My dad and I spent from January 26 – February 3, 2009 in India. We had initially planned to go to Israel during this time but when war broke out in Gaza in December 2008, we opted for another destination.
For both of us, this was of our first trip to India. We opted for the state of Gujarat (Great Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch) and Melghat Tiger Reserve as opposed to the classic India birding trips for several reasons. First, as this was last minute, we were concerned about last minute reservations, but this was not a big problem. Second, I have always wanted to see Forest Owlet since its rediscovery in 1997. Finally, it is a perfect time of the year for both locations. As the locations are very different, I have provided two species list below: one list for the state of Gujarat (including Greater Rann of Kutch, Badreshwar (Bhadreswar), Naliya Grasslands and Little Rann of Kutch) and a second list for the Melghat Tiger Reserve area.
Badreshwar (Bhadreswar): Small area on the Gulf of Kutch, about 2 hour drive southeast of Bhuj. Excellent for shorebirds and a reliable spot for Crab Plover. You will need local assistance to find the site.
Great Rann of Kutch: This area is northwest of Nakhatrana and is seasonally flooded. Nearest airport/train station is Bhuj. The drive from Bhuj to Nakhatrana is about 45 minutes. It is another 20-30 minute drive from Nakhatrana to the village of Fulay and the actual Great Rann of Kutch (Banni Grasslands and Chhari Dhand). There is lodging in Bhuj and at Nakhatrana.
Thorny Forest: There is thorny forest (I believe it is near the town of Ramper). It is about a 30 minute drive from Nakhatrana.
Naliya Grasslands: (including the Lala Bustard Sanctuary): This is the area southeast of Naliya. Nearest airport is Bhuj. It is over a 1 hour drive from Nakhatrana to this area.
Little Rann of Kutch: This area includes the Wild Ass Sanctuary. Nearest airport/train station is Ahmedabad. Lodging is at Dasada or Zainabad and it is 100km and a 2 hour drive from Ahmedabad to Dasada.
Melghat Tiger Reserve and adjacent forest: The reserve is located in the District of Amravati in the state of Maharashtra. Most people stay in Chikhaldara. The nearest airport is Nagpur. It is 225km from Nagpur to Chikhaldara (a 4.5 – 5 hour drive from Nagpur to Chikhaldara). From Chikhaldara it is a short distance to the Melghat Tiger Reserve, however, it was a 1:45 drive from Chikhaldara to the Forest Owlet location.
We arrived on January 25 at Mumbai (BOM) airport at 8:25pm on a non-stop Delta airlines flight from Atlanta. We spent one night in Mumbai.
Jan 25: Night in Mumbai
Jan 26: Kingfisher airlines flight from Mumbai to Bhuj (BHJ), arriving in Bhuj at 1:30pm. We drove directly to Badreshwar and birded there and then drove to Nakhatrana. Lodging at CEDO
Jan 27: Great Rann of Kutch. Night at CEDO
Jan 28: Thorny forest and Naliya Grasslands. Night at CEDO
Jan 29: Transfer to Dasada and the Little Rann of Kutch. Night at Rann Riders
Jan 30: Little Rann. Night at Rann Riders
Jan 31: Little Rann. Night at Rann Riders
Feb 1: Travel Day/no birding. Early departure to Ahmedabad for flight from Ahmedabad (AMD) to Nagpur (NAG) (via Mumbai airport with a 4 hour layover in Mumbai). On arrival to Nagpur we drove to Chikhaldara (4.5 hour drive). Night at Hotel Harshwardhan in Chikhaldara
Feb 2: Dry forest adjacent to Melghat Tiger Reserve (Forest Owlet spot), night at Hotel Harshwardhan
Feb 3: Melghat Tiger Reserve in the morning, afternoon drive to Nagpur and evening flight from Nagpur to Mumbai
Feb 4: depart at 0010am from Mumbai to Atlanta on non-stop flight with Delta airlines
Birds and Reference material:
We used the field guide “Birds of the India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives” by Richard Grimmett and others, published in 1999 (Princeton Field Guides). It adequately depicts the expected species. The maps are often on different pages than the depicted species (which is not user friendly) and I am not sure if the maps are completely reliable.
