The journey started from Ahmadabad by road and as soon as we hit the highway, Rosy starlings, Woolly-necked Storks, Glossy Ibis welcomed us. It was a 6hrs journey but as the roads were amazing, campers were hardly tired after reaching Jamnagar. We checked in our Hotel and had lunch.
For starters we went to Bedi port in search of mainly Flamingos and if luck favoured, Indian Skimmers also, which were seen a day before. As we reached the location, campers realised that they were surrounded by birds. Species like Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Godwits, Gulls, Snipes, Shovelers, terns were everywhere. The light was just perfect for photography and everyone had a great look at birds and also they got an idea of how they were going to see birds for next two day, Effortlessly!!! After experiencing a great sunset, we returned to hotel.
It was a nice cool morning the next day and we went to Lakhota Lake in the city to see Tufted Ducks, Common Pochards and Pelicans. There was still time for sunrise and campers had a great view of Males, females, juveniles of the duck species. With the first sunrays, the pelicans arrived and landed in water right in front of us. A great start to the morning!! Post breakfast we headed towards Narara Marine National Park, something everyone was waiting for. Before we could enter the sanctuary, we had already made stops to see Black-headed Buntings, Desert and Isabellian Wheatear but we did not know there were even special birds waiting for us. Just a few tens meters before the entry gate on the right hand side we saw some small ducks with crest. We stopped the car and saw them through our binoculars. To our delight these were Great Crested Grebe, all 4 of them!!! We were overjoyed, but since the light was against us we could only take record shots and we decided to move on.
Narara Marine National Park is a great place to see amazing Marine life and Bird life when there is low tide and we had reached at the right time. The walk through ankle high water started and we started seeing marine animals one by one. Crabs, Sea anemone, Sea cucumber, Starfish were easily seen. We also found Jellyfish and Octopus which many of the campers had not seen up close. Sea hare was a rare thing which campers could handle. The main attraction of Coral walk was duely fulfilled and we saw many colours of them. There were Blue, Red, Orange, Pineapple Yellow coloured corals under rocks. We were also greeted by a beautiful pair of Crab Plovers which are commonly seen at Narara. After two hours of walking through the water we returned to our vehicle. As we came out of the gate, we obviously did a check on our grebes and they were still there and also the light was better. We could click some better images. One duck seemed unusually dark and when I focussed onto it, to my surprise, it turned out to be a Black-necked Grebe!! It was just getting too easy for campers to see these amazing and rare birds!
Post lunch we headed towards Charakhla salt pans and as were about to reach Charakhla, near a village pond, we spotted a huge flock of Demoiselle Cranes along with some Great White Pelicans. Some of them flew over us. It was a great sight for campers to watch a photograph these beautiful and elegant cranes from close. We did not see many new bird species at Charakhla salt pans but the commoners like Greater Flamingos, Caspian Terns, Ruffs, Western Reef Egret Redshanks, Greenshanks and Stints were seen. We returned to our Hotel after some amazing sightings throughout the day.
On the last day, we decided to visit the Khijadia Bird Sanctuary which was just 12km away from the city. At the entry gate we were welcomed by Greater Short-toed Larks and Syke’s Lark. As we started walking, we could hear a huge commotion of cranes nearby and within a few seconds few of them came flying over and gave us a good enough view to identify them. Common Cranes were in numbers greater than compared to the number of Demoiselle cranes we had seen a day before. It was a good early morning light and while walking through the sanctuary, we encountered birds like Rosy Starlings, Siberian Stonechat and birds like Flamingos, Godwits, Spoonbill, Gull-billed Terns, Avocets had become way to common to notice anymore. We were waiting for that one bird to show up. As we were walking, flocks of Common cranes which we saw feeding some time before started flying overhead and also some 40 odd Great white pelicans came flying and settled in the water channel in front of us. With sunlight behind us we got great flying shots. Just then a big black bird came flying around, the one which we searching badly in this thorny land, the Black-necked Stork had arrived. It settled some distance away from us. Though we could not get good shots, everyone enjoyed and great view of this beautiful bird through the spotting scope!!
Jamnagar has always been a place for Effortless Birding and one can see and photograph many amazing species which you won’t easily see any place else. The campers experienced just that and with amazing memories we started our journey back….
Nikhil Dandekar and Shauri Sulakhe