Arafat Rasul 15 Jul, 2017
© Pallas's Fish Eagle. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
Baikka Beel (Baikka Wetland Sanctuary) - A Heaven for Bird Watcher
Baikka Wet Land locally known as “Baikka Beel”, located in near to the Srimongol town which is a sub-district of Moulvi Bazar district, known as the Tea Capital of Bangladesh under Sylhet division. This wet land area basically a sanctuary to protect and restore aquatic bio diversity (especially fish and birds) in Hail Haor Basin area.
Another reason is through the visitor facilities to enhance enjoyment of the site and understanding of nature, the importance of wetlands and need for their conservation. The sanctuary and its facilities are a model that can encourage replication of similar sanctuaries elsewhere in the country. Baikka Beel is a 100 hectors wetland sanctuary located in Hail Haor basin, a large wetland seasonally in monsoon extending from 3,000-12,000 hectors in North-Eastern part of Bangladesh.
© Pristine Waterbody at Baikka Beel. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
How to find?
At the Northern end, 14 km away from Srimongol town. Middle of Dhaka-Moulvi Bazar called Vairab Ganoj highway near to a small village. North-Eastern part of Bangladesh.
© Spotted Owlet. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
What to see?
Baikka Beel comprises of open water with emergent vegetation (mostly Lotus, Water Hyacinth and Lily’s) and a fringe of native swamp forest planted in 5-8 years ago.
Originally it was protected to conserve and restore fish and it supports around 90 species of local fish which are highly endangered but populations of wintering water birds rapidly increased.
So far 141 bird species have been recorded in the sanctuary. Up to 9 Pallas’s Fish Eagles and Large Flocks of Ducks including up to 4,500 Fulvous Whistling-Duck occur in winter.
Greater Spotted Eagle is regular and good numbers and diversity of Shorebirds, Marshland Warblers and other birds occur including the native ones like various types of Egret, Heron, Moorhen, Bee Eaters, and Owl etc. Mammals are few but include Fishing Cat.
© Green Bee Eater. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
Things to do?
Anyone can get in to the observation tower in Baikka Beel after paying entrance fees. This tower is facilitated with telescope & binocular. The area is great for migratory birds watching and getting sense of wildlife. If you wish you can hire a boat and have a ride on the pristine water body for a closer look to the different types of birds.
© Purple Swamphen. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
What about the facilities?
A visitor tower with several permanent interpretive displays was opened in early 2007. This is the only such kind of facility in the country still now and only substantial community managed wetland sanctuary in the country. It is planned to construct a visitor centre and other facilities in 2010 with funds left over from the earlier MACH project but somehow it's not done yet. Visitors number have not been recorded as reliably as would be ideal but roughly more than thousands per year and includes student groups, researchers and a wide range of foreign visitors specially the Bird Watchers.
© Mixed flock of Whistling Duck & Great Cormorant. Photo Credit: Arafat Rasul
The best time to watch birds is early in the morning in winter (November – January) for two hours starting from sunrise and in the afternoon since two hours before the sunset. If you are planning to watch birds in the afternoon, should start your day pretty early. It will allow you to reach the destination at about 3:00 PM. You’ll get plenty of time to watch and take photos of birds. You should not forget to bring your tele-lens and camera if you are into wildlife or bird photography. A boat can be hired to get pretty close to the flock of birds.
There are no such good eating facilities at the area. But there are some roadside cafes (tea stalls). It is recommended for a traveler to carry food with them.
© Sunset in Winter at Baikka Beel. Photo Credit: Wikimedia