Monday, November 21, 2011

2011-11-19 Alibaug

Was planning to do a trip to Alibaug from last year, but could not do it.
Had done one trip with MBC to Ramdharneshwar hill few years back but that was a very brief and not covering Askhi.

Me and my friend Ritesh were very certain that we want to make this trip and planned it for this weekend.
We were pondering over multiple options like going to Mandwa by ferry and then hiring an auto or a vehicle from there or to hire a vehicle from Mumbai itself.

Finally decided on hiring a vehicle from Mumbai itself and Vaishali Kulkarni also joined us.

We started in morning at 6am from Anushaktinagar and reached Ramdharneshwar, after taking directions from the expert Dr Vaibhav, by about 9:30am. Almost a perfect time to raptor watch.

We parked the vehicle at the foothills and started climbing in a zigzag manner to the top of the hillock.
On the way saw an India robin pair and a laughing dove.

As we reached the top and settled down below a tree to get the view of both the sides of the valley a calotes was clinging to a rock. As we were busy observing it suddenly a common kestrel came from the left valley out of nowhere with a prey in its feet. It hovered around sometime having feast on air.

We were busy clicking its images a booted eagle came from behind us and circled right in front of us for sometime. It was a pale morph and gave us some fantastic views.

After that the kestrel came up a few more times from the left valley which seemed to be mostly feasting on dragon flies.

An Oriental Honey buzzard made a brief appearance again on top of us and then vanished as quickly as it had come.

We sat at the same point for a while then walked up a few more meters scanned for some activity and came back to the same point after half an hour without any more luck.

A banayan tree just a few meters below us was providing a feast to thick billed and pale billed flowerpeckers.
A lone white bellied sea eagle flew straight without making any circles from left valley towards the sea in front of us at a pretty fast speed for us to react and take any pictures.

Even though we saw less raptors but the enjoyment of seeing these huge birds at eye level is a very fulfilling experience.

From here we left at around 12:30 to have lunch in Alibaug and then proceeded to Akshi beach by around 2:30pm.

We had seen the tide timetable and there was a low tide at 12:30pm and the high tide at 6:15pm.
So we had a nice 3-4hours for wader watch.

When we arrived at 2:30pm the water was pretty much in the sea leaving a wet muddy path for waders to wade and feed on.
As we were approaching we could see huge flocks of gulls/terns moving from left to right.

On the rightmost end of the beach we could see a huge congregation of gulls/terns.

And in between us and the gulls on the complete beach there were 1000s of waders.
There were lesser sand plovers, kentish plovers to start with.

A very fast moving, a very unsteady wader caught our eye and it was a Terek Sandpiper.
We found them very difficult to click.

As we moved ahead we came across the flock of 10-15 Great Knots, must have been from the batch which Dr. Vaibhav had reported a few days back.
We got some good pics of these.

One more observation was a flock of around 5-8 Terek Sandpipers.
With them were also a flock of 5-10 Ruddy Turnstones. Very colorful waders (very odd term of waders, isnt it? :-))
But really their orange legs contrasts very well with their black/brown feather on the back and black throat with white belly.

Moving ahead we went to observe the gulls. There were atleast 3000+ of them in total.
We could observe the black headed and brown headed gulls and within them many juvenile & Adult heuglin's gull. There were also a few terns which we could not observe well as they flew away.
This was the first time I was seeing such a huge congregation of gulls/terns and it was a site to behold.

We spent time photographing and observing different waders through the scope for a long time. Just as the high tide was approaching saw a pair of wood sandpipers come and go.

We observed that as the shore started drying around 4pm or so with tide gone back long time ago and high tide yet to come the sand plovers went lazy and sat down with some dozing around. It was a pretty site to see so many of them sitting down on the ground and dozing away.
Within them were also a few Dunlins.

We sat at the beach till the sunset at the horizon by which time the tide had come in and the plovers were again starting to be very active and also were many tourists who had come to spend their saturday evening and Sundays on the beach away from the sounds of the city.

For more pictures from this trip visit picasa web album