Having missed an opportunity already in Rajasthan to witness the elusive and endangered Great Indian Bustard, we didn’t miss this opportunity to hop on to the trip to Nannaj-WLS @ Maharashtra in the quest of Great Indian Bustard- His Majesty! Had a great company of enthusiastic birders along with us and field experience of Mr. Bharat Cheda whose commitment for nature, conservation is just great! Below is the brief account along with photo feature of the trip. Comments and Critique welcome as always!
Day1 Field Visit
The visit started bit late as there was delay in our arrivals. During the field visits we were strictly instructed not to venture beyond a point as GIB’s are very sensitive to human movements. We kept our fingers crossed hoping that we will definitely cross our paths soon. Afternoon till late evening was an eventful birding in the Grassland and by the evening we decided to head back to base hoping that we might spot a GIB on our way!
This collared dove was sitting pretty
Spotted a aunch of Indian Coursers on our way. Like the V Shape on the neck. Didn't spot any during the rest of the days
Large Grey Babbler
Green Sand Piper
The First Encounter with the king
It was almost late evening and Bharath asked the driver to stop the vehicle and just climbed up on the vehicle and Oh la…. He had spotted His Majesty grazing around at quite a distance. All were up on their toes! All of us got down glued to our Binocs and Cameras. The ones with sharp eyes got a glimpse of his Majesty first and people like me followed the suit later:-).
The GIB was grazing and his wobby bag was quite visible from the distance. He gave a glimpse for a while and got disappeared. It was getting dark and we decided to head back. On our way back we bumped on to Hares and Night Jars which were sitting pretty on the ground.
We were hoping that tomorrow will be a better day and we will definitely catch His Majesty in full avataar.
Day2 Field Visit
Day2 started on a good note with visiting the Hipperga lake nearby. The wet land was full of activity during the morning and we had a great time in spotting many of the water birds.
This Woolly necked Stork displayed its beauty for us from close proximity...
Great Thick Knee
Black Winged Stilt
This crow was munching its breakfast
Baya Weaver - Female??
Post the lake visit and the breakfast we were again into the scrub jungles of Nannaj. Nannaj has lots to offer, from insects, moths to butterflies(another post on butterflies will follow) and birds. We saw two huge frogs resting near a pond quietly. We were amazed by the size of these frogs. As we continued the trail this Juvenile white eyed buzzard flew close to the vehicle and gave good glimpse.
Close call with Eurasian Eagle Owl
As we were taking a look at Bay backed Shrike, the team called us from a distance and there was a surprise there. This Eurasian Eagle owl was sitting pretty under a shrub.
As we watched, she (probably) just walked along from the edge of the tree and took the position right under the tree. So far I have never seen a WALKING OWL, I must say it was rather funny to see a giant owl walking across. Spent a good few minutes in observing her and as she started hooting we just left the place.
And the Second encounter!
Sun was dropping off on the horizon and so were we, almost tired on the day two with extensive birding from morning. Bharat got us to a spot where he felt we had some chances of sighting GIB’s. He scanned the horizon with bincos and hmm…. No luck!! We decided to head the other way. Just then something flew across the horizon and there was His Majesty again….. basking in the glory of the evening sunlight he took a flight across the horizon. Seeing his Majesty in flight was worth the pain taken from the morning.
PS: Next day we figured out that, some enthusiastic birder/photographer ventured too close to the GIB and the disturbed GIB flew off. A sincere request to photographer friends, please follow the basic discipline and when we are in their territory let’s not venture too close for taking photographs. Well this topic needs separate write up and I wish people are sensible enough to follow the basic ground rules.
Day 3 Field Visit
With two days of exhaustive birding, third day we headed straight to Nannaj WLS and decided to spend the time at a place where we can spot Great Indian Bustards. Sitting at a place watching the nature is really interesting, you will witness lot of drama unfold in front of you. A Male black buck chased away the other males or Juveniles in order to prove Supremacy, Again a male buck suddenly sprung into action and sprinted across some distance, a dog chased away herd of bucks and there were butterflies all around capturing the nectar from the flowers.
Small waterbody nearby attracted lot Munias and Silverbills
Time till noon just flew off and still there were no signs of his Majesty! But these larks gave a wonderful breeding display, by flying high up, singing and then diving, literally!
Yellow Wattled Lapwing
The Final Encounter
Post lunch we were back again at the same place and this time we were really really lucky. His Majesty had arrived there already and was conducting his Durbaar for the evening. He was at his best here! He preened, pruned and grazed along as we watched quietly. We were fortunate to see some of the display acts too of the Male bustard. Couple of hours passed by and we made our way for the crowd that came in to watch them.
Later we were told that there was another Juvenile Male Bustard nearby and we walked back to the spot again. Couldn’t spot the Juvenile Bustard, but his Majesty was still happily around. It was getting dark and we drove back keeping beautiful memories in mind.
And finally, here is the bird list of the outing.
4.Yellow wattled Lapwing
19.Large Grey Babbler
34.Great Indian Bustard
51.Indian Pond Heron
76.Red rumped Swallow
80.Southern Grey Shrike
81.Common Hawk Cuckoo (heard)
83.Leaf Warbler ?
(Other members of the group also spotted)
Photographs & Narration By: Deepak and Sumana