GAJOLDOBA – A PARADISE FOR MIGRATORY BIRDS
Gajoldoba, one of the unique paradise of migratory birds located in North Bengal. From New Jalpaiguri railway station, by hired cars it takes around 45 minutes to reach Gajoldoba (25 kilometers). The path to Gajoldoba is amazing; the route is through the dense greeneries of Baikunthapur forest. To the far a small part of the Himalayan Mountains are visible. If any takes the way to Gajoldoba from Jalpaiguri, then it takes around 1 hour. Baikunthapur forest region in the western part of the Dooars surrounds part of Gajoldoba. It is in the western south of the Himalayan foothills, between the Mahananda River to the west and Teesta River to the east. Literally Gajoldoba is a paradise for bird watchers. One of the very famous birds, which photographers seek, is the Common Shellduck. Just at the starting of the season Common Shellduck gathers at Gajoldoba only for 2 to 4 days, then again these birds flew to some other location. Common Shellduck has a great colour combination, red beak, dark green head, throat, back, and the belly is also of dark green colour, around the belly and neck a thick brown colour. These birds stay in groups. In the winter season, as the water of Teesta becomes very narrow and in many places small islands are visible, these birds used to travel from long distance. At Gajoldoba, you will get boats of the native locals, which are used for fishing and bird watching. Apart from Common Shellduck, many other varieties of birds visits the Gajoldoba, those may include Goozander, these birds travel from Europe and middle Asia to West Bengal. These birds are of ash coloured body and the head is of reddish brown colour. One will get numerous categories of cranes like Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, and Great Egret. These cranes fly parallel with the water body and the throat is kept “S” shaped. Others categories of which are seen here are Grey Heron. Apart from these species, some of the birds travel from the far end of the Himalayan region, which includes Black Yard Kite. But to capture a photo of these birds, one needs to go to the far end of Gajoldoba, as because birds do not visit in large groups. Though the sand remains very warm due to the sunlight, but still you need to walk long distances in Gajoldoba, to get some of these unique photos. Other species of birds those migrates to Gajoldoba, are Great Cormorant. Great Cormorant are the largest among other cormorants in group, these bird is easily identified by its yellowish orange mouth and white throat. Another species of bird that travel from middle Asia is the “Lag Goose”, as these come to Gajoldoba at last, that is why the word “lag” is given with its name, these birds are very shy in nature. At Gajoldoba, there is another species that travel from Kashmir and Ladakh, to West Bengal are the Citrin Wagtail, these birds are easily identified by their colour, head, throat, chest, belly everywhere yellow. One of the species those visits Gajoldoba, very rarely are Palas Gull, these birds travel from Mongolia and South Russia. Their colours are of red beaked with a small black dot at the end, black headed, white body, light grey coloured wings and a half moon shaped white colour around the eyes, which helps to identify these birds. Another species of Gull visits Gajoldoba in this time of the year is the Brown Headed Gull, these birds used to come in large groups from Mongolia, Tajakisthan and Ladakh to avoid the extreme cold temperate of the those places. Their birds are of brown headed, red beaked, red paws, white coloued body, light grey coloured winged and a common in every species of Gull is the half moon shaped white colour around the eyes. Apart from Gajoldoba, these brown headed Gulls are also seen in large groups in different sea beaches in India.
Through in the winter, the volume of water of Teesta, becomes very narrow, one can easily step into the water and can stand easily on the river and can easily take photographs of these birds, the river beds are clearly visible. Other species includes Tundra Bin Goose, these birds come very rarely, sometimes it is seen that Tundra Bean Goose travels with species, like Ruddy Shelduck. At Gajoldoba, there is a bridge near the barrage, though no one is allowed to go near the bridge, but near the barrage one can find many other species of birds.
While on the way to the barrage, you will get to see there are numerous jungles, which are formed by the herbs, and trees. Sometimes if you are lucky enough, you will get a glimpse of elephants passing through these jungles. Some of the species which are found here is Siberian Stone Chat, Sand Lark, Pacific Golden Plover – these birds travel from Siberia to Gajoldoba in very large groups, their colour is golden and at the top of the wing small white dots. Near the barrage, there is an Irrigation Bungalow; there one can find many other species of birds those travel from far distances. These species may include Little Ringed Plover – brown coloured back and wings, white belly, a brown coloured cap on the head. Other species of birds those found here is the Sandpiper. At Gajoldoba, bird watching gives a unique sense of happiness, as because everywhere there are numerous different types of birds. Wherever there is a little water or Small Island has emerged, you will get to see different types of birds. Likewise another kind of bird found at Gajoldoba is River Lapwing; these birds are seen in West Bengal, black coloured beak with black colourd crested on the head, brown coloured back with very thin long scratch. A dam was constructed on River Teesta that holds the high flow water currents. The dam has created a large waterbody upstream which has become home to migratory birds during the winter. Towards that dam one can find more birds like Tricolour Shrike, Olive Backed Pipit, Long Legged Bazard (these birds travels from Korea, Japan and Russia, mainly during the winter they visit here). Other birds those can viewed at Gajoldoba may include Asian Openbill, Eurasian Wijon, Purple Heron (long yellow-black coloured beak, long head, long neck, the wing and body is of bluish puple, these birds mainly found near water bodies in West Bengal), Lesser Whitsling Til, Common Pochard (reddish brown coloured head with grayish white body), Tuffted Duck (in the winter these birds travel from Eurasia, the head, throat and chest is of bright black colour), Common Til (generally travel from Europe and Middle Asia), Red Crested Pochard (these birds travel from Asia and South Europe in different water bodies in West Bengal), Northern Solevar (these species travels from Asia and Europe), Little Cormorant (these are mainly the native birds of India), Common Kingfisher, Common Green Shank, Ferugenous Duck (these birds mainly travels from Russia – deep brown colour all over, back side and wings are Black and beneath the tail is white colour), small species include Little Grib, Bronze Winged Jakana, Red Watailed Lapwinged, Great Crested Grib (these birds travel from Baluchisthan and Pakisthan), White Browed Wagtail and Blue Rock Thrush, Oriental Magpie Robin, Pied Kingfisher, White breasted Kingfisher, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Kentish Plover, Little ringed Plover, Lesser Racket Tailed Drongo, Mallard, Citrine Wagtail, Brahmini Ducks, Bronze Winged Jacana, Ferruginous Pochard, Green winged Teal, Blue Rock Thrush, Indian Peafowl. While coming at Gajoldoba for bird photography, you will get to see numerous birds. As Gajoldoba is very near to the Dooars, Terai and the Hills region, that is why Gajoldoba recieves wide varieties of guests those travels from far distances in the winter.
Best Time to Visit: Generally these birds starts coming from the end of October. The season varies from mid November to mid March. But the best time tom visit the Gajoldoba is January and February. In the month of December and starting of March, you will get to many unkown species.
How to Reach: From Sealdah/ Kolkata/ Howrah railway station upto New Jalpaiguri railway station, from there either by shared car or by Toto one can reach upto Gorar More or Ashighar, again from there by shared trekker one can reach at Teesta Barage (time takes about 1 hour 30 minutes).