Ever since I’d gone to Tal Chapar in August 2009, it was a place that I wished I could go back to more often. Eventually, decided that I would go there in November 2010. The news that Sociable Lapwings were being seen there was double the enticement. So, after an 18-hour multiple-bus journey from Chambal to Chapar, I met the legendary Mr.S.S.Poonia, who’s the Range Officer of the Tal Chapar Wildlife Sanctuary. He’s played a major role in creating a disturbance-free sanctuary for grassland fauna. Not to mention the 10-20 unrecorded bird species that he reports from the place every year.
Soon, we were off into the very foggy grassland (unusual for the place which has clear weather most of the winter). Within 10 minutes, the “lifer-of-a-lifetime” presented itself 🙂
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The Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius) is a Critically Endangered bird in the wader family. From their breeding grounds in Russia and Kazakhstan, the birds migrate south in winter, with a population heading to north-west India. They’ve been recorded from Kutch regularly; the sighting in Tal Chapar was the first one recorded in recent times. According to Wikipedia, their numbers declined substantially from 1960 to 1987. Recent discovery of a couple of populations from Syria and Turkey have been encouraging.
One of the birds sighted in Tal Chapar was seen often with a group of Indian Coursers. We sighted the bird again on the last day of my trip, this time in good light. Truly a graceful bird!
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That truly was one awesome trip to Tal Chapar, with more than 10 lifers. Will reserve more on that for later…
When Darter Photography arranged a trip to Kutch in February, this was again one of the birds on the “target” species list. And again, the bird obliged. We saw a flock of more than 10 individuals in the Banni grasslands on our first safari into the Greater Rann of Kutch.
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And also managed to see them at sunset on our way back that day 🙂
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