Monday, April 9, 2012

Gujarat Series - Little Rann of Kutch

The Little Rann of Kutch is one of the most hostile places to live in that I have seen. In spite of that, it teams with life... some of it on the fringes of the Rann with scrub and thorny bushes for habitat and some with not a blade of grass as far as the eye can see...

Take a look at the pictures below...........

Spotted Owlet

Juvenile Rosy Starling

Wild Ass

Indian Courser

Blue Bull (Nilgai) females

Desert Wheatear

Booted Warbler

Median Egret

Chestnut bellied Sandgrouse

Blue Bulls

Isabelline Shrike

Greater short toed Lark

Common Crane

Lesser Flamingos

Steppe Eagle

Black Ibis

Parched!! Little Rann of Kutch

Yellow footed green Pigeon


Stolickzka's Bushchat

Common Cranes in formation

Kestrel female

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gujarat Series - Enchanting.. Narara

A palpable excitement pervaded the four of us at we set off very early
in the morning from Jamnagar to reach Narara Island. This is about
60 Kms away and though an island, is accessible by road! The
children jumped out of the car with barely contained anticipation
of finally getting to do the coral walk.
Within minutes, our guide materialised and we were off…
We had checked out the tide timings beforehand so as to reach
the place at low tide when the beach is exposed.

The short walk to the beach was pretty with mangroves all along the way. In fact, on either side of the path were mangroves complete with their breathing roots around them which have been planted by the forest department. They are really cute since many of them are all of 5 feet in height, like mini plants! 
We stepped onto the shore, which resembled a seemingly endless canvas of sand littered with stones and rocks and little puddles of water trapped in the depressions around them. Little did we know the enormous amount of marine life trapped in them!
To our delight, we spotted the coral crab right away! Pretty creature… followed in quick succession by various other crabs, a sea spider, starfish, different kinds of corals, octopus and sea weeds.

Brittle starfish

And finally, after a bit of searching, we found the puffer fish... the star attraction of the place. This is when we realised that it was imperative to hire the guide there since we would have managed to see maybe a tenth of the species there but for the knowledgable guide.

We totally enjoyed this trip... enjoy the pictures that follow... and come back for more soon!
Puffer fish

Puffer fish with it's very strong teeth visible
The puffed up puffer fish

Grey heron

Lesser sand plover

The ripples in the sand... at low tide

Western reef egrets in grey and white morphs

Breathing roots of the mangroves


Neptune crab

Baby hermit crabs

Live coral at the top edges

Live moon coral

An Octopus in it's element!
Ruddy Turnstone

Crab Plovers

Whimberel with Curlew in background

Sea anemone

Sea cucumber

Sea grapes... the sea weed

Sea spider

Wolf crab

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gujarat Series - Thol Lake

Off to Thol Lake after a day in Ahmedabad spent sightseeing and SHOPPING J !! Fairly straightforward route to Thol… thanks to Google Earth. Reached the little village and just short of that is the access road to the sanctuary. Birding started there itself. Took us a good 20 mins to cover the 1 ½ Kms in. Ibis black and white, sandpipers, numerous chats, shrikes, pipits, larks, babblers, swallows… Good beginning to the day indeed!

Green Sandpiper

Long Tailed Shrike

Siberian Stonechat

Plain Prinia
Two big busloads worth tourists met us at the entrance in addition to the few cars and two wheelers. My heart sank! I thought it unlikely that we would see much with the racket they were creating. We decided to walk down a little path circling round the perimeter of the lake for a little way and then take the car round further. Surprisingly, we found a few birds that were probably used to this level of disturbance… a few Booted Warblers, Indian Robins, Eurasian Collared Doves, a few Spot Billed Ducks and Comb Ducks along the bank.

Eurasian Collared Dove

Indian Robin

White Ibis

Comb Ducks

Little Green Beeeaters
There was a continuous flypast of Spoonbills, White Ibis and Cormorants overhead. Kept us busy.
Turning back after seeing a lot of waterfowl at a distance, we decided to take the car out over to the other side. A little marsh on the other side of the lake yielded a huge flock of Comb Ducks up close. A little ahead were 5 Black Crowned Night Herons, a few shovellers, Moorhen, a Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis and Babblers and Sunbirds on the fringes.  Egrets were abundant as were Chats, Beeeaters, Wheatears and Bulbuls.
Purple Heron
Comb Ducks preening

Purple Sunbird Female

Black Crowned Night Heron

Common Moorhen

Purple Sunbird Male in eclipse plumage

Glossy Ibis

Wire Tailed Swallows

White eared Bulbul
Time was running out… we needed to reach the resort in Zainabad by lunch time. This place deserves a second visit, preferable NOT during school vacations! Paucity of time had us turning back and heading out to Zainabad and “Desert Coursers”. But that story is for another day…..