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Garavi Gujarat: a tale of prophets,blackbucks, wild asses, white desert and India's forgotten mother

gujarat wild ass blackbuck kutch desert india

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#21 TonyQ

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 04:39 PM

@Chakra

A fascinating report. I am really enjoying themixture of culture and wildlife. Great writing and photos!


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#22 Chakra

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 08:48 PM

OK , enough of dry discussions. Now just photos and photos. I've to admit I'm no birder. All the harriers and eagles and kites look same to me, specially when they are flying ! I'm more than happy just to take photos and leave the ID to dedicated twitchers. 

 

 

Let's start with birds first and this little pearly beauty.  Our driver spotted him on the way to the park entrance and I wondered how he had spotted this little one. Later I realised the owl had made this pillar with hole his home and the driver knew he might peep out.  So future travellers look out. 

 

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Crested serpent eagle ? ???

 

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Common KF, I guess ?

 

 

 

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Not my best shot. I challenge the learned friends. Marsh Harrier perhaps ?

 

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Someone who likes the reeds.  

 

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Even I know this one !! 

 

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Yellow vented

 

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Sparrow lark, I believe ?

 

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Short toed ?

 

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Wire tailed swallow ?

 

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No Clue 
:blink:  :blink:  :blink:

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Chatty chat ?

 

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Dove I know. Common or not so common? I can see a collar. Eurasian ? 

 

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Pie in the sky ?

 

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General Franco in Grey uniform ?

 

 

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 Night heron in daytime ???

 

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His cousin 

 

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Purple swamphen busy with breakfast 

 

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Beaks look silvery to me

 

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Looks different here. I'm confused :(  :( 

 

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An angry looking Drongo

 

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Omnipresent lapwings

 

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? sparrowhawk / kestrel. Very poor shots from a distance in in fading light

 

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? Kestrel

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Cranes in dive bombing formation 

 

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Ringed parakeets everywhere

 

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Sunbird  enjoying the sun

 

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These were the easiest to photograph  :P  :P  :P

 

33947703172_3922823404_b.jpg


Edited by Chakra, 18 April 2017 - 09:32 PM.

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#23 Galana

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Posted 18 April 2017 - 10:46 PM

Ha ha. Very funny! Nice Stonechat!


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#24 xelas

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 09:01 AM

@Chakra , you should publish your own version of a bird guide book, I am assured it would be a success!


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#25 Chakra

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 09:48 AM

@Chakra , you should publish your own version of a bird guide book, I am assured it would be a success!

If you say so. I'll make you the guest editor and offer 10 % of the deal. ;)  ;)  



#26 Galana

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 09:49 AM

It would sell well. I have long taught that most birds can be successfully identified by simple description.

Even here Chakra's system would work.

e.g. Bird with Silverbill in India?

      Purple Hen like bird in a swamp?

      A BeeEater that is Green?

Not sure about Bronze Cranes though!

And the scientific names may cause problems  Dicrurus pugilistic emotioni perhaps. :angry:


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#27 Chakra

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 01:52 PM

Wow ! I never realised that I had such a prospect in ornithology. Thanks for directing me towards that. 

@Galana : what you are trying to say is Latin to me. I can sense some link with CR Darwin. Please enlighten. 

 

Ok, how about some mammals now ? Let me show my knowledge there. But first let me tell you that, when I was scanning the horizon with my binocs I spotted a carnivore and urged the driver to make a dash for it, which he did. It was indeed a carnivore, but not the one I had identified, turned out to be a feral dog !! 

 

 

My wife and I in the beginning of the day. In perfect harmony moving towards our goal in unison ......

 

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My wife and I after just one hour. In perfect disharmony, going in totally opposite direction... 

 

 

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Lone Nilgai in the ocean of grass

 

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Close up

 

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This wild boar surprised me totally, very well hidden in short dry grass. I missed my toothpicks for the hunt, so let him escape.

 

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African savannah 

 

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They are indeed handsome 

 

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This one has lost half of his antlers 

 

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Pronking 

 

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Early morning exercise 

 

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Ladies Day out 

 

 

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Sparring practice 

 

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This is a big bull in "Mating Mode. .  Ears completely down, neck up : shows he is having an overdose of Testosterone and has only one thing in mind

 

32891566443_8eec5af721_b.jpg 

 

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Sorry, not a mammal but honestly my list of mammals exhausted quickly

 

 

Turtle 

 

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Some bugs ! I'm desperate to prolong my list of non-blackbuck creatures 

 

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Now some more of the park and the lodge and that'll be the end 

 

 

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33262558444_6a187d9e1d_b.jpgUntitled by Desi DNA, on Flickr

 

 

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Overlooking the little pond : 

 

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Open shower 

 

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Brightly decorated walls 

 

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Touch of Africa 

 

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Bye bye blackbuck NP & Blackbuck lodge. Next accommodation couldn't have been more different. Mud huts "Bhunga" in one of the tiniest villages. Long drive ahead. 


