Into the cloudy mist of Bosipota

Bosipota, tucked away near Uttarpara, West Bengal is a flat wet land with acres of undulating cultivated land where a multitude of migratory birds can be seen during the chill of the winter.  The place is climbing the charts when it comes to the selection of places one can think of as far as bird watching is concerned in and around Calcutta. Love for nature has been wrapping itself around me off late and bird watching is one of them that provided an exposure to nature in its absolute raw form.

With this, pretty much in my thoughts, I headed out with a close friend of mine to catch glimpses of these tiny creatures that pay their annual visit. Bosipota is located about sixteen kilometres from Howrah.

The Burdwan local which dropped us at Uttarpara station at 6.10 am by Gautam Lahiri
The Burdwan local which dropped us at Uttarpara station at 6.10 am 

We decided to use the public transport instead of driving down. We took a local suburban train from Howrah and got down at Uttarpara, followed by a quick jump on to an auto rickshaw.

Even at six in the morning, the platform was packed with commuters at Uttarpara station by Gautam Lahiri
Even at six in the morning, the platform was packed with commuters

After about a ten minutes bone-chilling travel braving the cold wind coming through the slits of the vehicle, we got down at Raghunathpur market and walked about a mile and a half.  This year the cold has been gripping. The intense crispness that hugged amidst the mist was evident when we were greeted with a dense fog preventing us to see anything beyond six feet.

Armed with a camera, and zoom lens, we spread out and waited for the fog to clear and sun to help us catch what we have come to see. There was silence all over broken by sharp cries of few birds whom we could not see but were somewhere around us.

The fog had virtually blanked out in a cloudy burst at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
The fog had virtually blanked out everything in front

As we waited in the numbing cold, we heard an approaching car. It slithered to a stop in front and parked on the narrow road which went through the cultivation. More bird watchers arrived with the same objective.

Their faces had the frown of despair which we could identify miles away.

Wherever we ran our eyes, the cloudy silhouette of trees and humans were visible but the birds continued to elude our scanner. Perhaps, I had murmured, Vulture is a patient bird to keep my spirits up and running and waited on.

Our relentless pursuit to catch the birds pushed us to trudge through the mist.

Bosipota central road by Gautam Lahiri
The central road which you see here is the only link between this and the civilization. Curiosity pushed us on

After about ten minutes of scouring the bushes, trees, mother nature was kind enough to present us with a cow who was also looking around, albeit with a different purpose. We were in search of birds, and the bovine, looking for a suitable foraging ground.

It was quite surprised to see us and looked on with wonder.

A lone cow at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
A solitary cow was the only non-human creature who gave us company

After about thirty minutes, we saw a winged visitor through the mist and our hearts soared with joy. The cameras zoomed in and series of clicks sounded in unison.

Birds flying into the mist at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
A piercing shriek told us that a group of cranes were on the prowl

When you are on the move to explore an area, even the most mundane and commonplace object seems new and so important. Something black came into my view and I merrily took a snap.

A fossilized frog carcass at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
After a closer view, it was a dehydrated carcass of a toad or frog, blackened by nature’s fury

Unabated, we thought of getting to see more and the hunt continued. Very soon, a dark bird presented itself and a black drongo was grooming itself perched on a plant branch, oblivious to the visitors who clicked on.

He must have posed for shots so many times before.

Black drongo at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
A black drongo preening itself before making a swoop for the breakfast which it dearly needed

Stealthily, walking on the paddy fields, we neared a tree as we sighted movement. We were in luck. A Eurasian Collared-dove, a pair sat with squinted eyes looking at us. Before it flew away, we captured their image.

A Eurasian Collared-dove was a gift for us that morning at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
A Eurasian Collared-dove was a gift for us that morning

Now we had moved on to the open field. Harvested paddy field sprawled widely in front of us. Miles on either side, cut at a distance by the diminishing fog as the sun god perhaps started to show itself out.

Gn brown dry fields at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
Golden colored harvested paddy in rows and small birds yonder could be seen playing hide seek between the paddy stocks. They were tiny and the light was low, and the camera just could not capture them

We walked on from one field to another and came across a section where few contract labourers were scooping the earth out and dumping it into a distant pit. The attire they wore were of a summer.