India has a large and varied bird list. Gujarat is located along the Pakistan border and allows easy access to certain desert (central Asia) species that otherwise may be difficult to access due to political issues (travelling to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran is currently quite difficult and not safe, plus Israel was involved in a war in Gaza at the time of our trip). Specialties of the area include: Dalmatian Pelican, Imperial Eagle, Lagger Falcon, Demoiselle Crane, Indian Bustard, Macqueen’s Bustard, Crab Plover, Cream-colored Courser, Sociable Lapwing, Painted Sandgrouse, Indian (Eurasian) Eagle Owl, Syke’s Nightjar, Hoopoe Lark, White-tailed (Marshall’s) Iora, Hypocolius, Desert Warbler, White-browed (Stoliczka’s) Bushchat, Red-tailed Wheatear, and White-winged (White-naped) Tit. We saw all but the Lagger Falcon and Sociable Lapwing. The group of Sociable Lapwings wintering at Little Rann was not reliable when we visited and we spent several hours driving around plowed fields without success.
The primary bird target at Melghat Tiger Reserve is the Forest Owlet. Otherwise, it is not that exciting from an ornithological standpoint, and tiger is difficult to see at this site. Also, getting there is difficulty as it is time consuming.
There are many companies that organize birding trips to the Gujarat area. This includes companies (Sunbird Tours and Birdquest) that have organized/scheduled tours. Many companies can put together trips with and without guides. As it was last minute, I contacted several different companies. We ultimately decided on having a guide with us for the entire trip. We were with Harkirat Sangha who runs Tragopan Tours Tragopan Tours http://www.tragopantours.in/ . He runs trips throughout northern India (including north, west, and northeast India) He can be contacted via his website and organize the trip directly with you via email (he can organize all the local guides that you need). He was friendly, knowledgeable and easy to get along with. I highly recommend him.
Timing of the trip:
The prime birding time for Gujarat is winter. The weather is also dry and comfortable at this time of year. The monsoon season starts in July and is the best time for Lesser Florican. I would recommend February as the best month for the Forest Owlet at the Melghat Tiger Reserve. The species is found in open dry forest (primarily teak trees). The teak trees lose most of their leaves in February making it much easier to find the owlet. We were there on Feb 2 and some of the teak trees still had much of their leaves but most had lost them. Looking for the owlet would be difficult if the teak trees had all their leaves.
I found the people to be very friendly (especially in Gujarat) and helpful. We had a guide throughout the trip and he greatly assisted with logistics. I would recommend this method. The trip could be done without a guide. However, local guides (and a driver) are essential.
Driving and Rental Car:
We did not drive in either of these locations. We had drivers for the entire trip. Driving is on the left (steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle). Driving appeared dangerous and roads were generally in fair condition but crowded (often with pedestrians, bicyclists, goats, dogs and livestock). The streets/highways are not well signed (or well lit at night) and many of the signs are not in English. I would strongly advise having a driver that is familiar with these areas. Also, note that the time to get from one place to anther place is much longer than it appears by map. Although locations may appear close (by a map), speeds are slow due to the poor road conditions, traffic, animals on the road, etc. Plan on traveling 40 – 60 Km/hour on main roads.
India has several low cost airlines and we sampled many of them. We flew Kingfisher Air from Mumbai to Bhuj (US $105/person one way). We flew Spicejet from Ahmedabad to Mumbai (US $50/person one way). We flew Indigo airlines from Mumbai to Nagpur (US $50/person one way). We flew Jet Lite from Nagpur to Mumbai (US $55/person one way). Note, there was no good connection for us to go from Ahmedabad to Nagpur, thus we had to purchase one ticket from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, wait 4 hours in the Mumbai airport, then purchase another flight from Mumbai to Nagpur (total cost from Ahmedabad to Nagpur was thus $100/person). We had no problems with any of the airlines. Kingfisher provided good food. The low cost airlines (Jet Lite, Spicejet and Indigo) all had food/drinks for sale. Note that the international terminal and the domestic terminals are separated by several kilometers and a potential 30+ minute drive. If you are coming in from a domestic flight and then departing on an international flight, you will need to transfer terminals. The airport offers free transfer between domestic and international terminals, but you must get on the bus (leaves every 30 minutes) before you exit the baggage claim area. The information desk (where you get your ticket for the bus to the international terminal) is located adjacent to the baggage carousels. They will answer all questions, but you must show them evidence of an international departure ticket to get the free bus to the international terminal. As the bus travels through the airport property and does not get on the crowded streets of Mumbai, this bus is much faster than transfer via the streets.
