A Tale of Sindh's Lungh Lake & Some Bird Lovers - Part 2

Saturday, January 26, 2019 Heba Moeen 19 Comments

There is more to a photograph than meets the eye ...


Selfie by Yasir Pechuho

Well, well, well ... after getting a good response on part 1 of the story, I felt compelled to write down a follow-up piece, also knowing that some of the wildlife group friends are anxiously waiting. So, on the first day of the trip and after having a combination of lunch and dinner around 6 p.m., we headed towards the hotel. As tired as we were, some were still in the mood to explore the surrounding areas. We got our rooms assigned and I got to share mine with a wonderful lady from Islamabad, Pharanaz Naveed Ashraf (who thankfully came equipped with a hair dryer ... to be explained in a while). Most of us were tired but I felt dead, a special kind of dead with a sore throat and a pulsating disco head so I decided to crash the bed that had an extremely hard pillow. This is when the realisation dawned upon me that I needed to be in a moving vehicle to be able to sleep as opposed to a stationary, useless bed - inertia is the new lullaby. There was a reason why we went beyond our comfort zones ... the reason was birds as we all know - bird watching and capturing these all in the company of like-minded individuals.  

There were a lot of 'lifers' to be captured especially in my case who was meeting these folks after quite a while based on which even these humans appeared lifers. This is a term used to describe your first shot of a specific bird.

Plans were being made not to be deviated from during this trip but to implement these ahead of our schedule. Some of us had decided to leave just before sunrise and reach the lake to take our positions and shoot the birds ... with our cameras of course! Why do you always think about guns and violence? That's not good at all. 

The next morning we woke up EARLY, as early as around 530ish, however ended up having breakfast an hour after that. Yasir Pechuho a jovial, local wildlife photographer from Larkana emerged as not just a good company but an excellent tour guide as well, exclaiming after every few seconds when we sat to snap pictures, 'WIGEON HAI! WIGEON HAI!' (It's a wigeon!). He is a localised version of yet another bird encyclopedia who knows his birds by their names and has a vision of the birds of prey.

Early morning breakfast with some fuel - COFFAYYY! :-D

So off we went to say hello to our feathered relatives! The 7 of us as can be seen in the selfie above emerged as somewhat 'earlier pretty birds' while the rest got off the nests later in the morning. If you are a coffee person, don't try to be fancy at local hotels thinking you would get coffee served for breakfast, instead take your own instant sachets along and that was something worth celebrating for me at least. 

We reached the lake a little after sunrise and were able to get hold of some good light for photography; thankfully it wasn't foggy or very cold unlike how the weather forecast had bluffed. This crazy group of ours continued capturing and identifying birds until the lunch break when food was all we could think of. What's really fascinating is the fact that everyone here is eager to help each other in terms of spotting birds, capturing and identifying these, and of course helping with potential camera malfunction. It is of utmost importance that you carry a spare battery when constantly clicking because some might still be present in Sindh in spirit but this town hardly has a constant supply of electricity. However, much to our delight, it was brought into our knowledge that they have ample WATER!!!

It's not easy capturing birds which is why one should see the amount of effort put in by these highly charged up and passionate individuals who aren't even getting anything in return but  just satisfaction and sheer delight. This reminds me of a thought provoking dialogue from Oscar Wilde's short story called 'Model Millionaire': "Millionaire models are rare enough but model millionaires are rarer still." I'm not implying that anyone of us is a millionaire. DO NOT kidnap us please! Thank you.

Now let's try and talk about each one of these legally sourced diamonds who have this super power of freezing those birds in flight and also exhibiting their catch in various group shows.

Mirza Naeem Beg:

A retired banker and young at heart birdaholic who knows his birds too well despite properly having started wildlife photography about four years ago. This shows decades worth of interest for birding. He's cool! I want to retire as well.

Some of his pictures from the trip:

Metacognition overload

Common Teal

Common kingfisher caught stuffing it's face eating shaadi ka khaana

Saad Aleem:

Saad Aleem is a mechanical engineer by profession, during moments of Monday blues he thinks of all the beautiful birds that he has captured which are yet to be transferred into the laptop. The irony is that all are usually snapped in RAW form and each has to be edited and converted into a JPEG file but who cares when passion outweighs all such painstaking processes. What I really liked about him was that he liked my music playlist as discussed in the previous post and all of us have something in common with each other. He also dislikes cigarettes!

