Jackdaw

Looks like a good place to loose ourselves.

Waterhen

The best things in life aren't things.

Jungles of Tadoba

Fear exists in the one place you can never escape... Your mind.

Chariot - Hampi

Let go of the past and the past will let go of you.

Tigress

Style is a simple way of saying complicated things.

Little Ringed Plover

Clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.

Malabar Pied Hornbill

The reason birds can fly is because they take themselves lightly.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Birding in The Little Rann of Kutch (LRK)

SHE is vast and has elaborate mysterious rites. She is austere, barren, and nothing much grows, and she is cold during the nights in winter. The desert (Rann) within her, here is simply referred as The Little Rann of Kutch.

The word desert very often conjures pictorials of undulating sand dunes and vast, arid wastelands, but sometimes there’s more hidden in the driest plains, the creation called birds. Birds that migrate from distant lands and are quite hard to find in an area spread over in approx 5000 square kilometers. Yet, when sightings are left to the divine hand of Mother Nature, she never ceases to amaze.

We headed towards Dasada, which is about 90 kms from the city of Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. Dasada is situated on the edge of Little Rann of Kutch. We camped at Rann Riders from the afternoon of 23rd Jan 2017 through till the afternoon of 26th Jan 2017.

The Little Rann is at sea level which get inundated during the rains and otherwise is a flat area for the rest of the calendar year. The region is last refuge of the Khur, the Indian subspecies of Asiatic Wild Ass.
Indian wild ass (Equus hemionus khur) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Indian wild ass (Equus hemionus khur) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
The safari's here are very well planned in two parts, one starting early in the morning and one late in the afternoon, that lasts just about till sunset. Ayub our guide cum driver accompanied us for all the open vehicle safaris.

Short-eared Owl, who migrate into the region during winters prefer to be out in the open. It was agile and would fly low over the ground.

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
MacQueen's bustard commonly also called as the Houbara bustard, is seriously threatened and classified as Vulnerable. Excessive hunting are among factors responsible for the diminishing houbara numbers. While we looked for it, sighted it very close, roosting under a shrub. Within a couple of seconds, before we could click, the shy bird took a short flight and started to walk fast away from us, stopped, glanced at us and took flight to disappear.

MacQueen's bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
While, we kept looking for the MacQueen's bustard, sighted the Indian fox , who was taking a nap under a shrub to escape the afternoon sun.

Indian fox (Vulpes bengalensis) - Image by Yash Kothiala
Pallid and Montagu's harrier's like the other raptors prefer to roost in the open. They are winter migrants to India.

Pallid harrier (Circus macrourus) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Flamingos, Pelicans, Ducks, Geese and Common Cranes are a common sight and were found either on marshy land or idling near a water body called Nava talav.

Lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Greylag goose (Anser anser) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
During one of the morning safaris we sighted a hare, who was sprinting. It was closely chased by a Jackal, who could not keep pace with the hare. It had outrun the predator and survived. The predator later just stopped and kept looking around.

Jackal (Canis aureus) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
The raptors usually roost in the open and soar into the sky at the slightest threat of intrusion. Due to their heavy weight, take a couple of strides prior to take off.

Steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Many other common ground birds like the Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse, Greater short-toed and Crested lark's, Desert wheatear's, were seen roosting during our trip. They are so well camouflaged in the region that it took some time for us to locate them.

Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Chestnut-bellied sandgrouse (Pterocles exustus) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Greater short-toed lark (Calandrella brachydactyla) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
The majestic and vulnerable Eastern Imperial eagle was seen roosting around the lake. The region in terms of bird count could be well over 200,  that included resident and migratory, from the small to the large, seed eating to birds of prey, terrestrial and waders.

Eastern imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Strategically located on the migratory route of the birds flying from the Eastern Europe, Middle East and Central Asia, the Little Rann of Kutch is a safe haven for birds to escape the winters there.

Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
Montagu's harrier (Circus pygargus) - Image by Aseem Kothiala
As the evening set in, the breeze turned from being warm to cool. We headed back to Dasada, the dust cloud that was created by the moving vehicle looked picturesque, the sky soon started to fill with stars as we left the sanctuary area. The desert (rann) had indeed revealed some marvel to our urban eyes and enriched us with an experience, truly grateful for that.

Would like to thank our good friend Nihar Mehta, who planned this trip for us. Special mention to Deepak Tiwari, who not only flew in from Bangalore to accompany us (Myself, Yash Kothiala and Rajesh Sharma), but also imparted a lot of photographic knowledge.

Will be sharing the images taken during the trip on our Facebook page 

Happy Birding!
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