Signaling that Winters are Finally here!!…

Aaryan Bhalla
17 min readJun 10, 2022

Mulberry tree of my park- II

By Aaryan Bhalla

This is my world this is my forte- ‘Birding’

India is a vast country you can imagine the types of bio-forms available throughout the country. Our country India is one of the twelve mega biodiversity countries in the world. Winters are my favorite season, but birding at 6 in the morning with chilly winds is the worst thing to do by me. Birding through cycling gave me a lot, either its encounters with lifers or achieving milestones of covering 2,500 km’s on cycle!

It’s nothing like a morning spent in the wild, away from the noise, away from manmade chaos, away from negativity….only you and wonderful nature, nature which is just natural as it is…raw.

Birdlife in India is colorful. Peacocks, pheasants, ducks, parakeets, cranes, and pigeons are some of the birds inhabiting the forests and wetlands of the country. Birds are known to adapt successfully to changes in the environment.

That’s the reason they are considered ‘barometers of changing conditions on earth.’ We have only 4 months to do joyful birding along with our winter migrants and altitudinal migrants on their way… Warblers, Waterfowls, ducks, tits, etc travel thousands of miles to reach the wintering grounds in India. One such place favorable to Birds is our City beautiful- Chandigarh!.

It’s called outstanding, which stands a person from the crowd…

It’s Amazing to have a lot of bird lovers in Chandigarh and Tricity. We know we were a little inactive on birding but there was a lot happening in the real world as you all know. As they are also a guide to the latest information for updates on new findings.

The area where we live falls in a zone between severe winters and harsh summer on another side i.e. Chandigarh ISCR. So here many birds stay for a very brief time. Some are passage migrants and some remain here till the end of March.

As the springs come, the kassod tree blooms its yellow flowers- A loved place for Bulbuls, hornbills, squirrels, and parakeets.

We keep on destroying the beauty of nature with pollution and nature keeps on trying to heal itself so that we can behold its beauty. So here I am again with my new article with you all!! The most conspicuous route to achieve this was by interweaving the tangible dimensions of the natural world with the city’s form.

Wryneck- Lifer bird for me!!

Eurasian Wryneck was seen for the first time in the park just opposite my home in a pine tree.

My park never disappoints me in the case of birds. Eurasian wryneck is a migratory bird to India and is only found in the winters in Chandigarh ISCR from Europe and western Asia through the Indian Subcontinent migrate southwards, for wintering in western, central, and eastern Africa. It’s a Bizarre and unmistakable small gray type of woodpecker.

This bird generally prefers open countryside, fields, scrubs, thorn forests, and cultivation. But getting it just opposite to my park was just awesome, hence for which I specially went to Saketri but couldn’t find it. ☺️😆 Firstly it was confused by a Black Redstart female. But, It may be normal somehow, but I was happy to see it for the first time in my life. And yes at the end I would like to add waiting for its one perfect shot is quite hectic as 😅 it doesn’t stood on one branch for a pic perching here and there in seconds 😳

Clicked in Panchkula, Haryana on
October 7, 2021

The Frisky Female

First Sight of the Black Redstart (female) in the park just opposite my home!!...

I managed to capture this moment which takes only a fraction of a second from such a close perspective.
The Redstart is a rather fast, and feisty bird.

Black Redstart is one the most common winter visitor that one can see during its migration here in this region. Distinctive orange tail, best seen when flashed open or in flight. While capturing Rufous Treepie I observed a Rufous bird with an orangish vent near water.

Observing it in mid-flight was quite spectacular when I captured it in the meditation freeze pose while preening.
Same Again and no Head 😂

I have seen males twittering previously in the park but the encounter with female was for the first time here. Took a bath when the pipe was open for watering the grass and perched on the Mulberry tree to preen later.

Preening keeps feathers free of dirt and helps preserve their wonderful, natural luster.
Birds nuzzle playfully in wet grasses and vegetation. Bathing encourages birds to preen or groom their feathers.

Clicked in Panchkula, Haryana
14th October 2021, Thursday

Can a bird inspire you about the traffic rules!??…

Treepie- A Murderer?!

Treepie with the Eurasian Collared-Dove kill.

