Hiatus in the Rann of Kutch

I have just returned from a 7-day birding tour of the Great Rann of Kutch.

Seven days, in truth, are hardly enough to explore this vast and varied landscape. The Rann, a salt marsh that is inundated for a few months every year during the monsoon, dries up completely around November and turns into an expanse of shimmering salt pans that run into kilometres and kilometres.

The Luni, a desert river that is born in Rajasthan, loses itself in the Great Rann. There are seasonal rivers that gush in full flow during the monsoon but are completely devoid of water for the rest of the year. Their elaborately eroded banks and beds make for stunning landscapes.

There are seasonal grasslands, home to the Great Indian Bustard and its smaller cousin, the McQueen’s Bustard. Just after the monsoon, when the grass is lush and high, the male Lesser Florican is seen leaping high into the air to court his mate. We came across huge flocks of Common Cranes and a variety of raptors, including Eurasian Griffons, Cinerous Vultures, Common and Long-legged Buzzards, Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers, Steppe Eagles and Imperial Eagles and Common Kestrels.

We made trips back in time as we collected fossils beside an extinct volcano and visited Dholavira, an archaeological site of the Harappan period that dates back more than 5,000 years. And to imagine that this sentient civilization flourished three thousand years before Christ would be born. And then to imagine that the ammonite fossils of the Jurassic era we collected were already fossils at that time. All that imagination can leave you feeling small and insignificant.

A detailed report with pictures and videos will follow.

Until then, apologies for the hiatus and thanks for your patience.

Species list

  1. Grey Francolin Francolinus pondicerianus
  2. Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus
  3. Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus
  4. Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna
  5. Gadwall Anas strepera
  6. Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha
  7. Common Teal Anas crecca
  8. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
  9. Common Pochard Aythya ferina
  10. Common Hoopoe Upupa epops
  11. Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
  12. Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
  13. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
  14. Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
  15. Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis
  16. Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea
  17. Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
  18. Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
  19. House Swift Apus affinis
  20. Spotted Owlet Athene brama
  21. Rock pigeon Columba livia
  22. Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
  23. Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
  24. Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
  25. Common Crane Grus grus
  26. Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
  27. Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus
  28. Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica
  29. Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus
  30. Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata
  31. Common Redshank Tringa totanus
  32. Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
  33. Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
  34. Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
  35. Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
  36. Terek Sandpiper Xenus cinereus
  37. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
  38. Little Stint Calidris minuta
  39. Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii
  40. Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea
  41. Broad-billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus
  42. Ruff Philomachus pugnax
  43. Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres
  44. Crab-plover Dromas ardeola
  45. Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus
  46. Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
  47. Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola
  48. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
  49. Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus
  50. Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus
  51. Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus
  52. Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
  53. Heuglin’s Gull Larus heuglini
  54. Pallas’s Gull Larus ichthyaetus
  55. Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus
  56. Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus
  57. Gull-billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica
  58. Lesser Crested Tern Sterna bengalensis
  59. Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
  60. Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
  61. Black Kite Milvus migrans migrans
  62. Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus
  63. Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus
  64. Short-toed Snake Eagle Circaetus gallicus
  65. Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus
  66. Montagu’s Harrier Circus pygargus
  67. Shikra Accipiter badius
  68. Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus
  69. Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
  70. Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
  71. Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax
  72. Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis
  73. Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca
  74. Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
  75. Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera
  76. Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
  77. Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger
  78. Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
  79. Little Egret Egretta garzetta
  80. Western Reef Egret Egretta gularis
  81. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
  82. Great Egret Casmerodius albus
  83. Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia
  84. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
  85. Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii
  86. Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
  87. Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber
  88. Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
  89. Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus
  90. Black Ibis Pseudibis papillosa
  91. Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
  92. Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
  93. Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala
  94. Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus
  95. Rufous-tailed Shrike Lanius isabellinus
  96. Bay-backed Shrike Lanius vittatus
  97. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
  98. Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridionalis
  99. House Crow Corvus splendens
  100. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
  101. Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
  102. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
  103. White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens
  104. Marshall’s Iora Aegithina nigrolutea
  105. Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus
  106. Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis
  107. Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata
  108. Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
  109. Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata
  110. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata
  111. Brown Rock-chat Cercomela fusca
  112. Variable Wheatear Oenanthe picata
  113. Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti
  114. Isabelline Wheatear Oenanthe isabellina
  115. Red-tailed Wheatear Oenanthe chrysopygia
  116. Brahminy Starling Sturnus pagodarum
  117. Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus
  118. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
  119. Bank Myna Acridotheres ginginianus
  120. White-naped Tit Parus nuchalis
  121. Sand Martin Riparia riparia
  122. Dusky Crag Martin Hirundo concolor
  123. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
  124. Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
  125. Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
  126. White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucotis
  127. Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
  128. Grey Hypocolius Hypocolius ampelinus
  129. Rufous-fronted Prinia Prinia buchanani
  130. Grey-breasted Prinia Prinia hodgsonii
  131. Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
  132. Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis
  133. Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
  134. Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
  135. Common Babbler Turdoides caudatus
  136. Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
  137. Desert Warbler Sylvia nana
  138. Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis
  139. Indian Bushlark Mirafra erythroptera
  140. Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark Eremopterix grisea
  141. Rufous-tailed Lark Ammomanes phoenicurus
  142. Greater Hoopoe Lark Alaemon alaudipes
  143. Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
  144. Sand Lark Calandrella raytal
  145. Crested Lark Galerida cristata
  146. Sykes’s Lark Galerida deva
  147. Purple Sunbird Nectarinia asiatica
  148. House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  149. Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis
  150. White Wagtail Motacilla alba
  151. Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
  152. Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
  153. Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis
  154. Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus
  155. Indian Silverbill Lonchura malabarica
  156. Grey-necked Bunting Emberiza buchanani
  157. House Bunting Emberiza striolata
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