Currency is the Indian Rupee. I did not see an ATM at the Mumbai international terminal or the old domestic terminal at Mumbai. There were a couple ATMs at the new domestic terminal in Mumbai. I did not see an ATM at the Nagpur, Bhuj, or Ahmedabad airports (despite looking at all these airports).
Lodging and Food:
Food was excellent (I like Indian food). We did not drink the water (except for the hotel in Mumbai). We drank bottled water for the remainder of the trip.
We stayed at the following locations:
Ramada Powai (Mumbai): Provided airport transfer and breakfast for two in the price (US$ 150/night). It is only 10km from the airport, but this turns out to be 30 minutes when driving in Mumbai. There are much closer hotel options to the airport. The Ramada Powai has a small stream with a few trees on the side of the hotel. Birds seen at the hotel gardens included: Indian Cormorant, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Indian Pond-Heron, Cattle Egret, Black Kite, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Rock Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Asian Palm-Swift, White-throated Kingfisher, Coppersmith Barbet, Dusky Crag-Martin, Red-vented Bulbul, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Tawny-breasted Wren-Babbler, Eurasian Golden Oriole, House Crow, Common Myna, and Asian Pied Starling
Center for Desert and Ocean - CEDO (Nakhatrana): This was our place to stay in the Greater Rann of Kutch. It is owned by a birder who knows the area and frequently runs tours in the area. It is somewhat basic but there is hot water and food is vegetarian. Note, there is no alcohol in Gujarat state.
Website is CEDO http://www.cedobirding.com/
Rann Riders (Dasada): This was our place to stay in the Little Rann of Kutch. It has excellent food. There was a problem one night with hot water but otherwise the room was very nice. Look at the photos on their website.
Website is Rann Riders http://www.rannriders.com/
Desert Coursers at Zainabad: This is the other location that birders stay at the Little Rann of Kutch. The owner is a birder. During the winter of 2008-2009, two Pallid Scops Owls were wintering at the lodge. I had read a prior trip report that was very complimentary of this location, but we did not stay at this lodge.
Website is Desert Coursers http://www.desertcoursers.net/
Hotel Harshwardhan (Chikaldara): This is where we stayed for access to the Melghat Tiger Reserve. The room was ok.
Website is Hotel Harshawardhan http://harshawardhan.com/
As we had a guide, I will not provide specific directions. However, I would strongly advise a guide for these areas of India. If you are self driving and do not have specific directions, this area would be very difficult. At a minimum, a good local guide is an absolute must.
It is 500 Rupees and generally included in the price of your departure ticket.
Weather & Clothing:
January is the winter. It is also the dry season and we did not see any rain in Gujarat, nor was there any evidence of recent rain. Temperatures ranged from 55 to 85 F. It can be chilly in the morning and once the sun goes down at night. Both CEDO and Rann Riders have open air eating locations. You need a sweater or lightweight jacket. Also, Rann Riders operates open air vehicles. It can be cold in the morning and at night when driving on the road in an open air vehicle.
It was very dry in the Melghat Tiger Reserve. No evidence of recent rain. Most of the teak trees had lost their leaves but the forest in the reserve proper was well leafed. It was warm in this area during the day 90F. Lows were 60F.
Mosquitoes were not a problem in any place that we went. We never saw a snake. We had no problems with ticks or leeches. We brought malaria prophylaxis but did not take it.
If you are planning a trip purely for birding and want to see the specialties of these areas, I would advise the following:
Great Rann of Kutch/Bhuj area: You need at least 2.5 days of birding. This equates to 3 nights. This allows for a half day to search for Crab Plover (Badreshwar). Then you have a full day in Fulay and the Chhari Dhand area. Then, you have a morning for the thorn forest specialties (White-winged Tit, Marshall’s Iora and White-bellied Minivet) and late morning/full afternoon for Indian Bustard and White-browed Stonechat. I would advise staying at CEDO but some people stay at Bhuj. Bhuj apparently has nicer accommodations but it adds significant driving time to the birding areas.
Little Rann of Kutch: You need at least 1.5 days of birding. This equates to a minimum of 2 nights. I would, however, recommend 3 nights and 2.5 days of birding. With 1.5 days of birding, you would spend a morning for the Hoopoe Lark and McQueen’s Bustard and the afternoon for Sociable Lapwing. The remaining half day can be spent at water areas in the Wild Ass Sanctuary. We spent 2.5 days and were still adding new birds at the end. I would recommend staying at either Rann Riders or Desert Coursers.
