Sunday 30 January 2011

Rajasthan (21) – The Birds of Bikaner

PC072244-cropWhen we were in Bikaner in December one of the highlights of the trip turned out  to be our wildlife expedition. Jitu, the man in whose guest house we were staying is a zoologist by training and a great lover of nature. He is very knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna and we took a trip out of town with fingers crossed to see something. We headed towards the local dumping area and caught sight of a tremendous show of vultures and one antelope.
My friend Ken would have loved this and truly been in his element and I am sure he can probably help out here with proper identification – but I am thinking the blue bird above is a Kingfisher, the smaller black and white ones are starlings, and the larger ones vultures and buzzards.  This was truly a spectacular sight – hundred of these very big birds on the ground and in flight. Pictures of bird are difficult, and with no telephoto lens and certainly no steady hand these are the best I have but I hope you can get the flavour of this memorable occasion with these and the video.
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  1. sheila, your pics are awesome, the text inspiring as always...

    thank you for sharing such incredible experiences!!

  2. Hi Sheila
    The 'Bird on a wire' is unmistakably an Indian Roller (PCO72244).
    The little chap looking out under a tree. with the white front is, again unmistakably, a Wire Tailed Swallow (PCO72197).
    Bird on its own in top of tree looking away is possibly some sort of Pigeon though with that profile it also may be a Honey Buzzard(PCO72203).
    The great host of vultures are Eurasian Griffon and the two blacker ones with white bills (PCO72219) are Cinereous Vultures.
    Interested in the bird looking to the right in the top of tree group (PCO72240), it might be a Black Kite, but that's a very definite MIGHT!
    Awful situation for raptors across India, for some reason they started feeding Diclofenac Sodium to their cattle (possibly religiously oriented behaviour to prevent arthritic conditions and suffering in holy beasts???) this squares up in concentration when the raptors eat dead cattle and kills the birds - the air was thick with raptors 30 years ago but I gather the populations have plummeted.
    I had been hoping you would get to Khichan Village to see the Demoiselle Cranes that winter there - the villagers have been feeding them for centuries so the birds that return there are getting quite tame - and they are such a beautiful creature to be able to see close up.
    Great photos though hope you see more - what sort of birds are you seeing around Rayagada??
    We are engossed in a campaign to try and stop our Forest being flogged off:
    We might even win this one.
    Ken xxxxxxxxxx

  3. Ken, I knew you'd come up trumps with the bird names - thanks!
    Re Rayagada bird life with apologies for the lay descriptions - crows, white crane like things which sit on cattle, a chaffinch/tit cum sparrow like small one, and the ubiquitous mina bird - not a single species more - too much pollution I think - dust from coal and other ores mined uphill come down via open train trucks, the air is vile!
    Good luck with preserving that forest!