eight intrepid souls that braved 35 km of rural kanpur roads. one tire-burst and two punctures. brajesh kushwaha, varun sood sudhamsh goutham, ripu singla, abhishek l, suhail rizvi, kaizad rustomji, and amit mukerjee.

Ripu Singla trying to fetch water with a bucket that has a huge hole. Two villagers came and used the well while we were at it. An excellent exercise in dexterity and reflexes. Those wishing to try it can do so at Hanspur, near the Hulkapur bridge, 10km down the canal.

it wasn't as if people were firing cannons at us - it was just that Sudhamsh's bicycle tire exploded...

We had just seen the fruit bat colony on top of a tree near Bhaunipur, when there was a terrific explosion. No, it wasn't as if people were firing cannons at us - it was just Sudhamsh's bicycle tire which exploded right through the tire...

So we had a good half-hour for contemplating the world.

It was Sunday and we'd met up at SAC about an hour back, and come down leisurely along the canal, on the first stretch of our rural Kanpur ride. There were eight of us, some old timers and a couple of new faces.

Today's route was going to explore the canal upto the Hulkapur bridge ( 13km, second bridge from IITK) - and then turn left and go along the village routes via Gopalpur, Etara and Gambhirpur, to Tikra (28km), and then back to IITK on the Shiwali Road (35km).

At the bridge we encountered drongos and indian rollers waiting besides a grassfire to gobble up insects. On the other side were the ruins of an old canal office, quite a large building, which has been abandoned for more than three decades, according to the locals.

Varun Sood in front of the abandoned canal works office.

The route is amazingly rich with birds, and here are some of the interesting species encountered on this ride.

Asian openbill stork

This chap was on our side of the canal but flew over to the other side as we passed. In the fourth picture it seems to have caught some disreputable object, maybe a frog, or maybe a lump of mud or tuber.

Here are six Openbill Storks, at the Gambhirpur temple pond. I have seen them here, along with a great egret, on every visit during this winter.

Chestnut-Shouldered Petronia

This bird is also known as the Yellow-throated Sparrow. Salim Ali encountered this bird as a child, and intrigued by it, was eventually intoduced into birdwatching. We saw this next to Manish Tripathi's rice mill at Ramgopalpur (12km) along the canal.

Fruit bat

Not quite a bird, but definitely of interest. This bat colony was spotted by Suhail. They were hanging upside down all over this giant tree, just past Bhaunipur.

Yellow Wagtail ?

Some race of Yellow Wagtail, probably a male, with necklace throat-markings. A necklace or bib is sometimes part of the male's breeding plumage (in many wagtails), though February may be a bit early. Seen hopping around the hyacinth-covered pond-1 at Gopalpur, along with two Bronze-Winged Jacanas, some Pond Herons, a White-breasted Waterhen, etc.

Egyptian Vulture

These birds are rather good-looking for carrion eaters. They are commonly seen in the stretch between Kursauli and Hanspur, where cattle carcasses are sometimes abandoned by the canalside. These birds were sighted in a wheat field on the road to Gambhirpur.

Grey Heron

Spotted by Suhail. This was our first sighting of this species. Seen at long jheel near Etara. In the two middle pictures, you can see that it is looking down, standing on one leg. Then it flew down to the main jheel, where a great egret was standing.

Ahoy there! Glad to see you matey!

Great Egret

A great egret from the second pond at Gopalpur. In the second image, you can see a Little Grebe (or maybe a cormorant) at the top left.

Left, at a long pond by the road approaching Etra. Next, from the pond beside the Bajirao Peshwa constructed Vankhandeshwar temple at Gambhirpur.

Bronze-winged Jacana

These jacanas were foraging on the hyacinth surface of pond 1 at Gopalpur. The bottom two are either immature or females.

Other common species

Laughing dove on babool at Ramgopalpur

Black Drongo acrobatics near the Hulkapur bridge. Another drongo waiting for insects next to a smoking grass fire

Indian roller at the edge of a brushfire and on perch. Sharing a branch with two drongos

Sarus crane with a roost of ring-necked doves in the foreground. The other sarus was also foraging nearby.

Homo Sapiens

Photo opportunity at a mustard field near Hulkapur bridge. Suhail and Abhishek.

Varun and Amit at old barkat near the well

Puncture break by the mustard fields...

Amitabha Mukerjee January 25, 2010   Feedback: m u k e r j e e [at] g m a i l