Drive to the Sahyadris
4 Jan 2017: Day 4 (Kumbhalgarh – LRK, 379 km, 7 Hrs)
Starting at 0730 Hrs, we continued our drive south towards the Little Rann of Kutch, reaching Patdi by 1415 Hrs. While Kumbhalgarh was warm, Patdi was a thermal shock for us. We checked-in at Hotel Ashirwad and spent the rest of the evening in the room letting our bodies get used to the heat.
5 Jan 2017: Day 5 (Bajana and around)
We met Akshay, our bird guide early morning at 0600 Hrs and went straight to the Bajana area where we had spotted a Merlin 5 years ago.
Unfortunately, a vast area of Bajana was submerged by canal water and this made birding very difficult. While we did spot the usual birds there like Greylag Goose, Flamingos, Black-winged Kite, Eagles, Cranes, Stilts, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Larks, Shrikes, Pipits, Swallows and several waders, none of our target birds were spotted. Nonetheless, we did manage to get good views of an Indian Fox pair.
Realizing that our target species were nowhere to be found, we changed gears and asked Akshay if we could try our luck spotting a Hyaena. Akshay simply nodded and in the evening took us to the other side of Bajana. Since Bajana was submerged, we had to drive an additional 30 km to reach the area where a Hyaena pair was known to frequent.
After scouting and waiting for a while, we spotted a majestic looking Hyaena. The Hyaena did not mind our company and remained in the area for almost 10-15 minutes before it vanished into the bushes. A rough map where we spotted the Hyaena can be found here.
6 Jan 2017: Day 6 (Kharaghoda area)
We continued our search for the Merlin and the Red-naped Shaheen in the Kharaghoda area and drove for over 250 km in the vastness, but the target species remained elusive.
Anyway, some of the other interesting species we encountered were Macqueen’s Bustard, Short-eared Owl and an albino Red-wattled Lapwing. We also spotted Common Kestrel, Pallid and Montagu’s Harrier during the course of the day.
In the evening, we went back to the Bajana area to scout for the Sykes’s Nightjar and were lucky enough to spot it within 10 minutes of searching. While returning, we also spotted a cute Asiatic Wildcat.
Hotel Ashirwad: A budget stay located close to the Bajana area. Rooms are decent, however, the bathroom is a little small. Staff is reliable and Asik Bhai, the owner is pretty helpful. Unfortunately, the food could have been better. Overall, at Rs. 600 a night, this hotel is a steal compared to the expensive resorts in the area.
Phone: +91 90 99 339 440
Akshay knows the landscape in and out and is highly knowledgeable on local bird movement. He was very straightforward informing us in the very beginning that our target birds had not been sighted in the season. Still he tried his best and took us to the right habitat where the birds could be sighted.
Phone: +91 96 01 570 542
Please feel free to ask us any question that you may have on the Little Rann of Kutch. Also, do stay tuned for the next leg of the road trip.