WildZests: Velavadar - A must see in Gujarat!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Velavadar - A must see in Gujarat!

My trip to Gujarat was initially planned to spend some time photographing the migratory birds that arrive during the winters, most importantly the Flamingos that are seen in the Rann. Velavadar got added to the itinerary since it's a grassland reserve and apart from the Blackbucks that it's known for, it is also the world's largest roosting site for the Harriers.

My expectations from the park visit were quite simple,

- Explore the place in a relaxed manner, keep atleast 2 days to roam around
- Focus on the quality of pictures for what's there in front of you rather than searching for the rare wolf
- Come back with at least a couple of shots worthy of a large print on the wall

The sanctuary is pretty small at just about 34sq.kms and there are well made trails that run through most parts of it. The forest department allows you to explore the park by obtaining a permit that is valid from sunrise to sunset. Most cars can do these trails, alternately you could even decide to take a walk. You are however not allowed to deviate from the tracks even if you're on foot.

The park is spread over both sides of the road that connects you to the Forest Office from the main highway that goes to Bhavnagar. The forest office is located on the dry side of the park while the opposite side is more of a wetland. Both sides have diverse sightings too, the dry side has more of the blackbucks and neelgai while the other side has has a waterbody that attracts a lot of waders, storks, pelicans etc. The harriers are found almost everywhere in the park but getting close to them is a big deal, they're pretty shy and would take off the moment you start approaching them.

Given that it is a grassland, you can get a really clear shot of your subject and most times you can choose the angle too. Sunrise used to be at 7.30AM while the sun went down at 6PM, the golden hour light is really magical and can be utilized to it's full extent. The grass was drying up and had a nice pink tinge to it which made for an excellent background.

Here's a shot of a male Bluebull (neelgai) in the golden light.

Tech Specs:

Canon 1D Mark IV + Canon 600mm F4 IS L with a 1.4x TC
Shot at 840mm, 1/125, F5.6 at ISO 200

Bluebull in Golden Light

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