Indian Pitta

It inhabits scrub jungle, deciduous and dense evergreen forest.

Nilgiri Flycatcher

An endemic resident in the Western Ghats of southern India.

Brown-winged Kingfisher

These kingfisher species excavate their nests in a river mud bank.


Tales from the Land of Mowgli


Feeds mostly on small birds, capturing them in mid-air in rapid pursuit.

Malabar Trogon

A resident of dense tropical forests.

Malabar Pied Hornbill

This species is omnivorous, taking fruit, fish and small mammals.

Crimson-backed Sunbird

Diet of sunbirds is based mostly on nectar

Golden-breasted Fulvetta

They prefer dense undergrowth, usually dominated by bamboo forest.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Birding in Sonkhaliya - (for Lesser Florican)

Grasslands across the globe have been geographically located between forests and deserts. Primarily, they are found where there is not enough rainfall to support the growth of a forest, but not so little as to form a desert!

Grasslands around Sonkhaliya, near Ajmer was no exception and was generally open and fairly flat. This season it had rained reasonably well making the soil deep and fertile.

This is home to one of the worlds most endangered species of bird, the "Lesser Florican"

Optimistic estimates suggest that only 1200 of them are left in the wild. More recently, declines have been caused by rapid reductions in the area of grassland owing to conversion into agriculture and overgrazing.

These Lesser florican species not only inhabit these grasslands but also occur in adjacent agricultural fields. One such location was identified by Mr. Rajendrasing Rathore (Forest Dept.), who was referred to us by a close birding friend Sharad Agrawal.

Early morning after driving through the lush pathways of the grasslands reached the chosen isolated location. The sun had just risen and the cool breeze made the morning very refreshing. Initially it was a little difficult to see the bird. Soon it came a little closer and was told it is about 46-51 cm small, slender bustard with longish bill and legs. The approaching male had spatulate-tipped head plumes, black head, neck and underparts. White collar across upper mantle, white wing-coverts.

Lesser Florican Sypheotides indicus
Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indicus) - Aseem Kothiala
It was the breeding season of these florican birds. The male lesser florican would suddenly leap from the grass with a peculiar croaking call as a courtship display. It also does that to warn of the other males in the area proving its dominance till the eggs are hatched.

The jumping ritual was done at different intervals which could be upto 250-300 times in a day!

Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indicus) in its habitat - Aseem Kothiala
En route into the grassland and on the way out to the highway, we sighted many common species of birds. The route did transit through some water bodies, which had waders but in very small numbers.

Rock Eagle Owl (Bubo bengalensis) - Yash Kothiala
Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis) - Yash Kothiala 
Yellow-wattled Lapwing  (Vanellus malabaricu) - Yash Kothiala
Eurasian Thick-knee (Burhinus oedicnemus) - Yash Kothiala
Rock Eagle Owl (Bubo bengalensis) - Aseem Kothiala
Red Collared Dove (Streptopelia tranquebarica) - Yash Kothiala
Indian Silverbill  (Lonchura malabarica) - Yash Kothiala
By the evening set in we reached an abandoned quarry, where the savaana nightjar's were roosting. The moment the silence was broken due to our walking on broken marble, they took short flights and landed in a nearby region.
Savanna Nightjar (Caprimulgus affinis) - Aseem Kothiala
Painted Francolin (Francolinus pictus) - Aseem Kothiala
We finally drove back to Mumbai through the outskirts of Nal Sarovar, near Ahmedabad. Here we were glad to have sighted the Saras Cranes, who engaged in a dancing display. 

 Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) - Yash Kothiala
Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) - Yash Kothiala

Sarus Crane (Grus antigone) - Aseem Kothiala
Pheasant-tailed Jacana (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) - Aseem Kothiala
Jacobin Cuckoo Clamator jacobinus - Yash Kothiala
Trip Dates : 21st August 2015 (started from Mumbai) to 26th August 2015 (back to Mumbai)
Destination : Sonkhaliya, near Ajmer (approx 40kms from Ajmer on Kota Nasirabad Highway)
Birding Mates : Me along with Gopinath Kollur, Satish T and Yash Kothiala

In all we had 5 lifers during the three and half day birding trip, taking our bird count in the wild to 589 ( list available on )

Do Visit us on our facebook page "Bird Photography" for more updates.

Happy Birding!

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