Kolkata, India Birdwatching Tours & Guides | Birding Trips
Birdwatching enthusiasts are well aware that October and November are prime months for observing avian species. For those in Kolkata, the local birdwatching destinations are currently teeming with feathered inhabitants. Winter is coming, and it’s time for the migratory birds to come to Kolkata from the Himalayan foothills, China and Siberia to restock on their food supply. Here’s a detailed guide on bird watching in Kolkata this winter.
West Bengal, situated in Eastern India along the Bay of Bengal, is the country’s fourth-most populous state, boasting over 91 million residents as of 2011. Covering an expanse of 88,752 km2 (34,267 square miles), it shares borders with Bangladesh to the east, and Nepal and Bhutan to the north, while also adjoining Indian states such as Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam. The state capital, Kolkata (Calcutta), stands as the seventh-largest city in India. Geographically diverse, West Bengal encompasses the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, the Ganges delta, the Rarh region, and the coastal Sundarbans. The premier birding locale within the state, encompassing Sikkim and the adjacent parts of North Bengal – Darjeeling and Kalimpong, lies within the coordinates of Latitude 27 to 28 degrees North and Longitude 87 to 89 degrees East. This rugged strip of vertical mountainous terrain, wedged between Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and the North Bengal Plains, spans a mere 90km in width and 150km in depth. Ascending from near sea level to 8,500 meters, the region is framed by the imposing Himalayan Range and its spurs, Singelila and Chola, creating a formidable horseshoe. The landscape transitions from the plains of North Bengal to intricately layered ridges, leading to the towering peaks and passes that connect with Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan.
The climate exhibits a spectrum ranging from tropical warmth in the valleys to alpine chill in the snowy regions. With an average rainfall of 348cm, it stands as the most humid region in the Himalayas. The dry season prevails from November to March. Vegetation follows altitudinal zones, progressing from tropical and sub-tropical to temperate and alpine. In some instances, a mere 10kms separate palm-filled valleys from perpetual snow, creating distinct altitudinal zones influencing humidity, rainfall, climate, and vegetation. This unique topography contributes to an exceptional diversity of resident birdlife, establishing the region as one of the world’s richest areas in its size category. Renowned ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali documented 527 species of resident birds, with additional vagrants and migrants passing through. It is estimated that over 30% of the Indian Subcontinent’s bird species can be observed in this remarkable region. Prominent towns in the area include Gangtok in Sikkim, along with Darjeeling and Kalimpong in the mountainous terrain of North Bengal. Siliguri, located in the plains of North Bengal, serves as a key hub, hosting the nearest airport at Bagdogra.
Birdwatching Tour Near Kolkata Places
Birdwatching is a nature-centric activity that requires minimal preparation. It not only offers an educational experience but also allows you to connect with nature and appreciate its beauty. Unlike activities such as hiking and trekking, birdwatching can be enjoyed in various locations. Many towns and cities boast expansive parks, serving as ideal starting points for novice birdwatchers. As you progress, consider exploring lakes, national parks, sanctuaries, and dams in your vicinity for a more immersive experience.
If you’re intrigued, it’s time to venture out and discover the world of birds. For those in Kolkata, there are notable birdwatching destinations suitable for both beginners and seasoned enthusiasts!
Sundarbans National Park
Located about 100 km from Kolkata, Sundarbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular birdwatching destination. The park is home to a variety of birds, including kingfishers, storks, eagles, and herons.situated along the southern periphery of West Bengal, the Sundarbans mangrove forest, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, comprises a network of channels and creeks interspersed with islands, with only a handful hosting villages. Renowned for its tiger and crocodile population, the Sundarbans National Park is predominantly traversed by boats, permitting disembarkation only at designated locations. Bird watching proves to be a challenge in this region, as visitors are advised to maintain a vigilant gaze over both land and water while navigating the forested shores on their boats. Accompanying fellow bird enthusiasts is recommended, as typical tourists are primarily interested in spotting resident tigers and crocodiles. The Sundarbans is home to over 200 bird species, including migratory ones, making it a haven for birdwatchers. Godkhali Jetty serves as the most convenient entry point, requiring all travelers to secure special permission for access to the tiger reserve.
Indian Botanic Garden, Shibpur, Howrah
Located in Shibpur, Howrah, the Indian Botanic Garden covers approximately 270 acres of land along the Hugli River and boasts a rich history spanning 230 years. It is a haven for bird-watchers, offering a diverse range of bird species, including some water birds. Notable species include Stork-billed Kingfisher, Rufous Woodpecker, Brown Hawk Owl, Bronzed Drongo, Black Bittern, Greenish and Yellow-browned Warbler, Lineated Barbet, Booted Eagle, and Black-naped Oriole. Rare species like Black-capped Kingfisher, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Red-breasted Parakeet, and Eurasian Cuckoo can also be spotted here. To reach the garden, you can take a ferry from Bichali Ghat in Metiabruz or use one of the exits from Vidyasagar Setu.
