01. Indian Botanic Garden, Shibpur, Howrah (more details)
The Indian Botanic Garden in Shibpur covers some 270 acres of land, located by the Hugli River and is some 230 year old. This place is indeed a heaven for bird-watchers as it houses a wide variety of bird species that also includes a small percent of water-bird species as well. Birds found here include Stork-billed Kingfisher, Rufous Woodpecker, Brown Hawk Owl, Bronzed Drongo, Black Bittern, Greenish and Yellow-browned Warbler, Lineated Barbet, Booted Eagle and Black-naped Oriole. Beside, some rarest species of birds like Black-capped Kingfisher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Red-breasted Parakeet and Eurasian Cuckoo can also be spotted here.
How to reach: The Indian Botanic Gardens is located in Shibpur, Howrah district with Howrah Station being the nearest railway station. This particular place can be reached by boarding a ferry service from Bichali Ghat in Metiabruz or by crossing the Vidyasagar Setu as one of the exits of the bridge will lead to the garden.
2. Rajarhat Bypass
Although most parts of the marshy land of Rajarhat have been taken over for developments of new townships, this area is perfect for wetland birds and that is the reason why it attracts a good number of species of birds like Asian Openbills, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Breeding Oriental Praticoles and Ashy Woodswallows among others. Besides, Peregrine Falcon, Pied Harriers, Black-shouldered Kite and Common Kestrel are common sights during the morning time. Smaller birds like Bengal Bushlark, Oriental Reed Warbler, Oriental Skylark and Bluethroat can also be spotted.
How to reach: Rajarhat Bypass can be reached easily by taking the bypass that leaves Kolkata Airport and leads to Kolkata.
3. Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, Narendrapur, 24 Parganas (more details)
This is a tiny sanctuary of 17 acre and is housed in an old and deserted orchard with grassland surrounding it. Wide number of bird species can be seen here including Oriental Honey-buzzard, Slaty-legged Crake, Scaly Thrush, Eurasian Woodcock, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Tickell’s Thrush, White-eyed Buzzard, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Little Spiderhunter, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Large-billed Reed Warbler, Changeable Hawk Eagle and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo.
How to reach: Also known as Koyeler Bagan is located in South 24 Parganas, very close to the Rathtala Bus stop. The sanctuary is some 10 km form Ruby General Hospital and can be reached by buses and auto-rickshaws from Garia. Or, boarding a private bus can be equally convenient as they halt at Rathtala.
4. Nalban Fishery Complex (more details)
The Nalban Fishery Complex is a huge inter-connected water body that is under the usage of commercial fishery. Good variety of bird species like Purple and Grey Heron, Great and Intermediate Egret, Black-headed Gulls, Rubythroat, Baillon’s and Ruddy Crake, Rusty-rumped Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warblers, Watercock, Common Shelduck, Grey-headed Lapwing and others can be found here. Some 150 species of birds have been recorded in this area.
How to reach: Nalban Fishery Complex starts from the border of the Saltlake Technology Park in Salt Lake. There are many local buses, metered taxis and mini buses that connect Nalban Fishery Complex with the rest of the city.
5. Santragachi Jheel, Howrah (more details)
The Santragachi Jheel is some 13,75,000 square feet and becomes the home to some 4000 to 5000 water birds, especially during the winter months. Water hyacinth covers most part of the water body with very less green cover. Species of birds like Northern Pintail, Lesser Whistling-Ducks, Ferruginous Pochard, Gadwall, Falcated Duck, Comb Duck and Baikal Teal can be found in good numbers in the Santragachi Lake. But the prime attraction of the lake is the Fulvous Whistling-ducks and Swinhoe’s Snipe.
How to reach: The Santragachi Jheel is located in Howrah district. Nearest railhead is Satragachi Railway Station. It is just a 20 minutes drive from the main centre of Kolkata.
6. Baranagar (more details)
There is a 20-bigha forest land in Baranagar that is the home to some 50 species of birds like varieties of Woodpeckers, migratory birds, Storks, parrots and Egrets. This place is a very important spot for nesting of water birds. This land actually belongs to Bengal Immunity, which is a Central government undertaking that had a factory here, at one point of time.
How to reach: This plot of land in Baranagar is located off Tobin Road. Local auto rickshaws from Tobin road bus stop on BT road can take you to the Bengal Immunity ground.
7. IIM Joka area (more details)
There is an area right behind the Indian Institute of Management in Joka that is a good breeding ground for birds like Cinnamon, Bengal Bushlark, Black and Yellow Bitterns, breeding Black-breasted Weavers, Watercock, Black-shouldered Kite, Oriental Skylark, White-eyed Buzzard, Purple Swamphen and Zitting Cisticola among others.
How to reach: Joka is located in South 24 Parganas. Any Joka bound bus or metered taxi can lead to IIM Joka.
8. Barrackpore (more details)
Barrackpore offers lush green riverside and is the home to quite a number of nature parks that are good breeding grounds for birds like the Scarlet Backed Flowerpecker.
How to reach: Barrackpore is located in North 24 Parganas. It can be reached by boarding a train from Sealdah main line or taking a Barrackpore bound bus from Shyambazar that will take to B.T Bose stop or Talpukur. From here, rickshaws are available till the nature parks.
9. Purbasthali (more details)
Purbasthali is very popular for its wide number of bird species that forms the most important attraction of the huge oxbow lake created by the River Ganges. Some of the rarest species of birds found here are Common Teal, Eurasian Wigeons, Little Ringed Plover, Northern Pintail, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Intermediate Egret, White-throated Kingfisher, Indian Pond Heron and Common Kingfisher among a lot of others.
How to reach: Purbasthali is located some 120 km from Kolkata, in Kalna subdivision of Bardhaman district. You can also visit Purbasthali by taking a direct train from Howrah heading towards Katwa. Catch a rickshaw from the station to reach the Chupir Chor area.
10. Boshipota (more details)
Boshipota is a tiny village located near Dankuni and is a very popular site for bird watching. The surrounding of Boshipota is the home to a large number of bird species like Indian silverbill, Common rosefinch, Pied harrier, Yellow bellied prinia, Black shouldered kite and a whole lot of others.
How to reach: It is located near Dankuni. Boarding a train to Uttarpara and then taking an auto-rickshaw will take you to Raghunathpur Bazaar. A walk of 10 minutes will lead to Boshipota.
Photographs by Sumanta Pramanick.