A Few Early Mornings at Hebbal Lake
We are two very different personalities – the husband and I. He comes up with ideas at the drop of a hat while I like to plan things way ahead in advance. Good that we realised this ourselves! Hence, we have split our responsibilities as per situational requirements. We have decided that I shall follow my husband whenever he proposes a birding trip in the city and I shall be the leader in case of out-of-the-town overnight journeys. This arrangement seems to be suiting us well so far.
So, the husband announced, over dinner on a late Friday evening, an early Saturday morning trip to Hebbal Lake. I had a strong desire to throw the dinner plate at him at that moment, but was deterred by the ‘contract’ we had between us. To his credit, I must mention that he did everything the following morning, right from making the morning tea to packing the baby’s breakfast and changing his clothes.
We reached the gate of the park adjoining the lake sharp at 7.00 am. The ticket counters had not opened but we were free to enter the park. The counters are open from 9.45 am to 6.45 pm but no charge is levied in case you reach earlier than the scheduled time in the morning. At least none were charged while we were there on the two mornings. Thankfully, there were only a few health enthusiasts at that hour and we had the park almost to ourselves on our first visit. The second time around we met a number of birders with their gears.
We had passed by the lake on several occasions in the past and had seen a few pelicans serenely cruising in the water. We had hoped to see more of them on our visit but there was only one solitary spot-billed pelican to placate us. I am always reminded of the pelican in the movie Finding Nemo whenever I see one. Somehow these guys look so gullible and, well, kind of awkward. Maybe it is the way they veer directions in their flight!
The 'awkward' flight of the pelican...see what I meant?
For some reason, our second visit to Hebbal lake resulted in zero pelican sighting. Wonder where our fellow took off to.
There were a number of painted storks and they made a lovely sight as they flew about the lake in pairs. Usual waterside revelers like pond herons, egrets, cormorants and Indian spot-billed ducks were present in good number as well as a few black-headed ibis. We also spotted purple swamphens, coots and kingfishers besides a beautiful purple heron and a wood sandpiper. Brahminy kites and black kites were busy foraging for building material for their nests while a lone Eurasian marsh harrier kept circling about in the air.
After having our fill with the birds alongside the lake we decided to explore the park itself. The park did not seem to be well maintained but the pristine lake and the absence of a crowd made it quite attractive in the morning hours. As we entered the maze-like lanes of the park we were greeted by the sound and sight of various smaller birds. Purple-rumped sunbirds were zipping past us and didn’t even pause for a picture! There were also pale-billed flowerpeckers as well as prinias in the thick bushes and overhanging foliage. All of them seemed too busy to take notice of us and went about looking for their food.
There were benches laid out amongst these green mazes and I decided to take rest while the baby tottered along with his father. Suddenly it sank in that this little green nook with birds chirping all around me and the lake shimmering in the morning rays of the sun still belonged to this maddening city. The vague outline of the flyover beside the lake and cars whizzing past served as a harsh reminder. How long till the arm of so-called civilization claim this lake and land? I only wish this park and the lake survives the vagaries of time and continues to act as a safe haven for its winged residents and visitors.
Cormorant with its catch
Complete list of birds sighted in Hebbal Lake:
Common Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Indian Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Darter, Purple Swamphen, Black-headed Ibis, Spot-billed Pelican, Indian Spot-billed Duck, Painted Stork, White-browed Wagtail, Southern Coucal, Pale-billed Flowerpecker, Purple-rumped Sunbird, Barn Swallow, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Intermediate Egret, Indian Pond Heron, Wood Sandpiper, Brahminy Kite, Black Kite, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prinia, White-cheeked Barbet, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Common Coot, Asian Koel.