Trip Reports

Gujarat birds, India; Trip Report Feb 1 to 8, 2007

I bird watched in Gujarat from 2-8 February 2007. From 2-5 February I was with Sumit Sen in Kutch, based at CEDO in Moti-Virani village (west of Bhuj) and following a programme organized by Jugal Tiwari. I transferred to Gir on 6 February and spent two nights at Gir Birding Lodge with a programme organized by Ganesh of Asian Adventures. On 8th I visited Velavadar Blackbuck Sanctuary with Ganesh en route to Ahmedabad. Sumit spent much of 6th with Niraj V. Mistry and Maulik Suthar visiting Thol Lake near Ahmedabad. Sumit had carefully researched past reports and lists and computed that in Kutch alone we should manage 200 species with up to 50 more from the other sites in Gujarat.



GUJARAT (12 days) + Corbett (4 days), India – January 2006

This trip to Gujarat – and the Corbett-extension – became a unique experience, at trip of its own atmosphere. We were in India in 1971 – that is Jette and I , so this was a communal re-visit 35 years after! I was back in 1986, and shortly from Nepal also in 1998 – thus being familiar with most of the birdlife of Northern India.

So we turned to Gujarat. With its exquisity of bird-species, mammals, habitats, and culture. Being only the 2 of us it became in many ways a trans-cultural birding trip. This was due esp. to our driver and friend Laxman Shah, the ecologist and scientist Jugal Tiwari in Kutch, and Dhanraj Malik of the famous Camp Zainibad. Part of this synthesis was culture – from the reality of India 2006 to remote traditional villages and the highly active religious life 3000 stairs up in the Jain temples of Palitana.



Mount Abu and Kutch Birding

Welcome to the new birding forum Mount Abu and Kutch birding. The beautiful hills of Aravali and the district Kutch are rich in birds and Wildlife. Share your views in this forum about birds, wildlife and conservation related issues of not only Mt. Abu and Kutch district, one can write about the Aravali range and its ecological issues and the fragile ecosystem of Kutch district in Gujarat in this forum.

Enjoy Moderator :- Jugal Tiwari. Centre for Desert and Ocean (A Registered Trust E-2116/Kutch), Moti-Virani, Kutch, Gujarat, India. Pin : 370665, Tel 0091-2835-221284,+91-9825248135.

You can see Kutch and Mount Abu’s Biodiversity documented by me here.



Kutch Magic

There is this gentleman called Jugal Tiwari who lives in a little place called Moti-Virani in the Kutch district of Gujarat. He provides a unique window of opportunity to all nature lovers to experience and enjoy the biodiversity of Kutch. I decided to spend a week with him to seek my fortune and came back with treasures that would last me a lifetime! Thanks Jugal for all the help!



Kutch – Gujarat

Tucked away in the north-western corner of India and bordering Pakistan and the Indian states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, Gujarat is a great bird-watching destination in India. From the deserts of the Rann of Kutch which melt into the arid Banni grasslands much of northern Gujarat is a wasteland which  attracts a wide variety of wintering birds to the thorn scrub and great stretches of seasonal wetlands. Add to this a 1660 km coastline on the Arabian Sea, the famous dry deciduous forests of Gir and the moist deciduous forests in the south, in a landscape interspersed with ancient hill ranges of the Aravallis, Satpura, Vindhya and the Sahyadhris, and you have the perfect recipe for some great birding.



Raining of species in the desert – Kutch

If someone calls a desert just a “dead and dry” place full of only sand … Then must visit Rann of Kutch ! There is so much happening every minute in Banni and Naliya grasslands of Kutch that it leaves you astonished and redefines the concept of a desert land! Honestly this can better be experienced than described in words!

Moreover, the showering help of people like Jugalbhai Tiwari, his co-host Vaibhavbhai and the great sumo rider Laxmanbhai makes the visit to this desert a pleasure indeed!



Western India

This was the first extended India visit for both of us for a number of years. The focus of the visit was a good mixture of cultural and natural highlights in the western states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, where none of us had been before. Having previously been to the hectic and crowded Ganges plain around Delhi this was like another world consisting of thinly populated rural landscapes and small towns. In many ways the best of India.



Great Rann of Kutch: CEDO Camp

Once in a very long while I stay with people who are as keen on finding mammals as I am. And CEDO (Centre for Desert and Ocean) camp is a great example. It is an absolute gem of a place and I cannot rate it highly enough. The whole area is quite fun – it is well off the tourist route and when we stopped in a village I became the centre of attention. The scenery was reminiscent of Australia’s Pilbara, which for me is about as good as it gets.



The Bird Paradise – Kutch

Before I share my experiences of visiting Kutch district of Gujarat, I would love to thank Suresh V for all his help, without which the photographs that I clicked there would not have been possible, yes guys I used his 500mm lens and 1.4 x tele-converters out there. My sincere thanks to Jugal Tiwari for his expertise on Kutch and to our driver Mangal (raptor spotter). My thanks to Venky and Jai Ganesh who accompanied me on this trip and to all those who emailed me information about Kutch before the trip. My thanks to the people of Kutch who showered their hospitality and simplicity on us. And above all, thanks to my most beloved creatures – birds for being so cooperative.



Ghost Lights Distract Ornithologists

A report from India notes that ornithologists studying the birds of the Banni grasslands are running into another mystery…



Pale Rock Sparrow, A New Bird For India, Recorded In Kutch

The Pale Rockfinch or Sparrow (Carpospiza brachydactyla) is the latest addition to the list of Indian birds. The bird is a native of Middle East and Central Asia and has been recently recorded wintering in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.The bird which prefers its natural habitat of tropical dry shrub and grasslands, was discovered by four bird experts, including Jugal Tiwari, on January 27th, 2012.



