Wild rajasthan : Through my eyes

#16 Jan 17th, 2018, 12:49
Join Date:
May 2009
Location:
Kolkata
Posts:
7,736
  • arupratan ghosh is offline
#16
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamsomnath View Post THE ENCOUNTER WITH THE ANGELS OF DEATH AT BIKANER, 26TH DECEMBER




It will not be out of place to spell a few things out about the vultures here. In the last few decades almost all the indian Vultures have suffered close to 99% erosion of population. The main reason was the use of a banned drug by the name of “Diclofenac” on the cattle. The carcasses of the dead cattle, the primary source of foods for the vultures used to get contaminated by the drug and consumption of such meat used to fatally affect the vultures , thus wiping out them close to extinction. Now the drug has been banned in India , but people still use them and I see no hope for the survival of these regal and often misunderstood birds. Now people from the world over come here to have glimpse of them, perhaps for some few more years.Anyway let’s move into our day.
Yes Somnathda, you told me exactly the same thing when we were having chats at Churna Bungalow in Satpura. That was a great night for many reasons

In Churna we sighted some vultures with deep bluish patch around their neck. Did you get to see those in Bikaner as well ?
#17 Jan 17th, 2018, 13:01
Join Date:
Jul 2012
Location:
kolkata
Posts:
3,006
  • iamsomnath is offline
#17
Quote:
Originally Posted by arupratan ghosh View Post Yes Somnathda, You told me exactly the same thing when we were having chats in Churna Bungalow in Satpura after the evening safari was over. That was a great night for many reasons

In Churna we sighted some vultures with deep bluish patch around their neck. Did you get to see those in Bikaner as well ?
Dear Arup , a night which will stay with us lifelong.
In Satpura we could see both Indian and Long-billed vultures, very very rare and cherished sighting. I expected sighting of Long-billed at Rajasthan , but didn't see even a single one.
Cheers
#18 Jan 17th, 2018, 13:04
Join Date:
Jul 2012
Location:
kolkata
Posts:
3,006
  • iamsomnath is offline
#18
Thanks Prakaant , GP , AG and everyone else for appreciation.
@GP , I have noted down , so it's a definite spot to visit on my next trip there. :-D
#19 Jan 17th, 2018, 14:23
Join Date:
Oct 2004
Location:
Chennai, India
Posts:
69,751
  • Nick-H is offline
#19

Wild rajasthan : Through my eyes

Somnath, of course the pics are as good as always, but special mention and thanks for the great story telling !
~
Life gets aadhar every day.
.
#20 Jan 17th, 2018, 20:26
Join Date:
Aug 2011
Location:
NE
Posts:
546
  • sindabad is offline
#20
Amazing writing..keep coming back to this thread ..hooked for the next episode .
#21 Jan 26th, 2018, 17:18
Join Date:
Dec 2005
Location:
Mumbai, India
Posts:
3,674
  • shahronakm is offline
#21
Just noticed this thread with superb description & lovely photos. Keep them coming.
#22 Jan 26th, 2018, 21:43
Join Date:
Jul 2012
Location:
kolkata
Posts:
3,006
  • iamsomnath is offline
#22
Thanks Nick, Ronak, Sindbad and everyone else :-)
#23 Jan 27th, 2018, 13:40
Join Date:
Jul 2012
Location:
kolkata
Posts:
3,006
  • iamsomnath is offline
#23
THE CURTAIN RAISER : DESERT NATIONAL PARK : 28th December 2017

The overnight train reached Jaisalmir while it was still dark outside. It was chilling cold and we were greeted by two young men wearing broad smiles and Pathan Jackets, one of them was later known to be ever-smiling "Sara Khan" , a bird-guide. The first sight of their smiling faces endeared them to us. The vehicle was a “Bolero Camper” which is basically a Pick-up with dual cabin. We had a thick glass of milk tea at a shop just outside of the station and promptly took the shelter to the welcoming warmth of the smug cabin of the car. Our destination will be the SAM sand dunes , a small hamlet about 50 kms away from Jaisalmir. The car started and jaisalmir was soon left behind. A straight paved road , the rushing car, the darkness passing us by all around and I was having peculiar bouts of anxiety in my mind. I had allotted the maximum number of days here , knowing fully well that the level of comfort will be minimal , thus putting the kids to a stern test , knowing also fully well that DNP is a humongous area where sighting of animals and birds are a bit of hit and miss, a lot would depend on the expertise of the guide and our luck. But my train of thought was interrupted as few decorative lighting arrangements started to appear on the both sides of the road. On closer inspection it became clear that they are small Tent cities , garishly masquerading as the kingly accommodations out of the pages of Arabian Nights. Upon asking, one of the boys confirmed that they are targeted towards the vacation revellers , who would transform the place into some kind of Ibiza on sand , fun and frolic will flow like water , so will be money , a couple’s entry on the 31st December night could command a price between 15000 to 1 Lakh INR , and there are plenty of fun-seekers from Delhi and Gujarat who are willing to pay such sum.

