Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Little Rann of Kutch - Birding in both the worlds (15th to 17th Jan, 2016)

Date: 15th Jan 2016 morning 06.00 am to 17th Jan,2016 eve 7.00 pm (travel days excluded). The bookings for Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) - Wild Ass Sanctuary bird-watching trip are on… 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 rivaled 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 15th January to 17th January 2016 (travel days excluded). We shall cover The Little Rann of Kutch including the Asiatic wild Ass sanctuary, Savada wetland, Bajana wetland, Nava talav ....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: 15th Jan'16 morning 6.00 am to 17th Jan'16 eve 7.00 pm (travel days excluded)

Mode of Travel :

Ahmedabad to Royal Safari Camp (LRK) by Jeeps

Rann Safari in open Jeeps  

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 are however, several trains and flights from Mumbai to Ahmedabad and anyone requires help to book the train tickets from Mum-Ahmbd then Nature India can ASSIST in bookings if required.

Rough Tour Itinerary:( Ex.Mumbai)

15th Jan'16 (Friday): Pick up from Ahmedabad Railway Station (5.00am) - Proceed to Royal Safari Resorts - Breakfast - Birdwatching safari in Rann - Return for Lunch - Rest - Birdwatching at Bajana Wetland - Return for dinner and night stay at Royal Safari Resorts

16th Jan'16 (Saturday): Early morning bird watching with packed breakfast@ Savada Wetland and the Wild-Ass Sanctuary Safari - return to hotel for lunch - Rest - Birdwatching at Wetlands - Return - Revision & discussion on birds seen during the day - Dinner and night stay at Royal Safari Resorts

17th Jan'16 (Sunday): Early morning Birding with packed breakfast at "Nava Talav" and Safari in Rann - Return for Lunch - Rest - Birding in Bajana Wetlands - Eve. Tea - Proceed to Ahmedabad Station

Trip charges Rs. 13400/- Ahmedabad to Ahmedabad only

Charges: Rs.13400/- 
only (Includes A/C stay in Royal Safari Camp on twin sharing basis with attached toilet, Local travel by Safari Jeeps, Ahmedabad to Ahmedabad 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 Ahmedabad 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 and by paying a non refundable Advance of Rs.7500/- 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 amenities, 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. 7500/- directly to Mandar's HDFC A/c : (please call Mandar @ 09930318665 for A/c no.) .... please mention your name, date and other details….OR
2) Courier a cheque of Rs.7500/- as advance amount to the following address

Name: Mr. Mandar Khadilkar
Address: Flat No.2, Blossom Apartments, Below Shantighan Hospital, LM Road, Kandarpada, Dahisar - West, Mumbai - 400068

Please Note:  
1) Once registered, the amount of Rs. 7500/- 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 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

Monday, August 24, 2015

Birding in the Great Rann of Kutch, Bhuj - 06th to 09th Jan, 2016

Date: 06th January, 2016 morning 07.25 am to 09th January, 2016 afternoon 03.00 pm (Travel days excluded). The bookings for the much awaited Great Rann of Kutch / Bhuj bird-watching trip are on… your seats now (see the complete details at the end of this blog).....Birdwatch in one of the India's greatest birding hot-spots with Nature India


One of the best hotspot to watch birds in India is undoubtedly Gujarat. Particularly, the Great Rann provides great opportunity to birdwatch to your hearts content. Once visited, it becomes an addiction of sorts to pay a visit to this amazing place every year…..ask anyone who has been here :-)
Kutch is an erstwhile princely state of India. It is the largest district of the state of Gujarat and the second largest district in India covering an area of 45,612 sq kms. The land is virtually 'an island' resembling a tortoise "Katchua or Kachbo", surrounded by seawater. Kutch was also known as the kutchdweep or Kutchbet." The Great Rann of Kutch" which dominates a major portion of the district. The Great Rann of Kutch and the Little Rann of Kutch respectively-uninhabitable deserts which during the monsoon season (June to October) is often completely submerged by floods.

The Rann of Kutch is a seasonally marshy region located in the Thar Desert biogeographic province in Gujarat state of northwestern India and the Sind province of Pakistan. The name "Rann" comes from the Hindi word ran meaning "salt marsh".

