Gujarat (LRK, GRK & Jamnagar) Trip Report

By November 10, 2016 Trip Reports 6 Comments
Birds 300 - Red Wattled Lapwing

After a long research and getting loads of information from many I had finalized Little Rann of Kutch (LRK), Greater Rann of Kutch (GRK) and Jamnagar trip for about 2 weeks in December 2015.
Mr Rajendra, fellow INWian and my Nephew joined me in this trip from 23rd Dec 2015 to 3rd Jan 2016.

It went tough on bookings as majority of the resorts were already booked so we had to compromise on few things like accommodation, dates etc.
We booked Bhavna Resorts in LRK for 3 nights (Average Guides for Wildlife enthusiasts, Very good rooms with manageable food)
Kutch Fossils in GRK for 4 nights – (Excellent Guide, average rooms but Excellent food)
Hotel President in Jamnagar for 2 nights – (Decent Guide we had, Excellent accommodation and Very Good food)

A summary before a long story:
Provided a very good rain fall that year at these places,

Little Rann of Kutch (LRK)Not Recommended
Greater Rann of Kutch (GRK)Highly Recommended
JamnagarRecommended

LRK

We landed in Mumbai on 23rd Dec and took a train from Bandra which goes to the nearest railway station to Padti, Viramgam.
We reached around 8:30 a.m. as the train got delayed by an hour and a taxi from Bhavna Resort was waiting for us.
Prashanth ji, who runs this resort was very kind in arranging all the transportation during our stay, it was a great support.
His hospitality was also very good. Food at the resort is authentic Gujarati style which was manageable. Rooms are clean and air conditioned.

Our first birding trip started at 4 pm to Bajana, we were already late by an hour despite we were free from 11 a.m. spending all the time in and around the resort.
It was a very disappointing trip, adding to that our vehicle broke down while returning to resort but luckily another one was arranged.

We informed Prashanth ji over dinner to arrange a better Guide for the rest of the trip. He was kind enough and considered our request.

After first few bird safaris we realized the reality of LRK

  1. LRK is an Ocean of Dust, we must cover ourselves completely and the Camera & Equipment need special care
  2. Due to open Jeep Safari’s the dust issue is magnified multifolds, to avoid this dust and cold wind (in winters) Ninja Caps (which covers everything but eyes) are mandatory to have
  3. Gloves, Warmers and Socks are mandatory in Winter
  4. Better to use Sun glasses for eye protection from dust & wind
  5. Need to carry lots of water, resort also arranges
  6. The worst part is travelling a minimum of 150 kilometers (100 miles) per day yet chances of spotting Raptors is a big challenge. Getting good images is purely luck.
    1. First day we travelled around 60 kms to Bajana
    2. Second day we covered Taragoda and Oodi which is about 150 KMs in total
    3. Third day we covered Zinzuwada, Osaraj and Bajana in the evening which is around 300 KMs !!!
  7. There are few places where Harriers can be found but they are found only during sunset where light is the biggest challenge, high ISOs 3200 and above are a must.
  8. The loud noise of our Jeeps scared away the wildlife both Birds & Mammals at many places, realized Petrol vehicles were ideal
  9. Finally it’s all dry land with thorny shrubs at some places

Equipment after the safari
Dust On Equipment

We felt the amount of effort VS the returns in LRK is not justified. So we cancelled our 4th day morning birding safari and started to GRK in the morning itself by 7 am on 27th Dec.
We were unable to find the main attractions of this place or photograph Short Eared Owl (a glimpse), Mac Queen Bustard or even Desert Fox (lots of missed opportunities).

High ISO shots (ISO 3200) of Harriers, difficult to approach near with a Jeep due to the huge noise the jeep makes.

Harrier at LRK
Harrier at LRK

Below list of birds were first timers to me.

White WagtailCommon BabblerDesert WheatearDesert LarkCrested Lark
Hoope LarkGriffon VultureImperial EagleGreater FlamingoLesser Flamingo
MerlinIris BillPallid Scops OwlPied AvocetNorthern Shevrolet
Common Teal DuckDalmatian PelicanRuddy ShelduckGreylag GooseFerruginous Pochard

GRK

We reached GRK at 2 pm by road thru Bhuj. The roads were excellent. We had a good lunch and started for Birding at 4 pm to watch resident birds.
It was not so exciting with no luck returned to resort by 7 pm, relaxed and planned for next 3 days birding.