Early morning field work at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
Men at work in the biting cold winds. For them, the birds are their coworkers, assigned to different set of work stream

Draped in a checked lungi, and cotton shirts, these men worked on and I reckoned myself to be overdressed. Either my cold withstanding power had gone down or these men hardly felt the cold around.

Golden brown hay lay scattered at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
There were sections which had the paddy cut and they were loosely strewn around. Even under low light, the colors were distinct

A pair of oxen were cutting across the field with their owner hurridly taking them away after a round of ploughing as it seemed.

Animals grazing on the dry ground at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
Men and animals got busy through the paddy maze as the day progressed

We also saw a large part of the field with burnt out paddy stacked up. They may have burned it down after the husk was let loose. A common practice in the world of cultivation to use the same land for multi-crop harvests across the year to take advantage of the seasons.

Burned hay lay cold at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
The ashes were running around in the cool breeze as we scampered from one end of the field to the other

We may not have seen many birds, but nature had kept in store few interesting spectacles for us. We saw the morning dew clinging to the paddy that stood tall against the morning sky. 

The water drops were big and shone like diamonds as streaks of light refracted through them.

Early morning dews clinging to grasses at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
Water droplets hung through the branches and were and light shimmered of them as they danced in the wind, almost dislodging but again managed to stick

A scan across the horizon made us aware that we were not alone. Many photographers had reached in search of birds and other creatures.

Visitors looking for birds at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
Cold weather hardly deterred enthusiasts as we were all armed with a pair of lens and camera searched for winged visitors or we were the visitors trying to intervene in their usual daily chores

The sun was out and the yellow light had become white. A substantial part of the land was lit up with the increasing brightness of the day. We thought the birds will surely present themselves and we can capture the memories.

Finally, the wait paid off. A humble Zitting Cisticola jumped from underneath a tree and was walking right in front of us. Clicks raged in as cameras zoomed in. The bird was hardly bothered.

Zitting Cisticola tiptoed from beneath big grasses and came in full view at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
Zitting Cisticola tiptoed from beneath big grasses and came in full view

Our exploration was broken by a sharp pang of hunger. We had started early in the day and moved through the fields, catching the morning freshness made our metabolism quite active and now wanted to head back.

Not much of a chance was there that day as the persistent mist refused to budge and made all the photographers cry a bit.

The misty road had unfurled in front of us and asked us to trudge at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
The misty road had unfurled in front of us and asked us to trudge

We started our retreat and as we walked back, my friend asked me to stop as he had spotted a bird. Yes, another bird was sitting on the branch.

A yellow Oriole, nibbled the dry fruits that hung from a tree branch and it hopped around so much that getting a shot was next to impossible, however, we were able to catch a snap.

A yellow Oriole through the trees and branches at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
A yellow Oriole through the trees and branches

All around us were date trees and a tumbler was attached to the trunk. The local villagers were busy collecting the juice of the tree which they would turn into molasses and sale it in the local market.

This is a usual scene one can see in the winter months if a trip is made into the countryside.

Tumbler strategically kept collecting the date tree juice and soon to be turned into by products of natural sugar at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
Tumbler strategically kept collecting the date tree juice and soon to be turned into by products of natural sugar

After spending about four hours, we decided to come back and on our way out to the railway station, we saw the early morning market at Bosipota. Fresh vegetables were a pure delight.

I felt like buying as much as possible but my friend’s advice won over me as it would have been difficult to carry the load on the crowded trains.

Go for your pick - spinach, tomatoes, radish, cauliflowers, and greenest of the green cabbages at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
Go for your pick – spinach, tomatoes, radish, cauliflowers, and greenest of the green cabbages

Natural colours were everywhere. I loved these fresh crops and the winter laced the environment with pure goodness.

The roads were filled with the local market trying to woo customers at Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
The roads were filled with the local market trying to woo customers

Well, a passing autorickshaw stopped and we jumped in and went for the return train. Our Bosipota journey may not have added too many birds; however, the natural goodness, the fresh air and sprints that we had gone through made us supremely delighted.

On our way to the train station, bidding goodbye to Bosipota by Gautam Lahiri
On our way to the train station, bidding goodbye to Bosipota

Hope you enjoyed the early morning expedition that we undertook. Did you hear the birds chirp, breathed in the wet smell of the earth, and the freshness of the air as we did?

I am sure you did.

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