Not just the variety but the sheer numbers of birds seen is amazing. This is due to the varied habitat types that include deserts and wetlands, vast grasslands, scrub lands, and mangrove swamps. .For many bird species Gujarat is a gateway to India coming in from Europe, Siberia and the Middle East. During the months of Dec-March this whole region becomes a birding Paradise of sorts with hundreds of Common and Demoiselle cranes, Waders, Eagles, Harriers, Buzzards, Falcons, Warblers, Buntings, Ducks, and other passerine birds. Not to mention the Great Indian Bustard and Macqueen's Bustard. It has now become a norm for any birdwatcher to visit the Great Rann every year.
Nature India has organized an exclusive Birdwatching pilgrimage to this paradise from 06th to 09th January 2016 (travel days excluded). We shall cover Naliya Grasslands, Kunathia & Banni Grasslands, Mandvi Coast, Pot Mahadeo thorn forest, Chari Dhand, Fulay Chari & Other places around Nakhatrana district.....virtually almost all the hotspots.

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

1) Naliya Grasslands
A significant grassland habitat of Kutch wellknown for the Great Indian Bustard in Abdasa taluka. Though covering only about 20 sq km of area, this grassland is very important for birdwatchers as perhaps the only sanctuary in India where three species of bustard are found – the endangered Great Indian Bustard is resident here.

There is a good drivable track through the sanctuary that offers a chance of seeing the endangered Great Indian Bustard and a variety of other birds like the Black and Grey Francolin, Indian sandgrouse, quails, larks, shrikes, coursers and plovers. This sanctuary is also interesting for birdwatchers as vulnerable species like the Stoliczka’s Bushchat and White-naped Tit could also be seen. The sanctuary offers variety of Raptors including Aquila Eagles, harriers, Buzzards & Falcons that feast on Spiny-tailed Lizards here.

2) Chari Dhand & Fulay Village
The flats of Banni conceal many depressions where rainwater gets collected during a good monsoon. These shallow water bodies are locally known as dhand, jheel or talav.

Chhari Dhand is the largest of these, with an area of almost 10 sq km. More than 50,000 waterfowls and 55 distinct animal species have been recorded here, while more than 30,000 birds have been reported during winter. Endangered species like Dalmatian Pelican, Oriental Darter, Blacknecked Stork and Indian Skimmer migrate through these wetlands every year. Waterfowl are not the only migratory birds attracted to this region. In fact, 32 species of Raptors have been recorded here, together with a large number of Common Cranes. Due to this rich biodiversity, the Chhari Dhand and some of its adjoining wetlands are under serious consideration for inclusion in the Ramsar Convention.

The "Fulay" village on the way to Chari Dhand is a well-known spot to see the rare Grey Hypocolious that is only reported in India from here.

3) Banni Grasslands
Banni covers an area of 3847 sq km. This area is absolutely flat; the altitude only ranges between 3 metres to 5 metres above sea level. More than two thirds of the area of Banni is high in salinity.

During the fifties, Banni was predominantly grassland, with a very low density of trees and bushes. It was considered one of the largest and finest Asian grasslands. At that time there were more than 40 species of grasses, but nowadays there are just around 15 species, due to the planting of a non indigenous thorny shrub (prosopis juliflora) by the FD in the Sixties to control the soil salinity. This thorny shrub known locally as gando baawal, literally crazy thorn-bush, grew very fast, destroying several native species and eroding huge tracks of the grassland. Locals have learned to extract gum and to make charcoal from this plant as a source of livelihood.

This area is widely recognised as important for birds because of its location on the flyway for many migratory species and migration studies have been conducted here by well-known organisations like the Bnhs. The mix of grasslands, scrub and wetland also make this a heaven for raptors with the Tawny Eagle and Bonnelli’s Eagle breeding here and Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle and Steppe Eagle wintering in the Banni area. Endangered species like the White-backed and Long-billed Vulture are seen in the Banni area. White-naped Tit is a vulnerable species of the Banni region.(some images: courtesy. Mr.Vivek kale)

4) Kunathia Grassland & Scrubland / Mandavi Coast

This grassland 74-km north of Mandvi is a superbly maintained wilderness area. Abode of the endangered Indian bustard and the monsoon breeding area of the rare lesser florican & Stolickza's Bushchat, this grassland is also good for seeing Indian gazelle, Indian and desert foxes, jackal, the endangered Indian wolf and birds like the black francolin. The coastal marshes between the sanctuary and the coast of Mandavi attract large flocks of migratory birds and waders including Plovers, Phalaropes, Godwits, Sandpipers, Gulls, flamingo, Pelicans, Shanks etc.

