Bhigwan – a Paradise of Greater Flamingoes.
Hundred Kilometres east of Pune, on the way to Solapur, Bhigwan is famous for its peculiar geographical location.
The catchment area of the Ujani dam in Bhigwan provides a perfect hosting ground for one of the most magnificent bird species in the world – The Greater Flamingos.
The shallow wetlands of the catchment area prove to be the best for wading flamingos to stop over for a few months during their migration journey. As a result, Bhigwan has become a must visit site for bird watchers to witness these majestic birds in their natural habitat.
Flamingos usually live in colonies of thousands and feed on blue-green algae and little shrimps found in the water.
It is believed that Flamingoes are a monogamous species, which means they are dedicated to a single life partner throughout their lifecycle. Greater flamingos have an average lifespan is 60 years.
While resting they usually stand on one leg with another tucked underneath their body to conserve energy. The Greater flamingo is the most widespread species amongst all other flamingo species in the world. They are found in India, South Africa and parts of Europe and Middle East.
Greater flamingos spend their entire winters in Gujarat and Bhigwan before they continue their long migration journey.
Bhigwan is declared as a bird sanctuary and is home to many other species of birds. Below is the list of some other birds you can spot in Bhigwan apart from the greater Flamingos.
The wide variety of birds makes Bhigwan a photographer’s paradise.
Flamingos are normally spotted in shallow marshy wetlands and you need to take a boat ride to witness them. Early mornings are the best time of the day to start the boat ride.
The flamingos are still sleeping early in the morning and it is a beautiful sight to see them wake up with the sun’s first rays.
The boatmen take special care not to get the boats too close to the flock of flamingos so as not to disturb them. Even watching such attractive birds from a long distance is a sight to behold. See video below of the boat ride in Bhigwan.
Weekends are a rush with around 20 boats in the catchment area with each housing 7-8 people. Boat rides continue throughout the day and each boat ride is about an hour long.
But like I said, early morning’s first boat ride would be the best to witness flamingos and also to photograph them.
The golden light from the sun simply enhances their beauty.
There are two main viewing points in Bhigwan, Kumbhargaon and Diksal. Boats are available at both the places and prior booking is recommended.
The best time to visit Bhigwan is in the winters during the months of October to February.
Prior confirmation of the arrival of the birds is necessary as the time of arrival of flamingos changes every year.
The road from Pune is very nice and you can reach Bhigwan in 1.5 to 2 hours.