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    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    Jahangirnagar University Naturewatch, September 2008

    Jahangirnagar University Naturewatch

    12 September 2008

    It was a quickly organised tour. JU has always been one of my favourite spots for a quick getaway. So, when the call for the tour came up, my heart leaped! My recent trips came in May and February in 2008. The February tour was a birding tour, but the May tour was a tour of Summer colour. This time it would be mostly a birding event. I took my birding equipment with me and left everything else back home.

    Birdwatcher of Bangladesh (BoB) was the tour organiser. They are the most avid birders around here. Its difficult to match their knowledge and enthusiasm. Faisal Bhai of TTL Group in Flickr gave the impetus; though a little late at night on the 11th. But 5:00 in the morning?? You gotta be kidding! I would've struggled even if it was 8:00AM! But when I met one of the birders the day before, I got inspired. Why not give it a try? May be not as early as 5:00AM, but 8-8:30 would be manageable. This is the month of Ramadan. Other times would've been a little easier.

    Bronze-winged Jacana at JU.......01
    Bronze-winged Jacana.........

    Rufous Treepie at JU.........01
    Rufous Treepie...........

    Going to sleep after the late night Seheri and waking up by 7:00AM wasn't an easy task at all. Neaz Bhai was my travel mate; while others reached JU a zillion hours ago! We boarded the bus by around 7:45AM. The road was clear and we eased to JU by around 8:15AM. The birders were already at work near the Fazilatunnesa Hall. The large tank near the Hall attracts a lot of migratory birds in the winter. A lot of spectators also flock here to enjoy this marvel of Nature. But this is Autumn. And the tank was largely empty. Not quite actually. A single Bronze-winged Jacana was finding its food among the floating plants. This became my first victim. The trees on the northern end of the tank was full of many types of birds. But the single Rufous Treepie captured my attention more than anything else.

    Asian Koel at JU........02
    Asian Koel..........

    Red-vented Bulbul at JU.......02
    Red-vented Bulbul.........

    Others were moving south. So, I thought it would wiser to follow the experts. That way, it was possible for me to find the birds much more easily. On the way, we found quite a few birds and had a field day clicking. Asian Koel, Red-vented Bulbul and others kept us busy. The experience of others helped them to capture more shots more quickly. I tried to follow them as much as I could.

    Asian Koel at JU........03
    A couple of juvenile Asian Koels waiting for its Common Myna mother.......

    We found a couple of juvenile Asian Koels sitting right beside the road. They were waiting to be fed by a Common Myna mother! Well, this is a species that apparently relies on other birds (in this case, Common Myna) to bring up their children. The Koels are actually bigger than their mother Myna. We didn't really get a look at the mother though.

    Orange-Headed Thrush at JU.......01
    An Orange-Headed Thrush moving around the bush.........

    Coppersmith Barbet at JU.......01
    The ever busy Coppersmith Barbet.......

    Coppersmith Barbet at JU.......03
    Coppersmith Barbet having a feast......

    Indian Pond Heron at JU........01
    Indian Pond Heron also joined us at a nearby tree........

    We proceeded and hit the jackpot! A single Orange-Headed Thrush was jumping around the bush near a big tree. Everyone readied their guns! This single bird also introduced the Coppersmith Barbets on that tree. This is a beautiful bird; very colourful. But its colours are extremely hard to capture. Its a very busy bird and is constantly moving from one branch to the other. The thick leaves of the tree provided the crucial cover from the sun and made our lives difficult. The shadows under those leaves made photographing these birds damn difficult. But the birders were persistent. And when I say persistent, I mean it! They clicked the heck out of those Barbets! I don't know how many thousands of clicks those birds attracted, but it certainly didn't prove enough when the birders literally had to be taken out of that place! I also found an Indian Pond Heron on a nearby tree; spotted by expert birdwatcher Zamir Bhai.

    Scaly-breasted Munia, juvenile at JU........01
    The juvenile Scaly-breasted Munia allowed us to go "macro" close!!

    Scaly-breasted Munia, juvenile at JU........02
    But they kept on having their feast........

    That place around the tree provided more opportunity to shoot and made the tour worthwhile. The bushes around there had a whole flock of Scaly-breasted Munias. We went close. Closer! Closer! We went close as long as the distance was the minimum focusing distance of the lens! It seemed like a bird-macro! I wondered how could we all go so close to those birds, yet they didn't bother to move! One of the birders gave me the reason: "they're juvenile". They're yet to get their full training. They just continued to eat right in front of our clicking machines.

    Indian Pond Heron at JU........02
    Indian Pond Heron looking around..........

    Spotted Dove at JU........02
    Spotted Dove basking in the Autumn sun.......

    Kaash Phul, Jahangirnagar University......01
    The silver beauty: Kaash Phul.......

    Kaash Phul, Jahangirnagar University......02
    Some were just hanging in the air.......

    Kaash Phul, Jahangirnagar University......03
    There was a whole bunch of them.......

    Kaash Phul, Jahangirnagar University......05
    Some were drying their wings........

    Kaash Phul, Jahangirnagar University......06
    Others were reaching for the Autumn skies......

    Kaash Phul, Jahangirnagar University......07
    Some were trying hard to distinguish themselves from cotton!!

    By around half past nine, we started to move. We moved towards the vast open spaces behind Mohsin Hall. The path towards that place was also not devoid of birds. I snapped an Indian Pond Heron and a Spotted Dove on the way. But what caught my real attention on this path is the "Kaash"; "Kaash Phu". These white marvels just bogged me down while others proceeded. I simply couldn't leave these cotton-like beauties without snapping. This is Autumn; Bengali season of "Sarath", and Bengali month of "Bhadra". And this season is characterised by those silvery white flowers. For some time I was wondering whether I would be able to get a view of Kaash this year. I can't complain now. The Kaash was at its full blossom there. Though the whole place wasn't flooded; yet it was enough for me to continue clicking. I fell behind; but with a very valid reason.

    I proceeded very slowing; stopping on the way. By around 10:00AM I was at the big playing field and found the birders toiling away under the scorching sun. Some of them were crawling on the ground looking for that rare glimpse! I enjoyed their enthusiasm more than anything else. But I didn't have the energy to chase the birds like they could. We were all tired actually. None seemed fit enough to continue this venture under that kind of heat. Most of us were also fasting; so, thirst grew up to our tongues and made us call it a day.

    We were all tired. But it was a great trip. We had a lot of fun and for me especially, it was a trip of knowledge. I was able to learn from them things that otherwise would've been very difficult for me to get. I came back tired physically; but mentally I came stronger; for yet another naturewatch, which may come pretty soon. I would keep my fingers crossed.


    1. Dear sharif vai
      Its always a pleasent experience to visit ur blog. Your work is brilliant. But do you know JU is going to lose 450 (!!!) trees within this EID vacation. Cant we do anything to save our maother nature from her ...... sons?

    2. Tareq Bhai...... thanks a lot for the compliments!!.... I came to know about this felling some days ago and during this particular visit we saw many trees marked for felling..... this is a pathetic thinking from the authorities..... JU students are organising protests....... I couldn't be a part of that activity, but my moral support is always with that effort....... I had been trying to promote the ideas behind conservation of our forest resources through Facebook...... we have some ways to go.... the path isn't that easy.... but we have to be persistent for our own survival...... Sharif.