Rufous Treepie is a resident good vocal bird with a variety of continuous calls… While relaxing on a lazy afternoon, I noticed Treepie coming again & perching on a bike. Where my site went on a carcass of a Dove. The fight was long and terrifying because the other dove lost its pair!

Another dove which lost its pair!!…

It was for the first time seeing a dove provoking the treepie and shooing it away. Birds have feelings too and the dove was not going to take this at all. The fight stayed till half an hour.

A helmet on your head will keep you away from a hospital
“An illusion can never go faster than the speed limit of reality.

Inspired by a Rufous Treepie
Clicked in Panchkula, Haryana on
Date: 17th October 2021

A new addition to my ever-growing home Birding List: White Throated Kingfisher.

While cycling I just came to with its encounter! How it came is still a mystery, just opposite my home. It’s common and residents may be here in hope of prey coming here maybe for a squirrel?!

Clicked on: 12 November 2021
Sector 9, Panchkula

From Cactus Garden

Birds started arriving in our region- Himalayan Bulbul as more here in winters!

Finally, the Cactus Garden of sector 5 Panchkula was open after covid and I was able to see some more winter visitors in the region. Birders are encouraged to conduct public walks and hold events to spread the message.

Portrait of A Red Wattled Lapwing

However, while organizing any public event/Walk please do ensure that you adhere to COVID-19 related instructions by central and local authorities.

Little Egret- Another Lifer

Didn’t expect it here, its beautiful wispy combed hairs were a sight to see!
Ready to Target!!…

Should I drink this Water??
Thinking White Wagtail
Cactus Garden, 19 November 2021

When I saw the pictures after processing, somehow I felt that if a few of the random clicks are serialized 1-3, then I can very much relate them to this...

1. क्या मैं पानी पी लूं?
2. कहीं कोई देख तो नहीं रहा!
3. चलो पी ही लेती हूं। 😅

Finally! It came here…

I had always seen a fantail jumping from branch to branch with always its tail dancing with it … I think it looks as graceful sitting still 😍 A fascinating White-throated fantail with its beautiful fan!!

Chalo Hash!! Before leaving for Chail for a short trip. Found this Restless White-throated Fantail flycatcher in the little rain while it came for the first time in the park just opposite my house this winter season.

Disappointing!!! The Blurry Guy could not stay up and gave a shot.

It usually arrives in the well-wooded area and forests with a great number of trees. But like to come to parks/Gardens also sometimes 😜 I'm in the hope of the little Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher too! But, Yellow-bellied fantail is generally hard here, But luckily I was able to spot it at Shivalik Arboretum Sector 26, Chandigarh.

Few Lifers at Chail!!…

Blue Capped Redstart (Female) was roving besides, But the male didn't show well!

Although please pardon me to upload pictures like these. I’m still at a learning stage and I had decided that I will do my birding without the aid of a high-end camera. But I guess that may not work, But it’s better than nothing!… Birdwatching is not always a matter of high professional cameras.

It was surprising for me to see a Himalayan Bluetail (Female) for the first time. But, getting one shot with the phone was very tough for me.

While Wandering in the fields of Thapli!…

(Part 2)

A beautiful Grey Bushchat (Male) perched on the Lantana flowers.

Thapli region in Chandigarh ISCR is also a good birding place in Haryana. When first time I met another birder- Mr. Subhash Sapru Sir. We were in the hope for Bhojnagar once again, with Subhash and Lalit sir. but, as the weather was a little hazy and foggy, rather than going there, we went Thapli-Morni.

A couple of Plum Headed Parakeets- Male (Left) and Female (Right).

We headed up to Thapli-Morni Road to see what do we find here today. With our intention, a flock of Plum-headed Parakeets welcomed us, with several Rock and white Capped Buntings around. An appreciable number of Indian rollers and An Asian Barred Owlet was the bird of the day as another lifer!

White Capped Bunting
Rock Bunting (male)

Getting its perch is generally Hard!

We found this beautiful little frisky white-throated fantail which was side by in the trees near the fields of the Thapli Village.

