Mangroves are the real charm!

A visit to Sunderbans  gave me an opportunity to see some of the most extraordinary mangrove forests in the world. It is one of the UNESCO recognised World Heritage Sites and is the largest deltaic region in the world. about 40% of Sunderbans (roughly 9600 sq.kms) lies in the Indian State of West Bengal and the remaining 60% in Bangladesh.

 A 3 hour picturesque  ride took us from Calcutta's bustling Howrah station to Gaokhali where we boarded the boat MV Sundari. The boat ride of about 1 hour itself was a real thrill through the Matla river . the photo shows Avicennia Marina - one of the most common mangrove species found even in the Godrej mangroves at Vikhroli (Bombay). We reach our resort at Bali9 Island and check into Sunderbans Jungle Camp run by Help tourism. More of this in the Acknowledgement & Information section of this blog. all transport in Sunderbans is by boat & there was not a single motor vehicle to be seen on land - no tar roads either. what a pleasant change from the rest of the world!

More of Avicennia marina

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The amazing Birdlife

Sunderbans boasts of over 200 species of birds. However, due to the dense foliage and the restrictions of going on foot,viewing them can be quite a challenge but definently that much more exciting. These are pictures of the Median Egret. Red-whiskered Bulbul and the White-bellied Sea Eagle. the latter were a common sight and hence this blog will have more photos of the majestic bird in different poses

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With the amount of food available, it is not suprising that Sunderbans has a good vairety of Raptors (Birds of Prey) hovering above in the skies. this looks like the short-toed Snake Eagle and below the Crested Serpent Eagle.

the Brahminy Kite immature and Adult is a common site
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Views of a large flock of Lesser Whistling Ducks on the shore and in flight

Changeable hawk-eagle - photo taken from the watch tower at Dobanki
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Asian Pied Starling

A majestic White-bellied Sea Eagle takes flight. Picture taken from the Canopy walk at Dobanki

Brown Fish Owl waits for Lunch to come his way

Grey-headed Lapwings (Plovers) on the shore
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Black-capped Kingfisher

Lesser Adjutant

Spotted Dove

Collared Kingfisher
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Alighting at Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary for our registration & entry, we take the opportunity to check out the area, and lo and behold we spot this Water Monitor Lizard just near the fencing. I fix my lens through the gap in the fencing to catch him on my lens & happily keep clicking his poses until he gets tired of all the avid photographers aiming at him & decides to retreat back into the bush.

A full view of him. this is my second view of the Water Monitor. My first view was at Sapi Island, Sabah in Northern Borneo where they came right out of the ditch to catch the lefovers from the Sushi Bars on the beach. See my blog on Northern Borneo Sarawak and Sabah from the link on the right of this page.

The Esturine Crocdile happily sun-bathing on the shore until he is disturbed by another boat that gets too close to him - decides to jump back into the safety of the river

And another below amongst the pheumatophores (aerial roots) getting warmed up
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Like most sanctuaries in India, there is a good population of Spotted Deer
to be seen

No monkey business out here - deeply contemplating the cold.

This Rheseus Macaque did not move even when our boat achored close to the shore at Dopani

Wild Boar flles at the sight of our boat
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On the Boat -M.V. Sundari

It is a very cold, windy day & some of us huddle to the rear of the boat to escape the winds. sporting some red noses here!

The culinary delights of Bengal - sea food cooked in Mustard that makes for a heady flavour! we sure enjoyed the fish, tiger prawns, crabs that came to our plate.

Poor fish on our boat waiting to be cooked

Our boatman-cum-cook takes a fishy pose
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The Legend of Bonobibi

the ruling deity here is Bonobibi who is revered by both Hindus $ Muslims.

there are many stories & legends surrounding her & our resort arranged for a short skit on one of the legends depicting her protective powers. Some scenes from the skit below