Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Little Rann of Kutch - Birding in both the worlds (03rd to 05th Jan, 2014)

Date: 03rd Jan 2014 morning 05.00 am to 05th Jan,2014 eve 7.00 pm (travel days excluded). The bookings for Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) - Wild Ass Sanctuary bird-watching trip are on…..book your seats now (see the details at the end).....Get the birds from both worlds... Desert as well as Wetland. Bird-watch in one of the highly recommended birding hot-spots in India with Nature India.


LRK - Birding Unlimited in the Little Rann of Kutch

Ask someone who has been here......and you wont have to think twice to decide where you want to head next. This Wild Ass Sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kutch of the Gujarat State in India. It covers an area of 4954 km². The Sanctuary is named after a sub species of wild ass (Equus hemionus khur), the last population of which it harbours. The Rann is one of the most remarkable and unique landscape of its kind in the entire world. It is a vast expanse of desiccated, unbroken bare surface of dark silt, encrusted with salts which transforms into a spectacular coastal wetland after the rains. And in these wetlands occur one of the most breathtaking variety of avi-fauna that is rivalled by few other spots in India.

A geographically unique landform, the Little Rann of Kutch is a saline desert wilderness offering exciting cross-desert safaris, superb wildlife viewing opportunities and colourful villages along the edge of the desert. The Little Rann of Kutch or LRK, as it is often called, is a charismatic birding paradise and has been declared a Ramsar Site. The marshes in the Rann, and nearby lakes like Nawa Talao and Vanod Saran, attract huge flocks of water birds. Flamingos, pelicans, cranes, storks, ducks, waders etc can be seen in large numbers. LRK is home to some very unique dryl habitat species like Variable, Isabelline & Desert Wheatears, Isabelline Shrike, Macqueen's Bustard, Lesser White-throat, Greater Short-toed Lark, Long-billed Pipit, Graceful Prinia , Merlin, Short-eared Owl etc...

The Little Rann of Kutch is also a Wild-life photographers paradise as it offers innumerable opportunities to capture birds and wildlife at close quarters. Last year the photographers literally had a feast photographing the falcons, buzzards, eagles, bustards, desert foxes, Wild Ass etc. (Most of the images in this blog are courtesy: Mr.Nirav Bhatt, Gujarat)

Kachchh (also spelled as Kutch) is a district of Gujarat state in western India. Covering an area of 45,612 km², it is the largest district in the state of Gujarat and the second largest district of India after Leh. Kachchh literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry; large part of this district known as Rann of Kachchh is shallow wet-land which submerges in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons. The same word "Kuchchh" is also used in Sanskrit for a tortoise and garments to be worn while having a bath.

Kachchh District is surrounded by the Gulf of Kachchh and the Arabian Sea in south and west, while northern and eastern parts are surrounded by the Great and Little Rann (seasonal wetlands) of Kachchh. When there were not many dams built on its rivers, the Rann of Kachchh remained wetlands for a large part of the year. Even today, the region remains wet for a significant part of year.

Nature India has organized an exclusive Birdwatching trip to this paradise from 03rd January to 05th January 2014 (travel days excluded). We shall cover The Little Rann of Kutch including the Indian wild Ass sanctuary, Savada wetland, Bajana wetland, Nava talav, Handiwala wetland ....virtually almost all the hotspots.

Some of the places that we will cover during our trip are as follows:

Wild Ass Sanctuary, Little Rann of Kutch

Little Rann of Kutch of which most of the part constitutes Asiatic Wild Ass Sanctuary. It is theonly place in the world, to see Asiatic Wild Ass in wild. Other mammals to look out for are Blue Bull, Desert Fox, Desert Cat, Hedge Hog, Chinkara etc.

The sanctuary known for not only Wild Ass but also for numerous wetlands it has around and no. of Waterfowls. ALso the dry unending desert is known for species like
Macqueen's Bustard, Short-eared Owl, Greater Short-toed Larks, Desert Wheatear, Red-tailed Wheatear, Variable Wheatear, Aquilla Eagles, Pallid Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Merlin, Bimaculated Lark, Laggar Falcon, Imeprial Eagle etc...

Have a look at some of the Trip reports & photoblogs on LRK



Tour Itinerary & Other Details:

Date: 03rd Jan'14 morning 5.00 am to 05th Jan'14 eve 7.00 pm (travel days excluded)

Mode of Travel : Safari Jeeps (LRK)

Overnight train travel can be booked from Mumbai..... however since it is a busy sector, the train bookings should be done as soon as the booking opens to get the desired train and class .... there is only one suitable train from Mumbai to Viramgam, however any participants who wish to come via Ahmedabad should reach to the camp site on their own....Nature India can ASSIST in bookings if required.

Rough Tour Itinerary:( Ex.Mumbai)
02nd Jan'14 (Thursday): Departure from Mumbai to Viramgam 19017 Saurashtra Janata Express. at 18:20 Hrs (from Bandra).