Once the tents ended , our car stopped in front of the only brick built hotel of the area, called “Sagar Hotel and Restaurant”. A small one story affair , having a small shop selling the bits and bobs at the front , the rooms , pretty basic but neat, lining on both the sides of an internal corridor and a dining hall/kitchen at the rear.

A thin and tall youth , sporting the Khan Jacket and Pajama , greeted me with a hug and Musa Khan won my heart on the spot. The boy has such an honest and loveable eyes and smile that he can win anyone’s complete trust almost instantly.

The sky was getting alight with the first lights , the watch was showing 7.15 AM, we dumped the bags in the room and jumped into the soft top Gypsy of Musa bhai. Loved the spirit that the team showed , back to back safari for last four days , an overnight train journey , and they just jump on that soft-top gypsy of Musa.

The gate of the DNP is situated barely 500 meters away from the hotel, which makes it extremely time-saving.A couple of pillars with a swinging barrier on the narrow road , a few hoardings here and there which marks the start of DNP.

The National Park is about 3100 sq.km. in size, full of sand dunes, thorn bushes, salt lakes, rock formations and is full of wild life. The sheer size of the area demands that one has to criss-cross the park endlessly to watch them , which we would do for the next four days. It is also the the last refuge of the elusive “Great Indian Bustard” , called “Godaban” in these parts , less than 100 ( perhaps less than half of that number ) are claimed to live here , mostly in grassy enclosures and like any birder my first aim was to see and photograph one in it’s habitat.

Our first checkpoint was a place called Sudasari , where the GIB grasslands are situated. At the entry point of Sudasari a camp of Forest Department , along with staff quarters is situated for the protection of the birds and animals there, though unfortunately during our stay I could see no patrolling and other activities.

Anyway let’s carry on with our search of GIB. Our car kept on rolling over the uneven surface of the DNP. Musa kept on stopping here and there , searching the horizon through his binoculars and after about an hour he spotted them. The GIB was witnessed and photographed by us and he took great care that the shy birds are not agitated.

Then we had our on-field breakfast with cold parathas , sour card and local potato chips. I am immensely grateful to the team that they put up with the very same breakfast for all the four days without any irritation.

Once the GIB was seen , we kept on with our search for other of our target birds and mammals. In a huge space like DNP it is important to enjoy the act of search as well as the fruit it bears. Our last year’s experience of GRK and LRK was instrumental in spawning our love for such open and arid landscapes. The sheer expanse of the land, the changing contours and textures , the magical appearance of the birds and animals, and the long hours of simply driving on , seemingly like a rudderless ship but in fact all according to a well laid plan which resides in the head of the guide , the experience is a heady cocktail of all these and more.

Time and again , a few hutments of the nomadic sheepherders materialised out of nothing. In many of the places Musa stopped , chatted , we offered candies to their kids and they reciprocated with cups of thick milk tea. Proud men and women who won’t accept a gift without a return-gift.

The wild life of DNP is extremely reach. The small birds are huge in number and sizeable flocks can be seen everywhere. There are some specimens which are available only in DNP. One such is the “Black Crowned Ashy Lark”. We kept on stopping often to observe and capture them on camera . Even the Raptors that are seen elsewhere differ in shape , size and morph than the ones found in DNP. For example , the Laggar Falcon of DNP is very similar in looks to Peregrine Falcon. So the experience is extremely rich and varied.

I will not bore you with each and every sighting details. But I must say that one amazing find on the first day morning was a few vultures , both Himalayan and Cinereous , sitting and lying in almost human-like posture on the sand dunes. Even Musa told us that he has never seen them in such posture.

After 11 AM the air starts to heat up , the haze builds and we left for the lunch back to the hotel. They prepared a very tasty and hot lunch , consisting of chapati , daal , potato cauliflower curry and Panir curry. The hotel also added one extra room at very reasonable charge as the rooms there are smallish and was being a very tight fit for us, and that gesture was remarkably generous as the year-end holidayers were coming there in flocks and the rooms were in very high demand. As Musa ensures them steady traffic of guests through 6 months of the year , hence they couldn’t refuse Musa’s request to add one more room. All in all , Musa and the hotel crew went a long way to make the stay memorable , in spite of the remoteness of the location and other obstacles that they face. I also must mention that the supply of water and electricity is impeccable , much better than what I expected.

Post lunch we started at around 3 and kept on criss crossing the terrain and bagged some of the species that I was looking for .


THE KALEIDOSCOPE OF WONDERS : 29, 30 and 31st December 2017

The next three days went up in a whirlwind of amazing experiences. I will touch you the high points for your pleasure.

THE CREAMY BEAUTIES :

I was on the lookout for “Cream Coloured Coursers” . They forage the ground of the desert or other arid areas for food-grains. Earlier in GRK I had seen both the Indian and Cream Coloured Coursers but I was looking specifically from a good shot of the Creamers.

In this season the rainfall has been remarkably low , even by the standard of DNP , so the food grains are very scarce and so are the birds that depend on them.

