Last was the first time I visited Nannaj and was completely stunned by the wildlife, birdlife and flora that can be sustained by a grassland which otherwise looks completely barren and lifeless.
The journey started with Siddheshwar Express starting 10:30 from Mumbai reaching Solapur early morning 7:00am.
3 Jeeps were arranged by Adesh and we started after freshening up and having our breakfast at around 8:30am.
Nannaj is 22km from Solapur. On the way to Nannaj we did not stop at many places as didn't wanted to be late and miss the bustards. But still after seeing a bird and birder cannot resist but to stop a few times.
On the way we stopped for an Ibis on the electricity poles, grey hornbill on a tree and shrikes.
First proper stop was at a spot called dreamland. Basically it is vast open land and there is a board called dreamland.
There first we saw a male Montagu's. Everyone was excited at seeing the seasons first harrier.
On the right side of the road we heard a constant calling of a quail.
Just as we were trying to spot it right in front of us around 20feet away on a rock was standing this rain quail and calling at the top of its voice.
It has beautiful texture which is very camouflaging.
One important point of the birds found in the grassland like habitat as Nannaj is they are generally pale colored so that they get camouflaged with the dull habitat.
Looks like it is also true with respect of the insects found here like this mantis like insect.
After we were fully satisfied with the view of the bird we started on our way.
On the way we came across a flock of Grey partridges. But they immediately took refuge behind the bushes and disappeared. We also got a glimpse of the barred button quails.
While observing these a few chestnut bellied sandgrouse flew away some distance away.
After this stop we went straight to the sanctuary.
This is the entry gate of the sanctuary
Just at the entry a Shikra gave us very good views on 2 different perches.
There were large grey babblers flying around in groups making a lot of noise.
The landscape of Nannaj is always were pleasing. Vast stretches of grassland with no blocking structure nor any trees.
At the far end near a mound Adesh spotted a male bustard walking. This was our first sight of the bustard and everyone was very excited. We also spotted a lot of black bucks before and also now in the sanctuary.
This is a male bustard displaying with his tail cocked.
We were at the observation point in the sanctuary till lunch time.
This was the most exciting time.
In front we had the displaying male with 3 females in the vicinity.
There were a herd of black bucks. There was a alpha male.
Just as we were observing the male bustard displaying in the background we saw a wolf walking by.
Other than birds there were a lot of beautiful flowers and butterflies around which we could on both the days.
Some of them are given below
After a very good morning session we left for lunch.
On the way we spotted a flock of atleast 20-25 Indian coursers.
They were very near the road and we could get good views and pics right from the road.
There were a few little inside and tried to get pics of these by going head lying flat on my stomach.
There were a few juveniles also this pack.
On the way we also came across a herd of black bucks very near the road.
As we stopped by to admire them suddenly they got agitated.
The alpha mail was grunting and the females started running with peculiar jumping style.
It was like watching the discovery channel as it was first time for me in wild.
Later we came to know from the group in the jeep behind us that there was a fox in the background which must have caused the commotion. Unfortunately we missed the fox.
The lunch was also very unique. We had all the local delicacies like the shenga poli, thecha, jhunka-bhakar, khava poli, etc
After the heavy lunch was the time to leave for another exiting session in search of the Eurasian Eagle Owl.
Adesh has an ultimate eye for these birds.
As he says it is not just the color of the bird that is required to ID or sight a bird but a very good understanding of the habitat and its behavior.
Here we also saw the 3 spotted owlets
They were also so well camoflouged. Try to find them in the below pic :-)
We did a small introduction session here till the duskfall.
At dusk we could hear the call of the Indian Nightjar (like a ping pong ball)
and then left for our hotel in solapur.
Had a nice dinner after a satisfying day of birding.
Next day we started early morning after packing our breakfast.
We decided to do a little birding in the village itself to see some other variety of birds like Indian silverbills, Baya weavers, Grey hornbill, Ashy prinia, Laughing dove, Green bee eater, etc
The Grey Hornbill gave us very good poses and one tree we observed for a long time the hornbill catching dragon flies. He atleast consumed 5-6 flies right in front of us in matter of minutes.
At the breakfast spot we spotted a lot of ashy crowned sparrow larks.
After breakfast we straight away went to the santuary.
We did not go in as it was already late and we had our heartfull of bustards.
Today high on our list were Painted francolin which had heard all the while not spotted them and the chestnut bellied sandgrouse.
So we decided to go on the opposite side of the sanctuary.
There we had a glimpse of the painted francolin.
Going ahead we came to open grassland and just as we got down of the jeep we heard the chestnut bellied sandgrouse. They flew above us and landed on the grassland in front of us and we got a very good views of the chestnut bellied sandgrouse.
Just around that place we also another big flock of Indian Courser.
Through out the trip we had constantly come across the Malabar crested lark and the Indian bush lark. Some photographs below.
Malabar Crested Lark
Indian Bush Lark
Before going for lunch we met Mr Bhagwat Mhaske who as a part of forest department is working for the sanctuary and specifically for the Bustards for the last 20years.
He goes from village to village explaining the importance of grassland and the bustards and how they help in reducing the locust and other insects which are harmful for farming.
He gave us a lot of interesting and must know information about the bustards
1) Bustards are birds which are highly sensitive to changes in nature.
If in a season the rains are less leading to scarcity of food then they would not
breed and lay any eggs.
2) One male generally mates with 4-5 females.
3) In one season 1 female will give only 1 egg and if it fails then there would be
not chicks that season.
4) There only around 400 odd individuals living in India and they are found only in
5) Out of these around 30 individuals are recording in Nannaj.
6) These are seen through out the year in Nannaj but because of their camouflage and
shy nature they may not be easy to spot other than the breeding season.
7) Bustards breed around twice a year in April-May and Sept-Oct. But generally
April-May time eggs are not successful.
Finally the trip cannot be enjoyable without a very good group and the leader.
We were back in the solapur city for lunch.
After lunch we went to Heperga lake. Its a vast waterbody mainly used for supplying water to solpur city in the rainy seson. It dries up after rains.
There we saw a lot of water birds like Wooly necked storks, black ibis, painted stork, white ibis, whiskered terns, spot billed ducks, little grebe, purple heron.
Also to our great pleasure we saw a flock of atleast 10-15 Indian prantincoles. This was a first time for me and they are wonderful birds. But they were very far away but we could enjoy their sight through the scope.
We also saw the first Marsh Harrier of the season just as we were leaving the lake.
Back to the solapur city for dinner and had a quick recap of the bird list and it came up to 85.
In the city at a spot we also saw some stink bugs in different stages. We saw their eggs, Nymphs and adults.
Some other pics clicked
A bag worm had made a bag of thorns of the bush on which it was residing. Very interesting.