03rd Jan'14 (Friday): Arrival in Viramgam (4.30am) - Proceed to Royal Safari Resorts (30 kms) - Rest - Breakfast - Birdwatching safari in Rann - Return for Lunch - Rest - Birdwatching at Bajana Wetland - Return for dinner and night stay at Royal Safari Resorts

04th Jan'14 (Saturday): Early morning bird watching @ Savada Wetland and the Wild-Ass Sanctuary Safari - return to hotel for lunch - Rest - Birdwatching at Handiwala Wetlands - Return - Presentation on "Birds of LRK" - Dinner and night stay at Royal Safari Resorts

05th Jan'14 (Sunday): Early morning Birding at "Nava Talav" and Safari in Rann - Return for Lunch - Rest - Birding in Bajana Wetlands - Eve. Tea - Proceed to Viramgam Station to Board 19018 Saurashtra Janata Exp. at 18:45

06th Jan'14 (Monday): Arrive in Mumbai early morning by 05:40 Hrs.

Trip charges : Viramgam to Viramgam only

Charges: Rs.11200/-
only (Includes A/C stay in Royal Safari Camp on twin sharing basis with attached toilet, Local travel by Safari Jeeps, Viramgam to Viramgam travel, Park entry charges, veg / non-veg food , Guide charges, Information articles & on board snacks and mineral water)…….

This does not include travel charges from Mumbai to Viramgam and Back, Photography fees or any charges other than the above.

Group Size: Max.12 persons only

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmation mail to natureindiatours@gmail.com and by paying a non refundable Advance of Rs.6000/- after our registration confirmation on e-mail…..The remaining amount will be collected on the day of travel.

Kindly register soon as the train bookings are not easily available in Gujarat.

Stay Arrangement:

At Royal Safari Camp, Near Bajana wetlands, Surendranagar District in AC rooms on a twin sharing basis. Beautifully constructed by the skilful local artisans, with local red stone, each cottage at the thoughtfully landscaped camp exhibits the magnificent craftsmanship, while offering you all the amenitie, including air-conditioners and luxury bathrooms to make your stay comfortable. A specially created lake along the camp simply adds to the serenity of the whole area.

Resource Person: Mr.Adesh Shivkar, Mr.Mandar Khadilkar & a local expert

Mode of Payment: You can either
1) Transfer non-refundable advance amount of Rs. 6000/- directly to Adesh's HDFC A/c : (please call Adesh @ 09820455713 for A/c no.) .... please mention your name, date and other details….OR
2) Courier a cheque of Rs.6000/- as advance amount to the following address

Name: Mr.Adesh Shivkar
Address: D-8, The Adi Janata Society, Behind HP Petrolpump, Sion (East), Mumbai-400022.

Please Note:  
1) Once registered, the amount of Rs. 6000/- is strictly non-refunadable  

2) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on Nature India Tours 

3) Nest photography or any collection of specimens is prohibited 

4) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with  Nature India's rules and policies

Please revert on natureindiatours@gmail.com ID, in case you need any clarification …..

For any other queries we are available on 9869071091 or 9820455713 (Adesh) or 9930318665  (Mandar).

Thanks for your patience.

Looking forward for a very rewarding trip with you all !!

Warm Regards,
Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar
Nature India
Appreciate, Respect and Conserve

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thattekkad & Munnar - Twitching for the Endemic Birds (19th Dec - 22nd Dec,2013)

"Sir.... Malabar Trogon @ 9.30 am... not before and not after that".... "Crested Goshawk @ 7.30 am" (says Girish Chandran...and he is usually spot on).... if you want this and more to experience, then embark for a Birdwatching trip to one of the India's richest birding hot-spots within the place revered as "God's Own Country" with Nature India...


Date: 19th December, 2013 to 22nd December, 2013 (travels days excluded). The bookings for Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary / Munnar bird-watching trip are open…..book your seats now (for complete details about charges, itinerary etc. see at the end).....

See one of the previous report.....


Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekkad

Thattekkad is the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with the eastern Himalayas” this is how Dr.Salim Ali described the place when he visited Thattekkad in 1930’s.

If you desire to see Western Ghat endemic bird species at one place, then Thattekkad & Munnar "Is" the place. This lesser known place untill now is fast becoming a favorite destination of birders not just across India but also the world as it offers the variety, quality and ambience that can be rivaled by few places.

Thattekkad bird sanctuary located at an approximate distance of 20 kilometers from Kothamangalam on the Kochi Munnar route situated in Idukki district. The serene sanctuary came into being in the year 1983 and was discovered by Dr. Salim Ali the famous ornithologist. This 25 sq.kms sanctuary is home to 250 plus species of birds and other birds that migrate to this place during the migratory seasons. This sanctuary has since being named as "Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary" in honour of the great man.

