Bird watching trip report


Introduction

Tiger safari in India and I will start in Sundarban National Park. So we will drive from Kolkata to Gadkhali, The Gateway to Sundarbans. So I have a day in Kolkata and I will spend the afternoon at the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden commonly known as the Shibpur Botanical Garden.

I arrived to the hotel in the middle of the night so I needed to get some sleep in the morning so the only option I have is to go there in the afternoon. And I felt in love with the place and I decided to come back when I come back to Kolkata for my flight back home. And, if I ever come back to Kolkata I will for sure spend a day in the Botanical Garden again.


Visa

I was applying for the tourist visa online. Visit www.indiaonlinevisas.org.in to apply for tourist visa.

www.indiaonlinevisas.org.in

About e-Visa India:-
e-Visa for India is a landmark service initiated by the Government of India in order to make travelling to India a memorable and hassle free experience for the international visitors. e-Visa for India has been further subcategorized into e-Tourist Visa, e-Medical Visa and e-Business Visa for India.

The applicants can apply for any of these e-Visa categories depending upon their purpose of visit to India. The whole process is completely online in nature and the e-Visa approval is directly emailed to the applicant. The international visitors need to carry their valid passport and a hard copy of their e-Visa approval in order to gain entry into the Indian mainland.


Guide

No need for any Guide when bird watching at Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden in Kolkata.


Flights

Thai Airways International TG313
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport     -     Kolkata
06Mar2018 23:35                  -              07Mar018 00:40
  Thai Airways International TG314
Kolkata             -             Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
19Mar2018 01:55     -     19Mar018 05:50


Land transportation

It is a no brainer, take a taxi. Unless you´re very adventurous, then you use the public transportation. I would never set foot on the public transportation in Kolkata.

I used GRAB/ UBER in Bombay but I never tried it in Kolkata. Kolkata is the last place where the Hindustan Ambassador are allowed. So I was riding the classic Hindustan Ambassador as much as I could because it will soon disappeared when they have finally closed the factory.

Premier Padmini

Premier Padmini was an automobile manufactured in India from 1964 to 2000, although the Premier Padmini"Padmini" name was not used until 1967 - the earlier cars were sold as the "Fiat 1100 Delight".

The car is popularly called “Fiat” Premier Automobiles Limited, the erstwhile flagship company of India's Walchand group, assembled Fiat's 1100-series cars from the 1950s until 1997. Within the very limited Indian market, and especially in comparison with its main competitor the Hindustan Ambassador, the Padmini was considered quite Premier Padminisporting.

Premier manufactured it at their Kurla, Mumbai plant until they sold a majority stake to Fiat Spa in September 1997.

First sold as the Fiat 1100 Delight, the 1100D was preceded in the Indian market by the Fiat 1100-103. It was also briefly sold as the Premier President (only for the 1973 model year) until it finally settled down as the Premier Padmini.

Hindustan Ambassador

I could not see any Hindustan Ambassador in Bombay this time. I saw a few white painted Hindustan AmbassadorHindustan Ambassador in Bombay. One driver told me that they were gone from the street sin Bombay.

The Hindustan Ambassador is a car manufactured by Hindustan Motors of India. It has been in production since 1958 with few modifications or changes and is based on the Morris Oxford III model, first made by the Morris Motors Limited at Cowley, Oxford in the United Kingdom from 1956 to 1959.

Sale of Ambassador taxis had been banned since April 1, 2011, a year after BS IV norms Hindustan Ambassadorwere rolled out in 11 Indian cities, including Kolkata.
Bharat stage emission standards are emission standards instituted by the Government of India to regulate the output of air pollutants from internal combustion engine equipment, including motor vehicles.

The standards and the timeline for implementation are set by the Central Pollution Control Board under the Ministry of Environment & Forests.

At present the company is in an extremely challenging situation with plummeting sales and Hindustan Ambassadorloss of ₨ 29.96 crore (approx. US$5.6 million as of October 2012) in 2011-12.The company could only sell around 2500 cars in 2011.

Despite its British origins, the Ambassador is considered as a definitive Indian car and is fondly called “The dinosaur on Indian roads”. The automobile is manufactured by Hindustan Motors at its Uttarpara plant near Kolkata, West Bengal. Some prominent Indian politicians, such as Sonia Gandhi, use the Hindustan Ambassador.

From Wikipedia


I never tried UBER in Kolkata but I quick search on Internet and I find that they have UBER in Kolkata. So try next time, you can download the app below

UBER

UBER Click and download their app for your phone. Very convenient! Book the car from your room and when the car arrive it is just to go down to the waiting car. I have my card registered so no need to have any cash.

