Kutch beckons

Early morning on a not so cold December morning  all particpants from Bombay & Baroda arrive at Bhuj for 5 days of birding in what can be called an extraordinary birding destination. We are given a warm welcome by our Group leaders, Dr. Jugal Kishore Tiwari who runs CEDO at Moti Virani and Nkihil Bhopale of BNHS who along with Mr. S.N. Varu will unveil the splendours of nature over the next few days. More of these 3 gentlemen given in the information section at the end of this blog.

After quick introductions & getting acqainted with each other, we head for Nakhatrana - 52 kms away which will serve as our base for the camp. Our birding starts shortly after we settle in, freshen and refurbish ourselves. Our first halt is at Layyari river & thornforest.

Birding begins at Layyari River

Our first destination is Layyari riverbed - while the river is nearly dry, we spot this Red-necked Stint feeding. This and many of the other small waders are in non breeding plummage.


Little Stint

After walking through the dry river bed, we head towards the thorn forest

this is an interesting area for seeing the Southern Grey Shrike, Marshall's Iora, white-naped Tit etc.
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Walk through the thorn forest at Layyari

some unusual rock formations in the area - this rock looks like the head of a calf.

As we look deeper into what seems like the eye of the calf, we find a grasshopper -This time it is a real live specimen having its afternoon siesta

The only species of butterfly that I saw on this trip - the Large Salmon Arab. this was neither the season nor a very rich habitat for butteflies.

Quite a challenge to catch the Marshall's Iora on the lens - with its constant flitting and acrobatics, it was a charming sight indeed.

another interesting species seen in the are was the White-naped Tit Parus Nuchalis which is a rare & endangered species
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Layeri river & its surroundings

Yellow-fronted Pied Woodpecker

Black Redstart (female)

Afternoon session around 3 p.m. is a stop at a wayside stream where Jugal assures us that some patience will pay off with the appearence of 2 species of Buntings. and sure enough within a short time, they come for their regular drink -seems like clockwork precision!

Above is the Grey-headed Bunting & below the House Bunting
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the hillock in the area provided some interesting views.

A pair of Lesser Kestrels

Montagu's Harrier (female)

Ah! the Desert Wheatear - What a Camouflage!
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Views of Chhari Dhand Wetlands

Jugal's internet postings contained many beautiful pictures of this vast wetland located in the Banni grassland. It was therefore good to see a place you have read & pictorially seen so much about.

Migratory birds - Crab Plover (black &  white bird near the shore), Black-tailed godwit, Common teals & Northern Shovellers scouting for dinner

View after sunset
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Topansar lake

Right in the heart of bustling Mandvi city lies the Topansar Lake & an early morning stop to catch up with breakfast time for the large number of Black-headed & few Brown-headed Gulls. this is their non-breeding plummage & many of them are juveniles - See their 1st winter or 2nd winter markings on the wing

the dorsal & ventral view of the Star toirtoise found on a Tar Road - outside Mandvi city
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Modhwa Beach

Modhwa beach in Mandvi was our destination for the 1st half of the day ...... and it was time for a beach breakfast with the special tea brewed by our expert drivers. Jugal & the other gentlemen here are blissfully unaware of the threatened tea bath lurking behind them!

Greater flamingoes congregate in large numbers at the beach. the photo in the title of this blog is of Modhwa beach

Pallas Gull were in good numbers. Also seen the Heuglin's Gulls, slender billed Gull & Saunder's Tern

fishing boats abound in the area
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More from Modhwa beach

Western Reef Egret

It is lunch time for these Sanderlings. typical of the small waders

Grey heron
A view of the beach & beyond
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Phot Mahadeo

Day 3 is an early morning walk through thorn forests after which it is time to relax. Jugal (L) & Nikhil (R) give a pose

some wild gems at our feet

view of Phot Mahadev

Lesser Whitethroat
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Lunch with a Kutchi ambience

We are crossing the Tropic of Cancer to go to the Sham-e- Sharad where we enjoy the Kutchi ambience though in a snazzy way.

Entrance to the Sham-e-Sharad. This is an interesting resort that provides the traveller with the ethnic Kutchi ambience coupled with all the comforts.

The internal layout

The dining area is a colourful riot of colours
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