Birding with Pamela Rasmussen Part 1- Bhuj, Great Rann of Kutch

Pamela Rasmussen, author of “Birds of South Asia The Ripley Guide”, has held all the birds found in the Indian subcontinent in her hand. She has studied museum specimens minutely, pored over tomes of archival material and records and though she completed all her work by 2005, she still recalls with ease, id features and differences between subspecies. Pamela had set aside a month to visit India, sent in a wish list of “lifers” she wanted to see and birds she wanted to record, and when the opportunity arose for Nik and I to join her on the second half of her journey, of course we took it.

So 23rd of December found us all at the airport, waiting for the morning flight to Bombay, which of course got delayed, giving us a few anxious moments about our making it in time for our connection to Bhuj. But they efficiently organized a flight to flight transfer and our baggage and we arrived at the Centre for Desert and Ocean (CEDO) at Moti Virani village in time for lunch. As you enter the Centre you are greeted by bird song – many many House Sparrows gorging from the hanging feeders and Purple Sunbirds, in various stages of moult, flitting among the beautiful flowers and creepers in the open air dining area.

Read More at!topic/delhibirdpix/7-T8sexuApE


Dinara heads north

After spending the winter in western India (near the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat) Dinara has set off on a long journey north back towards her breeding grounds and is now already in Tajikistan about 50 km north-east of Khorog.Until March 10th at least, Dinara was still near Ahmedabad but then, shortly after, she made her move and by March 15th had crossed into Pakistan where she sent us a signal from near the city of Multan. At this stage of the journey she was quite closely retracing the steps of her journey south, as this location is only around 50 km from where we received a signal from her on November 13th 2010, during her outbound journey.



Birding in India — Gujarat

Our birding guide from CEDO, Vaibhav was at Bhuj to meet us with Josy, the driver.  Vaibhav has worked as a naturalist here for 4 years and posts regularly on Birdspix.



Birding with Jugal Tiwari “Banni Grassland” Kutch

We left early morning after a refreshing cup of chai. Jugal was to be our guide and mentor for the half day birding in the “Banni Grasslands”. We reached the Great Plains just as the sun was making its presence felt at the horizon. Jugal was extremely knowledgeable on the birding front. His love for the environment showed through his enthusiasm, the few tribals that live in this area have great regard for him, he is fluent in the local language and encourages them to respect and keep the environment clean.I would absolutely recommend birders to make it to Jugal’s home stay once in their lifetime to roam the great wastelands of this area.



Twenty-five interesting things from my 25th year.

Another reason I love fieldwork is that even on the worst days—when every lizard runs away before I can get a decent video, when the sun beats down mercilessly and there is no wind, or when a lizard jumps out of my hand and disappears before I can measure it—being outdoors means that there is always something else, something cool, to see.



Call of the Wild

They are nature lovers who gave up all to pursue a career in the wilds. Meet the people changing the face of wildlife tourism in India



West India Jan – Feb 2013 – Gerry Hinchon

This tour of 17 days around the Western part of India – Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujurat and Maharashtra – involved three internal flights and some long drives, but the birding was superb and the trip was very enjoyable. Notable birds included seven Great Indian Bustards, 26 Indian Skimmers, 13 Crab Plovers, six Sykes’s Nightjars, two Sykes’s Larks, three Grey Hypocolius, 36 Green Avadavats, three White-naped Tits, four Stoliczka’s Bushchats, two White-tailed Stonechats, three Brook’s Leaf-warblers, one male Sind Sparrow and the critically endangered Forest Owlet, whose total population is only 25 individuals. Other interesting birds that we found included Black-necked Storks, five species of Vulture, but all in very low numbers, three Whiteeyed Buzzards, seven species of Eagle, Laggar Falcons, one Macqueen’s Bustard, thousands of Common Cranes and a few hundred Demoiselles, 27 Sociable and seven White-tailed Lapwings, Cream-coloured and Indian Coursers, four species of Sandgrouse, one Indian Yellow Tit and many more.



Day was reserved for bird watching

The final day was reserved for bird watching. We went to Vekeria Dhand, a shallow catchment of water close to the highway. Jugal Tiwari, an ornithologist and a member of the Bombay National History Society, runs the Centre for Desert and Ocean in nearby Moti Virani and was our guide for the day. He helped us spot a wide variety of birds, including the Eurasian common crane, a family of rosy pelicans and a large number of terns. We then started towards Chhari Dhand, a large wetland known for its abundance of bird life.



In a first, rusty-spotted cat sighted in Kutch

Known to be nocturnal and very secretive, the rusty-spotted cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus) has been sighted in Kutch. What makes the sighting unique is that this is the first time that the smallest cat of the wild-cat family has been spotted in Kutch.

The rusty-spotted cat was found by Vaibhav Mishra, who is a naturalist working with Centre for Desert & Ocean Kutch (CEDO) in Banni in Chhari-Dhand bird conservation area. Mishra took pictures of the cat, realising that the species was quite an interesting one. CEDO’s Jugal Tiwari and wildlife expert, Dr Shomita Mukherjee, confirmed the species as rusty-spotted cat.



Birding in Kutch Wilderness

Kutch (also spelled as Kachchh) is the second largest district of India. It is situated in Gujarat state, northwestern part of India. The drive into the land of deserts was earlier planned for December (peak birding season), however the trip had to prepone to October end. We knew we were going to be early and miss out on sighting few species, that arrive in the region only in winters (passage migrants).



Desert Cats at Rann of Kutch

One winter noon, while I was loitering around in the Banni grasslands of the Rann of Kutch area, I came across a beauty sitting in her balcony resting. The moment she noticed some of us who were drooling at her, she didn’t waste time and hid behind the curtains of her den. –



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