WildZests: A Sequel to Dec 2011 - Exploring the Little Rann Of Kutch

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Sequel to Dec 2011 - Exploring the Little Rann Of Kutch


The 2012 monsoon hasn’t been great across the country and one can easily make out the impact of it in LRK. The water bodies that were full last year and had a lot of ducks and other waders had just ankle deep water and were now flooded with flamingos who prefer that habitat. The ducks had to move to the creek side which had some water but not as much as the last time. There was some water released from the Narmada which had an impact on some of the access roads and the only option to go the creek side was from Bajana which is 20kms from Zainabad whereas last year there was another road midway. 


The number of birds this year were less as compared to the previous year and what I got to know was that the flamingos on the way to Dholavira were no longer there in this season. Last year, I was told that there was a huge gathering of 1.5 to 2 lakh flamingos on that side of the Rann. We missed it because we thought we’ll go to Dholavira from the GRK side and unfortunately that road access was closed when we went there. Now Dholavira is about 5 hours from Zainabad and is one of the sites where you can see the remnants of the Harappan civilization, but my main aim was to also go there for the Greater Flamingos which are not found in LRK otherwise. We made plans and we dropped the plans, that’s pretty much what we did and end of the trip, we didn’t really take off for Dholavira. May be someday when I visit the place again, I’ll keep this on the itinerary. 


We did go to the Modhera Sun temple which is quite a brilliant depiction of how ancestral Indian man was knowledgeable about subjects ranging from history, geography, science, mathematics to sex education. The temple is no longer a place of worship since it was desecrated and is now a well maintained archaeological site. Our guide kept telling us intriguing stories about how Mahabharata was depicted in the sculptures and how the temple was built based on the sun calendar etc. Overall, a nice visit and there’s always something you learn from such places. 



During the course of the 4 days at Desert Coursers, we made friends with a lot of people and surprisingly one of them was a family from Bangalore who stay just about 7-8 kms from our place. Their son and Pozu immediately took off and what followed was a couple of days of sheer playing madness between the duo. Given that LRK isn’t really a place that has too much to offer for a general tourist, usually the people who visit the place are wildlife enthusiasts and that has helped keep the crowds limited but the overall region can definitely be kept a lot cleaner than what it is today. Plastic trash is seen almost everywhere and can easily be avoided through proper regulations and education. 

My favorite photographic subject in LRK has been the Lesser Flamingos and even this time I spent most of the time sitting at the edge of Nawa Talav waiting for these beautiful creatures to accept me and close in for a nice shot. Finally, persistence paid off and I was able to get a few shots that were satisfying enough to call it a successful day. 



While I was busy photographing the flamingos, Pozu was keeping her Mom busy with her insistence to use my other camera. She also wanted to try her hand at some shots of the flamingos and finally managed to work her way out.


A Greylag Geese couple also happened to pose nicely for the camera, though they maintained safe distance at all times. No amount of hiding helped in getting close to them and they’d take to the sky at the slightest hesitance from anyone in the group.


The LRK special for this visit was the encounter with the nightjars, we spotted both the Sykes as well as the Indian nightjars after sundown. The only challenge was to get a nice picture of these supremely camouflaged birds, the search light surely helped in spotting these beauties, but the harsh light didn’t make it easy to get a pleasing picture. Still after fiddling around with the exposure and dialing it down to soften the light, I was able to get a couple of pictures that are worth posting here. 



The Eurasian cranes were found almost everywhere but I was glad to document some aggressive behavioral shots in a siege. I couldn’t make out whether the two males were either fighting for dominance or it was mock ritual, but it went on for about 10 minutes while the other cranes were seen cheering the fight. 


The Demoiselle cranes were missing last year during our trip, but this time they made a good special appearance and during the evening golden light hour and it more than made up for their absence. 


3.15The sunrise and sunset are the two most beautiful events in the Rann where you can see the big orange ball of fire just rising from or sinking into the perfectly flat horizon. One of the evenings we were lucky to witness a really beautiful orange glow reflecting off the shallow waters, introducing a magical effect into the whole landscape. We positioned our jeep to get a classic silhouette shot of the curlew sandpiper in the orange waters and after a couple of tries, I was happy with what I had gotten. 

A day before we were supposed to leave for Jamnagar, I called the Saevus organizers to check on my stay arrangements since I had asked for a separate booking. I was told that they have blocked the room for me separately, but since there was a cancellation they offered my wife to join the event as a participant if she was willing. Given that there was basically nothing that she was going to do except babysitting Pozu, she was ready to join but we wanted to make sure that it was okay to have our daughter along with us all the while. We were happy to know that there wasn’t any issue in having Pozu with us if we were okay with it and so now all three of us were going to participate in the bird race which was quite exciting.

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