We covered

  1. Chari lake
  2. Banni Grasslands
  3. Naliya
  4. Mandvi
  5. Nakhatrana

Mandvi was rocking and had the best time, Naliya was disappointing without Indian Bustard sightings :)
All the places at GRK were very good and we could approach the birds carefully and as a guide, Mr Vikramsinh Sodha was “outstanding”, the same applies to his hospitality.
Enjoyed GRK stay to the core and we were very happy with the decision we made to spend the maximum time here.

GRK is a great place to get good photos of Indian Courser
Indian Courser

Approaching Harriers in GRK is also a challenge, Bangalore is far better to photograph these raptors :)
Harrier at GRK

Below list of birds were first timers to me.

Indian CourserVariable WheaterCommon CraneRed Tailed WheatearTawny Pipit
Grey HypocoliusBlue ThroatRufous ShrikeWhite ThroatSteppe Eagle
Citrine WagtailGreat White PelicanDunlinSanderlingCrab Plover
OyestercatcherWestern Reef HeronPacific Golden PloverCommon RedshankPalla’s Gull
Yellow Legged GullHeuglins GullGull Bill TernCaspien TernWhiskered Tern
Black Tailed GodwitKentish PloverEurasian WryneckBlack FrancolinStoliczka’s bushchat (White-browed bush chat)
Long Legged BuzzardEurasian HobbyGreat Toed LarkIndian Bush LarkIndian Nightjar
Ruddy Turnstone

Western Reef Herons and Shrikes are easily found.
Western Reef Heron
Shrike

The main difference between LRK and GRK was, birding happens “on the drive” in LRK whereas we travel to a place and do birding at GRK.
At LRK, we used to return to resort after morning safari whereas in GRK we were returning only in the night.

Jamnagar

After a great time at GRK, we headed to Jamnagar on 31st Dec post lunch. We reached Jamnagar by 8 pm by taxi.
Mr. Chirag (Chiku) had made all our arrangements, a nice person. We had a quick discussion with him about the birding plans and retired for the day with no celebration on 31st Dec :)
Two days of birding was good and covered Marine National Park in Gulf of Kutch too.

Below list of birds were first timers to me .

Nothern PintailSand LarkLong Billed PipitTerek SandpiperSlender Billed Gull
Gretaer Sand PloverLesser Sand PloverGreat KnotBroad Billed SandpiperRuff
Red Turtle DoveGrey PloverBrown Headed GullBlack Headed GullCommon Pochard Duck
Mallard Duck

Interestingly, I don’t even know that there is a bird called “Sand Lark” which was the first one I photographed in Jamnagar.

Sand Lark

The best place for birding in Jamnager is Lakhota Lake, next time I will definitely plan a full day birding there.
Lakhota lake made me realize how sharp Sigma Sports 150-600mm lens is at f/9 (Below image).

Myna

After almost 12 days of exclusive birding, on 3rd Jan 2016, we traveled to Rajkot post morning birding session to catch our Bangalore flight, ended our tour.

Over these days, I shot 9,800+ photos which were majorly record shots.
Below are few images (ADOBE RGB color profile) which I was able to process in 11 months time :)
All the images were shot with Nikon D750 Camera (my kind cousin lent me for this trip) with Sigma Sports 150-600mm lens.

Thank you very much for your valuable time, please correct me the IDs of birds which are incorrect. I am very poor at identifying these aquatic birds :(

—————> Trip Photos <—————

Have a great time.

Thanks,
Sravan

6 Comments

  • Siva Kumar V K says:

    Dear Mr Sravan
    An impeccable report. In photographic content as well narration.
    The sigma 150-600 with D750 can truly produced Miraculous quality pictures.
    The 9800 odd pictures ! Amazing!!
    Hope it also contain some interesting macro life.
    Thanks for the nice article.
    Regards
    Sivakumar

    • Sravan says:

      Thank you very much Siva Kumar ji.
      Unfortunately did not do any macros as I did carry only one lens and spent all the time looking for birds.
      I will consider this in my next trip.

      Thanks,
      Sravan

  • Krishna says:

    Dear Sravan.
    Kind of busy hence unable to reply imdly..
    all the images are fantastic and nicely captured…
    50 Plus new birds, seeing first time is a lot and lucky.
    the gear after the safari tells the story… missed the trip with you… will try to join ..
    would request if time permits than pls post all the birds…

    Thanks
    Krishna

  • Udhay Krishnamurthy says:

    Dear Sravan Ji,
    It is so inspiring to read and see your photographs of this trip. This is not first time I’m seeing this report, I see this whenever I want to refresh my mind. This so refreshing and your simple words you use to make everyone understandable is tremendous.
    The Images you taken are just amazing and beautiful. And you are great trainer and teacher.

    Regards
    Udhay

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