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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
12 Days in Gujarat & Kutch, November 2007 ,
Birds: 283 Species
DAY 1 Sat 17th Nov: ARRIVE MUMBAI
DAY 2 Sun 18th Nov: MUMBAI – BHUJ – TERA/KERC
Fly this morning on Jet Airways from Mumbai to Bhuj. Met on arrival and transferred 1 ½ hours to KERC at Tera Village.
DAY 3 Mon 19th: KERC/NALIYA GRASSLANDS
Full day birding looking particularly for Great Indian Bustard.
DAY 4 TUE 20th Nov: KERC – CHARI DAND
Full day birding in consultation
DAY 5 Wed 21st Nov: CHARI DAND – BHUJ
Full day birding before driving back to spend the night in Bhuj – 1 hr 15 minutes.
DAY 6 Thu 22nd Nov: BHUJ – DASADA/LITTLE RANN OF KUCHH
Drive about 6 hours to the Little Rann of Kutch where the last of the Indian Wild Ass has been given protection in a dedicated sanctuary. The Rann is a fascinating terrain – essentially the shallow bed of the sea that drains out in the dry months and gets flooded during the monsoon by the sea surging inland on the one hand and the seasonal streams in monsoon flood bringing in fresh water on the other. This mix of salt and sweet water provides ideal conditions for the prolific growth of crustaceans and other aquatic food for the flamingoes and other birds that breed and winter here in enormous numbers. Apart from the Wild Ass the Little Rann is also the home for a wide variety of species that include wolf, chinkara gazelle, nilgai, blackbuck antelope, desert fox and Asiatic Wild Cat.
In addition to the game drives this evening and the next morning you can visit Kharapat Rabari and Bahrwadi villages, tribes who have their own distinctive style of embroidery; then there are the nomadic Bajanias and Mirs, and the Paddhars, a tribe of fisher folk. Your accommodation here is in pleasant and comfortable rooms based on the local mud hut architecture.
DAY 7/8 Fri/Sat 23rd/24th Nov: LITTLE RANN
DAY 9 Sun 25th Nov: LITTLE RANN – GIR
Drive 4 – 5 hours to Gir and check-in at Lon Safari Camp. Game viewing to begin from the PM drive.
DAY 10/11 Mon/Tue 26th/27th Nov: GIR
Two full days of game viewing and bird watching
DAY 12 Wed 28th Nov: GIR – BHAVNAGAR/VELAVADAR
At one of the good hotels in Bhavnagar. Pm: visit Velavadar
DAY 13 Thu 29th Nov: BHAVNAGAR/VELAVADAR
Full day Velavadar
DAY 14 Fri 30th Nov: BHAVNAGAR – AHMEDABAD
Drive 4 hours to Ahmedabad. Overnight at House of Mangaldas.
DAY 15 Sat 1st Dec: AHMEDABAD
Some Notable Sightings:
Kutch (Great Rann of Kutch):
As we have started from Kutch (Great Rann of Kutch), We had very good sightings of 5 White napped tit, 2 pairs were on the same Bush and another single individual was 5-8 mt. away on the other bush. But they had given us very good view also opportunity to shoot such beautiful bird.
Another important sighting for Kutch was the Red-throated Pipit. We came across this very dark pipit on the coastal wetland near Pingleshwar in Kutch region of Gujarat India on 19-11-2007.
After seeing this bird only two species come to our notice Pechora Pipit Anthus gustavi and Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus. But Pechora Pipit have brightish pink base to the lower mandible typically rather yellowish in Red-throated pipit. And Red-throated pipit have rather plainer upper parts than shown by Pechora pipit. This is the first authentic record for the Gujarat state.
After visiting Naliya Done and other area on the last day we had visited Chari Dhandh, A famous hot spot in Kutch for Raptors and Grey Hypocolious, We sighted 12 Grey Hypocolious on the roosting time. And in the morning in the same area we had seen many raptor species including Steppe Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Common Buzzard, Long legged buzzard, Marsh Harriers, Oriental Hobby etc. This seasonal wetland has also large population of White Storks, and other wetland birds.
