Birding in Western India
Tour Overview - Birding in Western India
The states of Rajasthan and Gujrat are unquestionably the pride of India for a reason. The tour in this land encompasses a few endemics and some endangered species of the region. With birds such as the Great Indian Bustard, the Green Avadavat, Sarus Crane, Macqueen’s Bustard, and the Grey Hypocolius, this tour is sure to keep you on your toes when it comes to seeking these feathered wonders.
The time of winter is perfect for to observe migrants, as they seek refuge for ideal conditions of weather and food. Witnessing their large congregations will serve as an experience of a lifetime.
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Detailed Itinerary - Birding in Western India
On arrival, meet our representative at the airport. Transfer to your hotel and check-in. Today is a day designated as we begin our tour the next day.
On this day we drive to the state of Rajasthan which holds habitats such as grasslands and deserts. We have several pit stops on our way to Tal Chappar where we expect to see Red Naped Ibis, Indian Peafowl, Indian Rollers until we arrive at our destination and do some further exploration for the avifauna.
Once a vast grassland, Tal Chappar has a few patches left. This is an excellent habitat for the Blackbuck and finding them in large numbers wouldn’t be a problem. There’s also a good chance of seeing the Desert Fox, Indian Hare, and the Grey Mongoose.
The region is also spectacular for the Demoiselle and Common Crane, raptors such as Stepper Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Pallid Harrier, and Laggar Falcon. Birding in the scrub forest will increase or chances of seeing the Indian Sooted Creeper. Apart from that, other species include the Rock Bush Quail, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Rufous-fronted Prinia, White Bellied Minivet and White Capped Bunting. More widespread species include the Spotted Owlet, Indian Roller, Yellow Crowned Woodpecker, Bay-backed and Great Grey Shrike, Black Rumped Flameback, Indian Silverbill and Small Minivet. We will also seek out some of the roosting spots for the Indian Eagle Owl.
Our destination for today is Jaisalmer, but before we reach, there are a few spots on the way that is a must for any birder. Our first stop will be at Bikaner at the Jobeer Conservation Reserve. This place is particularly interesting as we see great flocks of the vulnerable Yellow-Eyed Green Pigeon.
The area also has winter migratory raptors such as Tawny and Eastern Imperial Eagles, Steppe Eagles and vultures like the Eurasian Griffon, Egyptian and Cinereous Vultures.
Next, we drive towards, Keechan where one can see large gatherings of Demoiselle and Common Cranes. The sight of these birds in a massive congregation is sure to be a memorable one. Other species to be seen here include, the Brown Rock Chat, which is endemic, the Variable Wheatear, Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse, and the Greater Short-toed Lark. In the evening, we will check in to our hotel at Jaisalmer.
Winter is undoubtedly the best time to explore the Desert National Park in Jaisalmer, which is why two days would be apt for such an excursion. The Great Indian Bustard is a species to look out for considering its numbers have dwindled drastically with about less than 100 individuals left. The site is also a brilliant spot for birds of prey such as the Short Toed Snake Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Steppe Eagle, and the Pallid Harrier. The area also has the endangered White Rumped and Red-Headed Vulture.
In the semi-arid region, we will search for species such as the Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse, the Black Crowned Sparrow Lark, Greater Short Toed and Bimaculated Larks, Asian Desert Warbler, Isabelline, Desert and Variable Wheatear, Graceful Prinia. There are chances of even seeing the Indian Eagle Owl, Red-Tailed Wheatear and the Striolated Bunting. The area also inhabits mammals such as the Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) Nilgai, and Indian Desert Gerbil.
On waking up early, we will go about some final birding. We then proceed to Mount Abu. Located at a height of 1722 meters above sea level. It’s like arriving at an oasis in the midst of a desert with its lush green surroundings and a far more cooling breeze. Post lunch, we will begin our search for Avadavat, which is quite common in the area. We will also look out for Red Spurfowls, White-bellied Drongos, India Schimitar Babbler and Crested Buntings.
The morning will be spent looking for species that haven’t checked of our list. En route, as we descend, we shall keep our eyes peeled for the Sarus Crane, Black-headed Ibis, and Painted Storks. On arrival, we will unwind with some dinner, followed by rest.
The Little Rann of Kutch is a marvellous, seemingly empty vast land of Salt flats. But don’t let the looks of this barren like land fool you as it is teeming with wildlife. There are enough sources of water in the area to attract a majority of migratory birds and water birds such as the Lesser Flamingos that travel from the African Subcontinent. Along, with them are there bigger relatives, which are the Greater Flamingos. One can even see Pelicans of the Dalmatian and the White. The place also exhibits an excellent medley of raptors, wheatears and larks.
Demoiselle Cranes also flood the land with their presence. In addition to these species, here we have, Spoonbills, the Yellow Wattled Lapwing, and the Sociable Lapwing, the Indian Courser, a variety of duck species, White-eyed Buzzards, Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse, Booted Eagles and Common Buzzards. Over here, we will also keep a lookout for the elusive Macqueen’s Bustard.
Later in the evening, we will seek out the nocturnals such as the Indian and the Syke’s Nightjar. Another gem of an animal that we find here is the Indian Wild Ass which is endemic to this region. There are also sights of Golden Jackals, Striped Hyena, Grey Wolf and Jungle and Asiatic Wild Cat.
Once again, we wake up to explore more of the surroundings for any species we may have missed. Post Lunch, we will depart on our journey to Bhuj. On arrival, we will be welcomed by an appetizing dinner.
Located north of the town of Bhuj, the Great Rann of Kutch is a treasure trove when it comes to birding. Although, the area is vastly semi-arid, and scrublands, it also has seasonal wetlands that help it thrive during drier times. There are several sites here including the ‘Chari Dhandh’, ‘The Banni Grasslands’, ‘Fulay’ and ‘Mata No Madh’ that increase your chance of seeing species such as the Grey Hypocolius, the White-naped Tit, Marshall’s Iora. You also have the opportunity of seeing the Rock Bush Quail, Painted Sandgrouse, Sirkeer Malkoha, Skye’s Lark, Grey Necked Bunting and Jungle Prinia. There is also the unique Crab Plover that one can see at the Gulf of Kutch, Slender Billed and Pallas’ Gull and Terek Sandpiper are some of the birds one can see.
In the morning, after breakfast, we will depart for the Bhuj Airport to catch our flight to New Delhi. Our tour ends here. You can either check in to a hotel for another night’s stay or fly onwards to your destination.