Accommodations

Pipal Tree Hotel
AS/464, Major Arterial Road, Noapara, Hatiara, Newtown, Kolkata, West Bengal 700157, India

Pipal Tree Hotel



Equipment

Canon 5D Mk. III
Canon EF 28-300/3,5-5,6 L IS USM
Canon EF 70-200/2,8L IS II USM
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens
Canon Speedlite 600EXII-RT flash
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II
Panasonic HC-W585 video camera

Sound recorder
ZOOM H5 Handy Recorder


Weather

Weather, we´re in India so no need to search internet to find out if I need any winter clothing

Kolkata, India - Climate & Temperature
Pictures from www.climatemps.com

Kolkata, India - Climate & Temperature - Click picture for full size
Pictures from www.climatemps.com



References/Resources

BIRDS OF INDIA - Birds of India provides information on Indian birds and on birding in India. Launched as 'Birds of Kolkata' in 2001, it is a birding resource containing images, checklists, trip reports, hotspots & much more.

Chirp Chirp! Top Birdwatching Places In Kolkata - Excellent page for information on where to go birding in Kolkata

The Birdwatcher's Guide To Kolkata - Where To Go, What To Look Out For {And What Groups To Join}

eBird - Find birding hotspots with bird checklists from all over the world

Avibase - is an extensive database information system about all birds of the world, containing over 25 million records about 10,000 species and 22,000 subspecies of birds, including distribution information for 12,000 regions, taxonomy, synonyms in several languages


www.oiseaux.net This web page is also excellent for identifying birds. There is information and range maps for many many birds from all over the world. This page is almost guaranteed to give you any answer you have about any bird in the world.

Cloudbirders - Read birding trip reports from all over the world

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND


Fatbirder is a fantastic web page with information from, I think every country in the world. My first stop when I plan for my bird watching trips. There is information about locations and guides, well, pretty much everything you need to know. Sometimes this is the only place I need to visit to plan my trip.

BirdingPal - find a birding Guide around the world

BirdingPal


And the web page you cannot live without. I have been around the world looking for birds. I usually have a Guide, but sometimes it is not possible to find a Guide. So, well, I have lost count on how many times I have had help to ID birds at BirdForum. Joining this forum have been very very good for my bird watching experience.

www.birdforum.net

ClimaTemps.com is the place to learn about the worlds climates with more than 4000 locations documented. Each aspect of the climate is represented using colour enhanced tables and professional graphs so that data can easily be compared by switching between locations in different tabs in your browser.

I don´t have any special bird book for India, my book for Thailand covers India quite well as we can find many of the birds in both Thailand and India

“A Field Guide to the Birds of India and South East Asia by Craig Robson”


A Field Guide to the Birds of India and South East Asia by Craig Robson

A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South East Asia by Craig Robson. New edition updated with 76 species since previous edition “A Guide to the Birds of South East A Field Guide to the Birds of India and South East Asia by Craig RobsonAsia by Craig Robson” Nick Upton at www.thaibirding.com wrote “This quite excellent book is packed full of quality illustrations and written information on 1251 species recorded in Southeast Asia”

I bought this book for bird watching in India, but it goes for all over SE Asia


Places to visit

• Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden

Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden

(Hindi:आचार्य जगदिश चंद्र बसु भारतीय वानस्पतिक उद्यान) (Previously known as Indian Botanic Garden) commonly known as the Shibpur Botanical Garden. (Just say Botanical Garden to the taxi driver) The botanical garden is situated in Shibpur, Howrah near Kolkata. They are commonly known as the Calcutta Botanical Garden, and previously as the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta. The gardens exhibit a wide variety of rare plants and a total collection of over 12,000 specimens spread over 109 hectares. It is under Botanical Survey of India (BSI) of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

History
The gardens were founded in 1786 by Colonel Robert Kyd, an army officer of the British East India Company, primarily for the purpose of identifying new plants of commercial value, such as teak, and growing spices for trade.

Joseph Dalton Hooker says of this Botanical Garden that "Amongst its greatest triumphs may be considered the introduction of the tea-plant from China ... the establishment of the tea-trade in the Himalaya and Assam is almost entirely the work of the superintendents of the gardens of Calcutta and Seharunpore (Saharanpur)."

A major change in policy, however, was introduced by the botanist William Roxburgh after he became superintendent of the garden in 1793. Roxburgh brought in plants from all over India and developed an extensive herbarium. This collection of dried plant specimens eventually became the Central National Herbarium of the Botanical Survey of India, which comprises 2,500,000 items. During the early years of the garden Joseph Dalton Hooker writes:

... contributed more useful and ornamental tropical plants to the public and private gardens of the world than any other establishment before or since. ... I here allude to the great Indian herbarium, chiefly formed by the staff of the Botanic Gardens under the direction of Dr. Wallich, and distributed in 1829 to the principal museums of Europe.

Over the years attractive display gardens for the public have been developed and many kinds of plants have been cultivated for scientific observation. During the 1970s the garden initiated a program to introduce improved food plants and other varieties of economic benefit to the people of India.

