Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Birding in Little Rann of Kutch & Thol - 18th to 22nd Nov'09

Date: 18th Nov'09 morning 06.00 am to 22nd Nov'09 eve 8.00 pm (travel days excluded). The bookings for Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) & Thol bird sanctuary bird-watching trip are on…..book your seats now (see the details at the end).....Birdwatch in one of the highly recommended birding hot-spots in India with Nature India.


Thol Bird Sanctuary - A Birdwatching Surprise

Thol Sanctuary is located 40 kms northwest of Ahmedabad, in Mehsana District. Thol lake, created in 1912, covers 7 sq. kms of mostly open water. There are small marshes at the edges and some scrub forest on the sides of the high embankments.

Thol is in fact a man-constructed artificial tank utilized mainly for irrigation purposes that possesses 1450 hectares of command plot and 153 square kilometers of catchment plot.

Thol promises a memorable birding experience and offers an incredible array of bird species, both resident and migratory. It is home to large nos. of visiting Great White Pelicans, Common Cranes and variety of waterfowls. One can even see some rare species like Mallard, Gray-lag Goose, Ferrugenius Pochard, Red-crested Pochard etc. It become particularly known last year when the critically endangered Sociable Plover were seen here regularly.

A visit to this lesser known paradise is a must for all the enthusiastic birders and photographers alike. It is now slowly becoming a very popular birding destinations of India.

LRK - Birding Unlimited in the Little Rann

Ask someone who has been here......and you wont have to think twice to decide where you want to head next. This Wild Ass Sanctuary is located in the Little Rann of Kutch of the Gujarat State in India. It covers an area of 4954 km². The Sanctuary is named after a sub species of wild ass (Equus hemionus khur), the last population of which it harbours. The Rann is one of the most remarkable and unique landscapes of its kind in the entire world. It is a vast expanse of desiccated, unbroken bare surface of dark silt, encrusted with salts which transforms into a spectacular coastal wetland after the rains. And in these wetlands occur one of the most breathtaking variety of avi-fauna that is rivalled by few other spots in India.

A geographically unique landform, the Little Rann of Kutch is a saline desert wilderness offering exciting cross-desert safaris, superb wildlife viewing opportunities and colourful villages along the edge of the desert. The Little Rann of Kutch or LRK, as it is often called, is a charismatic birding paradise and has been declared a Ramsar Site. The marshes in the Rann, and nearby lakes like Nawa Talao and Vanod Saran, attract huge flocks of water birds. Flamingos, pelicans, cranes, storks, ducks etc can be seen in large numbers. LRK is home to some very rare species like Macqueen's Bustard, Sociable Lapwing, Greater Hoopoe Lark, Merlin, Saker Falcon etc...

The Little Rann of Kutch is also a Wild-life photographers paradise as it offers innumerable opportunities to capture birds and wildlife at close quarters. Last year the Gujarat photographers literally had a feast photographing the falcons, buzzards, eagles, bustards, desert foxes, Wild Ass etc.

Kachchh (also spelled as Kutch) is a district of Gujarat state in western India. Covering an area of 45,612 km², it is the largest district in the state of Gujarat and the second largest district of India after Leh. Kachchh literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry; large part of this district known as Rann of Kachchh is shallow wet-land which submerges in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons. The same word "Kuchchh" is also used in Sanskrit for a tortoise and garments to be worn while having a bath.

Kachchh District is surrounded by the Gulf of Kachchh and the Arabian Sea in south and west, while northern and eastern parts are surrounded by the Great and Little Rann (seasonal wetlands) of Kachchh. When there were not many dams built on its rivers, the Rann of Kachchh remained wetlands for a large part of the year. Even today, the region remains wet for a significant part of year.

Nature India has organized an exclusive Birdwatching trip to this paradise from 18th-22nd November 2009 (travel days excluded). We shall cover Thol Bird Sanctuary, Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, Savna Wetland, Bajan Wetland, Nandawala Wetland, Handiwala Wetland ....virtually almost all the hotspots.

Some of the places that we will cover during our trip are as follows:

1. Thol Bird Sanctuary

One of the finest places to see and photograph large variety of waterfowls and other birds, both resident as well as migrant. Also on the way while going towards Thol we can see a place fnow wellknown for the critically endangered vultures, where 4-5 species of vultures can be seen at a close range. This sanctuary has now become one of the most sort after places for bird photographers of India.

Thol wetland is home to birds like Great White Pelican, Sarus Cranes, Common Cranes, Wigeons, Gargeneys, Shovellers, Teals, Gray-lag Goose, Ruddy Shell Duck, Red-crested Pochard...and enormous range and numbers of waders. If we are lucky, then we might also chance upon yet another rare and critically endangered Sociable Plover.