Saad in Action by Saeed Jamal Tariq

Some of his pictures from the trip:

Common Teal

Northern Shoveler

Waqar Mursalin:

Waqar is a chartered accountant, when he gets bored of all the number crunching and balancing those oh-so-frustrating balance sheets, he day dreams of the next birding trip! He's a silent killer with a camera.

In search of that pwetty, pwetty birdie!
Some of his pictures from the trip: 

Common Teals

Blue throat

Northern Pintail

Yasir Pechuho:

Words may not be able to do justice to describe Yasir's dedication for his hobby. He would go out as early as 3 a.m. in the morning to establish grounds for a good bird photography session. Yasir is cool, if you have a camera and like to capture birds, be like Yasir. Period! 

Also, he would go an extra mile to help you capture the birds you might not be able to see instantly.

Picture Credit: Saeed Jamal Tariq

Some of his pictures from Lungh Lake: 

This one is a picture of a Eurasian Wigeon, when he saw this duck he was confident about the species name and couldn't hold back his excitement. He exclaimed, 'Wigeon hai! Wigeon hai!' (it's a wigeon) and now the Wigeon itself seems to be saying, "Haan mein wigeon hoon! Bhai mein he wigeon hoon!" (Yes I am a Wigeon! Brother, it's me who is the wigeon).
Eurasian Wigeon


Little Grebe


Celesta Von Chamier:

Celesta is a German lady who joined us all the way from Islamabad. She is a selfless person who is always eager to create awareness about and do something for the wildlife of Pakistan. Celesta is also very cool! Be like Celesta.

Celesta  (Walking upfront) - Picture Credit: Mirza Naeem Beg


Khurram Asim Kalimi:

Always high on excitement and entrepreneurial instincts, Khurram is actually a tech entrepreneur whose company will make waves at an international level one day. His enthusiasm for birding is endless and excitement level insurmountable whenever he gets to photograph a new bird which he later shows off. And why shouldn't he for his catch is always quite unique in one way or the other?

Check below: Bird-Mammal found on Planet Earth ... species to be identified. This is him!

Some of his pictures from Lungh Lake: 

The Gorgeous Indian Roller

Northern Shoveler: I believe I can fly! I believe I can touch the sky!!!

Caption by Nusrat Ali: A Spotted Owlet who spotted Khurram 

Almas Bana:

We had a gentleman amongst us who was not just brimming with knowledge but seemed to be a true advocate of women empowerment, his intellectual conversation throughout the journey enriched my brain cells. He thoroughly enjoyed the trip, perhaps more than us, for he was soaking himself in the mesmerizing environment and observing the scenic beauty with his binoculars, unlike us who were chasing birds with the camera and wanted to snap a picture of any flying, visible being or one that was perched for the matter ... with a frog or fish trapped in its beak ... or a green bee-eater teasing people! :P

Meet Almas Bana, he reads 3 local newspapers, 3 Indian newspapers, and 3 international ones besides watching BBC and Al Jazeera to grasp various perspectives and acquaint himself with different sides of the same news. In a world where companies need PR agencies with well informed people for their reputation management, be like Almas Bana! He is very well informed indeed! 

Almas Bana, second from right/next to the bird-mammal - Photo Credit: Mirza Naim Beg

Pharahnaz Naveed Ashraf:

Pharanaz heads grade 1 to 5 at a private school in Rawalpindi, once she discovered herself further, she realised wildlife photography to be her true calling.

I got to share the room with her and during such trips you should be prepared to eke out two days at a stretch without a shower because of cold water in winter. But neither of us was prepared for this and when she offered me her hair dryer I shamelessly accepted the generous offer without a second thought. 

Pharanaz, second from right - Picture Credit: Saeed Jamal Tariq

You can read about Nusrat Ali, Saeed Jamal Tariq, and Ellen in my previous post here.