Melghat Tiger Reserve for the Forest Owlet: First, local guide help is a must. Then, I would recommend 2 nights in the area. Take an afternoon flight into Nagpur and drive to Chikaldara arriving at night, and the next morning make an early (0500) departure for the Forest Owlet site. You have a full morning and afternoon for Forest Owlet (you should be able to get the bird in the morning if your local guide knows active territories). Assuming you have seen the Forest Owlet, the following morning may be spent birding the reserve proper. In the afternoon, you can drive back to Nagpur for a late evening flight to either Delhi or Mumbai.
Traditional Gujarat trips also encompass GIR National Park and Velavadar National Park: These locations are primarily known for their mammals (Asiatic Lion at GIR NP and Blackbuck at Velavadar NP). Neither has specific birds that can not be found in other locations. However, GIR apparently has good forest and is a good location for Mottled Wood Owl. We did not visit either site.
Trip List (per Clements taxonomy):
Little Grebe – several on drive from Greater Rann to Little Rann
Great White Pelican – common in Greater Rann and little Rann
Dalmatian Pelican – several at Chhari Dhand, along drive from Greater Rann to Little Rann, and at Little Rann
Indian Cormorant - common
Great Cormorant – multiple locations
Little Cormorant - common
Darter – along drive from Greater Rann to Little Rann
Gray Heron – common
Purple Heron – several at Little Rann
Great Egret - common
Intermediate Egret - common
Little Egret - common
Western Reef-Heron – common at Badreshwar
Indian Pond-Heron – very common
Cattle Egret - common
Painted Stork – several at both Greater Rann and Little Rann
Asian Openbill – one in a flooded ditch in Little Rann
Woolly-necked Stork – one on drive from Greater Rann to Little Rann and one at Little Rann
White Stork – one at Little Rann
Black-headed Ibis – common
Red-naped Ibis – several at Greater Rann and Nalilya Grasslands
Glossy Ibis – common Little Rann
Eurasian Spoonbill - common
Greater Flamingo – common
Lesser Flamingo – large group at Chhari Dhand in the Greater Rann and three at Badreshwar
Greylag Goose – common at Little Rann
Ruddy Shelduck – common at Little Rann
Common Shelduck – 13 at the Bajana area of the Little Rann, unusual in the area (we photographed them for documentation).
Comb Duck – one at the Little Rann
Eurasian Wigeon - common
Gadwall – common at Little Rann
Eurasian Teal – very common
Spot-billed Duck – common (more common at Greater Rann area)
Northern Pintail - common
Garganey – a few at Little Rann
Northern Shoveler – very common
Marbled Teal – one at Little Rann
Red-crested Pochard – one male in a small lake in the Little Rann area
Common Pochard – several in the Little Rann area
Ferruginous Pochard – one male in a small lake in the Little Rann area
Tufted Duck – small group in the Little Rann area
Oriental Honey-buzzard – several on drive from Greater Rann to Little Rann
Black-shouldered Kite - common
Black Kite – a few at Little Rann
Eurasian Griffon – 15 in the Nalilya grasslands
Short-toed Eagle – one in the Greater Rann area
Western Marsh-Harrier – common at Little Rann
Pallid Harrier – several males in the Little Rann
Montagu's Harrier – one male in the Greater Rann (we had multiple female/immature harriers not identified to species)
Shikra - common
Eurasian Sparrowhawk – one in the Greater Rann
White-eyed Buzzard – one in the Little Rann
Long-legged Buzzard – common in the Greater Rann
Indian Lesser Spotted Eagle – one seen and photographed as if flew over the Rann Riders hotel in the Little Rann
Greater Spotted Eagle – several in the Little Rann area
Tawny Eagle – several in the Greater Rann area/Nalilya Grasslands
Steppe Eagle – common in the Greater Rann area
Imperial Eagle – one in the Little Rann area, photographed
Eurasian Kestrel – common
Red-necked Falcon – one Chhari Dhand of Greater Rann
Peregrine Falcon: multiple birds at Little Rann
Black Francolin: in the Naliya grasslands
Gray Francolin: very common
Common Quail: a pair seen near Fulay
Indian Peafowl: common
Demoiselle Crane: large flock at a lake in the Little Rann
Sarus Crane: one heard only at the Little Rann
Common Crane: very common, large flocks seen
Purple Swamphen: common at lakes in the Little Rann
Common Moorhen: common
Eurasian Coot: common
Indian Bustard: We had a lot of trouble with this species and spent hours driving around the Naliya grasslands. Finally, we had two birds at dusk (after we had essentially given up).
