Water Birds of Bhopal: Shahpura Diaries
Meghna ‘Phoenix’ Ghatak
Every Bhopal dweller who has to commute between
Manisha Market, Chunnabhatti, Kolar Road and MP Pollution Control Board, has to
cross this man made water body that sits like a bowl collecting rain and sewage
water. Surrounded by ornamental palm trees amidst busy traffic flowing from the
B and C sectors of Arera Hills and Shahpura Area, the lake is also used for agriculture
and aquaculture purposes post its construction in 1974-75. Morning and evening
walks in the parks adjacent to the lake, known as Bhagwan Rhishabhdev Udhyan,
brimming with young families and energetic toddlers, pushing plastic balls
around, is incomplete without staring at the sky changing colors over the
still steely hued water.
My personal endeavor had been this past ten years, to buy a packet or two of bread from a neighboring Sanchi Milk Store and to drop the bread in the water granule by granule. Schools of fish clamor to gobble them up and chase at every drop of food. Kids squeal with laughter as bold and big mice emerge from pipes and crevices, to beg, borrow, steal any and every leftover bread on dry surfaces. Despite the stench from the garbage that the National Green Tribunal has ordered Bhopal Municipal Corporation to clean, the lake is a respite for the natives to sit by in the grass and forget the day’s worries. Hawkers can be seen stationed outside the park especially on national holidays such as this Republic Day, ready for the public to rush for selfie sessions post school/college/office celebrations.
The lake’s fish produce has been marked unfit for consumption multiple times due to the presence of pollutants in its stagnant water. Yet fishing for Catla, Rohu, Mrigal, Silver Carp, Common Carp and Tilapia is still conducted by men on little dinghies chased by water birds for free meals. Fishing contractors here have found that the lake’s exotic Tilapia fish is flourishing due to the presence of sewage in the water, harming the local bred of Carp. During the winters, many variants of Egrets and Herons can be seen wading among the year round populations of Stilts and Cormorants, flapping their wings dry, posing for their females.
If only one decides to hang by the rails of the
Bhagwan Rhishabhdev Udhyan, ignoring the eyesores of floating garbage, one can
see the Cormorants, black in color, suddenly dive in the water and emerge with
a writhing fish in their yellow beaks. Or one can clutch the steel barricades
of the lake and peek at a lonesome white Egret strutting steadily or a pond
Heron with round brown eyes and long ocher neck wade away from attention. Even if
one walks down the foot over bridge connecting Bansal Hospital to Manoria Hospital, again
braving the stench, one can catch kingfishers observing you from an overhead
wire. I have attached a few pictures of these waterbirds here, clicked by my
humble point and shoot camera for amateur bird gazers or for any passersby who wish
to embark upon the lake’s fauna with a new angle.
I appeal to the readers to not litter the water body after their visits to the parks and to throw any and every garbage in the dustbins marked for dry and wet waste.
|Indian Colored Heron|