A small population of McQueens Bustard winters in LRK @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
Crab Plovers of the Mandvi coast @ Gerolf Jander
Indian Coursers are common in this part of India @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
The endemic White-naped Tit are found in the thorn forest near Bhuj @ Gerolf Jander
The Great Indian Bustard is one of the star attractions of this tour @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
The Grey Hypocolius is the sole member of it's family @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
Sociable Lapwing winters in North West India @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
Western India Bird TourRajasthan, Gujarat & Maharashtra
Areas covered: Rajasthan, Gujarat & Maharashtra
Duration: 16 days/15 nights by road and air
Highlights: Indian Bustard at Desert National Park, Demoiselle Cranes at Kheechan, Indian Creeper at Tal Chhapar, Green Avadavat at Mount Abu, White bellied Minivet at Siana, McQueens Bustard at Little Rann of Kutch, Hypocolius and White-naped Tit at Bhuj and Forest Owlet near Mumbai.
The western India bird tour takes you through the desert states of Rajasthan and Gujarat, showcasing some of the greatest endemic diversity of birds and mammals in the country. Key species on this tour are the Great Indian and McQueen’s Bustard, Hypocolius, Green Avadavat, White-naped Tit, Forest Owlet and Indian Creeper. The impressive mammals include the Asiatic Lion, Striped Hyena, Leopard, Desert and Jungle Cat, the elegant Blackbuck and Chinkara.
We start the tour at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary near Delhi where our principal targets are the Sind Sparrow and Brook’s Leaf Warbler. Driving on to Rajasthan, our first stop is Tal Chhapar, a small sanctuary created for the protection of Blackbucks. It is the most reliable site for the Indian Spotted Creeper and other species like wintering Yellow-eyed Pigeons and Stoliczka’s Bushchat.
Travelling further west in Rajasthan we arrive at the historic city of Jaisalmer. At the Wood Fossil Park, we look for Trumpeter Finch, Striolated Bunting and Red-tailed Wheatear. We spend the next two days at Desert National Park, looking for the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard. Other semi-desert species we hope to see here are the endemic Stoliczka’s Bushchat, Asian Desert Warbler, MacQueen’s Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser, Black-bellied, Chestnut-bellied and Painted Sandgrouse, Black-crowned Finch Lark, Variable and Isabelline Wheatear, Desert Whitethroat and Punjab Raven. Raptors include the critically endangered Indian and White-rumped Vultures, Laggar Falcon, Tawny and Short-toed Snake Eagle.
Leaving DNP we stop at Kheechan to see Demoiselle Cranes, which are fed by a village community. Seeing up to 8000 cranes feeding close up is a remarkable sight. We drive onwards to reach Siana before sundown – the site of David Attenborough’s film on Leopards “Life of Mammals”. Night drives here may reveal the Striped Hyena, Jungle & Desert Cat and perhaps the Leopard. Our target birds are the nomadic White-bellied Minivet, Jungle and Rock Bush Quail, Sirkeer Malkoha, Painted Sandgrouse, Laggar and Red-necked Falcon and the Indian Vulture.
A short drive from Siana, we arrive at the pleasant hill station of Mt Abu for another rare endemic – Green Avadavat. Departing Mt Abu early we drive through picturesque hills to arrive at Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. LRK is best known for the last population of the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass. Besides the globally threatened Houbara Bustard that winter here, other notable species are the Sykes’s Nightjar, Greater Hoopoe Lark, Indian Courser and Sociable Lapwing. Raptors here are the Montagu’s and Pallid Harriers, Imperial, Tawny and Greater Spotted Eagles, Merlin and Peregrine Falcon, Pallid Scops and Short-eared Owl.
We drive onwards from the flats of LRK to the coastal town of Bhuj in the Greater Rann of Kutch, offering some of the most spectacular and range restricted species like the Hypocolius, White-naped Tit, Marshall’s Iora, Sykes Nightjar, Sykes Lark, Red-tailed Wheatear, Crab Plover and Eurasian Oystercatcher.
Fly out of Bhuj to Mumbai and drive to the Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary in Thane. We will spend the remainder of the day looking for the Forest Owlet, a species that remained undiscovered for 113 years till just about 12 years ago. Some of the other species we can hope to see here are the Malabar Trogon, Indian Nuthatch and the Vigors’s Sunbird. After birding the following morning at Tansa, we drive to Mumbai to fly home.