The Indian robin is sexually dimorphic in plumage, with the male being mainly black with a white shoulder patch or stripe whose visible extent can vary with posture. The northern populations have the upper plumage brownish, while the southern populations are black above. The males have chestnut undertail coverts and these are visible as the bird usually holds the 6–8 cm long tail raised upright. The females are brownish above, have no white shoulder stripe and are greyish below, with the vent a paler shade of chestnut than the males. Birds of the northern populations are larger than those from southern India or Sri Lanka. Juvenile birds are much like females, but the throat is mottled
Indian Robin in Surat
Often seen in the branches of trees or green areas chirping similar to sparrows but distinctly loud and consistently musical sound. They are dark in colour slightly larger than sparrow and identified by their tail which is kept upright.
In my observation of these birds over the last two years, I have seen them grow from around 2-4 birds to now nearly over 15 in number. Couple of months back the Corona Pandemic led lockdown all-over the city. During that time one couple found an old scooter that was not moved. They built their nest in the front storage compartment. Which was dark and cosy so suited them. They used to daily cross over the compound wall and come over to the other side. They would catch some insects or worms in the open ground and fly over to the compound fall. Then see left and right for any danger and rush into the nest. Both the male and female worked in tandem. When was on the wall, other would fly to catch some food in the ground. And as the other went up. The next one went out. It was so coordinated effort. And they did so for an hour or so in the evening and early mornings. As their chick grew big enough they would make sounds asking for more food. Within two weeks they were able to hop over the nest and fly into the bushes.
Black-headed Ibis have started to visit Surat since a week. They seem to be getting reading for the oncoming Monsoon season. Every year these birds come to breed in the small numbers near the ponds, waterhole, mushy areas in the city.
Black-headed Ibis are these distinct birds with a devilish look and long beak. They remind us of the fact that birds were closely related to dinosaurs in some time in the past.
Seagulls visit Tapi River banks in Surat every year during winter in large numbers. They come in thousands and stay here for 3-4 months from November to February. This year as well they have come to taste Surti food for which they have become adapted and habituated for. It seems they keep coming to taste these tasty snacks of Surat such as gathiya, namkeen, dhokla and others. However it is not sure if this is causing them any kind of serious damage. Healthcare and Bird experts feel that they should be fed only boiled food or their natural diet to keep them safe.
However Surtis in large number are seen feeding gathiya and other snacks during early morning and evenings. Seagulls have developed a discipline to come in position to sit near the railing at the bridge and wait for someone to place the snacks. They come in turns and are seen savoring the delight. You can see seagulls getting upclose to humans, seems like they have been domesticated. Across the world, Seagulls are seen to have similar behaviour at beaches and urban establishment where often they are seen to steal food from the visitors. Seagulls eat fishes and insects as their natural diet.
They are seen taken ride in Tapi river to fulfill their taste buds. Seagulls are seen in large number near Makkai Pool, where it has become their usual breakfast and evening snacks spot. They are also seen resting in the muddy islands in Tapi River. On the other side of the city, where Tapi River looks like a lake near Singanpore, wier-cum-causeway carries a new avatar of Tapi. Here large flocks of birds are seen swimming in the water and flying at certain intervals. Below video is captured at one such instance.
Best time to see Seagulls near Tapi river is early mornings when the Sun is rising behind the urban infrastructure. Large number of Surtis are seen going on walks, jogging and running. They feed these birds as well. Also during evening before Sunset, you can enjoy the Sun going down near Tapi River and see the birds making large sounds as they feed on the food. You will find the darkness creating a silhoutte of the city infrastructure, in the background sunsetting into the river and in the foreground you will see these birds flying with wide open wings. A perfect time to carry your camera and click some pictures of this birds upclose as well as landscapes.
Try to care for these birds as they have come from far off lands possibly from the freezing cold Europe or Russia. There is not sure trace of these birds, however it is seen that every year they return to the very spot and stay for few months, before they make return to their home lands. As visitors, they bring about a beauty to our city and repeated return makes our city their favorite place. So we need to continue keeping our city clean and treat our foreign visitors with care and love as always.
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Flamingos visit Surat near the banks of Tapi River every year in large number. Over the last few years, the number of birds flocking in had gone down severly. However this year, large group of Flamingos was seen enjoying in the muddy little islands in the Tapi River, stretching from Pal to Magdalla.
Flamingo is a large bird with pink feathers, long, thin legs, a long neck, and a beak that curves down. They usually stand on one leg while the other is tucked beneath their bodies. Flamingos are capable flyers. Young flamingos hatch with greyish-red plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta-carotene obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly colored.
The greater flamingo is the tallest of the 6 different species of flamingos, standing at 3.9 to 4.7 feet (1.2 to 1.4 m) with a weight up to 7.7 pounds (3.5 kg), and the shortest flamingo species (the lesser) has a height of 2.6 feet (0.8 m) and weighs 5.5 pounds (2.5 kg). Flamingos can have a wingspan as small as 37 inches (94 cm) to as big as 59 inches (150 cm).
Flamingos filter-feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae as well as larva, small insects, mollusks and crustaceans making them omnivores. Their bills are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat, and are uniquely used upside-down. Downstream of Tapi River in Surat, after causeway is well-suited for this type of environment, bringing in large number of Flamingos every year.
The shallow waters near Magdalla and Hazira, downstream of Tapi near Umra are home to flamingos. When the tide is over, flocks of flamingos come to shallow Tapi river to munch on the algae and insects. Check Map Below for possible spotting locations.