Usually, it is impossible to photograph it because it is a type of flycatcher and doesn’t even stay in one place due to its sheer energy and restless nature. But, I think this one was innocent it came and posed/perched on the fence hanging in the background and the mustard fields making a very nice colorful bokeh to go with this blackbird.

Each bird Finding has a unique story behind it!

An Asian Barred Owlet seems to make a point in its flight. Thanks- Subhash sir for this stunning photograph.

While on our birding trip in the village of Thapli. We were busy capturing Redstart, prinia’s, and Buntings around.

Then we suddenly encountered a big bird that came and perched on a wire. All birds in worry with alarm calls tried to defend it.
We ignored it 😜 regarding it as a common-spotted Owlet and added it to the checklist. But, that was our big mistake. I noticed the rufous color and big size than the spotted one!

The owl with angry eyes glimpsed at us. The ID of Asian Barred Owl was confused by the Jungle owlet first.

When we moved back to the car considering it as a Jungle owlet, which was actually a big Asian Barred Owlet staring continuously at us with angry eyes 👀 gave us a couple of good shots. Subhash sir clicked it when it was in flight.

Find this beautiful White Capped Redstart

We were surprised to find it on the bridge of Thapli river in Panchkula as it is usually found in higher altitudes. But, normally both the plumbeous and white-capped redstarts visit the Thapli stream every winter… Although Haryana State is deficient in natural forests despite it has rich bio-diversity, which makes it suitable for a variety of wildlife, particularly local and migratory bird species.

Call, Call, and Call…

The song that attracts from a distance…A Grey Francolin settled gives a beautiful look to the mustard field.

On a winter morning, at the edges of the mustard fields on Thapli-Morni Road, a rather resident bird calls continuously hiding in the beautiful majestic mustard fields. We saw pairs of Grey Francolins calling their loud repetitive “kateetar-kateetar” continuously amidst a mustard field, overshadowed by the vibrant yellows of the pasture in the background.

A pleasant surprise from Butterfly park...

The sleepy big Brown Hawk Owl, The heart-shaped spots are one pointer to identify them.

Each bird has a unique story behind it! While exploring the butterfly park I was busy capturing Fantail, Butterflies, and spotted owlets. When I met a birder from Bombay capturing the spotted owlets. Mr. Gurpal Singh is a very nice and humble person. We talked together and it was just like that we know each other for years. 😃

It has huge eyes with yellow rings, and its habitat is- A well-wooded area near habitation & water.

Then suddenly I observe a Fantail defending a big Bird perched on a treetop that looked like a Shikra and added it to the checklist 😂 But, wait that was my big mistake, Then I moved back to sir asking to capture that and it was very surprising as it was a big brown Hawk owl.

Mr. Singh capturing the ‘exclusive’ owl. He wished that his battery hadn’t died out at that very moment and we could have got some more nice pics, but nevertheless just looking and observing was also as rewarding as another lifer is our long-lasting birds' list!!...

Remained at one place and gave a very good couple of shots as it was roosting in the tree. And, finding it here was very nice and added to my ever-long-lasting list! Last bird count of the year 2021:
Another Lifer- Brown Boobook.

Who is scattering grains at Saketri??…

Prefers dry open areas, often well away from water. Gives a loud rasping tern-like call and a loud “cheeeee’it” in alarm, when going very near; generally not as noisy as other lapwings like the Red Wattled.

This majestic Yellow Wattled Lapwing is usually uncommonly sighted in Chandigarh, But, Saketri (the fields besides Sukhna Lake) have an appreciable amount of them there. Usually, they need fellow land with no reeds, Thus, It seems that someone is scattering grains at Suketri grounds where kids play cricket which attracts them to those grasslands. I could spot more than 30+ Lapwings and more than 20+ Ashy-crowned sparrow larks there.

The Mulberry Tree of my park!!…
(Part 2)

Have you observed the type of trees, bushes, grasses, and birds in the fields and parks in and around your locality? Every year I wait for the Mulberry tree in my park and it always surprises me with different lifers/Flying gems. As soon as mulberry fruits began maturing, turning red; Many birds began to visit them.

Birding kicks off in 2022 with bird races, bird surveys, and many other birding events! A great way to meet other bird watchers is by going to such events.