(PS: Some images for this blog has been taken from internet)

Nestled among evergreen forests this sanctuary is home to endemic birds like the Malabar grey & Pied Hornbill , Malabar black woodpecker, Blue winged parakeet, Flame-throated Bulbul, Dark-fronted & Rufous Babbler, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Malabar Trogon, Crimson-throated Barbet, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, White-bellied Treepie,.................

Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Grey Jungle Fowl, Grey-headed and Yellow-browed Bulbul, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Black throated Munia, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Southern Hill Myna etc…… But the most celebrated species here would be the Sri Lanka Frogmouth, perhaps due to the ease at which it is seen here and most of the photographs taken in India of this species are from this place.

The other uncommon species that can also be encountered regular here are Black Baza, Black Eagle, Great-eared Nightjar, Dollar Bird, Red Spurfowl, Lesser Yellow-nape Woodpecker, Speckled Piculet, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Drongo Cuckoo, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Mottled Wood Owl, Green Imperial Pigeon, Crested Goshawk, Malayan Night Heron, Indian Blue Robin…… This list will lure any birder to come running here :-)

Apart from the birdlife there are various mammals that are recorded from here including leopard, porcupine, bear, deer and various other animals and the majestic elephants. Cobras and pythons are common among the reptiles. The place is also noted for the majestic king cobra which is revered through out India.

The sanctuary also is abounding in plant life with mahogany, teak and rosewood vying for places. There are also a variety of plants which are endogenous to the region .These huge trees provide the lush canopy. The thick forest coverer apart from being a safe haven for birds is also a treat for wildlife lovers and bird enthusiasts alike.

Munnar & Eravikulam National Park

Not very far, Munnar compliments the Thattekkad Sanctuary well due to its altitude. It is a hill station 125 kms from Kochi to the West. The altitude above 1600 m above MSL means an agreeable climate throughout the year, though in December-January the temperatures can fall to the single digits. The rain fall of over 300 cm is recorded mainly during June to September. The shola-grassland eco- system so typical of Munnar is home to large numbers of birds, many of them endemic. Sightings of endemics like the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Nilgiri Pipit, Greyheaded Bulbul, Black & Orange Flycatcher, Broadtailed Grassbird, Crimsonbacked Sunbird, Greybreasted Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Indian Rufous Babbler, Whitebellied Blue Flycatcher, Whitebellied Shortwing, Whitebellied Treepie & the Wyanad Laughing Thrush can be the highlights of a birding trip to Munnar & surroundings.

Eravikulam National Park is 97 sq. km. in extent, situated along the crest of the Western Ghats in the High Ranges of Idukki district of Kerala state, India. The Park holds the largest viable population of the endangered (IUCN) Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius).

About 120 species of birds have been recorded which include endemics like black and ornage flycatcher, Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri wood pegeon, white bellied shortwing, Nilgiri verditer flycatcher and Kerala laughing thrush. Endemics confined to the shola-grass land ecosystem like the red disk bushbrown and Palni fourwing are among the 100 odd butterflies listed inside the park.

Have a look at some of these wonderful trip experiences...

(click for part 1 to 6)


Click below to get the Bird Checklist of Thattekkad


Complete Trip Details

Travel upto Cochin and Back to be done by participants, however we can provide assistance for train travel if required

Tour Itinerary: Ernakulam to Ernakulam (Cochin to Cochin)

1. Thursday, 19th December, 2013:Pick-up at Ernakulam Station / Airport at 03.00pm ….. Departure in jeep for Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary......Check-in at Jungle Bird Homestay- Quick eve. birding trail - Light Snacks and Birdwatching for Nightjars and Owls - Dinner and Early Bed. 

2. Friday, 20th December, 2013: Whole Day Birding in Thattekkad Sanctuary and surrounding areas for the Western Ghat Endemics on foot.....Luch - visit the Bhoothathankettu forests (The place is famous for its natural rocky topography, which according to the myth is believed to have been built by bhootams (spirits/demons)....a wonderful birding place not very far from TBS - Stay at Jungle Bird Homestay.

3. Saturday, 21st December 2013: (Strenuous day) Start early morning for Munnar and Eravikulam National Park to watch Nilgiri Pipit, Black & Orange Flycatchers, White-bellied Shortwings, Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Painted Bush Quail and other endemics of the shola forests...... Lunch at Munnar ---- continue watching birds and return back to Thattekkad for night stay. 

4. Sunday, 22nd December, 2013: Early morning birding in Thattekkad - Lunch - Continue birding in Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and adjoining areas to see the elusive Ceylon frogmouth, Malbar Trogon, Black baza & other endemics- Dinner - drop at Ernakulam Railway Station by 9 pm 

Travel Options: (to be done by participants, however we can provide assistance for train travel if required)....

