FOUR RED HEADS

The Wetlands near Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, India are probably the last Bastion where these extremely Large and Outstanding Red Headed Cranes  are found in large numbers.

A flock or family  of  Sarus Crane ( Scientific Name Grus antigone) seen in flight over the Wetlands in an area irrigated by the Rivers Yamuna and Chambal.

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Goats and Cranes

The Sarus Cranes are the Tallest Flying Birds on Planet Earth and native to the Indian subcontinent.

The Wetlands are gradually being eroded and precious Habitat is being lost to Agricultural lands bearing Sugarcane.( can be seen in the backdrop in the picture below).

Soon this family of Four may not have a Home to return to ??

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Four Sarus Cranes over the Wetlands

As flocks of different species hover in the skies above , I wonder how one would react if you see your home shrinking with every Setting Sun.

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Returning to a shrinking Home

Do read earlier blogs like URBAN FORESTS ( for close ups of this bird) , WETLANDS & STORKS IN FLIGHT as well to be truly Enchanted.

STORKS IN FLIGHT

Wetlands are a remarkable natural  Habitat for Birds and this region near the Chambal River Sanctuary ( location of The Bird Festival)  and in close proximity to the township of  Etawah in Uttar Pradesh, India  is no exception.

The Rural countryside is peppered with tiny lakes and water bodies which lie in the midst of fertile agricultural lands.

The featured image is a silhouette of a Painted Stork seen through the foggy twigs of a Tree at a time when the Sun was about to set over the Wetlands of Etawah.

The brightly headed Rosy Wood Ibis or Painted Stork ( Scientific Name  Mycteria leucocephala  ) in colour.

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Painted Stork

The Wetlands  and Agricultural fields can be viewed in the picture below just as a Woolly Necked Stork  ( Scientific name Ciconia episcopus  flies above .

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The Wetlands

A pair of Indian White Necked Storks or Bishop Storks ( Scientific name Ciconia episcopus )  return home as the Sun Sets and a Misty Fog ,fueled by agricultural Bonfires, descends over the Region.

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A Pair

Both the Storks in the pictures above are fairly large sized Birds and find the Wetlands an Enchanting Habitat in which they co exist with several other species including the Sarus Crane mentioned in preceding blogs.

Unfortunately such Natural Habitats are increasingly threatened by the Expanding Numbers & Greed of Humanity.

 

THREATENED PREDATORS

 

Pictures of the endangered Gharial are from the Chambal River Sanctuary near Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India.

All seems quiet calm and safe on first glance, is it not?

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Serene & Calm Chambal

Yet below the surface lurk deadly predators.

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In Stealth they Prevail

The Gharials  are however health conscious and abhor red meat , fish being their staple diet.

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Fangs on Display

The Signature beak like snout is the Unique distinguishing characteristic of these Gharials, now under threat of being History and hence protected in this Riverine Sanctuary.

BRAHMINY DUCKS

The Ruddy Shelduck or Brahminy Ducks are migratory visitors from the colder North  to the warmer  Indian Subcontinent.

This protected stretch in the Chambal River Sanctuary provides these visitors a safe haven from humanity but are also home to Crocodiles ( do look up an earlier blog titled CROCODILES IN CHAMBAL ) , Gharials and Turtles ( do see the blog TURTLE SMILES ).

Yellow Mustard flowers line the banks of the cursed River Chambal ( an earlier blog titled A RIVER CURSED gives details), now home to many endangered species of Fauna.

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The River Chambal 

Basking in the Winter Sun on the banks of the River Chambal are a pair of Ruddy Shelducks ( Scientific name  Tadorna ferruginea), a Cormorant ( with wings widespread in black)  and a Lapwing.

Unknown to these innocent European visitors are carnivorous Crocodiles which lurk below the seemingly serene River waters.

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Three Species

The Ruddy Shelducks pair for life and the slightly smaller Duck on the left is the Female whereas the Male is on the right in the picture below.

Males are supposed to have a distinctive black collar around neck, which is however not distinguishable in any of the pictures in this post.”Maybe this gentleman has a free mind and thus without a collar.” ( wink)

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Bonding for Life

Am always eager to discover the Enchanting facts about Flora & Fauna especially after I photograph them in the Wild.

WETLANDS

These Wetlands  are home to the Sarus Cranes and the embattled Ruling Family of Uttar Pradesh as well. ( but we are not discussing politics here are we ?) . Yet (and maybe it is a prophesy of the times to come )  the camera captures The Setting Sun in the region near Etawah, Uttar Pradesh, India.

The Bird Festival ( do read up an earlier post by the same title) held in the Chambal River Sanctuary  ( previous blogs such as CROCODILES IN THE CHAMBAL would be interesting to read)  and a desire to watch the Sarus Cranes in their largest natural habitat helped me capture some images of the Setting Sun in these Wetlands.

You can see some Birders and their Vehicles  lined up in the picture below as well.

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The Setting Sun in the Wetlands

As the Sun Sets, a mist descends on the Wetlands and the Enchanting Sarus Cranes ( Scientific name Grus antigone ) know it is time to head home.

I recall with some nostalgia that one of my very  first blogs ( titled URBAN FORESTS and posted in July 2015 )  was on  the Sarus Cranes, which   I had seen Nesting  in a wetland near New Delhi. These wetlands near Delhi are now unfortunately and gradually being replaced by Skyscrapers.

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Bon Voyage

As Night looms large the landscape dramatically changes colour as well.

The tiny birds like the Warblers and Larks turn Invisible in the midst of the Reeds and other Flora as darkness envelopes the landscape.

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Night Looms Large over the Wetlands

It was a spectacular show of nearly 80 ( eighty) Sarus Cranes that evening and I hope their Habitat is protected so the graceful and beautiful  Sarus Cranes do not fade with the Setting Sun.

 

THE TURTLE SMILES

The Banks of the Cursed River Chambal is home to many inhabitants one of which you can see smiling in the Featured Image above. ( reading earlier blogs like the BIRD FESTIVAL , CROCODILES IN THE CHAMBAL and THE RIVER CURSED will give you a better insight on the region and fables of the river )

These Critically Endangered Red-crowned  Roofed Turtles ( Scientific name Batagur kachuga ) come out of the Cool River to bask in the Winter Sun.

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Sun Bathing

Unique to South Asia and now protected in this section of the Chambal River ,this freshwater turtle is a rare sight and I realize only now how fortunate I was to spot it.

The Sound of the Boat probably sends this one scurrying up the muddy River Banks .

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Uphill Climb

Finding a peaceful Spot in a Private Garden this Turtle reflects upon the year nearly gone and the Onset of The New Year.

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Comfortable Spot brings on the Smile

The Earth Rests on the  Kachua (Hindi name of  Turtle)  as per Hindu Mythology and it is ironical that the very foundation of our planet ( the turtle) is now Critically Endangered, not a sign of good tidings.( do see an earlier blog PROOF IN BLACK wherein I have posted a picture of a Turtle in Black Stone in a Lord Shiva temple near Pune)

Wishing a Year Full of Happiness and Never Ending Smiles to all who have read , are reading and will read “Enchanted Forests”.

Happy New Year 2017.