Kamarganti Survey March 2024

The fisheries of our Greater Kolkata in the far South East of West Bengal form a very integral part of our ecosystem. It is a fragile, human-linked habitat providing a stop-over site for a variety of species in thousands of numbers every year at the time of return migration to their breeding territories in the North. The fisheries provide food to these species for fat-gaining during this temporary stop to allow them to have a healthy and long flight back to their lands.

We, Pampa Mistri and Priyam Chattopadhyay, have been surveying these fisheries, more specifically the Kamarganti Fisheries in North 24 Parganas from April, 2023 to the current date on several days of every season. This has brought to light an unearthly number of species that make this place a temporary home. While we were lucky to witness the very rare Red-necked Phalarope last year which attracted a lot of birders, this year we were stunned by the huge flocks of waders and waterfowl that are stopping over at the place. We took a survey of 4 days spanning over a 10 day period this month to have a clear scape of the numbers of these birds and to see if these birds are moving out immediately or staying over for some time. We are happy to see that they are here to stay before they start their journey back home.
Some species and counts that are worth mentioning here are:

1. Pied Avocets in 1000s on all days.

2. Near about 100 Glossy Ibises on a particular day.

3. About 100 plus Ruffs, Spotted Redshanks in all these days.

4. About 50 Marsh Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts on all these days.

5. 2 Red-necked Phalaropes on one day only and not again: 1 was in non-breeding plumage and 1 in breeding plumage.

6. Black-headed Gulls in 100s.

7. We were very saddened by the low count of Ducks in South Bengal this year. We were happy to see a good count of ducks (though varying on some days) consisting of Gadwall, Garganey, Ferruginous Pochard, Northern Shovellers, Eurasian Wigeons, Northern Pintails and Gadwall×Falcated Duck (yet to be confirmed).

8. Sandpipers like Wood, Common and Marsh Sandpipers in good numbers.

9. Gray Herons started arriving in late monsoon in good numbers and now are in huge nos.

10. We encountered a flock of Painted Storks on a day that was by far the best we have ever seen. It could easily surpass 1000 but unfortunately it was far off and we could only manage a photograph of a portion of it in flight containing a large number of them.

11. The number of Stints are low this time but we observed around 10 on a day all being Temminck’s Stints.

12. First time we saw one Pallas’s Gull on last day among the huge flock.

13. Cormorants, particularly Little cormorants are always huge in numbers. Great Cormorants are also present in good numbers, but not like Littles.

14. Here we always have seen quite a good numbers of Jungle Mynas.

15. Barn Swallows are present in large numbers.

16. This year till March 10th, Eastern Yellow Wagtails are not so huge as was during April 2023. But they are also present in good numbers.

The habitat

The habitat is a rural area dominated by fisheries and intermittent brick kilns. The primary occupation of this area is into pisciculture or into brick-making. The fresh water “bheris”, as they are locally called, span over hectares of area and are connected by comparatively deeper canals dug along the periphery of these bheris to enable netting of fishes in the catching season using small traditional boats called ‘Shalti’s. In the dry late winters, these fishery beds have low water levels and allow growth of sparse flora like Eichhornia crassipes. The low waters grow a layer of algal growth which also attracts water striders and other insects on surface and snails in deeper pools. The low waters and algal growth provides food to these birds on their return migration to gain fat. The fishery beds are smeared with lime, dried till the base soil is baked and brittle and water is released then. By the end of April, water levels are high enough for the birds to not stay anymore and most start returning after a sumptuous fat gain.


We didn’t see any use of mist net here. But as per information from local people, bird poaching is not very uncommon here. We have seen that fishermen of these bheris, they chase away birds by bawling, beating tins etc. to save their fishes.

Special thanks to Arnab RayChoudhury and Tapasi Mukherjee for lending a hand on our last day of this survey.