The time between February and March is amongst the most happening months of the year for birds and birders as due to the arrival of the spring in our region. Winter migrants are still making their presence felt across the region going back to their respective regions, with some passage movements beginning to take place to add excitement into the mix.

Jungle Myna

My park boasts the two of the myna’s: Jungle and Common. Jungle Mynas are residents here in our area and come every year even only when the mulberry tree is ready before bearing its fruits. And finally, when they turn red. Both the Mynas enjoy them!!! It is easily recognized by the tuft of feathers on its forehead that form a frontal crest.

They are quite shy, and usually, come on the ground otherwise they like to be in the foliage- March 2022

More Darker the Night, More Darket its Eyes!!…

They fly swiftly at night and hunt prey silently. For humans, the fear can instantly hit as owl shrieks or hoots ominously, especially the spotted!

This Spotted frequently visits my park, but only in winters during the foggy nights! But I’m sorry to say that its habitat has been totally lost! We should do something, to save birds and their habitat. All of us must realize the importance of the natural ecosystem for our own survival. Even we birdwatchers are busy taking pics, It is possible if indiscriminate destruction of the natural environment is put to an immediate end.
Its eyes scares meeeee!! Spotted Owls have been called an “indicator” species because their presence in a forest is a gauge of the ecological health of the habitat.

As a kid, I used to love watching a little sparrow bathing in a puddle formed by the first monsoon rains or the Koel whistling on the newly flowered mango tree. The ever-present Mynahs; one for sorrow, and two for joy!! 😊
The shrubs of Firebush produce berries that are plentiful and are eaten by a variety of birds- Thats how i was managed to capture this Rufous Treepie! The fruit is ripening and a plethora of birds would be feasting on them.

The Killer — Fly High

Home Birding: At Panchkula, Haryana; 1 March 2022

Shikra and although many predator birds hunt for food and eat meat, the daytime hunters that swoop down and attack with their claws are called birds of prey. This female was successful in its hunt by killing a pigeon. But, Babblers and crows mobbed her and didn't stay her back!

The shikra is found in a range of habitats including forests, farmland, and urban areas. They are usually seen singly or in pairs. The flight is typical with flaps and glides. Their flight usually draws alarms among smaller birds and squirrels.

A Black Kite trying to taking a charge on European Starlings.
A freeze shot of a Purple Sunbird hovering in the air while finding the flowers for the nectar.

They have a fast and direct flight and can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird but often perch at the base of flowers, aggregations may be found in gardens with suitable flowers.

The Fairy of our Gardens and Parks- Rufous Treepie

Apart from getting winter migrants, the park never disappoints me as I always get good shots of common birds…and for me, it’s the FRAME that matters the most, not the species either I have clicked by 100 times!!...

The spotted dove is a resident dove. But visited my park so later for the first time! 😜

There were lofty trees and space below which was visible to the birds sitting atop trees. Then they planted trees and now there are so dense trees that even in the broad daylight there is darkness around trees. Habitat has been totally modified. So there are hardly any birds to be seen nowadays exept babblers and bulbuls in the park.

Success has its own stories… one fine day, in near future, you will realize and accept how far you reached bit by bit.
The Singing Beauty!! 🎶🎵Purple Sunbird on scarlet sage flowers; 14th March 2022

Birdwatching is an inexpensive hobby — investing in fancy digital cameras aside. It is convenient — you can bird-watch in your backyard or a local park. It is time spent outside. Thus, this shows that in parks/Gardens in Local areas birding is an underappreciated activity by many. However one can find many hidden gems when visited regularly & frequently.

Time to take a slide

Few birdies were the part of the slide too!

Eurasian collared Dove & Jungle Babbler: Great Backyard Bird Count
21 February 2022
Panchkula, Haryana

A Popcorn!? Strange…

The Nesting season has Begun….

An Indian white eye incubating its eggs, in its Beautiful (Cup-shaped) Nest!

“बारिश होती जा रही थी, डर था उसे आशियाने का, परिंदा लड़
गया बारिश से जब सवाल था बच्चों को पेड़ में सुलाने का…”

The flowers of these trees are full of watery nectar and are pollinated by bees, birds, and generally bats also. Birds visit these trees every single day to quench their thirst- Parakeets and starlings are partial to them.

