Saturday, January 20, 2018

2017-12-26 Jhalana - Leopard Safari

26th Dec 2017 - Jhalana Forest Safari, Jaipur

We reached Jaipur by train by around 6am and start away took OLA to Jhalana Lepoard Safari. We reached there by 6.30 and had to wait till 7am for the safari to start.

In within 30min of the start of the safari we got our first target species the Stripped Hyenna standing right in the middle of the road on a turn.
It looked around for 10sec and then went off the road and climbed on the top of the hillock on which the road was built.

There were lot of Peacocks in this forest which we understood are the main prey for the leopards here.
The other birds seen were Rufous treepie, indian silverbill, white eared bulbul, eurasian sparrowhawk, purple sunbird, Grey Francolin, a wonderful Eurasian Scoops Owl and a surprise lifer White Capped Bunting.
There are also a lot of Blue bull and Chitals.

We finally got our other target the Leopard in the second safari towards the middle of the safari. It was the only leopard sighting we had.

2017-12-24 Bikaner - Birds of dryland and Water

24th Dec 2017 - Bikaner Outskirts

The second day also started at 7am and mornings plan was to visit an open dryland of larks and some abandoned  houses around for Yellow Eyed Pigeons.

The day started with huge flock of Greater Short Toed Larks and a Cinereous Vulture sitting at the top of small bush. Also spotted many Isabelline Wheatears.

Just then Jituji spotted a small raptor like bird sitting on ground far away.

On looking through and then going closer we concluded it to be a eurasian sparrowhawk.

Just then another small raptor drove the sparrowhawk away and it turned out to be a fantastic sighting of Merlin.

Next to this dry land were some abandoned houses where yellow eyed pigeons are generally seen. These pigeons are very shy and don't allow close approach.
After taking some nice pics we decided to proceed to look for Desert Jirds.

On the way we came across a small sand bank with nests of Pale Martin.

Desert Jirds are found in sandy plains with higher density of bushes.

Around this place we got shikra, paddyfield pipit.
Back at the dump ground we got another lifer Common Starling.

Along with it there were red naped ibis, bank myna and the usual vultures :-)
Before winding up the session for lunch we did a round of dry grassland around to find the desert warbler and desert fox.
In the second half of the day we visited a place called chota gajner where there is a small waterbody but it resulted in amazing birding.

We were welcomed to this place by 3 demoiselle cranes, 20+ bar headed geese, 10+ common moorhens, a common pochard, little grebe.
But the surprise of the day were a lifer water pipit and nice views of Eurasian Sparrowhawk.

Next Day Leopard Safari - Jhalana, Jaipur (2017-12-26)

2017-12-23-Bikaner - Raptor Galore

23rd Dec 2017 - Bikaner Outskirts

Had heard a lot about raptor sightings in Bikaner outskirts but what we witnessed was completely out of imagination.

We reached Bikaner early morning at 6am and straight away headed to Jitu Solanki's Vinayak Guest House. We had quick tea and in half an hour was ready for the birding.

We had a Mr. Satya from Anand, Gujarat accompanying us on our safaris to Bikaner outskirts.

As we reached the outskirts of Bikaner and as it had already started to get some sun rays we started seeing many raptors sitting on trees along the road. To our surprise Jituji was not interested to stop at any of these trees as he said "This is nothing lets go ahead and I promise it will be amazing".

As we reached the destination, it would not be a exageration to say, that almost each tree was hosting atleast 5-10 raptors. Mostly steppe eagles, some imperial eagles and tawny eagles.

And got some nice close shots of Steppe Eagle, Imperial Eagle and Eurasian Griffon.

On the ground it was mainly Egyptian Vultures around 300+ atleast in total.
Farther away on ground and trees were Eurian Griffon, around 50+ in total.

But the most vulture which gave us very good views and which was a lifer for me were Cinereous Vulture. These are really huge vultures when sitting as well as flying though wingspan of Griffon is probably larger.

And then some flight pics of these raptors seeing clearly the difference in their shape and color.

It was an amazing morning to see so many raptors at one location.

Among these were also red naped ibis and common startlings which we go the next day.

While driving around the outskirts away from the raptor area we got desert and variable wheatears (capistrata subspecies), Chestnut bellied sandgrouse, Desert Warbler and a beautiful specimen of Rufous fronted prinia.
Came back for lunch and then again started at around 3pm to a water body in the outskirts

It was again an amazing place and got some wonderful sightings.

- Started with white eared bulbul and rosy startlings gathering to drink water
- there were red wattled lapwing and green sandpiper which were joined by a pair of black winged stilts
- Collared dove started gathering on a bush nearby and then started coming one by one for the water
- A single yellow eyed pigeon was joined with the collared dove though we saw a flock of 5-10 yellow eyed pigeons flying overhead
- The most awaited visitor 3 desert fox and a beautiful little Indian fox
- Many wild boars with there litters
- few chikaras
- flock of 5 Grey francolins
- Indian Robin
As we ended the session by around 5pm and were about to leave a eurasian sparrowhawk made a dive to a bush creating a commotion for other birds already present.

Ended with spotted owlets just getting active coming out of their roosting hole in a tree and a raptors against setting sun.

Next Day Dryland and Water birds of Bikaner (2017-12-24)