Also the Rock Eagle Owl, A recent split form Eurasian Eagle Owl was seen nesting on the “PAKHI BHEET” area of chari dhandh. This small hill in the Rann provides very good habitat for many species which also include Red-tailed Wheatear, Brown Rock Chat etc. A pair of Jungle cat with its kitten was observed on both days at PAKHI BHEET area.
Other notable species in Kutch were, Dusky warbler, Desert Whitethroat, Desert Warbler, Common Buzzard, Pin-tailed Snipe, Huge Flock of Greater Short toed Lark etc.
LRK ( Little Rann of Kutch):
After spending 4 days in Kutch we drove 7 hours to reach the Little rann of kutch area. We stayed at Rann Riders resort at Dasada.
The Nawa Talav famous wetland of Little Rann of Kutch was full with Ducks, Geese, Cranes, and many waders. Thousands of cranes coming here for roosting and also for water is really a moment to enjoy.
The marshy habitat of Vanod Saran, nr. Dasada is also a very good hotspot for birders you can find good number of species over here including, white tailed lapwing, grey lag geese, bar headed geese, cranes, crakes and rails, etc. The show master of this wetland were the rosy pastor they were atleast in 2000-5000 in strength comes here for roosting and their acrobatics are really great to see at sunset. The flocks of rosy pastor were also having small no. of Common or European Starling.
The biggest attraction of Little Rann of Kutch was sightings of 45 Sociable Plover. 22-11-2007, at Little Rann of Kutch near Vanod Village. A flock of 45 birds were seen roosting at a site where the author (Arpit Deomurari) has reported 27 same birds last(2006-2007) year also. This flock is considered as the largest flock of sociable lapwing found in India till date.
This Lapwing is also listed in the Red Data Book as a Critically Endangered Bird Species. They breed on open grassland in Russia and Kazakhstan. Three to five eggs are laid in a ground nest. These birds migrate south through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, to key wintering sites in Israel, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan and north-west India. Birds winter occasionally in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Oman. It feeds in a similar way, picking insects and other small prey mainly from grassland or arable.
In 2004 BirdLife International categorized this bird as critically endangered, due to a rapid population decline for poorly understood reasons. The main decline took place between 1960 and 1987, when the known population halved; it is presently some 20-25% of the 1930s population levels (BirdLife International 2006). The current population was estimated to be between 600 and 1,800 mature birds in 2006 (BirdLife International), but is currently being revised to the upward end of that scale, possibly more, following the discovery of the species' previously unknown main wintering grounds in Syria, where 1500 birds of all ages were encountered. Additionally, in October of 2007, a superflock of approximately 3,200 Sociable Lapwing was discovered in Turkey, according to Guven Eken, director of the Turkish Nature Association. The current IUCN classification is CR A3bc - meaning that the population is expected to decline in the next decade or so by 80%, but based on theoretical considerations and the known habitat destruction rather than direct observation of the birds. Thus, the new discoveries might mean that as more data becomes available, the species could be down listed to Endangered.
A Scientist working on the Sociable Lapwing Mr. Johannes Kamp has ringed 140 birds (mostly juv.) in Pavlodar region, NE Kazakhstan, this year (two colour rings on each leg, combination always starting with a yellow ring). These birds are at the easternmost distribution border and thus supposed to go to India/Pakistan. Author (Arpit Deomurari) would like to ask any future observers to check these birds for color rings? The yellow ring is quite obvious to seeing the field.
Another highlilght of the Little Rann of Kutch were 8 Macqueen's Bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii) in a 3 hours game drive and of course the largest lark of the world, Greater Hoopoe Lark (Alaemon alaudipes)
GIR National Park:
GIR National Park the last abode of Asiatic Lions produced some very good birds, some of them …Brown breasted Flycatcher (Muscicapa muttui), Jungle Prinia, Excellent view of Mottled Wood owl Pair, etc. We had very good sightings of 2 Lioness with 2 subadult cubs.
Velavadar Blackbuck National Park:
This park is famous as the largest concentration of Blackbuck in India and also Asia’s largest Roost of Harriers. We had all the harriers eg. Pallids, Montagu’s, Hen and Marsh Harriers etc. Apart from other birds we had really great sightings of Striped Hyena in the park for 3 visits. And we had good sightings of Indian Wolf also.