Summer Bird watching in Vetal Hill

Summer bird watching in Vetal Hill:

Laughing Dove at Vetal Tekdi
Laughing Dove at Vetal Tekdi
It was that time of the year, where the mercury shoots up as high as 40 degree Celsius in Pune and not the ideal birding season. Pashan lake & Kavdi Pat being more popular with the migratory avian visitors and migratory season in Pune starts from October, So I choose to visit Vetal tekdi (hill) / ARAI.

About Vetal Tekdi:
Vetal hill is the highest point in Pune city & is termed to be the lungs of the city due to its green cover. It is popular among all age groups and hosts various adventure and nature activities including cycling, rock climbing and bird watching.
Bird watchers can trek directly towards the abandoned Quarry site or the man made crater, the pond here attracts many migratory as well as resident birds & is the best place in Vetal hill for spotting birds.

How to reach hilltop?
There are three paths which takes to the hilltop, the first & the most preferred being the motorable road from Gokhale road which is on the Kothrud side. The second pathway is a secluded one which can be reached from the Panchawati society, this is not recommended as it is through a private society & often protected through gates. The third path is through an adventures small trek past the Chattushringi temple, again there is a gate which leads to the temple, which will be closed at almost all times & unfrequented by visitors.

I got to visit twice & tried different routes, on my both visits I started from Kothrud side & while descending I tried Panchavati side on my first visit and in my second visit tried the more adventurous Chattushringi side, both times was lucky to have got my way out.

Birds of Vetal hill:
Some of the popular bird sightings at vetal hill during this time of the year includes Indian peafowl, Small Minivet, Rufous Treepie, Francolins, Zitting Cisticola, Spotted Owlet, Shrikes & Gray-breasted Prinia. These also topped my bucket list.

Birding experience:
The common bird spotting I had were the Robin's, Egret's, Bulbul's, Prinia, Cormorant's, Sunbird's, Red wattled Lapwing, Green Bee-eater, Cinereous tit, White throated Kingfisher, laughing dove & black Drongo.
White throated Kingfisher
White throated Kingfisher
Little Cormorant
Little Cormorant
The best experience was spotting about fourteen tiny yellow beauties, the Oriental White-eyes flying one after another from a tree.
I had only one lifer on my first visit, which was the chestnut-shouldered Petronia.
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia
On my second visit I got to reach the place a little earlier but still after the sunrise. I was greeted by a long tailed beauty of the Vetal hill, the Rufous Treepie. Apart from the Rufous Treepie I was fortunate to have spotted two more lifers including an Indian Nightjar camouflaged under the tree branches and a flock of Brahminy Starling.
Rufous Treepie
Rufous Treepie
Indian Nightjar - nocturnal bird, lying still on the ground during day time
Indian Nightjar - nocturnal bird, lying still on the ground during day time
Complete list of birds spotted at Vetal Hill during April 2018:
  1. Ashy Prinia
  2. Black Drongo
  3. Black Kite
  4. Brahminy Starling
  5. Chestnut-shouldered Petronia
  6. Cinereous Tit
  7. Common Myna
  8. Common Tailorbird
  9. Coppersmith Barbet
  10. Greater Coucal
  11. Green Bee-eater
  12. House Crow
  13. Indian Nightjar
  14. Indian Peafowl-Heard calls multiple times
  15. Indian Pond-Heron
  16. Indian Robin
  17. Intermediate Egret
  18. Large-billed Crow
  19. Laughing Dove
  20. Little Cormorant
  21. Little Egret
  22. Oriental Magpie-Robin
  23. Oriental White-eye
  24. Plain Prinia
  25. Purple Sunbird
  26. Purple-rumped Sunbird
  27. Red-vented Bulbul
  28. Red-wattled Lapwing
  29. Red-whiskered Bulbul
  30. Rock Pigeon
  31. Rose-ringed Parakeet
  32. Rufous Treepie
  33. Spotted flying either a purple or gray heron
  34. swallow sp
  35. swift sp
  36. White-throated Kingfisher