Saturday, 27 February 2016

Desert National Park and Little Rann of Kutch, India - 14th February (Day 7)

Valentine’s day started at 06:30 and we were up for breakfast and ready for our 07:30 departure into the field. Our first stop, after passing through the small rural Indian village of Vanod clad with plastic bags, cow shit, dead dogs, children playing in the street, ladies collecting water and the general grime of Indian life, was a small sandy quarry amongst fields on the edge of town. Here Ganesh deftly located a roosting Rock Eagle-owl amongst bushes within the quarry. We walked a short way towards the bird but it took flight and perched in full sun on the quarry face so after a few minutes we left the bird in peace. Also here were Common Stonechat, Lesser Whitethroat, Indian Robin and Jungle Babbler. We then headed across the road and out to the now dry lake at Saran, normally a massive water body, successive dry years and pumping for agricultural use have left the lake dry. Our main target here was Sarus Crane and as we came off the road Ganesh spotted two birds with Common Crane feeding in the crop fields. We drove towards them and eventually had great views of these immense birds down to 50m as they strode around the car showing there soft grey plumage, bright red heads and massive bills to full effect – simply stunning, majestic birds. We drove out onto the dry lake where we flushed four Short-eared Owl from beneath an acacia and saw a distant Greater Spotted Eagle but it was largely pretty devoid of birds, so content with the morning we headed back to the hotel for 11:00.

After lunch it was time to pack our bags and head off driving approximately 90km (2.5 hours) south-eastwards to Ahmedabad for our 17:30 flight with Air India back to Delhi. The flight was delayed by an hour and we passed our time in a featureless, facility less airport – they didn’t even serve beer! The three hours dragged and dragged. Eventually we were off and back to Delhi, whisked away to the hotel Shanti Palace and after changing and showering we were down in the restaurant with curries and beer – at last! We headed to the airport at 23:30 for our 03:40 British Airways flight back to London Heathrow. We spent our time in the club lounge drinking wine and relaxing. I passed out on the flight home and only experienced about an hour of waking time.

What a fantastic trip with some really mega birds, highlights were Sarus Crane, Indian Courser, Demoiselle Crane, Great Indian Bustard and Stoliczka's Bushchat – roughly in that order, I was surprised that Sarus Crane came top of the list.

Rock Eagle-owl

Jungle Babbler

Stately Sarus Crane striding around our car

Sarus Crane - the male to the left is significantly taller than the female

Close-up study of male Sarus Crane - an amazing looking bird

Short-eared Owl

Green Sandpiper

Saran Lake - A definite lack of water

Trip List
Total of 151 species with 14 ticks (shown in bold).

Indian Peafowl
Grey Francolin
Greylag Goose
Ruddy Shelduck
African Comb Duck
Cotton Pygmy-goose
Common Pochard
Northern Shoveler
Eurasian Wigeon
Indian Spot-billed Duck
Northern Pintail
Common Teal
Little Grebe
Greater Flamingo
Lesser Flamingo
Rock Dove
Eurasian Collared-dove
Red Turtle-dove
Laughing Dove
Black-bellied Sandgrouse
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse
Sykes's Nightjar
Greater Coucal
Western Koel
Purple Swamphen
Common Coot
Sarus Crane
Demoiselle Crane
Common Crane
Great Indian Bustard
Painted Stork
Asian Openbill
Black Stork
Eurasian Spoonbill
Black-headed Ibis
Red-naped Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Black-crowned Night-heron
Indian Pond-heron
Cattle Egret
Grey Heron
Purple Heron
Great White Egret
Intermediate Egret
Little Egret
Dalmatian Pelican
Little Cormorant
Indian Thick-knee
Pied Avocet
Black-winged Stilt
Kentish Plover
Yellow-wattled Lapwing
Red-wattled Lapwing
White-tailed Lapwing
Pheasant-tailed Jacana
Black-tailed Godwit
Temminck's Stint
Little Stint
Green Sandpiper
Spotted Redshank
Common Greenshank
Common Redshank
Wood Sandpiper
Marsh Sandpiper
Cream-coloured Courser
Indian Courser
Black-headed Gull
Pallas's Gull
Pallid Scops-owl
Short-eared Owl
Rock Eagle-owl
Black-winged Kite
Egyptian Vulture
Short-toed Snake-eagle
Griffon Vulture
Cinereous Vulture
Indian Spotted Eagle
Greater Spotted Eagle
Steppe Eagle
Eastern Imperial Eagle
Western Marsh-harrier
Pallid Harrier
Montagu's Harrier
Black Kite
Long-legged Buzzard
Common Hoopoe
Asian Green Bee-eater
Indian Roller
Common Kingfisher
Pied Kingfisher
White-breasted Kingfisher
Common Kestrel
Laggar Falcon
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Black-crowned Sparrow-lark
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark
Rufous-tailed Lark
Desert Lark
Bimaculated Lark
Greater Short-toed Lark
Crested Lark
Barn Swallow
Pacific Swallow
Wire-tailed Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Long-billed Pipit
Tawny Pipit
White Wagtail
Yellow Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
White-eared Bulbul
Red-vented Bulbul
Indian Robin
Black Redstart
Stoliczka's Bushchat
Common Stonechat
Variable Wheatear
Rusty-tailed Wheatear
Desert Wheatear
Isabelline Wheatear
White-browed Fantail
Common Tailorbird
Rufous-fronted Prinia
Zitting Cisticola
Blyth's Reed-warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Desert Warbler
Common Babbler
Large Grey Babbler
Jungle Babbler
Purple Sunbird
Isabelline Shrike
Bay-backed Shrike
Southern Grey Shrike
Black Drongo
House Crow
Large-billed Crow
Common Raven
Rose-coloured Starling
Asian Pied Starling
Brahminy Starling
Jungle Myna
Common Myna
House Sparrow
Chestnut-shouldered Bush-sparrow
Baya Weaver
Indian Silverbill
Striolated Bunting

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 6 (Part 3) - Little Rann of Kutch