It was some time ago that Ashley Howe invited me along on a whistle-stop tour of Rajasthan during the post-monsoon season to seek some critically-endangered species. We used Asian Adventures who once again did a sterling job. Our main quarry was the superlative Lesser Florican, a species that will soon (in relative terms) be on the extinction list, and to see this very rare bird, one has to visit in late July or early August to correspond with its display. Another hoped for species was the Bristled Grassbird... seemingly another doomed species.
Our 7-day trip, of which only five were spent in India, was most successful, and as we had both visited this region previously, there were very few species to actually target, with myself not even hitting the double-figure mark for lifers.
9th August 2023
We departed Heathrow in the evening on a direct Virgin Atlantic service to Delhi.
10th August 2023
We arrived on time and swiftly got through immigration and found our guide and driver, Deepak and Pawan. It was a short drive to the hotel where we got dropped off, much to our dislike as we were desperate to see some birds, but just had to make do with the local Black Kites.
In the afternoon, we left and headed for Surajpur Sanctuary on the outskirts of Delhi. It was a nice surprise to see new and improved infrastructure in the road network and my grim memories of my past visit were soon dashed, all for the positive. I was actually impressed with India this time around, with less chaos for starters. Anyway, the afternoon journey was highlighted by a Shikra, White-throated Kingfisher and some Asian Green Bee-eaters.
We finally arrived at an open section of the Surajpur Sanctuary and instantly found some nice birds and the joys of foreign birding commenced. Straight away we encountered Cinnamon Bitterns, Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Great Coucals, Black Francolins, Pied Bushchats, Red Avadavats and three species of weaver (Black-breasted, Baya and Streaked). We soon heard our main target, this being a Bristled Grassbird and soon we clapped eyes on this critically-endangered bird. After a short walk which produced some excellent dragonflies and butterflies, plus some more birds including Tricoloured Munia, a Blyth's Reed Warbler, Jacobin Cuckoo and Bengal Bush Lark, Ash and I crept up to a safe distance and admired the grassbird for 45-minutes.
All too soon our time was up and we departed the site during the midst of a minor deluge, but what a successful start to our short Indian adventure. What was even better was the food in the evening, the first of many fine curries!
|Plain Tiger - needless to say the only 'tiger' was saw|
|Indian Eagle Owl|
|Rock Bush Quail - class birds!|
|Eastern Cattle Egret|
|Rock Bush Quail - a split-second too late|
|Western Crowned Warbler|
|juv. Bonelli's Eagle|