The Garden was designated the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden on June 25, 2009 in honour of Jagadish Chandra Bose, the Bengali polymath, and natural scientist.

Yet another Smiley on www.aladdin.st This garden is a No Plastic Zone.

OK, this garden is plastic free, sorry, but I have to laugh, there is not as much garbage as I had expected, and way less than in any park in Thailand. But plastic free?

Birding/ Bird watching in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden, Kolkata
Plastic free area!

Birding/ Bird watching in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden, Kolkata
Plastic free area!

Birding/ Bird watching in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden, Kolkata
Plastic free area!


Attractions
The best-known landmark of the garden is The Great Banyan, an enormous banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) that is reckoned to be the largest tree in the world, at more than 330 metres in circumference. It partially inspired the novel Hothouse by Brian Aldiss. The gardens are also famous for their enormous collections of orchids, bamboos, palms, and plants of the screw pine genus (Pandanus).

Animals seen inside the Botanic Garden include the Jackal (Canis aureus), Indian mongoose and the Indian Fox (Vulpes bengalensis). A large numbers of varieties snakes also found in the garden.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


This is an all season birding site. Do check timings and restrictions before visiting.

This 228-year-old garden is located 4 km away from Howrah station. It is an ideal location to go birding and you may end up spotting the Black-naped oriole, Booted eagle, Yellow Browned Warbler, Brown Hawk Owl, Rufous Woodpecker, Stork billed Kingfishers and many more.

You have to pay an entrance fee of 100 Rupees and they charged me 20 Rupees extra for my camera. I entered the place and I was instantly disappointed. I had imagined something like the other botanical gardens I had been to around the world. There are huge signs saying “NO PLASTIC AREA” and “IF YOU LITTER THE FUTURE WILL BE BITTER”

Of course, there was garbage laying around.

And the park was full of dry leafs and the plantations was just, well, looking to be in need of maintenance. So it was not organised in any nice flower formations and it looked like the place had been abandoned. So yes, I was disappointed and I was thinking “SHIT”

I was not very enthusiastic walking in to the park. There is a golf cart service at the gate. You can take the cart going around the Botanical Garden. Great to have a look around before you start walking through the park. The golf carts was occupied when I arrived, but they will come to pick me up in the park later on.

My plan was to go around the Botanical Garden in the golf cart and then start again from the gate. Anyway, I walked down the park looking at the area full of dead flowers and dry leafs and after 20 to 30 minutes the Botanical Garden grew on me. It is actually the best Botanical Garden I have been to. This is what I call NATURAL.

Like walking in the forest and after an hour I loved the place and there were birds everywhere. Coming in to the small pond and there is Stork-billed Kingfishers in the tree. A very shy bird and almost impossible to get on picture, but I have seen the Stork-billed every time in Kolkata Botanical Garden.

See the bird watching map below with the Stork-billed area marked in blue. The green area is what I called the Lineated Barbet area, there is a toilet and as in Thailand, there are a lot of birds in the toilet areas. I don´t know why, but I think it is because some leaking or dropping water pipes/taps.

So what was shit with the place, well, coming down to the river front and there is a huge fence along the whole river front so you cannot see the river. And no place to buy water, only outside the entrance. So bring water and some snacks.

Kolkata bird watching map


Bird checklist

I never use any bird lists, but since I try to make it in to Cloudbirders. A very helpful site when planning your birding trips. And if I use their service, of course I want to contribute as well.

Well, my bird watching trip reports was rejected. I posted 2 that was rejected. So I started to take ideas from the reports I found on Cloudbirders. They have Bird checklists so I will put them here but they will not be used as bird checklists. I will post my birds on eBird and on my different “BIRDS THAT I HAVE OBSERVED” pages.

But the list can come in handy to find out the local name of the bird etc. And Avibase have a list with pictures and sounds, excellent!

So I will post bird checklists here and if my Guides provide me with checklists I will also post them here.

Cloudbirders


Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World

Kolkata bird checklist from Avibase, click HERE - eBird version 2018

Avibase is providing you with bird checklists from all over the world. And I´m impressed by their web page. Select country and area and you get the bird checklist. Like the PDF files I got from Avibase on the links above. You also get the checklist with pictures and sounds.

The best part is that you get the local names of the birds and the online checklist gives the names in English plus the language you have selected. But it seems like the PDF cannot handle some alphabet.

For example the Japanese language so it is blank in the PDF checklist. But it worked excellent with Swedish. But you get them in the local language on the online version.


Bird list

I only listed birds I have got on picture before I started with eBird in November 2019. Now I record all the birds that I can identify. Before that see the DAY TO DAY reports and my lists of observed birds in different countries.

And you can visit my list of “Birds I have seen in India

My eBird checklists can be found HERE


Itinerary

Click on the links below to find out if I spot any birds:

7 March 2018: Bird watching in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden

18 March 2018: Bird watching in Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden



Bird watching trip report


       
                  


                                       

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