Rajarhat Bypass – sector 5 nolbon
Rajarhat Bypass, situated on marshy land, is known for its wetland birds. It attracts a variety of species, including Asian Openbills, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Breeding Oriental Pratincoles, and Ashy Woodswallows. During the morning, you can spot Peregrine Falcon, Pied Harriers, Black-shouldered Kite, and Common Kestrel. Smaller birds like Bengal Bushlark, Oriental Reed Warbler, Oriental Skylark, and Bluethroat can also be found. To access Rajarhat Bypass, take the bypass road leading from Kolkata Airport to Kolkata.
Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary, CKBS Narendrapur, 24 Parganas
This 17-acre sanctuary, also known as Koyeler Bagan, is located in South 24 Parganas near the Rathtala Bus stop. It features a variety of bird species, including Oriental Honey-buzzard, Slaty-legged Crake, Scaly Thrush, Eurasian Woodcock, Blue-throated Flycatcher, Tickell’s Thrush, White-eyed Buzzard, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Little Spiderhunter, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Large-billed Reed Warbler, Changeable Hawk Eagle, and Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo. You can reach the sanctuary by taking buses or auto-rickshaws from Garia or boarding a private bus to Rathtala.
Nalban Fishery Complex
The Nalban Fishery Complex is a large interconnected water body primarily used for commercial fishery. It is home to a variety of bird species, including Purple and Grey Heron, Great and Intermediate Egret, Black-headed Gulls, Rubythroat, Baillon’s and Ruddy Crake, Rusty-rumped Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warblers, Watercock, Common Shelduck, Grey-headed Lapwing, and more. The complex is easily accessible via local buses, metered taxis, and mini buses from Salt Lake Technology Park in Salt Lake.
Santragachi Jheel, Howrah
Santragachi Jheel is a vast water body in Howrah district, covering around 13,75,000 square feet. It serves as a habitat for thousands of water birds, especially during the winter months. You can spot species like Northern Pintail, Lesser Whistling-Ducks, Ferruginous Pochard, Gadwall, Falcated Duck, Comb Duck, Baikal Teal, Fulvous Whistling-ducks, and Swinhoe’s Snipe. The nearest railhead is Santragachi Railway Station, just a 20-minute drive from the center of Kolkata.
Baranagar offers a 20-bigha forest land, hosting around 50 bird species, including various Woodpeckers, migratory birds, Storks, parrots, and Egrets. This area belongs to Bengal Immunity, a Central government undertaking that previously had a factory on the land. The land is located off Tobin Road, and local auto-rickshaws from Tobin Road bus stop on BT road can take you to the Bengal Immunity ground.
IIM Joka area
The area behind the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Joka is a breeding ground for birds such as Cinnamon, Bengal Bushlark, Black and Yellow Bitterns, Black-breasted Weavers, Watercock, Black-shouldered Kite, Oriental Skylark, White-eyed Buzzard, Purple Swamphen, and Zitting Cisticola, among others. Joka is located in South 24 Parganas, and you can reach it by taking a Joka-bound bus or metered taxi.
Barrackpore, located in North 24 Parganas, offers lush green riverside areas that serve as breeding grounds for birds like the Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. To reach Barrackpore, you can take a train from Sealdah main line or a Barrackpore-bound bus from Shyambazar to B.T Bose stop or Talpukur, and then take a rickshaw to the nature parks.
Purbasthali, approximately 120 km from Kolkata, is known for its diverse bird species, especially around the oxbow lake created by the River Ganges. Rare species found here include Common Teal, Eurasian Wigeons, Little Ringed Plover, Northern Pintail, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Intermediate Egret, White-throated Kingfisher, Indian Pond Heron, and Common Kingfisher. You can visit Purbasthali by taking a direct train from Howrah to Katwa and then catching a rickshaw from the station to Chupir Chor.
Boshipota, a small village near Dankuni, is a popular bird-watching site. It is surrounded by a variety of bird species, including Indian silverbill, Common rosefinch, Pied harrier, Yellow-bellied prinia, Black-shouldered kite, and more. To reach Boshipota, take a train to Uttarpara and then an auto-rickshaw to Raghunathpur Bazaar, followed by a short walk to Boshipota.
Birds, Birding Trips and Birdwatching Tours in West Bengal
All Tour Conducting by Sourav Taran, a wildlife enthusiast, nature lover.
Member of Bombey Natural History Society (BNHS), Member Federation Of Indian Photography (FIP)
Associated with Nature Mate NGO, Adventure Gurudongma.
GET IN TOUCH