Edited by Chakra, 19 April 2017 - 02:49 PM.

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#28 Galana

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 02:40 PM

I never did Latin at school so suggest you ask your guest editor. (When he gets back from Namibia.)

 

Meanwhile on a  mammalian note Antelope have horns not Antlers. Horns are bone covered in Karatin, non branched and permanent. Deer have antlers which are just bone and are shed and replaced each year often with extra branches.

Looking forward to the mud huts.


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#29 Chakra

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:00 PM

I never did Latin at school :  What ?  I thought you went to a Grammar school where the head always used to say, "You must do better ! "

 

 so suggest you ask your guest editor. (When he gets back from Namibia.)  I better ask Uncle Google. 

 

Meanwhile on a  mammalian note Antelope have horns not Antlers. Horns are bone covered in Karatin, non branched and permanent. Deer have antlers which are just bone and are shed and replaced each year often with extra branches.  Hmm, my book on mammals won't be very popular unless I appoint you as the guest editor. 

 

Looking forward to the mud huts.


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#30 Galana

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 06:14 PM

I agree. Maybe it would be best to stick to birds for the time being. (And keep the day job open!!) :D


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#31 xelas

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 07:43 PM

Those are really Africa style photos. What was the gear used?

Regarding the latin name, I am torn between a Drongo and a Klitschko  ^_^ .


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#32 Chakra

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 09:48 PM

Those are really Africa style photos. What was the gear used?   Thanks. Just the Nikon 24-120 and Sony RX 100

 



#33 Chakra

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 07:20 PM

Blackbuck lodge was quite flexible about meal times. The breakfast was delayed till our return from morning safari and I drowned my sorrow of not seeing a wolf by tucking into a delicious breakfast with some rich north Indian style Masala tea with cardamom.  Then started our long drive north towards Devji Bhai's place at LRK via Surendranagar. 

 

On the way my wife spotted some fresh ber or Jujuba fruit (kul to me in Bengali) on sale by roadside. She has an iron stomach. I was in two minds whether to eat from the roadside or not.  We do get most of the Indian fruits in UK but somehow the freshness is lacking. This particular fruit had sweet memories of the festival of Swaraswati ( goddess of knowledge ) in the brief pleasant winter months of Calcutta, from my distant past.  Some delicious semi-ripe guavas on sale as well.

 

The fruit-seller took the trouble of wiping the fruits with a piece of cloth to get rid of the dust accumulated from the roadside traffic .  I ate  a couple, got into the car and then saw the seller blowing his nose and wiping his snot with the same piece of cloth he had used to wipe the fruits. :wacko:  :wacko:  :wacko: 

Looks like it was a common practice. Well, it was too late for me. All I could do was to add an extra purifier Iodine tablet to my water bottle and drink it straightaway. But I was spared ! :o  :o 

 

 

Roadside fruits

 

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Heavenly delicious semi-ripe guavas wiped clean lovingly with a cloth 

 

 

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Local pottery sellers 

 

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On the way we saw some impressive salt dumps. Surreal, like snow covered peaks in the midst of barren land.

 

 

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All of a sudden I saw a very long roadside patch bright red in colour. It was red chili getting dried. Of course we had to stop, hand pick our chilies and then get that grounded to chill powder, the mainstay of Indian cooking. I was surprised to see many varieties of chilies on display, of varying intensity.

Somehow this reminded me of an excellent Hindi movie called Mirch Masalla ( Hot Chili powder ) where the brave heroine took refuge in a chili factory and foiled the molester by throwing Red Hot Chili powder on his face.  Long before Americans invented pepper spray.

 

Wow !! I can feel the heat !

 

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Different varieties 

 

 

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Being processed 

 

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Ready to be added to my special Murgh Musallam 

 

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Mini spice bazaar

 

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Right from the source 

 

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On the way I also ventured into a cotton filed to learn more about that. Cotton is one of the most important products in Gujarat which had lot more cotton mills than Manchester in the era of Industrial Revolution. It is one of the most versatile natural products.  You get the cotton out of seed, then grind the seed to get cotton seed oil and then use the nutritious husk and the rest of the plant to feed cattle.  Similarly raided a field of Gram to grab some gram as well.

