The whispering whoosh of a zillion wingflaps

There is something fascinating about flocks of birds as I have been discovering lately.

My friend, Saravanan Janakarajan, our guide, Sabbir Belim, and I were at the Thol Bird Sanctuary a couple of weeks back. Thol is famously known as a lovers park. But if you look beyond the obvious, because it is really one, it is a wonderful place to photograph water birds. Thol Lake is an artificial lake near Thol village in Kadi in Mehsana District in the Indian state of Gujarat. It was constructed as an irrigation tank in 1912. It is a fresh water lake surrounded by marshes. It was declared the Thol Bird Sanctuary in 1988; it is a habitat to 150 species of birds, about 60% are waterbirds. Many migratory birds nest and breed in the lake and its periphery.

We were focussed on the Great White Pelicans and the Greater Flamingos when a large, mixed flock of birds took off from the lake and flew over us. As they flew past us, we heard the gentle fluttering swoosh of a few hundred wing flaps of the mixed flock of Godwits and Ruffs. The first time this happened we didn’t really pay full attention till after they had nearly passed us by. And we just caught the tail-end of the whispering whoosh, a mesmerising sound if there was ever one. We waited for a repeat when another flock took off and this time we dropped whatever we were doing and just listened. I haven’t heard a gentler sound in my life.

This is a flock of 509 Ruff’s, 2 Black-tailed Godwits and a Common Teal. Shot at Thol Bird Sanctuary near Ahmedabad a couple of weeks back in the lovely pre-dusk golden light.

And yes, I counted;-)

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