A single rabbit track in the field leading to the dense forest ahead, in Winter during sunrise
Ah this place! Being at the outskirts of the city, it still is an integral part of the city as many people like to visit this place on weekends. Almost everybody who go there goes for a hike in the mountains. But what most don’t know is the beautiful habitat of The Valley of those mountains. The Valley, one of my favourite spots around Pune city for an outing.Boarding the 5.30 am bus, reaching this place at pitch darkness, before sunrise, waiting at a small local food stop or ‘tapri’ with a Woof family for the sun to throw some light in the sky, while being all ears to the Nightjar calls, the cock-a-doodle-doo, maybe owl calls sometimes, is so thrilling. Walking a 5 minutes walk just to glance over the stream and then heading straight to the fields ahead to witness the first sight of the day’s sun is the next thing I would do as soon as there is some sign of light in the sky! And THAT is my favourite part, walking in THAT particular field when the sun just peeks from behind the mountains at the front, throwing golden light in the sky with alternate clouds which add up to the beauty. The birds chirping, occasional calls of the Barking Deer, there shoots a Pipit in the sky, the light falling part by part on the mountains to the right, the beautiful, small green thorny plants with yellow flowers all around with a single rabbit track at the centre of the field. Such a bliss♥️ This is what I live for! What place is this? A five star hotel? A grand shopping mall? It’s just a simple field. A field surrounded by mountains on three sides, a place where you can witness such beautiful sunrises, a single track leading to the lovely, dense forests with inviting whistles of the Common Iora echoing through The Valley, a Serpent Eagle wishing Good Morning from the top of the mountain through its endless Kwiiii-Kwiu-Kwiu screams. This is what Sinhagad Valley is all about!
By the time the Sun climbs up a suitable height in the sky to light up the entire place and make the environment warm enough without throwing harsh heat waves at you, you wake up completely from your early morning sleep. It’s still 8am on the clock and you have a lot of time to explore. This is when I head towards the forests ahead. This forest has one of the most beautiful vegetation around Pune. People do not explore this forest much because what people here think of when I say ‘The Valley’ is the stream that flows before the fields. This stream is the major attraction for all the bird photographers in Pune. Almost no one will ever talk about the fields and the forests ahead. Of course, why would they?
This stream is one such place that come what may, you’ll get to see a variety of birds from a VERY close distance during the right season.You literally need no efforts to get good photos, the place where the bird sits is also pre decided, you just have to have a tripod aimed towards that spot and a 600mm ready (I don’t even have a 600mm lol), that’s it, you’re sure to get each and every feather of the bird sharp in your photo. Literally anyone who has even 2% skill can do this. And that’s why this place is always crowded, come here during this season and there will definitely be a crowd of 10-15+ people sitting around this very small stream, even on odd days. Sundays are a bonus, 30+ people sure, no breathing room and the stream turns into a chat room with everyone trying to show their ‘expertise’. During the rest of the year, there won’t be even 3 people around the entire area including the fields and forest ahead, naturally because the stream is dry so you won’t get readymade sightings. Getting good sightings and photos in the jungle ahead is not at all easy.
Well I’m not that person who’ll enjoy such ‘readymade’ photos where there is no satisfaction of ‘making’ the photo, I’d rather prefer to get less beautiful photos but explore. Though there is nothing wrong in sitting by the stream, what I don’t like is the crowding behaviour of people. That is completely wrong I’ll say. It causes a lot of disturbance to the natural activity of birds. And people will do anything to get good photos. They won’t follow the wildlife ethics, they’ll set up artificial perches for the birds, they’ll keep baits, they’ll create artificial ponds and what not. Theres no point in getting such ‘readymade’ photos, where everyone has literally the exact same photos. Also, this is not what I call birding. Birding for me is exploring on foot, finding new habitats, approaching birds without disturbing them while still maintaining suitable distance and following ethics. That’s why I love the forests of the Valley so much as they provide an amazing experience every time.
There’s a lot that I have to tell about finding wildlife in The Valley and my experiences from The Valley. I will publish another blog next week narrating the same. Because, however the journey ahead is, be it with a lot of sightings or even on a duck at times, I never get bored of this place and never can I ever get enough of the jungle and the sunrise through my favourite, photospot-ic field! Stay tuned 🙂
This is a 3-part blog and you just read Part 1. Read the next part here, where the adventure at The Valley actually begins-
If you’ve already started your adventures in Part 2, you can skip to Part 3 here, to continue your adventures in The Valley-