Macqueen's Bustard: two birds in the Little Rann area
Crab Plover: 350 at Badreshwar at high tide
Eurasian Oystercatcher: common at Badreshwar
Black-winged Stilt: very common
Pied Avocet: common
Cream-colored Courser: four at the Chhari Dhand in the Greater Rann
Indian Courser: small numbers at both the Greater Rann and Little Rann
Collared Pratincole: 24 birds in one flock at a lake in the Little Rann
Yellow-wattled Lapwing: several birds in the Naliya Grasslands while looking for Indian Bustard
Red-wattled Lapwing: very common
White-tailed Lapwing: several birds in a marsh area at the Little Rann
Black-bellied Plover: one at Badreshwar
Little Ringed Plover: Great Rann
Snowy Plover: Great Rann
Lesser Sandplover: common at Badreshwar
Greater Sandplover: Badreshwar
Common Snipe: many birds at Little Rann and a few at Greater Rann
Black-tailed Godwit: common
Bar-tailed Godwit: Badreshwar
Eurasian Curlew: multiple sites
Common Sandpiper: multiple birds at both Little Rann and Greater Rann
Green Sandpiper: multiple birds at both Little Rann and Greater Rann
Common Greenshank: multiple birds at both Little Rann and Greater Rann
Marsh Sandpiper: multiple birds at both Little Rann and Badreshwar
Wood Sandpiper: multiple birds at both Little Rann and Greater Rann
Common Redshank: very common
Ruddy Turnstone: Badreshwar
Little Stint: very common
Temminck's Stint: multiple birds at both Little Rann and Greater Rann
Curlew Sandpiper: common
Ruff: very common
Heuglin's Gull: Badreshwar
Great Black-headed Gull: several at Badreshwar and one at Little Rann
Brown-headed Gull: multiple locations
Slender-billed Gull: multiple birds at Badreshwar
Little Tern: Badreshwar
Gull-billed Tern: very common at Badreshwar
Whiskered Tern: a few in the Little Rann
Lesser Crested Tern: Badreshwar
Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse: common in the Naliya grassland area
Painted Sandgrouse: 2 males and 2 females seen in the Greater Rann area
Rock Pigeon: very common
Eurasian Collared-Dove: very common
Red Collared-Dove: one bird in the Naliya grasslands
Laughing Dove: common
Rose-ringed Parakeet: very common
Sirkeer Malkoha: one bird in the thorny forest in the Greater Rann area
Greater Coucal: one bird in the thorny forest in the Greater Rann area and also at the Little Rann
Pallid Scops-Owl: two birds were wintering at the Desert Coursers lodge in the Little Rann area. We were able to stop and photograph the two birds.
Eurasian (Indian) Eagle-Owl: One bird found roosting on the ground in the Chhari Dhand area of the Greater Rann.
Spotted Owlet: Two birds in the Greater Rann
Sykes's Nightjar: We saw two birds while driving in the dark, including one that we had excellent looks at on the ground and flying around in the Greater Rann area. This bird is typically looked for in the Little Rann area but we did not try as we had seen it well in the Greater Rann.