Home of a House Crow on Bombax Ceiba Tree.

Observations showed that the bird species were attracted towards the flowers of the Bombax ceiba tree for the purpose of nectar and water. These red flower buds that they are after are full of pressurized watery nectar. More beautiful shots are expected on the mulberry tree also!

A flying shot of House Crow; gathering food for its young ones.

Spring is the nesting season is the time of year as earlier in winter because of the temperature and climatic conditions birds cant do. As winter came the availability of insects and other food drops down so, they move earlier to their nests. Cold is the motivating factor for many species of birds. But as soon as the temperature in mercury rises. They start collecting nesting material.

The Little Cutie: Little Jungle Babbler, Panchkula, 18 March 2022.
Carrying Food

This is a Nest of Jungle babbler with peak breeding in northern India it is being noted as the peak of March, they do this work first and as the beginning of spring.

Upside Down- I think this male investing a sight for the nesting, Perhaps females may agree?

Summers are Approaching!!

Oriental Magpie Robin is a skulker — they like to stay hidden. But the birdbath at our house was irresistible even for a bird as shy as a squirrel.


As the weather turns hot, birds feel more thirsty and, even more, like to have a bath to beat the heat. The water sources, on the other hand, tend to dry up. A water bowl kept in the balcony or the courtyard of the house serves the twin purpose of providing water to birds for drinking as well as bathing.

Dekhte ho baar baar, aur mud mud ke mujhe; Tumhaare dil mein hai kuchh, to keh do na!!… ❤️
Thirsty Sparrow!

And, I can assure you from personal experience that the birds visiting your water bath will provide you with a most enriching feeling, a most satisfying experience. I have kept small earthen pots at various places in and around my house for birds. A big earthen pot which I got specially made and waterproofed is kept outside for the birds. Many squirrels too come and drink water from there. We keep on refilling it throughout the day! 😊

This lock of seven sisters always loves to bathe in water!!…

Though birds can extract some moisture from their food, most of them drink water every day. Birds also use water for bathing, cleaning their feathers, and removing parasites. I am fortunate that many times many different birds visit our house. This is over and above the resident species like sparrows, tailor birds, magpie robins, etc.

The Spring Foliage

Quite a few animal species are also endangered and some have become extinct. The main cause for this major threat to nature is hunting by greedy hunters for commercial purposes.

While cycling you encounter a Sweet Caller and She is no More- An Asian Koel

Pollution due to chemical and industrial waste, acid deposits, the introduction of alien species, and reckless cutting of the forests to bring land under cultivation and inhabitation, are also responsible for the imbalance. To protect the flora and fauna of the country, the government has taken many steps.

Like the photography of birds, if videography too once stuck, does not leave the chase. You always learn something new 😃 birds’ habitats, hotspots, making checklists, and listening calls. You go deeper and deeper into this fascinating hobby.
An Asian Koel on a sunny afternoon, perched on the ground. Somehow relaxing!…

It is comforting to see a wide migratory & the arrival of winter birds to India, the possible breeding of large birds like storks, godwits, daggers, watercress, herons, warblers, etc. It didn’t even get sick that it couldn’t be cured again. Bathing of aquatic birds and drying their feathers like cormorant and darter — all this is beautiful.

I realized that we a few Environmentalists can’t do any changes in our country. Indian population is around 138 crore and we are just a few who are concerned about our environment. It is not a fight for freedom that one man can change something, it is a fight to save the environment, and thousand of Environmentalists can’t change anything. Hence, it is needed to be united together! As volunteers, our work and efforts are being used for research for generations to come. I feel very proud of my contribution to nature.

Educating visitors on environmental issues by engaging them through nature walks and treks, interactions with local communities and adventure sports, etc. While the Eco-Society is making modest beginnings by organizing field trips for school children yet they need to join hands to best utilize the fantastic infrastructure created by the Government.

Some pictures courtesy and Credits: Respected Mr. Lalit Mohan Bansal, Mr. Subhash Sapru, Mr. Gurpal Singh, and Mr. Vijay Khanna.

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Aaryan Bhalla

Nature and birds Lover, Traveller, & musician..☺️☺️