In the course of our search suddenly Musa showed me a couple of flying birds and he muttered , “kreem kreem". I readied myself with great anxiety because the birds then landed in one of the flats which was very rough and had undulating texture. Musa drove his 4X4 Gypsy with great care and approached the couple in such a way that I could take a few acceptable shots. Then we left them alone and returned ; Musa has shown remarkable awareness to the wellbeing of the birds and often he keeps a very healthy distance so that they are not agitated, yet positions his car just perfectly , keeping in mind the angle of light and posture of the birds which ensures very good images.

LOOKING FOR THE TRUMPETER :

The Trumpeter Finch was a cherished target for me. Musa drove us about 75 kms away to an area , away from DNP , near a small village by the name of Ramgarh. This beautiful place also boasts of a very serene body of water, where flocks of Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse , and sometimes Spot-Bellied Sandgrouse come in good numbers in their characteristic flock flying and drinking manoeuvres . We got the Chestnuts but the Spots eluded us.
Got a flock of Trumpter though and a few other cherished ones including Desert Warbler , Tawny Pipit and Water Pipit again.

RIDING WITH THE KING:

The Red Headed Vulture / Asian King Vulture / Indian Black Vulture/ Pondicherry is one of the most cherished species of the birds of DNP. The bird is critically endangered , facing extinction and probably less than 50 live in DNP. They have the most powerful beaks amongst all the vultures which is capable of cutting through the hardest of hides and they start the feast ahead of other vultures , hence the name of “King”.

I was overtly eager to watch and photograph one , as that would complete the list of Indian Vultures for me , others being seen and photographed beforehand. But the King started to elude me.

While returning from Ramgarh , at around 1 PM , we were driving very fast because we had to return to the hotel, gobble our lunch and then again had the afternoon safari. I watched from quite a distance that a few vultures were sitting on the right side of the road. The first two were Egyptian Vultures , which are quite common there , so I lost interest. I showed them to Musa , but at that very moment his attention was diverted to another eagle which was flying up above , and he was trying to identify that. By that time our car was barely 100 feet away from the seated vultures , we both saw one much bigger vulture , darker in body and red in head. We both understood that this is the elusive King and Musa braked hard. But by then the King started it’s takeoff run and I managed only a few flying shots form the hind position. It flew , and flew , higher and further and after sometime vanished in the horizon. Post lunch we returned to the same spot , saw the dog carcass and Ramu decided that as the carcass was barely twenty meters away from the road and the passing vehicles would create lot of disturbance , and also because the dogs are not favoured by the vultures , they are not going to return.

Then the next afternoon Musa spotted some vultures at another spot deep into the dunes, circling in the air riding on the thermals. They were quite far away and we slowly approached them and started waiting from a distance. After about half an hours they started to perch on the ground one by one. Musa confirmed that there had to be some sort of dead animal which must have attracted them. We watched the place through our binoculars and I saw a couple of Cinereous Vultures , flanked by five or six Griffon and Himalayan Vultures. Then suddenly Musa whispered in my ear that , Dada , there is a King at the right side. I watched through my bins that yes, indeed there was one seated at the right corner. We drove a bit closer then I got down from the car and slowly crawled close to get the first acceptable images of the King. That concluded my Vulture hunt in India , it was emotionally overwhelming for me, I watched the photos in higher magnification and watched that it’s beaks are red with fresh blood , the apparently ghastly sight gave me hope that they will perhaps survive , perhaps the sons of my son will also watch them in their regal , wild self. I kept on watching them , the beautiful carrion-eaters till the darkness descended and we had to drive back home.

I will follow this episode up with bird/animal lists, costing details and contact numbers.


The vultures lounging and resting on the ground as if it was a beach



Bimaculated Lark



Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse drinking at Netsi Village



Cream-colored Courser


Trumpter Finch



The GIB , in it's habitat



The King Vulture

#24 Jan 27th, 2018, 13:53
Join Date:
Dec 2008
Location:
In the land of awesomeness
Posts:
31,452
  • aarosh is offline
#24
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamsomnath View Post we offered candies to their kids and they reciprocated with cups of thick milk tea.
Camel milk? Goat milk?
#25 Jan 27th, 2018, 19:40
Join Date:
Jul 2012
Location:
kolkata
Posts:
3,006
  • iamsomnath is offline
#25
Quote:
Originally Posted by aarosh View Post Camel milk? Goat milk?
Not sure.
#26 Jan 29th, 2018, 14:11
Join Date:
Aug 2011
Location:
NE
Posts:
546
  • sindabad is offline
#26
i was eagerly waiting for this part, another set of beautiful prose and photography , your narration testifies your passion for this craft. Thanks for sharing and best wishes for more such trips. I have put DNP in my backlist for next year

Similar Threads

Title, Username, & Date Last Post Replies Views Forum
Wild Wild Dooars... Nov 23rd, 2016 11:26 2 1209 Indian Wildlife and National Parks
Rajasthan - wild life/ forts/ deserts/ need advice Oct 13th, 2016 14:33 1 464 India Travel Itinerary Advice
Help: Rajasthan Wild Life online booking is driving me crazy.. Oct 27th, 2010 07:40 2 1486 Indian Wildlife and National Parks


Posting Rules

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Forum Rules»
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.3.2
© IndiaMike.com 2018
Page Load Success