Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary

Calling all the Puneites and people of Maharashtra to discover this vibrant ecosystem of beauty, Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary. Marely 135 km away from Pune, this gem is hidden at the backwaters of Ujani Dam. Also renowned as the “Bharatpur of Maharashtra” it is a calling for all bird lovers and nature enthusiasts to spot more than 230 bids species all across the sanctuary.

Location & How to reach

Bhigwan is in the outskirts of Salpaur district, located within the Kumbhargaon village. The location is extremely accessible, and the travel is hassle free. You can drive there in your car or use public transport (ST buses) Pune to Solapur that stop perfectly at Bhigwan. This park is truly a marvel and a blessing with its abundant birds and surroundings.

Why is it famous

The Ujani Dam is the dominant feature of this sanctuary creating lush vegetation and an extensive wetland. This ideal environment attracts lot of residential birds in the monsoon and migratory birds especially in the winter season. 

Along the shores scenic trees of bamboo, teak, tendu and ain create a glorious boarder. Monsoons transform the park into an avian paradise diminishing dry pockets and offering more peace and isolation. 

A unique feature here is the opportunity to go for a boat ride conducted by local boatmen who use traditional methods, responsible tourism practices and make sure to minimize disturbance to birds. The avian abundance of over 230 species guarantees at least some sightings and hopefully of the majestic Greater Flamingos. These graceful pink birds against the picturesque lake create a beauty like none other.

Heron In Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary

Heron – Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary

Residential birds found

Residential stars like the Indian Pied Kingfisher blue in colour, diving for fish and the distinct calls of Common Kingfisher are not to be missed. Look for the long-necked Grey Heron and snowy Little Egret. 

Due to shallow waters and mudflats, check out shore birds like Pied Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. If you miss a touch of raptors and hunters, spot the Dusky Eagle Owl and the Short-toed Snake Eagle soaring high above. 

The list extends further with the Indian Grey Hornbill on branches, vibrant, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Black Drongo, Oriental Magpie-Robin and several other species. Make sure to go with someone who has knowledge about these species if you are not familiar with them or ask the guides to help you locate this beaming variety.  

Migratory birds found 

Seasonal spectacles of birds that travel long distances to escape the harsh North winters are indeed the showstoppers at Bhigwan. Ofcourse what comes first is the pink flamboyant beauty and elegance of Greater Flamingos often seen in flocks. 

The long-distance travelers, praised for their migration from Central Asia are the Bar-headed Goose. They have incredible honking calls and white and brown plumage. We have all seen pictures or learnt in school about the distinct spoon-shaped beak of the Eurasian Spoonbill. Picture yourself actually witnessing their beauty right in the heart of Maharashtra. 

Keep your binoculars ready for ducks and waders like the Cotton Teal, Ruff, Gadwall and Black-tailed Godwit providing fascinating views. To complete the ecosystem, the park is a pitstop for hunters and divers too. Osprey or the Collared Pratincole are exceptional hunters with keen observation skills and agility. 

Peak season

Planning your birding adventure does not require a lot but certainly the season matters. If you are only looking for a quick unplanned getaway anytime of the year, do not worry, Bhigwan offers that too! The vast variety of residential birds can be spotted any time through the year. 

If you a passionate bird watcher, planning to visit the sanctuary to observe migratory birds, then winter season is perfect for you. The months of November to March are pleasant, cool and attract migratory birds from Central Asia and Europe. The water levels of the Ujani Dam rise and create a favourable atmosphere for these unique species.

Black Drongo Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary

Black Drongo – Bhigwan Bird Sanctuary

Birding Tips at Bhigwan

Keep these key tips in mind if you want optimize you birding experience. Especially if you are a beginner looking forward to improving your enriching Bhigwan getaway.

At least an 8*40 magnification binoculars pair and a camera fitted with nice zoom lenses will ensure that you get close views besides clicking superb photographs of colorful birdlife. Make sure you reach there early in the morning and start boat ride before sunrise so as to catch those ones which are most active during this period.

Wear comfortable shoes and clothes for movement and navigation purposes over terrain. Come along with a guide from the local community who will enlighten you about sanctuary’s history, bird life within it besides showing some hidden treasures that may escape your attention. Maintain silence and do not litter for Bhigwan prides in keeping its beauty intact.

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