Santragachi Jheel - Migratory Bird's Lake
Santragachi Jheel: The Lake extends over 32 acres/ 13, 75,000 square feet and attacks 4000 / 5000 migratory winter birds, ducks and moorhens to this safe haven between Decembers to February. Lesser Whistling-Ducks dominate this lake, as they do in most parts of the east. But by no means is Santragachi a one duck pond. Regular winter visitors here include the rare Fulvous Whistling-duck, Swinhoe's Snipe, Ferruginous Pochard, Comb Duck and the more common Gadwall, Garganey, Northern Pintail, Northern Shovelers Common Moorhen, Cotton Pygmy Goose and others. Jacanas and bitterns are the resident breeders.
Santragachi is not beautiful. It is surrounded by habitation and railway tracks. Water hyacinth covers a large part of the surface and there is very little green cover. But the birds more than make up in their variety, numbers and in the unconcerned way they make Santragachi a home. The key feature of Santragachi is the protection that these birds receive at this small lake. Unless you visit Santragachi and see the unconcerned way in which the normally wary birds move about, you can never appreciate the miracle of Santragachi. And the credit goes to the Indian Railways who own and maintain the lake and more particularly to the local residents who take pride in protecting the birds.
How to reach: Santragachi Jheel is easily accessed from the Kona Expressway which connects the second Hooghly Bridge with NH 6. It is just beside Santragachi Railway Station which is a 30 minute drive from esplanade, center of Kolkata. The Jheel or lake is right behind the rail tracks and a short walk from the station. One can reach there by Train too. Santragachi station is just 3 stations (15mins) away from Howrah Station.
Best time: December to February when the temperatures dip. Early mornings (6.30 am) and late afternoon (4.00 pm onwards) are the best time(s) of the day.
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