Some Bird Species : Common Crane, Demoiselle Crane, White-naped Tit, Stolicksa's Bushchat, Marshall's Iora, Montagu's & Hen Harriers, Crab Plovers, Oyestercatchers, Bluethroat, Rufous-fronted Prinia, Isabeline Shrike, Red-necked Phalarope, Isabelline & Variable Wheatear, Hoopoe Lark, Rosy & Dalmatian Pelicans, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Short-eared Owl, Black Francolin, Steppe Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Twany Eagle, Laggar Falcon, Eurasian Hobby, Long-legged Buzzard, Desert Warbler, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin,Flamingos, Collared Pratincole, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Pochard, Tufted Duck, Great-crested Grebe, Quails, Rufous-fronted Prinia, Orphean warbler, Grey-necked, Red-headed and Black-headed Buntings, Chestnut-bellied and Spotted Sandgrouse, Indian Courser,Grey Hypocolius, European Roller, Eurasian White Stork, several species of waders ……. And about 200 + other species.(Some images: Courtesy. Dr.P.V.Subramanium)

Click here to see a report of the trip we had made to Kutch a few years back…..

Mr.Vivek Kale's amazing photoblog with stunning images

You can also view Dr.P.V.Subramanium's amazing trip report with nature India Last year.

You can also see a magnificient photoblog by Mr.Vijay Cavale here


Detailed Tour Itinerary:

Date: 06th Jan, 2016 morning 7.25 am to 09th Jan, 2016 afternoon 03.05 pm (travel days excluded)

Mode of Travel : Trax Cruiser Jeep (The only best travel option to move around the places quickly)

Overnight train travel can be booked from Mumbai (by participants)..... however since it is a busy sector, the train bookings should be done soon to get the desired train and class .... there are 2 trains available for Bhuj from Mumbai....Nature India can ASSIST in bookings if required.

Rough Tour Itinerary:(ex.Mumbai)

05th Jan'16 (Tuesday) : Departure from Mumbai to Bhuj by 19115 BDTS Bhuj Exp. leaving Bandra Terminus at 14:50 Hrs.

06th Jan'16 (Wednesday): Arrival in Bhuj (7.25am) – breakfast - Drive to Hotel JP Palace, Nakhatrana-lunch, Eve. Bird-watching at Naliya Grassland – return for dinner and Stay at JP Palace, Nakhatrana

07th Jan'16 (Thursday): Early morning Birdwatching in Fullay Village, Chari Dhand, Moti Virani with packed breakfast - Lunch at Hodka village. Eve. - Banni Grassland & Nearby areas for Short eared Owls, Houbara Bustards and Desert cat- Dinner & Folk Music - Overnight stay at Hotel JP Palace, Nakhatrana

08th Jan'16 (Friday): Early morning proceed to Mandvi coast with packed Breakfast- return for Lunch - A’noon birding in Kunathia Grasslands - Return - Dinner - Stay at JP Palace, Nakhatrana

09th Jan'16 (Saturday): Early morning Birdwatching in Pot Mahadev area for scrubland birds – Lunch - Checkout at 12.30pm  & Departure for Mumbai by 22904 BDTS AC Superfast Exp. at 15:05 Hrs OR 19116 Bhuj-BDTS Exp. @ 22:15 depending on the availability of the tickets.

10th Jan'16 (Sunday): Arrival in Mumbai at 04:55 Hrs OR at 14:05 Hrs


Trip charges
(Bhuj to Bhuj only)............. Rs.14200/-

Includes non- A/C room stay in Hotel JP Palace, Nakhatrana, on twin sharing basis, Local travel by Trax cruiser jeeps, Park entry charges, vegetarian food , Guide charges, Information articles & on board snacks and mineral water…….

This does not include travel charges from Mumbai to Bhuj and Back or any charges other than the above.

Group Size: Max.14 persons only

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmation mail to and by paying a non-refundable Advance of Rs. 8000/- after our email comfirmation…..The remaining amount will be collected on the day of travel. Please note that the seats will be confirmed only after the advance payment.

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

Stay Arrangement: Hotel JP Palace, Nakhatrana is a good and clean hotel. The Stay arrangement is on a twin sharing basis and non-A/c accomodation. The food is mouth watering and we have kept a special arrangement for non-oily Kutchee food. The AC accommodation can be arranged at an extra cost if requested during the registration.

Resource Person: Mr.Adesh Shivkar, Mr.Mandar Khadilkar & Mr.Mangal (local expert)

Mode of Payment: You can either
1) Transfer the advance money directly to my HDFC A/c (Please call Mandar @ 9930318665).. please mention your name, date and other details….
2) Courier a cheque of Rs. 8000/- as advance amount to the following address

Name: Mr.Mandar Khadilkar
Address: Flat No.2, Blossom Apartments, LM Road, Below Shantighan Hospital, Kandarpada,
Dahisar-West, Mumbai-400068

Please Note:
1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 8000/- 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 ID, in case you need any clarification …..

For any other queries I am available on 9869071091 or 9820455713 (Adesh) or 9930318665 / 9967518665 (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

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Appreciate, Respect & Care for Nature