Saturday, 27 February 2016

Desert National Park and Little Rann of Kutch, India - 13th February (Day 6) - Part 3

The afternoon and evening were spent birding at Nava Talaw (or New Lake) a vast freshwater lake formed by damming and largely less than 2m in depth. Over the last two or three years there has been little rain and the lake today was a fraction of its actual size. Still, there were vast numbers of birds on the lake and I could have spent all day here. Our main target species were seen quickly with nine Dalmatian Pelican and a flock of around 5,000 Demoiselle Crane gathered in the centre of the lake. The Demoiselle were huddled together in near silence and their soft grey plumage, long black 'beards', white eye stripe and long tertials producing a shaggy rear end were stunning in the afternoon light. Ganesh told us that this area is used by the birds as a staging area and that the flock builds at this time of year before departing en-mass towards the end of February or early in March. Other birds here included hundreds or thousands each of Greater FlamingoLesser FlamingoShovelerTealGadwallWigeonLittle StintRuffBlack-winged Stilt and Common Crane with smaller numbers (ten’s) of SpoonbillMarsh Sandpiper and Kentish Plover. Gulls were represented by a small flock of Black-headed Gull and a single near adult summer Pallas's Gull.

We headed to an adjacent area of arable fields where we enjoyed great views of two stunning Indian Courser feeding within the sandy, ploughed castor fields and a pair of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse which showed equally well. The Indian Courser were fantastic, possibly one of the best Courser species I have seen - thats a pretty high achievement for such a superb family. Finally, we watched the sun go down over the lake and enjoyed more views of the above species but in particular taking in the vast flock of Demoiselle Crane, a species I had long wanted to see. A short night drive produced a single Syke’s Nightjar which unfortunately didn’t stop for long and I had good flight views only. We headed back to the hotel for 20:00 after the best afternoons birding of the trip.

Ruddy Shelduck - These were the only we saw

Common Crane- Very common around the Little Rann of Kutch area

Common Crane

Common Crane

Marsh Sandpiper - Common on Nava Talaw

Common and Demoiselle Crane

Yellow Wagtail of race feldegg in heavy pre-breeding moult

Yellow Wagtail of race thunbergi in heavy pre-breeding moult

Indian Courser - One of the birds of the trip

Indian Courser

Indian Courser

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse - Male

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse wing stretching

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse wing stretching

Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse - The female has very intricate patterning

Lesser Flamingo - Far outnumbered Greater Flamingo on Nava Talaw

Part of the flock of c.5,000 Demoiselle Crane

Demoiselle Crane at sunset

At dusk some of the Demoiselle Crane flew to the neighbouring grassland to forage

Sunset on Tava Talaw

Part 1 of this post can be viewed here
Part 2 of this post can be viewed here

Links to the other days of the trip:
Day 1 - 2 - Background and Travel
Day 2 (Part 1) - Desert National Park
Day 2 (Part 2) - Desert National Park
Day 3 (Part 3) - Desert National Park
Day 4 - Desert National Park and Jaisalmer Fort
Day 5 - Travel from Jaisalmer to Little Rann of Kutch
Day 6 (Part 1) - Little Rann of Kutch
Day 6 (Part 2) - Little Rann of Kutch
Day 7 - Little Rann of Kutch and Travel Home