Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Birding the Greater Rann of Kutch - India Part 2

Common Crane
Our six-week sojourn to India and Sri Lanka began with a week in Gujarat province in north-west India. Here, the primary target was the Hypocolius, found easily and reported in the following post, Many other excellent birds are to be found in this vast expanse of arid grassland, ephemeral wetlands and thornbush scrub on the Pakistan border. Our trip was organised by Jugal Tiwari of the Centre of Deserts and Ocean (CEDO). Jugal runs an excellent homestay, our base for the trip.


Rosy Starling

Our first morning saw us near the village of Fulay in an area of shrubby woodland. Apart from the Hypocolius we saw, nice birds included Sirkeer Malkoha, Bluethroat, Common Babbler, White-eared Bulbul and Rosy Starling.

Common Babbler

Sirkeer Malkoha
White-eared Bulbul
We moved on through the Banni Grasslands, where thousands of Common Cranes were feeeding in the dry terrain; Gujarat is a major wintering ground for this species. Larks were everywhere, with huge numbers of Greater Short-toed and smaller numbers of Crested and Rufous-tailed.

Rufous-tailed Lark
We arrived at a rocky outcrop for breakfast to be greeted by obliging Red-tailed (always a difficult target bird) and Variable Wheatears; we were fortunate to see all three races of Variable Wheater. Isabelline and Desert Wheatears were also common.

Variable Wheatear race opistholeuca

Red-tailed Wheatear
We moved on to an area of low bushes where we were pleased to find an Asian Desert Warbler and, better still, a male White-browed (Stoliczka's) Bushchat doing its pecular puffed chest display. The bushchat has a very restricted range in north-west India.

White-browed Bushchat

Asian Desert Warbler
After lunch, we visited an area of thornbush woodland at Phot Mebadeo, where we quickly got on to two regional specialties - Marshall's Iora and White-naped Tit. The tit is supposed to be difficult but we saw it repeatedly during our stay in the area.

Marshall's Iora

White-naped Tit
We moved to another site where we succeeded in seeing another regional specialty - Painted Sandgrouse. Chesnut-bellied Sandgrouse proved to be common in the region.

Painted Sandgrouse

Chesnut-bellied Sandgrouse
Next, we visited an area of rocky ridges near a village where Sykes's Lark, another regional specialty, showed nicely. Waders in small pools in the area included Pin-tailed Snipe.

Sykes's Lark
Pin-tailed Snipe
We visited the Chhari-Dhand Reserve later in the day. Quite a few raptors were spotted including Red-necked Falcon and Greater Spotted Eagle. One of the commonest birds was Green Bee-eater.

Green Bee-eater

Greater Spotted Eagle
The day ended with excellent views in the early evening of both Indian and Sykes's Nightjars.
All up, a superb day of birding and thanks to Jugal for his excellent organisational work.

Indian Nightjar
Sykes's Nightjar


  1. Great going ,it is a truly magical place. And never fails to surprise and impress for the first or hundredth time! Taej

  2. Thanks Greg, Tony and Bill It was very nice to meet you all and bird with you.
    Thanks for your kind views about us at CEDO. Regards Jugal Tiwari

  3. It was a pleasure to bird with you Jugal and congratulations on all the good work you are doing. Greg