily sight some common residents birds of Udaipur region like Common Coot (Tikadi), Little Grebe (Chhoti Dubdubi), Painted Stork (Jhanghil), Black-necked Stork (Luharjang, Asian Openbrill (Ghonghil), Woolly-necked Stork (Haji Laglag), Great White Pelican (Safed Hawasil), Black-headed Ibis (Kala Bujja)., Black Ibis (Kala Bujja), Greater Flamingo (Bada Hansawar), Red –wattled Lapwing (Titcahri), Little Cormant (Choota Pawan Kauva), Common Hoopoe (Hudhudid), Short-eared Owl (Chhot Kanna Ullu), Egyptian Vulture (Safed Giddh) and White-browed Fantail (Safed Nachni) in summer can be seen Indian Pitta (Desi Naurang), Rosy Starling (Gulab Mainn) etc. Winter visitors include Bar- headed Gouse (Seenkhpar), Pintail (Neessar), Red-chested Pochard (Chhoti Murgbi) etc.
It is perhaps worthwhile for bird lovers to know where bird watching can be done. Built by Picchu Banjara, Pichola the biggest and the most famous lake of the town is one of the places where a large number of birds of various species can be sighted. Babool and other bushes are suitable for resident birds to build nests for breeding after monsoon season. It is fascinating to watch nests of Open Bill Stork during the breeding season. Nest colonies of Egret and Heron species in areas close to the lakes are also a sight worth watching. Fatehsagar built by Maharana Jaisingh and renovated by Maharana Fatehsingh is another huge lake good for bird watching, especially near Rani Road where winter is not very deep and there are trees where birds can build nests. However, the noise of motor boats that disturbs the peace is a negative factor. Connected with Picchola lake is Rangsagar lake built by the erstwhile Maharanas and Swarup Sagar built by Maharana Swami Singh are other spots suitable for watching birds of various species. So also Jal Burz and Kalka Mota Nursery near Doodh Talai. This year early in November about 600 birds of different species such as Schoveller, Common Pochard, Pintail Common Teal Ibis, Common Coot, and Spotted Dove were spotted in Roop Sagar and Badi Lake near Udaipur. Rajsamand that overflowed this time after 8 years also had a good number of birds.
In lakes near Udaipur such as Ghasa, Mavli, Kadla Losing, Nandeshwar, Bhatewar can also be seen birds in large numbers. The lakes near Menar also attract a huge number of birds of several species. Dhand Talab has been a home to over 600 Grey-leg geese that have come from a distance of 6000 km. The special feature of lakes near Menar is that the villagers do not use the lake water for irrigation and do not allow people to pollute it. Groups of young men not only guide the tourists but also provide horses to them. They have put up tents for the tourists to stay in very intelligently they have found a new way of caring morning and at the same time promoting tourism.
Udaipurities can now drive some 25 to 50 km away from the city, have an exciting close view of beautiful birds and spend an enjoyable day.