Jul 072024

I went back to India on 15th April 2024, flying out of London Heathrow to Delhi. A return trip for Tigers, as on my last trip some 20 years ago, I lost all my images due to X-Ray scanning. My good friend John Van-der-dol organised the trip through Asian Adventures, and during our 13 day stay, we visited Delhi, Little Rann of Kutch, Gir National Reserve, and Velavadar National Park, all in Gujarat State, then travelling to the Tiger Reserve at Bandhavgarh, in Madhya Pradesh for the last four days. My full album on the India trip can be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/spinney_birder/albums/72177720317394470/

The Little Rann of Kutch is a desolate area of desert steppe and scrub, and is one of the last places that the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass exists in the wild. Highlights at Little Rann of Kutch were, the herds of the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass, Nilgai Antelope, 100’s of thousands of Rose-coloured Starlings going to roost, large flocks of Greater & Lesser Flamingo, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Red-necked Falcon, a brief sighting of a Desert Fox, large flocks of egrets, storks and herons, and a variety of waders and other birds. 

Little Rann of Kutch – Asiatic Wild Ass
Little Rann of Kutch – Asiatic Wild Ass
Little Rann of Kutch – Greater Flamingo
Little Rann of Kutch – Lesser Flamingo
Little Rann of Kutch – Lesser Flamingo
Little Rann of Kutch – Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse
Little Rann of Kutch – Red-necked Falcon
Little Rann of Kutch – Rose-coloured Starling
Little Rann of Kutch – Rose-coloured Starling
Little Rann of Kutch – Painted Stork
Little Rann of Kutch – Painted Stork

From the 18th April we spent the next three days at the famous Asiatic Lion Reserve at Gir National Park. Also known as Sasan Gir, it is a forest national park and wild life sanctuary, established in 1965 to protect the rare and endangered Asiatic Lion. Outside of Africa, it is the only place in the world where you can see a lion in its natural habitat.

The Asiatic Lion has a bigger tail tassle, bushier elbow tufts and prominent belly folds, than the African Lion which has a much bigger mane. The entire forest area in the park is dry and deciduous, which is the perfect habitat for Asiatic Lions. Gir is also home to 40 species of mammal and over 400 species of bird. We had several superb encounters with the lions, including a mother with 3 baby cubs. Also several sightings of Leopard, and a single Jackal, which felt a little safer, very close to our Jeep, after almost walking right into the lion family that we were watching. 

Indian Nightjar and Savanna Nightjar were discovered roosting and we also had Mottled Wood Owl, Brown Fish Owl, Indian Scops Owl and 4 Spotted Owlet. A wide variety of birds were seen during our time in the Gir Park.

Indian Nightjar
Savanna Nightjar
Indian Scops Owl
Mottled Wood Owl.
Indian Tiny Grass Blue

The 21st & 22nd April were spent at the Velavadar Blackbuck National Park. in the Bhavnagar District of Gujarat State. A 34 squrae mile grassland reserve famous for the Blackbuck Antelope, Indian Wolf and Striped Hyena. There are around 1800 Blackbuck in the park, and we saw several adult males and herds of females and young males. A family party of Indian Wolf and a single Striped Hyena, as well as a brief sighting of a Jungle Cat and several parties of Nilgai Antelope.

Blackbuck – A young male
Blackbuck – adult male
Jungle Cat
Striped Hyena
Indian Wolf
Rain Quail
Nilgai – The Blue Bull
Spot-billed Duck

The 23rd April was a travel day from Ahmadabad to Jabelpur and on to Bandhavgarh in Madhya Pradesh. We then spent 24th – 27th at this fabulous Tiger reserve. The National Park is spread across the Vindhya Hills, and has a core area of 105 sq km and a buffer zone area of 400 sq kms. The habitat varies from deciduous forest and steep ridges, to huge grassy meadows, and is famous for the Royal Bengal Tiger. We had a number of good Tiger sightings as well as seeing a large family party of Indian Elephant, a Sloth Bear, Wild Boar, Chital (Spotted Deer), Samba Deer, Barking Deer and Gaur or Indian Bison. Many species of bird including Jungle Fowl, Red-headed Vulture, White-backed and Indian Vulture, Peafowl, Malabar Hornbill, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Indian Roller, Black-rumped Flameback, Orange-headed Thrush, to name but a few.

I flew back to UK on 28th April from Delhi, after a quite remarkable and memory filled trip. 

Sloth Bear
Wild Boar
Chital (Spotted Deer)
Indian Elephant
Jungle Fowl
Brown Fish Owl

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