Henry Island | Birding | Weekend Destination near Kolkata | Travel Guide

Henry Island | Birding | Weekend Destination near Kolkata | Travel Guide

Henry island is an island near Bakkhali in South 24 Parganas of West Bengal in India. It is approximately 130 kms from the state capital Kolkata. Geographically it is located to the north of Bay of Bengal sea. Quite naturally it is one of the most favourite places for a variety of waders, plovers, gulls, terns & many other varieties of birds. In winters many migratory birds frequent this place.

I had visited this place on April 1st week of 2016 & stayed for 2 days. This was the time when many migratory birds were still hovering around the place or were preparing to leave for cooler areas across the world.

In this blog I have tried to stress on the pictures of birds found in the region. It is more of a informative Photography blog.

WHY BIRDING HERE ?

Another important reason for the rich variety of birdlife in this region is that it is still very low populated area with minimum interference of tourists.

The serenity of the place helps birdlife to thrive in ample numbers.

This place experiences coastal mangrove vegetation transforming into deep seas. Hence the presence range of species also increases.

TEMPERATURE

We experienced a max temp of 33 degree celsius and a minimum of 22 degrees.

STAY OPTIONS :

In Henry Island there is only one stay option from The State Fisheries Development Corporation Limited.

The link to the tariff chart is as ⇒  http://wbsfdc.com/booking-procedure/

Besides one can opt to stay at Bakkhali where the options are plenty but if you are looking for a calmer environment & close to birding hotspots, the above is the best choice.

Journey Begins…. 1st DAY

We reached the place by 12 noon & quickly took our lunch & set off to bird watching by 2 pm. Unfortunately the conditions were overcast at that time. Our first sighting of the tour was the beautiful Small Pratincole, sci name: Glareola lactea. It is a resident of the area & prefers seaside habitat.

It got followed with the beautiful Kentish Plover striking an exquisite pose for us. sci name: Charadrius alexandrinus. It is a winter visitor in the region. Possess quick speed & prefers sandy shores, banks of freshwater wetlands.

By the time it was already evening we were going to visit a friend’s stay at Bakkhali, we saw something flew past our car. To our surpise this resident come & sit on a wall in front of us. The light was low & I could manage a decent snap out of it. Barn Owl, sci name: Tyto alba.

BARN OWL
BARN OWL

A seaside is always a place where you surprise yourself more often than you can imagine. One such beautiful landscape which reminds me the fact that we will finally leave everything to mother Earth is as below

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The next catch was common sandpiper which is again a winter visitor in the region. sci name: Actitis hypoleucos. They go on to breed by mountain streams & become quite solitary in the non-breeding seasons. This picture has non-breeding plumage.

The next find was a special one as it is again a winter visitor & one the most good looking birds of the region. Pacific Golden Plover, sci name: Pluvialis fulva. Mainly found in mudbanks & ploughed fields. 


HOW TO REACH ?
  • One needs to reach Bakkhali from where Henry Island is only a 5 min drive away.
  • BY ROAD – One can hire a car for the tour for which he/ she needs to drive along Diamond Harbour road from kolkata onwards. The road is well maintained and navigation is not a problem as local help is available in plenty. The road runs through Diamond Harbour and Kakdwip. Upon reaching  Namkhana the car needs to be transported across the Hatania-Doania creek in a  ferry. The ferry service is available from 7AM- 9.30PM except from 12 noon till 1:45PM (lunch hour). The fare for crossing a Car/Jeep is approx Rs 160 + Rs 30 toll (including loading/unloading). The 130 km stretch from Kona expressway and Bakkhali has been marked as National Highway (NH) 117.  It is a part of  the golden quadrangle project linking the four metros of India. This is as per data as on April 2016.
  • BY BUS – WBSTC has regular bus service from Dharmatala in kolkata to Bakkhali. Starting at 7AM in the morning from Dharmatala the bus reaches Bakkhali at around 11:30AM and leaves from Bakkhali after half an hour for Kolkata. Another starts at 8AM from Dharmatala following buses is at 1:45 PM on Fridays and other days as well but it gets cancelled sometimes.The route of the bus is Dharmatala- Alipore Zoo-Taratala-Diamond Harbour-Kakdwip-Namkahana-Bakkhali, the fare is RS 85. This is as per data as on April 2016.There are plenty of local buses up to Namkhana starts at 5AM in the morning and then again from Namkhana to Bakkhali.
  • BY TRAIN – The nearest rail station is at Namkhana. There are regular trains from Sealdah via Lakshmikantapur and Kakdwip to Namkhana. Train fare is around Rs 25 and the journey takes approximately 3 hrs. From Namkhana station you will get a van rickshaw to reach the place from where you need to cross the narrow creek in a small boat. Van fare is Rs 5 per head or Rs 30 if you reserve a van and for crossing the creek you need to pay Rs 1. Then from the bus stand one can get buses for Bakkhali which take around 45mins to 1hr and their fare is Rs 16.50. This is as per data as on April 2016.


Journey Continues…. 2nd DAY

We were treated early to some fishing activities in the ponds also known as “bheries” in local language. Its a treat to watch the fishermen collect the fish & sort them out into pots known as “hari” in local language.

Henry Island has a river running right across its coast which separates a part of the island during high tide & subsequently during low tide on can cross over to the other side. The previous day we saw some group activity of fairly large sized birds from the distance nut could not recognize them. We could not cross over due to high tide. Come this morning we decided to explore & quite to our surprise were gifted with this beautiful BIRDSCAPEs. Greater-crested Tern, sci name: Thalasseus bergii. One should understand that it is very rarely spotted & often at considerable distances into the sea. We were extremely lucky to get a snap of these beauties.

Greater Crested Tern
Greater Crested Tern

We were able to spot some candid family moments of the flock.

Our joy knew no bounds when we spotted Pallas’s Gull & that too in flight. sci name: Ichtyaetus ichthyaetus. Again a winter visitor in the region. we spotted both varieties of breeding & non-breeding Pallas’s Gull.

Another surprise package came in the form of Brown-headed Gull, sci name: Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus. This is also a winter visitor in the region. Mainly found in large coasts, tidal creeks, large rivers.

Brown-headed Gull
Brown-headed Gull

Never before I realized that a BIRDSCAPE can be so beautiful before clicking the following image. It shows Little terns with Greter -crested terns in the background.

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The next find is again a reminder to the fact that everything we possess will be lost one day.

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Just on the way to the coast one can find a lot of warbler activity namely Dusky warbler, etc. One needs to be patient for these to come up the surface as they mainly forage in the undergrwth and inside thick bushes. Images as follows:-

 

We were staying in near the fisheries where got the opportunity to capture some beautiful Pied Kingfisher activity. Best one was to spot it while it was going through nature’s call.

We also spotted Indian Heron in a typical posture with tongue out. Finally we also managed to capture Chestnut-tailed starling foraging.

Tour Participants:

  1. ARIJIT SEN
  2. Jahar Jyoti Naskar

Hope you enjoyed going through the article.

Feel free to share your thoughts.


My previous blog is as below ⇓

Birding in Latpanchar | Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary

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