If you ask me, which are the best destination for birding in India, I will certainly include Jamnagar, Gujarat in the list. That's why this is 3rd Trip for Nature India and 4th Trip for me this season to Jamnagar. Birds are all around Jamnagar, in Sancturies, Coastal areas, Salt-pans, Rivers, Water reservoirs, making it a perfect habitat for migratory as well as resident water birds and raptors.
We started on 19th Feb.2011 (Saturday) by Saurashtra Janata Express. As usual we gave the printouts (Jamnagar Information, Bird-checklist, Itinerary etc.) to all the participants, so that they all can go through it during the travel time. Next day on 20th feb. (Sunday) we reached Jamnagar on time, at 9.30am. Just before Jamnagar station we saw, no. of Lesser Flamingos and waders in the water body nearby station. This was an indicator that Jamnagar is full of birds! We checked-in hotel President, after freshening up, we went for lunch to Hotel Brahmanya, where you get typical delicious Gujarati thali. Post lunch we went to a seashore in Balachhadi area. By the time we reached the place, high tide was approching and we could see lots of Crab Plovers along the shore, along with Oyestercatchers and other waders. We spent about 3 hours at the place. Photographers got some wonderful images of Crab Plovers, Pallas's (Great Black-headed)Gull and other waders. The birders were busy watching lots of other variety through scope, which include, Desert Wheatear, Lesser, Greater Sand & Kentish Plovers, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruffs, March Harrier etc... We ended the day with diner in hotel Swati and yes, Jamnagar special Ram Dairy Ice-cream.
Next day early morning, we started for Khijadia Bird Sanctury. Its very important to reach the sanctuary, by sunrise to watch Common Cranes going to fields from the roosting place. Its always a memorable experience to watch Cranes, Pelicans, Storks going above you from watch tower. Khijadia Bird Sanctuary has salt water on one side and fresh water on other, which makes it ideal habitat for variety of water birds. We saw Northern Shovellers, Northern Pintails, Eurasian Wigeons, Common Teals, Common Pochards, Gargeney, Gadwalls, Spot-billed Ducks from duck family, Rosy and Dalmatian Pelicans, Painted & Openbill storks, Darters, Great-crested Grebe, Steppe Eagle, March Harrier, Ospray and usual waders. That was an awesome morning session!! After stupendous lunch at hotel Aram, we went to another area, INS Valsura and Dhichada wetland. Area around INS was full of Lesser Flamiongos, wonderful to see the pink carpet along side water body. Dhichada was also full of birds. We saw Sand Lark, Desert Wheatear, Shikra, Common Kestrel, Common Ring Plover with other water birds. In Jamnagar you can not end the day without Ram Dairy Ice-cream :-)
Day 3, 22nd Feb, Tuesday, was a going to be a very hectic day as we will not be coming back to hotel for lunch & rest. We will be going to Narara first and then to Charakla Salt-pans. Narara is part of Marine National Park. We reached during low tide and here water goes deep inside during low tide. We walked about 2kms inside, to check for live corals and other marine life. Along with corals we saw Octopus, Lobster, Puffer Fish etc. On the way to Charakla we stopped at a famous Kathiawadi Hotel for lunch. Charakla was special for 2/3 birds, Demoiselle Cranes, Black-necked Grebe and Dalmatian Pelicans. We all could see all these from close distance. It was hectic (long travel) but wonderful day for bird-watching.
Last day was for finale, a special treat for bird-watchers at special place called as Lakhota Lake. The lake inside Jamnagar City is full of birds in winter. The best place to see Black-headed, Brown-headed and Slender-billed Gulls, so close that you don't need binocs. You can see and compare all the the features like iris, bill, size etc..For photographers, this place is heaven!! Full frame shots of Tufted Ducks, Spot-billed Ducks, Dalmatian Pelicans, Norther Shovellers and what not?? Amazing place!!! For new birders, it was like a schools to learn the minute differences between various Gulls, Ducks, Waders etc.. A perfect place to end the trip.
Next one is Corbett, my favorite jungle!! Do visit this blog again for Corbett experience!! Till then... Adios :-))