Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jamnagar

After spending the afternoon at Narara, we headed for Jamnagar where we based ourselves for the next two days. That evening we headed straight to the Lakhota Lake in the centre of Jamnagar where we hoped to see the at times 10,000 strong flocks of rosy starlings that come in to roost in the trees surrounding the lake. Not only did we see that astounding scene, we realized there must be at least 500 to 700 gulls also which nest there… not to mention the other birds which we couldn't count. It was already dusk then. The numbers are INCREDIBLE to put it mildly. 

Huge flocks of rosy starling at dusk




A great cormorant trying to enjoy his spoils.... finally had to let go. The fish was far too big for him!!


A clever way to shield from the glare of the sun while fishing!!!! The painted stork 


The great white and the dalmatian pelicans


Tufted duck


Common pochard


Brown headed gull


Mosaic-like, the spectacle of the gulls in Lakhota lake



Little cormorant

The next morning saw us on Valsura road and further on to the road going to rozy port. All along the road on either side were salt pans full of birds…. Flamingoes, godwits, plovers, avocets, sandpipers… the list is unending! It is here that we also chanced upon the three thick knees of our trip.

Pied Avocet



Greater Flamingoes in the salt pans


Too young yet for the characteristic pink of the flamingo!


Darter


Rosy starlings... disregarding the grumbling male :-)

The salt pans are massive and at the very far end, we were told that crab plovers could be spotted. So off we went fairly uncertain about the route since we had only a vague idea of the location. Finally after almost rally-like driving through dirt roads and onto bunds which were barely wide enough for the car, we finally spotted a flock of white a long way off. We practically crept towards the birds since they are known to be very skittish. It was a glorious sight that met our eyes. Every last bit of effort was worth it since we saw the most amazing birds there…. I’ll let the pics do the talking!


Caspian terns, crab plovers, lesser crested terns, oystercatchers, Curlews, whimbrel, pelican, redshanks, gull-billed terns... a great looking colony this!


Lesser crested tern, crab plover and caspian tern


Great thick knee


Common snipe




Bar tailed Godwit


Palas' gull


Common teal (f)


Crab Plovers


Oystercatchers


Rosy ringed Parakeet


Ruff


Western reef egret


THE sunset!

Totally satisfying and fulfilling trip to this amazing paradise for birds and bird-lovers alike!!






Monday, January 28, 2013

Gir - Gujarat Series


Gir


After many days of anxiety and just a day before we were to reach the place we were finally given confirmation of our reservations at the Sinh Sadan, arguably the most sought-after  place in Gir for the budget traveler. The rest was a piece of cake because they (at the safari reservation office) give preference to the guests at Sinh Sadan. We went on two safaris and what memorable ones they turned out to be!!
The first one – evening – was very good with sightings of a lion and then two lionesses though they were all happily dozing with dozens of people gaping at them. The real prize was just a half hour before the trip ended when we rounded a steep bend in the track with my constant refrain of ‘I want to see a leopard’ when lo and behold, right in front of us barely a dozen yards away was this handsome male, seconds away from making a kill. He had his eyes on this little fawn which seemed to have lost its mom… Unfortunately for the leopard, the disturbance from a couple of gypsies full of tourists diverted his attention for that split second allowing the fawn to get away.

All photographs are courtesy my partner... 


The Leopard

Waiting for the kill
The next morning saw us all padded up with layers upon layers to counter the bone-chilling cold of the morning safari… not to much avail. We were practically frozen in our seats!! The guide for this safari, a different fellow from the last one, was very proactive… so much so that I got uncomfortable when his comments showed blatant disregard to rules… Fortunately, there was no occasion during the drive to forestall his enthusiasm before he strayed into no-no territory! Usually the non-dominant lions are loners and the lionesses raise the cubs in prides with just a single dominant male. This probably being courting season, we were lucky to come upon not just one but two pairs of lions out courtingJ It all would have been wonderful except the fact that we had a lion and a lioness walk within a metre of the gypsy... almost giving me a heart attack! And all this right on the main track! These big cats are not to be trifled with… one realizes their raw strength, the potential danger and unpredictability only up close. Till then, the thrill of a sighting overpowers all caution.



Marking his territory


The Lioness...


Up close.... too close!!


Courting!!


The King of the Jungle



Spotted deer - female

Spotted Deer - male

Sambhar - Male


The little one - Spotted Deer

The cattleherd's Camel from one of the two villages within the forest

Collared Scops Owl

Yellow crowned Woodpecker

Brown capped pygmy Woodpecker

Yellow footed green Pigeon

All the same, the two safaris left us spellbound and very much under the spell of this unique forest and it’s denizens!! Hats off to Gujarat for its enviable record at Gir which probably is the strictest reserve I have seen for any big cats... and I have seen many. I hope the other (read TIGER) reserves take a leaf out of its book too. May the lions keep roaring and the leopards thriving out there…….





Sunday, January 27, 2013

Next year... Gujarat Series


Charakhla


We set out from Porbandar really early in the morning to make it to Charakhla by daybreak. Enroute, in the predawn sky we saw hundreds of mainly Demoiselle cranes off to their foraging grounds …. There were few Common cranes and their flocks were much smaller, no more than 12 to 15.  The Demoiselle flocks numbered upwards of 50 sometimes up to a 100! No pics of those due to the light conditions.
We entered Charakhla through Madhi and relying on our Google research, chose the bund we wanted to drive on… This is the spectacle that met our eyes…….

Most photographs are courtesy my partner...


Gulls at the salt pans


Add caption


Seems snowed in !!


Dalmatian Pelican


Greater Flamingoes


Little stint


Rosy or Great White pelicans


Yellow Wagtail




Heuglin's Gulls


Black necked Grebes


Slender Billed Gull


Black necked Grebe


Greater Flamingo


Pied Avocet


Grey Heron


Pied Avocet


Turtle


Curlew Sandpiper


Demoiselle Cranes


Painted Stork