Being one of our favourite bird-watching destinations, we never miss out on Little Rann of Kutch and so was the case this year as well. We got some lovely sightings of over 100 species of birds along with some nice photographic opportunities to capture species like the Short-eared Owl, Montagu’s & Pallid Harriers, Dalmatian & Great White Pelicans, Greater & Lesser Flamingos, Greater Spotted, Steppe & Eastern Imperial Eagles and the endemic Indian Wild Ass.
Starting from Ahmedabad by 0830 hrs, we arrived at our resort in the Little Rann of Kutch by 1130 hrs. Birding started just as we entered our resort as we saw couple of vultures flying high in the sky. We could not confirm the species, but soon around 7 more of them followed… this time flying a bit low, just enough to identify the species – the White-rumped Vultures. After relaxing for a while and a sumptuous lunch, we started off for our 1st Safari into the Rann in the Bajana area. Just as we entered the area, we were greeted by a pair of Montagu’s Harrier.
Light was pretty harsh but we did manage to get some close views. We carried on with our journey and soon came across a huge water body were we saw a variety of species – Dalmatian Pelicans, Common Cranes, Greater Flamingos, Pied Avocets, Northern Shovelers, Eurasian Wigeons and couple of Marsh Harriers. We also came across a huge group of Indian Wild Ass and were able to observe them from a close distance as they came to quench their thirst.
After spending around couple of hours at the water body, we made our way further into the Rann as the sun had started setting already. We came across the Eastern Imperial Eagle as well as Steppe eagle and few more Montagu’s Harriers. The light had almost vanished when Bhavesh spotted some whitish bird perched on the ground, getting a bit closer revealed it was the beautiful Pallid Harrier.
We spent rest of the day capturing this beauty and enjoying the sunset before returning back to the resort. We got back to resort by 1830 hrs for tea and followed rest of the evening in introductions, sharing wildlife experiences, making bird list and finally winding up with dinner.
Second day started as early as 0600 hrs with packed breakfast – destination was Kharaghoda area to take our chances to sight the Macqueen’s bustard and the Short-eared Owl. We arrived at Kharaghoda at a good time and spent a good 2 hrs looking out for the species although did not get lucky with it.
We took a break for having our breakfast and resumed our journey when we came across couple of Short-eared Owls, along with around 6 individuals of Common Kestrels, good number of Bluebulls and a lone Indian Wild Ass. We also come across a Spotted Owlet and Pied Kingfishers while returning from Kharaghoda. We were back to the resort by 1200 hrs and after relaxing and lunch, we were ready for our 3rd Safari – again in the Bajana area.
As with Day 1, we were greeted by harriers again, along with a lone Crested Lark and numerous Greater Short-toed Larks. We decided to scan the area to see if we can sight the Short-eared Owl again, and we did come across 3 different individuals and also managed to get some excellent closeup views.
As we explored further, we came across the Greater Spotted Eagle as well as the Eastern Imperial Eagle – both giving lovely close views. We spend the rest of the day enjoying the sunset and also came across an adult Eastern Imperial Eagle right at the end of the safari. We were back to the resort by 1900 hrs.
We decided to explore the Nava Talab area on the final day and started by 0630 hrs. Just as the sun came up, we saw lot of activity in the shurbs enruoute as 3 species warblers were at their vocal best – Lesser Whitethroat, Common Chiffchaff and Blyth’s Reed Warbler. We also came across huge flocks of Pale Sand Martins along with Red-rumped & Wire-tailed Swallows. Just before entering Nava Talab area, we stopped at a small water body were we saw good number of Crested Larks, Tawny Larks, Common Snipe and a large flock of Ruffs. After spending sometime here, we finally entered the Nava Talab area and were instantly greeted by around a dozen of Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse. Driving ahead, one of our tour members – Nagendra spotted an eagle perched at eye level at quite some distance. We approached it cautiously and got some superb shots of this majestic raptor – the Eastern Imperial Eagle.
Rest of the session clearly belonged to the Pelicans and Flamingos. It was a treat to watch Dalmatian & Great White Pelicans and Lesser & Greater Flamingos in good numbers from close quarters. We also came across White-tailed Lapwings, along with good number of Northern Pintails, few Ruddy Shelducks, numerous Greylag Geese, Bar-tailed Godwits and a variety of other avian species.
That was the final safari at Little Rann of Kutch but surely not our final birding session of the trip 😉 . Post lunch, we started our return journey by 1400 hrs. After driving for around an hour, we took a detour of around 10 KMs or so to explore a small dumping ground. Not the best time to visit as it was afternoon time, although we did come across numerous Black-eared Kites, Egyptian Vultures and Steppe Eagles.
As with various national parks and other birding destinations, the Little Rann of Kutch is unique in its own way and offers lovely views of species as well as the beautiful sunsets. We had loads of fun over the 3 days and would have only loved to spend more time.
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– Rudraksha & Shraddha