Who doesn’t love birds with their multi-hued feathers and different forms of the body-flying high in the azure sky, perched on branches of trees, skimming effortlessly on the still water of the lakes or diving into water in search of their prey? The sight of these beautiful avians, one of God’s most attractive gifts to man, always gladdens one’s mind and soul.
Mewar is a favourite area for resident and migratory birds. Out of the 24 important bird areas in the state, there are six in Udaipur viz. Jaisamand lake and sanctuary, Phulwari Ki Naal and Sajjangarh sanctuary, Sei Dam, Udaipur lakes and Baghdara crocodile park. There are four more such regions in the neighbouring districts namely Kumbhalgarh sanctuary, Sita Mata sanctuary, Mount Abu sanctuary and Serari Dam. Thus, South Rajasthan can boast of ten important bird areas. To all these two more (Todgarh-Raoli and Bassi) can be added that are home to a huge variety of water and other kinds of birds. No less than 242 bird species have been sighted in Udaipur region. Out of them about 102 species are water birds and the remaining ones belong to the categories that live on earth and trees. About 150 species of migratory birds visit the lakes of Udaipur and neighbouring area during winter season. The district has its own identity as the site of a large number of birds of different species and wild animals. When in the months of October- November winter sets in the number suddenly goes up.
Udaipurites who are lucky enough to be able to watch a good number of migratory birds in winter season are often curious to know why the birds leave their country and come all the way to distant India.
From the European and North Asian countries that become extremely cold during winter they fly thousands of kms. away. At home, on the surface of waterbodies there is snow. As also on the ground. The result is that the insects and the fishes that the birds feed on, either die or hibernate till the end of the winter season. In the absence of easy availability of food the birds fly long distance, and migrate to countries that are warm, where lakes do not freeze and there is ample supply of food. In countries like India at that time summer season is just over and monsoon sets in. The lakes are almost full and there is greenery all around. So food is available in plenty. Migratory birds live and lay eggs in Europe and Russia during summer, experts tell us. As the days are long they get enough time to hatch their eggs. Food is also available in good quantity. So the chicks grow faster.
How these migratory birds passing through narrow passages make their way without being hindered by obstacles? In the case of animals, when they move forward, they feel that objects that are near them, seem to come closer to them faster than those which are far. Similary, birds ensure that the pictures of objects on their both sides are in keeping with their speed and then they feel secure.
To save energy for long flights, migratory birds start accumulating fat in their body months in advace in summer season. Another interesting thing about such birds is that they fly only during the night and rest in day to avoid human disturbances and for safety. They fly continuously without any break. During long journeys, they fly in a V formation or line. When one feels tired it takes a position at the back and is replaced by one who is fresh. Barheaded Goose is a migratory bird that can fly at the highest level that is 10-12 km. from the ground. Flying at such a height where there is little oxygen and temperature is minus fifty-degree celsius, it reaches Udaipur and other places in Mewar region and Rajasthan. The amazing thing is that they sleep in the air while flying over seas and oceans. Their brain sleeps while their muscles keep functioning. Covering a distance of about 5000 km. at the rate of 500-600 kms per day, they reach Udaipur to add to the beauty of the waterbodies. The longest journey of 11,000 km. from North Pole to South Pole, from Artic to Antartica, is undertaken by the bird named Artic Turn.
It is, perhaps, worthwhile for bird lovers to know where bird watching can be done. Built by Picchu Banjara, Picchola the biggest and the most famous lake of the town, is one of places where a large number of birds of various species can be sighted. Babool and other bushes are suitable for resident birds to build nest for breeding after monsoon season. It is fascinating to watch colonies of nests of open Bill Stork during breeding season. Nest colonies of
Egret and Heron species in areas close to the lakes are also a sight worth watching. Fatehsagar built by Maharana Jaisingh and renovated by Maharana Fatehsingh is another huge lake good for bird watching, especially near Rani Road where water is not very deep and there are trees where birds can build nests. However, the noise of motor boats that disturbs the peace is a negative factor. Connected with Picchola lake is Rangsagar lake built by the erstwhile Maharanas and Swarup Sagar built by Maharana Swarupsingh are other spots suitable for watching birds of various species. So also, Jal Burz and Kalka Mata Nursery near Doodh Talai.
Birds of different species such as Schoveller, Common Pochard, Pintail, Common Teal, Ibis Common Coot and Spotted Dove are spotted in Roopsagar and Badi lake near Udaipur.
In lakes near Udaipur such as Ghasa, Mavli, Kadla, Losing, Nandeshwar, Bhatewar and Madar can also be seen birds in large numbers. The lakes near Menar also attract a huge number of birds of several species. Dhand Talab has been home to over 600 Grey-leg Goose that come from a distance of 60000 km. The special feature of lakes near Menar is that the villagers do not use the lake water for irrigation and do not allow people to pollute it. Groups of young men not only guide the tourists but also provide horses to them. They have put up tents for the tourists to stay in. Very intelligently they have found a new way of earning money and at the same time promoting tourism.
Udaipurites can now drive some 25 to 50 km. away from the city, have a exciting close view of beautiful birds and spend an enjoyable day.