Birding at Chetla Canalside – 21st Sept 2020

Trip Report

This was my visit to the habitat after a long time, a place I have been deeply involved with, since 2013. We had been planting trees and steadily trying to create a kind of an urban forest in a strip of wasteland running along the canal separating Alipore and new Alipore, concentrating on the stretch between Majerhat bridge and Durgapur bridge. The land belongs to the Calcutta Port Trust but is mostly left unattended with a lot of Kolkata’s garbage being continually dumped there. In spite of the tree felling, litter, grazing, encroachment, our plantation continued and it brings immense joy today, to see that some of the tamarind, date, shishu, have managed to survive. They have added depth to the existing bushes, shrubs, trees and with the canal flowing alongside, though extremely filthy, have made this patch quite rich in biodiversity. Lots of butterflies, insects, birds and mammals, including the Indian Golden Jackal have been spotted here. 

Walling up the premises had started but I managed to find a few gaps to let myself in. My very first sighting was a Brown Shrike and a Lineated Barbet. The latter quite excited me, because they are scarcely found in the heart of the city and this was my first sighting of the species in all these years. I moved on among the dense undergrowth, climbers entwined all over and the low acacias, to the usual spot where the forest wagtail and the emerald dove preferred to forage. Found neither and climbed up to the high bank to check for the wagtails and sandpipers along the canal sides. Tide was high and I had to be content with just one White Breasted Waterhen. The intermittent downpour did not help and I was about to make my way back when a strange call attracted my attention. There I was, up again on the high bank, gazing up at a tree on the opposite side of the canal, from where the call came. One look with my binos revealed that the source of the call was a couple of Common Hill Mynahs. 
A few shots were quickly taken and by then my focus had shifted to this huge Ficus Benjamina, full of golden fruits. I can’t say for sure which was more delightful, the tree with its golden produce or its feathered guests. For it was a large full grown ficus and as the benjamina has one of the waxiest and shiniest leaves, made more so by the September rains, made for a lovely spectacle.  
Guests invited or uninvited were aplenty. The cackle and clamour, as they feasted themselves, provided for a very blissful morning session of birding.

Below is the ebird checklist for reference.

List of Species - Chetla Canalside - 21st Sept 2020

Common NameScientific NameS73994264Total
Spotted DoveStreptopelia chinensis88
Greater CoucalCentropus sinensis11
Asian KoelEudynamys scolopaceus55
Common Hawk-CuckooHierococcyx varius11
White-breasted WaterhenAmaurornis phoenicurus22
Asian OpenbillAnastomus oscitans66
Cattle EgretBubulcus ibis22
Indian Pond-HeronArdeola grayii22
Black KiteMilvus migrans66
Stork-billed KingfisherPelargopsis capensis11
White-throated KingfisherHalcyon smyrnensis11
Coppersmith BarbetPsilopogon haemacephalus88
Lineated BarbetPsilopogon lineatus22
Blue-throated BarbetPsilopogon asiaticus11
Black-rumped FlamebackDinopium benghalense11
Black-hooded OrioleOriolus xanthornus11
Black DrongoDicrurus macrocercus44
Brown ShrikeLanius cristatus11
Rufous TreepieDendrocitta vagabunda22
House CrowCorvus splendens1212
Large-billed CrowCorvus macrorhynchos11
Common TailorbirdOrthotomus sutorius22
Red-vented BulbulPycnonotus cafer1515
Red-whiskered BulbulPycnonotus jocosus1212
Jungle BabblerTurdoides striata44
Common Hill MynaGracula religiosa22
Asian Pied StarlingGracupica contra44
Chestnut-tailed StarlingSturnia malabarica88
Common MynaAcridotheres tristis55
Oriental Magpie-RobinCopsychus saularis22
Purple-rumped SunbirdLeptocoma zeylonica22


  1. Sanchita Dey

Photo Courtesy

  • Sanchita Dey