 

Cotton flower 

 

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Cotton fruits 

 

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Cotton itself 

 

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Cotton fields 

 

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One of hundreds of cotton mills

 

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Freshly picked Gram from filed 

 

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34181030685_991c92a919_b.jpg[/url]

 

 

 

The drive was long and boring and after reaching Dhrangadhra we decided to ignore Devji bhai's advice of continuing on national highway towards Halvad and took the shortcut route 147 through tiny villages with names like Kuda, Kidi etc. The road was not too bad and we  safely negotiated several huge grand canyon size potholes and flooded sections to reach Jogad around 4 pm. I had downloaded the routes beforehand for offline navigation and Long Live Google : spot on about direction.

 

Here is a map of LRK to give you an idea about the place. The blue square of arrows represent our forays inside the LRK

 

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Most of the western tourists enter from the Eastern side villages of Bajana/Dasada, which has a few decent hotels and my travel agent was recommending the Rann Rider resort.  But the more I read about those places the more I felt those were geared towards not so independent travellers and won’t give my daughters the real taste of rural India. Then I came to know of Devji Bhai's Eco camp through India Mike and that place looked just perfect for me.  A few small mud huts, homemade food, no swimming pool or artificial entertainment and bang on the doorsteps of LRK. So I was sold. I sent a test e-mail and Devji bhai promptly replied in his not so fluent English.  But our stay could have been a lot better if Devji bai himself could guide us. I'd come to that later.

 

Devji bhai needs to improve his advertisement. ;) A sign on a lamp-post is all I saw.  

 

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Acts prohibited . Which acts ? Half the sign post disappeared. :rolleyes:  :rolleyes:  

 

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Had my first glimpse of the Gudkhar ( wild ass) in front of our huts.  

 

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A sure case of priapism  :wub: 

 

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A gang of local children followed us. They kept their distances initially but got bolder and bolder and they were absolutely shocked to hear my wife (topi-wali memsaab : lady with a hat)  speak to them in their dialect. It was a pleasure to interact with them. Posed for me willingly, did not ask for money and was just happy to talk. Pure innocence.

 

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Lovely post sunset hue 

 

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Then it was to have a dinner and get into the round mud huts of Kuba, all constructed by Devji bhai himself. No heating at all, just some blankets. The temperature in the night dipped to around 5 degrees but the air inside the hut remained surprisingly warm. Mud is an excellent insulator. 

 

The "Kuba"

 

32890789183_5cbc595001_b.jpg


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#34 Galana

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 09:29 PM

Enjoying this a heck of a lot. Keep it coming.


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#35 janzin

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 10:20 PM

Me too!! Wonderful report! Love the chili and spices. We'll be staying at Rann Riders with all the other unadventurous tourists :D


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#36 Chakra

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 10:47 PM

Me too!! Wonderful report! Love the chili and spices. We'll be staying at Rann Riders with all the other unadventurous tourists

Just reaching the Rann Riders would be an adventure and honestly with hindsight I feel the guides at Rann riders would have been better than Devji bhai's son Vijay,  who was not that interested. Devji bhai himself was a gem of a person and extremely knowledgeable and shared my joy of seeing a steppe eagle. 


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#37 Chakra

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 11:20 PM

Enjoying this a heck of a lot. Keep it coming.

Thanks for your continuing interest. Hope it is not too much of culture. The moderators probably haven't noticed yet. I promise next few posts shall have no mention of history, religion or culture. 



#38 madaboutcheetah

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 12:56 AM

Loving this report @Chakra - Thank You!!!  I've got to make it a point to get to these places next winter ........ and to Gir for the Asiatic Lion.


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#39 Galana

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 09:19 AM

<Thanks for your continuing interest. Hope it is not too much of culture. The moderators probably haven't noticed yet.>

I cannot see the moderators objecting. Safari is not just about wildlife but the whole diaspora of traveling in a country. Even I would get bored reading just about Ellies and birds. :rolleyes:  And anyway you saw a Steppe Eagle!!! :)

Keep it coming! More about  topi-wali memsaab too!


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#40 Chakra

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 11:14 AM

Loving this report @Chakra - Thank You!!!  I've got to make it a point to get to these places next winter ........ and to Gir for the Asiatic Lion.

Thanks. From what little I know about your passion about nature and wildlife reading your posts, I'm sure you'll love LRK in winter. 

 

 

Keep it coming! More about  topi-wali memsaab too!  

Memsaab sends her regards. I'll put up  a special photo just for you. 







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