2. Wild Ass Sanctuary, Little Rann of Kutch

Little Rann of Kutch of which most of the part constitutes Asiatic Wild Ass Sanctuary. It is theonly place in the world, to see Asiatic Wild Ass in wild. Other mammals to look out for are Wolf, Blue Bull, Desert Fox, Desert Cat, Hedge Hog, Chinkara etc.

The sanctuary known for not only Wild Ass but also for numerous wetlands it has around and high nos. of Waterfowls. Also the dry unending desert is known for species like Hoopoe Lark, Greater Short-toed Larks, Desert Wheatear, Red-tailed Wheatear, Variable Wheatear, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Hen Harrier, Montegue's Harrier, Merlin, Saker Falcon, Laggar Falcon, Imeprial Eagle, Macqueen's Bustard, Short-eared Owl, Sociable Lapwing etc...

Have a look at a couple of photoblogs on LRK & Thol Sanctuary



Tour Iterinary:

Date: 18th Nov, 2009 morning 6.00 am to 22nd Nov, 2009 eve 8.00 pm (travel days excluded)

Mode of Travel : Minibus (Thol) / Mahindra jeeps (LRK)

Overnight train travel can be booked from Mumbai..... however since it is a busy sector, the train bookings should be done soon to get the desired train and class .... there are several trains available for Ahmedabad from Mumbai....Nature India can ASSIST in bookings if required.

Rough Tour Iterinary:

17th Nov'09 : Departure from Mumbai to Ahmedabad by 9143 Lokshakti Express. or any other train according to your convenience.

18th Nov'09 : Arrival in Ahmedabad (6.30am) - Hotel check-in - Breakfast - Birdwatching at Thol Bird Sanctuary - Lunch - Birdwatching in Thol - Return for dinner and Stay at Hotel in Ahmedabad

19th Nov'09 : Morning bird watching in Thol Bird Sanctuary - return to hotel for lunch - leave for Jogad village (LRK) - Stay at Eco Tour Camp, Jogad.

20th Nov'09 : Early morning Birdwatching in Savda Wetland - Lunch - bird watching at Bajana wetland. - Stay at Eco Tour Camp, Jogad.

21st Nov'09 : Early morning leave for Nandawala wetland by crossing the Rann - Lunch - Evening bird watching at island. - Stay at Eco Tour Camp, Jogad.

22ndNov'09 : Early morning Birdwatching at Handiwala Wetlands – Checkout & Departure for Ahmedabad

23rd Nov'09 : Early morning arrival in Mumbai

Trip charges :

Option 1 - Stay in Huts on Twin sharing basis (10 seats)
Charges: Rs.8800
- only (Includes non- A/C stay in simple "Kooba" huts at Eco Tour Camp, Jogad, on twin sharing basis with attached toilet, Local travel by minibus/ jeeps, Park entry charges, vegetarian food , Guide charges, Information articles & on board snacks and mineral water)…….

Option 2 - Stay in Tents on Twin sharing basis (4 seats)
Charges: Rs.8200/
- only (Includes non- A/C stay in Tents at Eco Tour Camp, Jogad, on twin sharing basis with common toilet, Local travel by minibus/ jeeps, Park entry charges, vegetarian food , Guide charges, Information articles & on board snacks and mineral water)…….

This does not include travel charges from Mumbai to Ahmedabad and Back, Photography fees or any charges other than the above.

Note: As the no. of Huts are limited, the Option 1 will be given on first come-first serve basis.

Group Size: Max.14 persons only

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmation mail to natureindiatours@gmail.com and by paying a non refundable Advance of Rs.4000/- …..The remaining amount will be collected on the day of travel.

Kindly register soon as the train bookings are not easily available in Gujarat.

Stay Arrangement:

Eco Tour Camp, Jogad is a good and clean place to stay. The Stay arrangement is on a twin sharing basis and non-A/c accommodation in "Kooba Huts" / Tents. The food is mouth watering and we have kept a special arrangement for non-oily Kutchee food.

Resource Person: Mr.Adesh Shivkar, Mr.Mandar Khadilkar & (local expert)

Mode of Payment: You can either
1) Transfer the advance money directly to the HDFC A/c (Please send a mail for details).. please mention your name, date and other details….
2) Courier a cheque of Rs.4000/- as advance amount to the following address

Name: Mr. Mandar Khadilkar
Address: B/702, Neha Apartments, Ashish Complex, Dahisar (East), Mumbai-400022

Please Note:
1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 4000/- is strictly non-refunadable
2) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on Nature India Tours

Please revert on natureindiatours@gmail.com ID, in case you need any clarification …..

For any other queries we are available on 9321463362 or 9820455713 (Adesh) or 9967518665 (Mandar) or sign up on http://natureindia.ning.com/ to know more of Nature India.

Thanks for your patience.

Looking forward for a very rewarding trip with you all !!

Warm Regards,
Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar
Nature India
Appreciate, Respect and Conserve