Preferred trains...
1) 18th Dec, 2013: Train No. 16345 Netravati Express from Mumbai (Departure 11:40) to Ernakulam (Arrival 14:45) on 19th Dec'13.

2) 22nd Dec, 2013: Train No.12224 + ERS LTT Duronto Express from Ernakulam (Dep.23:55) to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) @ 23:55 on 23rd Dec'13.

3) Air Travel: Regular flights from Mumbai - Cochin & Bangalore - Cochin

Trip charges : (Ernakulam to Ernakulam only)…. Rs. 11800/-

Includes Twin / Triple sharing in Gireesh's Jungle Bird Home-stay, Local transport , all Park entry charges, local guide charges, All meals (veg/non-veg food), Entry permits , Articles on Thattekkad & Munnar and bird checklist, on board mineral water and snacks………

This does not include Mumbai - Cochin - Mumbai travel charges or any other charges and also any individual camera charges ....Individuals will have to pay additional charges if any to the forest dept. as per the rules.

Please note: Since the accommodation is limited (Only 5 rooms on twin sharing), preference will be given for twin sharing on first come basis or to couples (same charges).. However the stay is very clean and food is to be experienced to really appreciate.

Stay Arrangements

(images below) Jungle Bird Homestay; Birdwatching ; Giresh's mother and Grandmother ; Gireesh Chandran

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmatory mail to natureindiatours@gmail.com and by paying a non refundable Advance of Rs.6000/- and  after getting registration mail by us (The seats will only be confirmed after receiving the advance amount) …..the remaining amount will be collected during the trip.......

Please Register at the earliest as only 12 seats are available.

Resource Persons: Mr.Gireesh Chandran and his Mother Sudha (Both are excellent guides), Mr.Adesh Shivkar & Mr.Mandar Khadilkar.

Mode of Payment: You can either

1. Transfer non-refundable advance amount of Rs. 6000/- directly to Adesh's HDFC A/c : (please call Adesh @ 09869071091 for A/c no.) .... please mention your name, date and other details….OR

2. Courier a cheque of Rs.6000/- to the following address
Name: Mr.Adesh Shivkar
Address: D-8, The Adi Janata Society, Behind HP Petrolpump, Sion (East), Mumbai-400022.

Please Note:
1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 6000/- is strictly non-refundable
2) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on all Nature India Tours
3) Nest photography or any collection of specimens is prohibited
4) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with  
 Nature India's rules and policies

Please revert on natureindiatours@gmail.com ID, in case you need any clarification.

For any queries we are also available on 9930318665 / 9967518665 (Mandar) or 9869071091 / 9820455713 (Adesh) ..... 

Hope to see you for this wonderful trip

Thanks for your patience.

Warm Regards,

Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar
Nature India
Appreciate, Respect & Conserve

Poem Written by : Dr Gowri Joshi
Place: Jungle Bird Home Stay, Inside Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary,Thattekkad
Date: 1st february 2012
Time: 3 pm

Title of the poem - Thattekad Magic

Nature India trip was awesome, to say the least
Everything - the nature, the people and the everyday feasts ;-)

I am carrying back precious and lifetime memories for sure
I've learnt, for all our stresses, nature is the best cure .

It binds us together through the lovely birds
About their miraculous beauty I have no words..

I was stunned to see the camoflauge of the Frogmouth
Whether humans can create such a mystery, I have full doubt !

The nilgiri flycatcher and the shortwing have a magnificient blue
How does mother nature create this magic, we have no clue.

The nilgiri pipit follows the 'sweet n simple' principle
It is very very cute and definitely doesnt look dull.

The drongos, bulbuls, woodpeckers, flycatchers, sunbirds were all very beautiful
All this explains how nature has such a strong pull

The malabar trogon is another fondly cherished treasure
the amount of joy it has given me, I really cannot measure.

I can go on and on as all these memories are very dear
but this may take away your time - I do fear.

The hospitality extended by Gireesh, Sandhya and Amma were no less
Not once did we land up in any kind of mess !

They looked after us with love and care
Such warmth and compassion these days is rare.

I am thankful to them from the bottom of my heart
and it definitely pains me as we part.

The next few lines are dedicated to our bird guides
who's personalities have both serious and humourous sides.

Mandar, Adesh and Gireesh gave us their very best
for a single minute, they did not rest :-)

Hats off to these three bird experts, our friends
I pray to mother nature that our friendship never ends...

Thank you Nature India for your effortful passion
With this zest you are going to inspire our entire nation.

Thank you dear photographers and birders for being who you really are
All of you are going to be so close (in my heart) yet so far.

I wish each one of you life's best - to the participants, organizers and the hosts
and look forward to all your posts.

I would like to end by saying that I felt the magic in this air,
My dear friends, happy birding, goodbye and take care... 

About Me

Appreciate, Respect & Care for Nature