Odisha: Birding at Mangalajodi

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Off to Orissa

In my post on Barkul, I told you about our stay at boat-house. Our next destination in Odisha trip was Mangalajodi.

Farms along NH5

Farms along NH5

After crossing the track, we found a huge highway stretched endlessly before us and haystacks were laid here and there in the farms.

Long vista of Highway

Long vista of Highway

After a long drive, we left the highway and went onto a small Kuccha road to reach Mangalajodi Camp. There we ordered food and hired Binoculars, a Chappu Dinghi and our guide Madhu Baheda joined us.

Here Starts Mangalajodi!

Here starts Mangalajodi!

Mangalajodi is a wetland of marshes, reed beds and open water, sheltering thousands of resident and migratory birds. In the peak season of November to March, number of birds reaches to two lacs and more. It is just One hour drive from Bhubaneshwar on NH 5.

Birds were wading, swimming and flying everywhere. The sound of birds chirping was coming from all around and so it was not easy to track a bird hearing its voice. I saw many birds and liked the Pied Kingfisher hovering over the water and then diving to catch hold of its prey. If the bird was unsuccessful then this cycle would continue else the bird would fly away with its prized catch.

Pied KIngfisher

Pied Kingfisher

Later I came to know that all these guides were poachers earlier, they used to shoot down birds and sell them in the market. So for a period of time the population of birds decreased. Then in 1996, NGO, Wild Orissa, started talking about protection of birds to villagers. It changed the attitude of villagers and Sri Sri Mahavir Pakshi Suraksha Samiti was formed. Our guide Madhu was a leading member of this group. Those poachers are now birding guides. You may find telling them name of birds, its behavior and all field guide details along with its weight, taste and all things related to eating it! But now they do not catch and kill any birds.

The birds used to form a group and fly in the sky forming all different types of patterns. Open-Billed Stork formed a V pattern above our boat. A few hundred Black tailed Godwits made a cloud above us.

Pattern Formation

Pattern Formation

Many birds were hiding in small bushes and would suddenly come out, we would spot them, and they would again disappear in the bushes. This was the first time I saw my school’s emblem bird- Tern, flying over my head. There were many ducks and Terns swaying their backs and as the boat would come near they would fly to a safe distance.

Swaying Terns

Swaying Terns

The birds were not even giving a single chance for the camera to rest. I saw Lily Flowers scattered all over the area. This was not the end of our tour; it was only the halfway mark.

Soon we stopped near a large marshy patch where another man on boat passed on our lunch. It had a big Tiffin and large round vessels. I asked Papa-‘Will we eat here on the boat?’ Another new experience! It was delicious lunch of Kadi-Pakoda, Dal, Gobi, Aloo matar, Chutney, curd, Roti and Rice. They served us food very lovingly and felt happy as we relished our food and licked fingers!

Lunch at Boat in Mangalajodi

Lunch at Boat

Having filled our tummies in the middle of nowhere, we proceeded further on our birding trip. We got off at a mud bank and started walking. While walking I saw many black spots on a dry piece of land, very far. I thought of what could it be and I could only guess of stones. I engaged everyone else also in that quest. Looking by binoculars also made them look like stones but I still had a doubt that they could be birds, but I had never seen so many birds alike sitting together. The guide told us that they were not stones, they were indeed birds! We all were amazed!

Flocks of birds at Mangalajodi

Birds or stones

After sometime we resumed our tour.While returning we made our way through the place where rare birds are spotted. We were making big stoppages to spot birds. They were very small and I did not like it much because they were mostly black or brown in color. We moved slowly and saw many rare birds. Evening approached and that was the end of our trip. No one felt like going. We thanked our guide and boatman and went to our taxis to go to Bhubaneshwar.



I couldn’t believe myself seeing so many new birds just in one day and I really enjoyed being a part of that birding tour.

Checklist of Birds that we spotted-
• Greylag goose
• Ruddy shelduck
• Spot-billed duck
• Northern pintail
• Northern shoveller
• Gadwall
• Garganey teal
• Tufted duck
• Common kingfisher
• White-throated kingfisher
• Pied kingfisher
• Baillon’s crake
• Ruddy breasted Crake
• Purple swamphen
• Common moorhen
• Common snipe
• Black-tailed godwit
• Common redshank
• Spotted redshank
• Common greenshank
• Common sandpiper
• Wood sandpiper
• Marsh sandpiper
• Black-winged stilt
• Pheasant tailed jacana
• Bronze-winged jacana
• Oriental pratincole
• Pacific golden plover
• Grey-headed lapwing
• Red-wattled lapwing
• Ruff
• Whiskered tern
• Little cormorant
• Indian cormorant
• Little egret
• Great egret
• Intermediate egret
• Cattle egret
• Indian pond hereon
• Grey heron
• Purple heron
• Yellow bittern
• Black bittern
• Cinnamon bittern
• Asian openbill

Contact address of Wild Orissa to organize the tour-

Shri Nanda Kishore Bhujabal
Governor Wild Orissa, Tangi Regional Chapter
P.O Tangi
District Khurda; Orissa
Phone: 09937153857
E-mail: nandakishorebhujabal@wildorissa.org

Series Navigation<< Boat House at Barkul, Odisha


  1. Sumeet

    October 7, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    You got a wonderful list of birds there, I am planning to visit in December 1st week, will it be too early for the migratory birds?

    • Jaishree

      October 10, 2014 at 9:38 am

      Hi Sumeet

      Birds would have arrived by then but choose your guide carefully. They all know all the birds but their willingness to take you in the smaller channels and point at perfectly camouflaged birds will be most essential.

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