Indian Nightjar: heard and seen in the Greater Rann
House Swift: several soaring over a village in the Little Rann area
Common Kingfisher: several in the Little Rann
White-throated Kingfisher: common
Pied Kingfisher: several in the Little Rann area
Green Bee-eater: very common
Indian Roller: very common
Eurasian Hoopoe: common
Yellow-crowned Woodpecker: one in the thorny forest
Indian Bushlark: several birds in the Greater Rann area
Greater Hoopoe-Lark: one bird found in the flat desert of the Little Rann area
Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark: several flocks at both the Greater Rann and Little Rann
Rufous-tailed Lark: common
Bimaculated Lark: flock of 20 birds in the Naliya grassland area
Greater Short-toed Lark: very common
Sand Lark: several at the beach at Badreshwar
Crested Lark: common
Tawny Lark (Syke’s Lark): only one in the Greater Rann area
Oriental Skylark: one at the Little Rann
Barn Swallow: several different groups
Wire-tailed Swallow: both Greater Rann and Little Rann
Dusky Crag-Martin: at the Greater Rann
Red-rumped Swallow: Greater Rann area
Oriental Pipit: Little Rann area
Long-billed Pipit: Little Rann area
Tawny Pipit: at both Greater Rann and Little Rann
White Wagtail: common
Yellow Wagtail: common
Citrine Wagtail: one in the Little Rann
Small Minivet: common at the thorny forest
White-bellied Minivet: male and female at the thorny forest
White-cheeked Bulbul: common
Red-vented Bulbul: common
White-tailed (Marshall’s) Iora: two birds at the thorny forest, calling and easily found
Hypocolius: 2 males seen near the village of Fulay at the traditional wintering area in the Greater Rann. Later in the morning another group saw 8 birds in this area. Local guide assistance (CEDO) is needed to find this site.
Zitting Cisticola: several birds at the Naliya grasslands
Rufous-fronted Prinia: Greater Rann area
Gray-breasted Prinia: Greater Rann area
Graceful Prinia: Little Rann area
Plain Prinia: Greater Rann area
Blyth's Reed-Warbler: reedbed near the Naliya grasslands
Clamorous Reed-Warbler: two birds in a reedbed at the Rann Riders lodge. This is sometimes treated as Indian Reed-Warbler (Acrocephalus [stentoreus] brunnescens).
Common Tailorbird: several birds at the Rann Riders hotel
Common Chiffchaff: a few birds in scrub
Eastern Orphean Warbler: one bird in the thorny forest
Asian Desert Warbler: in the scrub at the Greater Rann
Lesser Whitethroat: birds at the thorny forest and in the scrub around the Greater Rann. We also had birds consistent with Desert Whitethroat (Sylvia [curruca] minula).
Red-breasted Flycatcher: a couple birds at the Rann Riders hotel grounds
Bluethroat: one bird at lake edge in the Little Rann area
Indian Robin: very common
Black Redstart: several birds in the Greater Rann
White-browed (Stoliczka’s) Bushchat: one bird seen well and photographed at the Lala Bustard Sanctuary in the Naliya grasslands. This bird has a noticeably larger bill than the much more common Stonechat. This is not well depicted in the field guide.
European Stonechat: common
Pied Bushchat: several locations
Variable Wheatear: several locations
Red-tailed Wheatear: one in the Chhari Dhand area of the Greater Rann on a rocky outcropping
Desert Wheatear: common
Isabelline Wheatear: less common than Desert Wheatear but multiple seen
Common Babbler: very common
Jungle Babbler: a few seen in Little Rann
White-winged (White-naped) Tit: two birds seen shortly after arrival at the thorny forest area. This is a specialty of the area as it is only found here and in southern India.
Purple Sunbird: common
Rufous-tailed Shrike: common
Bay-backed Shrike: several birds in the Greater Rann area
Long-tailed Shrike: common
Southern Gray Shrike: common
Common Woodshrike: several birds in the thorny forest area
Black Drongo: very common
House Crow: very common
Bank Myna: small group in a town southeast of Bhuj
Common Myna: common
Brahminy Starling: a few birds at Little Rann
Rosy Starling: large flocks in Greater Rann and Little Rann
European Starling: Little Rann
House Sparrow: very common
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia: several birds in the Greater Rann area
White-throated Munia (Indian Silverbill): common
Gray-hooded Bunting: common in Greater Rann area
House Bunting: three birds in the Greater Rann area
Some of the mammals we saw in the area included: Wild Boar, Pallid Hedgehog, Grey Mongoose, Jungle Cat, Golden Jackal, Indian Wolf, Blue Bulls (Neelgai), Asiatic Wild Ass (Gudkhur), and Chinkara (Indian Gazelle).
