Friday, November 25, 2011

Waders at Akshi Beach, Alibaug,


Akshi beach is 8 kms away from Alibaug, easily accessible by road from Mumbai. This is well known tourist spot, however one of the best place to watch number of wader species which prefer muddy beaches. One can see huge congregation of Gulls, terns and plovers along this coastal belt. Many interesting sightings have been reported here by avid birder Dr. Vaibhav Deshmukh and birders in Alibaug. The variety of species that are found in this region has been reached to count of 300+ as per his personal checklist.

Akshi and Alibaug are thus must to visit for any bird watcher/photographer. Plenty of opportunity to explore the beaches, forests along the coast that includes Phansad wildlife Sanctuary. I had been there only once before and every year kept on reading intersting reports from the region but failed to have an outing. Alok Bhave, myself decided to do it in any circumstances and finally booked a vehicle for the day from mumbai to alibaug. Vaishali joined us later.  

We comfortably reached Ramdharaneshwar hills near Alibaug around 9:30 am. and started to trek to reach to hill top and sat in shade of  Banyan trees contemplating raptors to come closer. *Common Kestrel* , *Booted Eagle* plae morph, and *Oriental Honey Buzzard* came enough close as we watched over the valley. Number of *Alpine swifts* were seen, a *White bellied sea eagel* passed at long distance towards the coast visible from altitude. There were *Thick billed flowerpecker*s , red whiskered bulbuls enjoying the figs on banyan tree.

We left from Ramdharneshwar as the sun reached top, took lunch at Alibaug and quickly moved to Akshi beach. The lowest tide was 12:15 and higest tide was at 6:15 so we had sufficient proper time to watch waders. Just entering the beach saw flocks of waders passing by. On the left side there was huge congregation of gulls. On this side we came across numerous plovers including *Kentish Plover*, *Lesser Sand Plover* and *Greater Sand plover*.

Greater Sand Plover

Plover resting

Many of these plover were sitting quietly and resting, approaching them on foot is very difficult and therefore I flattened myself on the muddy floor and kept crawling. This way is best way to photograph waders, as you get lovely eye level perspective. 

Terek Sandpiper

The quick movements of *Terek Sandpiper* were fun to watch and soon our eyes got trained to spot terek from distance. It had a peculiar habit of running quickly having holding its body parallel close to ground and quickly picking up its prey. Other waders were not feeding upon, and terek sandpipers were running  on beach scanning maximum area possible and maximizing their chance to get prey.



We came across a flock of 20+ waders, which were identified as *Great Knot*. (see image below). Dr. Vaibhav has been reporting them regularly at Alibaug. Now we had good chance to have closer look to them.

Great Knot

Great Knots migrate to Indian coast and Australia coast from their breeding ground in Siberia. They cover almost 10,000 kms to reach to indian coast. It is definitely spctacular of this non-spectacular looking sandpiper. of course to their race it is regular activity. It is supposed that the long sitance migratory birds take help of winds and air currents to minimize energy consuptions and trace down migration paths with help of superb senses provided by mother nature. It makes humans to feel miserably unequipped in terms of sensing the enviornment.


 Great Knot said: - "Not great in looks ?? but do you know our story ??"
 
Dunlin sleepy

There was small group of these waders known as Dunlin. (Actually i mistook them intitially as curlew sandpipers).  Dunlins were sleeping and resting. This guy lietrally had drooped its head and was swaying in wind and holding its balance. It was at the  time also alert and opened up its eyes to any call of wader to listen and see around to see if all is well. I was close to this one lying flat in mud and watched this sleepy wader for a long time through lens, it used to wake up with any call around, and again get back to sleep dropping its head. Following are different poses the group of dunlins offered.

Whats up there ?



Dunlin
Dunlin streching its wings.

The dirty picture :)

I have never enjoyed mud like this..... :)
Ruddy turnstone

Black Headed gull

Black headed gull

There was big gathering of gulls including *Huglin gulls*, *Black Headed Gulls* n *Bown Headed Gulls*

Ruddy turnstone

Waders bathing in tide

Slowly the tides started coming in pushing waders back to shore. I saw some of the waders approached the tide water and were dipping and cleaing themselves. It was fun to see them doing it.

From Wonder into Wonder existence opens.....!


|ॐ खगाय नम:  |

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Equipments used for Photography : Nikon D200 SLR, 18-55 lens, 300mm f2.8 VR II lens+1.7x tc.
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| श्री कृष्णार्पणमस्तु  |

17 comments:

Birding Man said...

Amazing work.....tooo good....Hats off!! TFS - Mandar Khadilkar

kalpana malani said...

Amazing pics - I feel I have visited Akshi thro' your lens! Worth getting wet and sandy.

Mayu said...

Masterpiece these are ........

Astrodjay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Astrodjay said...

Smashing Photography! and delightful read....

Ashish said...

awe-inspiring..Awesome...OverAwed...Aw..Any words of appreciation will not be adequate for these images...

Dilip Mundkur said...

Superb pictures and very nice write-up!

Janit said...

Amazing photographs...

Mayu said...

Kadak mitra

swaky said...

gr8 photos awesome...good job.......i m going to alibagh for spclly photography....ll go in akshi beach deffinately...but i ve 70-300 vr lens.. ll it work for this bird photography....and plz suggest me some more places in alibagh for photography......

swaky said...

gr8 photos awesome...good job.......i m going to alibagh for spclly photography....ll go in akshi beach deffinately...but i ve 70-300 vr lens.. ll it work for this bird photography....and plz suggest me some more places in alibagh for photography......

swaky said...

gr8 photos awesome...good job.......i m going to alibagh for spclly photography....ll go in akshi beach deffinately...but i ve 70-300 vr lens.. ll it work for this bird photography....and plz suggest me some more places in alibagh for photography......

ramdin khan said...

Hi,
Great Blog,
I like the way you written the post.
You written very nice information on Beaches,
It will very useful for new traveler.Images are very clean and easy to optimize.
I like to visit Alibaug beaches.
Thanks for sharing such a nice blog...

Meenal Tyler said...

Great information shared.
Alibaug is a one of the coolest places to getaway on weekends.

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Pradosh Joshua said...

When is the best time to visit Akshi?