Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Little Rann of Kutch Batch - 2 (15-19 Jan.2011)

After very satisfying 1st batch, we headed for LRK batch-2 on 15th Jan.2011. Second batch is just replica of first one, with all Itinerary, Travel everything same, but the participants were different. This time 3-4 totally new to birding participants were there.

We reached Viramgaum by 4.00Am, and this time, it was not open vehicle, we have arranged for 2 closed jeeps for travel between station and resort. This travel was very very comfortable. On way to stopped over for tea and also bought some biscuits & snacks for the trip. Everyone was realy impressed by the site of resort. We asked all to gather at reception by 7.00AM. As usual after the introduction, we gave some instructions regarding the Itinerary etc... and stared for Bajana wetland. We were greeted Lesser Flamingos, whose no. was more than last trip. Few flamingos were in dark pink (breeding plumage). It was amazing to see them in lovely morning light. Also few Greater Flamingos were present. Other birds seen in Bajana were, Dalmatian Pelican, Common Cranes, Eurasian Spoonbills, Northern Shovellers & Pintails, Eurasian Wigeons etc.... Post lunch we started for our Rann safari. We were fortunate to see a pair of Houbara (Macqueen's Bustard), one jeep also saw Short-eared Owl, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Asiatic Wild Ass etc... There was one very interesting sighting. I was in the first jeep and Adesh was in 2nd. Both of us were looking at one Kestrel like bird sitting at some distance, and we realize that the streaking on chest were more prominent and dark than the female Kestrel, also the overall coloration was very dark, pointing out to Female Merlin. But one thing was missing, the white eyebrow. We requested photographers to taker some pictures, so that we can Id it later. In all the trips I carry my field guide by Pamela Anderton, I mean Pamela Rammuessen & Paul Amderton :-)), but dont know why, I forgot to carry it this time. And the illustration of Female Merlin is best given in Pamela's book...:-( We decided to Id it later and moved back to the resort as light was almost gone... Later after dinner we searched some info and photos of Merlin and Kestrel female on Internet and found that among all other small differences between female of Common Kestrel and Merlin, the main difference in tail pattern. Merlin female will have equal terminal bands, while Common Kestrel will have only one big band and the tail tip then, relatively small bands...Ufff... it was difficult to zero in from the available pictures, so we decided to send the image to experts to Id. If it was Merlin, then that's my Lifer!!

Day 2, the morning destination was Savda wetland or Nava Talav. This time we divided the group in 2 parts, one for photographer and one for birders. One big jeep was allocated for birders and Adesh accompanied them. I went with 2 jeeps of Photographers. We stopped on the way for Pied kingfisher, there are 7 Kingfishers near a small water body with nest on the bank. Always a wonderful sight to see Pied kingfisher howering and jumping in water to catch fish. On the way we keep on stopping where-ever there was opportunity to photograph. We quickly had our breakfast at one water body, and proceeded to see Greylag Goose, at the same place where we saw them in batch-1. We also saw Orphean Warbler and Graceful Prinia around the water body. On the way back, something special was awaiting!!! Yes, some thing very very special!!! It was amazingly camouflaged, sitting in a small bush, just at about 5 feets from ground.... We were strucked to see a Pallied Scops Owl. A Lifer for me :-)))

After a happy lunch and some rest we headed for our seconf desert safari. We saw good nos. of Lesser Flamingos in the water body inside Rann and later in the day saw 3 to 4 Short-eared Owls roosting on ground. Another special sighting was of Deset Warbler. And yes, very photogenic group of Asiatic Wild Ass...

Last day, we started a bit late, like Day 2 we kept 2 jeeps for photographers and one for bird-watchers. Spend some good time photographing Rosy Starlings, Bank Mynas, Indian Roller, Blue-throat, Common Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon etc... Another successful Nature India trip, with sighting of about 130 bird species. After revision we started for Viramgaum station in open vehicle. This time train was late by an hour or so, but it reached almost in time at Borivali.

Next trip is totally different than LRK. Now from deset land, we are going to evergreen forests of Western Ghats. Alltogether different set of birds, habitat everything...We need to adjust our eye to look out for birds in evergreen trees and not on brown desert land... But I'm sure we take hardly any time to adjust to new settings... Will keep you all posted, till then ... Adios....

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