And now some 'behind the scenes' images:

Young men & the Lake
"Come on, young man. Let me show you some pretty birds."
"Aye aye, captain!"

Picture Credit: Mirza Naim Beg

Nusrat Ali - Picture Credit: Saeed Jamal Tariq

And here he was, a determined farmer, earning by the sweat of his brow, tired and yet not defeated! 

Huma Beg and the little Umama: "Baita, yeh zamana bohat kharaab hai, yahan parindoun ko maar daitay haen." - Picture Credit: Saeed Jamal Tariq

And a little about my last few attempts at bird photography; after our lunch break we headed towards the lake again where Yasir spotted a long tailed shrike around the spread out reeds and encouraged me to click away. Trying my best to stay firm on the ground, I drew myself closer to the target while snapping countless pictures after every few inches rambled and Yasir's guiding commentary continued. And there it was, the bird gave several poses and stayed there until the sound of the motor cycle scared it off. But I was one happy bird after clicking over a dozen pictures of the bird that was nothing less than a poser.

This is one of the first few pictures:

And now the closest shot from the most appropriate angle:

I didn't realise that Yasir thought I was a bird too and documented this moment:

Picture Credit: Yasir Pechuho

There is sometimes a downside to your interests as well, for example my experience from the same morning:

I had to be pulled out, then my shoe had to be pulled out. Thankfully I wasn't alone otherwise it would have become messier. And it was a bad choice of shoes, just because I was lazy enough not to tie laces, I opted for this pair. 

It was finally time to say goodbye the next morning, we got ready to leave and return to our own jungle, Karachi ... concrete jungle - home sweet home and the wheat, pepper, and mustard fields on the way back added a sense of relaxation. Much to the disappointment of some who wanted to snap my picture while I slept, I did not sleep at all on my way back! Ha! 

Learning from the trip:

1. Keep an extra camera battery because you will be taking pictures from morning till evening and no battery lasts that long. This is especially important for places like Larkana where electricity supply is scanty despite 'Zinda hai! Zinda hai!'

2. Wear boots because of wet and swampy areas. 

3. If you are a coffee person, bring along your own coffee, however, it's advisable to cut down on tea and coffee while travelling. Nobody's cause of death has ever been a lack of coffee ... this is what I tell myself.

4. Keep your single use plastics with yourself only and dispose all such bits and pieces when you find a dustbin. You should realise that these are not biodegradable. We were all environmentally conscious people but still thought of reiterating this essential bit.

Some relevant local Facebook groups that focus on bird photography:

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  1. Excellent and candid write up, keep going.

    1. Thank you, Yaqoob! I hope you enjoyed all the individual profiles, not to mention the pictures as well. :)

  2. Very nicely written piece. I felt as I toured with you! :)
    Keep birding and keep sharing!

    1. Thank you, Nusrah! I feel extremely grateful for such comments. Quite a few people have been saying this. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks. So destination options for the next retreat? Lol.

  4. Great adventure with beautiful images covered in a single post. Really find it fascinating to read.

    1. I never knew we have such amazing wildlife in our country.

  5. The write up takes the reader along in it's flow. One actually feels like being a part of the trip. Good show, keep going Hiba Moeen.

    1. Hi Iftikhar, thanks for your comment. Happy to give you a virtual tour. :)

  6. A wonderful and detailed write up. You take your readers on a journey. This piece give a thought the Sindh province can also be promoted as a tourists destination.Hope you continue to narrate your experiences in future also and we continue to enjoy learning about these places through your efforts.

    1. Thank you! Yes we have so much to explore and flaunt off but unfortunately not much is being done to promote our wildlife, culture, and tourism. And Sindh seems to be the most neglected perhaps after Balochistan.

  7. Wow! amazing photography and well written in detail.

  8. A parda Nasheen duck which was captured in Sindh28 February 2019 at 10:35

    lovely to see these beautiful and colorful birds.I hope birds also enjoyed the visit of friendly humans.

    1. Hello parda nasheen duck! Well this is an interesting name. I'm sure these birds liked our presence because they seemed indifferent and didn't bother feeling scared.

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