Melghat Trip List:
list of species from Melghat Tiger Preserve and surrounding areas. We birded a morning in the reserve proper and spent a day in an area at the periphery of the reserve (area for Forest Owlet):
Little Egret: a couple birds
Indian Pond-Heron: several birds
Striated Heron: two in the river on the periphery of the park
Crested Serpent-Eagle: one flyover near the Forest Owlet site
White-eyed Buzzard: one immature near the Forest Owlet site
Black Eagle: one bird soaring over the top of the forest in the reserve proper
Indian Peafowl: several birds
Red-wattled Lapwing: only a couple of birds in a stream near the Forest Owlet
Spotted Dove: common in the Forest Owlet area
Alexandrine Parakeet: 8 seen in a single flock at the edge of the preserve was the only sighting, reportedly more common than we experienced
Rose-ringed Parakeet: common
Plum-headed Parakeet: common around the Forest Owlet site
Sirkeer Malkoha: one in the reserve proper
Greater Coucal: one near the Forest Owlet site
Jungle Owlet: two birds heard calling the first afternoon and then one seen the next morning in the reserve proper
Forest Owlet: We saw a pair within 1:15 of arriving in the area. A local guide took us to one territory where we were unsuccessful. Then, in a second territory, we found a pair and had great looks. Two birds were seen and heard calling to each other. Then one additional bird was heard in response to the two birds calling (perhaps a bird from the initial territory). The highlight of the Melghat area and certainly the reason to travel to this site. The location was 1 hour and 45 minute drive from Chinkadara. We did not have tape of the species.
Crested Treeswift: several flying over
White-throated Kingfisher: several birds
Green Bee-eater: only at the Forest Owlet site
Indian Roller: open areas around the reserve periphery
Indian Gray Hornbill: two birds seen in the reserve proper
Brown-headed Barbet: commonly heard in the reserve proper, we finally located one feeding in a fruiting tree
Coppersmith Barbet: two seen and several heard in the reserve proper
Brown-capped Woodpecker: several pairs seen in both the reserve proper and the Forest Owlet site
Yellow-crowned Woodpecker: two at the Forest Owlet site
Black-rumped Flameback: seen at both the Forest Owlet area and the reserve proper
White-naped Woodpecker: seen at both the Forest Owlet area and the reserve proper
Plain Martin: several flying over
House Martin: several flying over. The Grimmett book does not demonstrate it occurring in this area of India. Thus, we obtained identifiable photographs for documentation.
Olive-backed Pipit: several
Tree Pipit: common
Gray Wagtail: one in the stream near the Forest Owlet site
Large Cuckoo-shrike: one near the Forest Owlet site
Small Minivet: common
Red-whiskered Bulbul: several in the reserve proper
Red-vented Bulbul: common
Common Iora: several near the Forest Owlet site and the reserve proper
Eurasian Blackbird: one in the reserve proper
Gray-breasted Prinia: common
Ashy Prinia: one in the reserve proper
Common Tailorbird: common
Tickell's Leaf-Warbler: common
Sulphur-bellied Warbler: common in the reserve proper
Hume's Warbler: common, also seen at the hotel grounds in Chinkadara
Greenish Warbler: several
Red-breasted Flycatcher: common
Tickell's Blue-Flycatcher: several birds at both the Forest Owlet site and the reserve proper
Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher: three birds in the reserve proper
Oriental Magpie-Robin: several birds
Indian Robin: a couple seen near the Forest Owlet site
Black Redstart: near the Forest Owlet site
European Stonechat: near the Forest Owlet site
Spot-breasted Fantail: several in the reserve proper
White-browed Fantail: common in the Forest Owlet site
Black-naped Monarch: one in the reserve proper
Asian Paradise-Flycatcher: a very nice male near the Forest Owlet site
Tawny-breasted Wren-Babbler: several birds seen
Yellow-eyed Babbler: one bird in the reserve proper
Jungle Babbler: very common
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta: one bird in the reserve proper
Great (Gray) Tit: very common.
Black-lored Tit: very common
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch: several at the Forest Owlet site and the reserve proper
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch: several in the reserve proper
Purple Sunbird: common
Pale-billed Flowerpecker: 1 to 2 birds in each mixed species flock in the reserve proper
Oriental White-eye: very common
Eurasian Golden Oriole: at both the Forest Owlet site and the reserve proper
Common Woodshrike: common
Black Drongo: common
White-bellied Drongo: common
Rufous Treepie: common
House Crow: common around settlements
Large-billed Crow: common around settlements
Common Myna: common around settlements
House Sparrow: common around settlements
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia: at both the Forest Owlet site and the reserve proper
Common Rosefinch: multiple birds in the reserve proper
Total species for Gujarat state and Melghat Tiger preserve – 256.
Feel free to contact me with any questions.