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India: Gujarat: Adalaj, Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Little Rann of Kutch, Mandvi, Modhera, Nal Sarovar, Patan
Nal Sarovar, Gujarat, India: Of flying colours
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief
About 65 kilometers from Ahmedabad is Nal Sarovar - a lake of 123 sq.kms. and just about 4 feet deep. Post Indian monsoon, the lake is home to migratory birds in winter and in spring. Hundreds of thousands of over 200 species of birds present a hue of colours. Nal Sarovar is one of the largest wetland bird sanctuaries in India.
The best time to visit the sanctuary is from November to February. I was there in the first week of February when the flocks were supposed to be at their peak. Unfortunately, an unseasonal heat wave a week prior motivated the birds to start packing up and head to their original destinations. But there was plenty to see… a few hundred thousand not being there doesn’t really make a difference!
Ideal time for bird watching is early morning or late evenings. That’s the time when things are quiet and the birds are at their active best. Not to mention the beautiful light from a photographer’s perspective. Since Nal Sarovar was my prime objective during my stay in Gujarat, I decided to go out scouting in the evening as well as the next morning.
Thanks to my cousin Rajesh Chandak who enjoys excellent relationships in Ahmedabad, we had a taxi on hand. For our stay he had booked us at a Golf Resort that was about 30-minutes away from the sanctuary gates. Post breakfast we left for the resort. After lunch and a little rest, we were at the sanctuary gates at about 4PM. Thanks to Rajesh again, he personally knew some locals who were excellent fishermen and knowledgeable guides. A deal was struck such that each one of us in the group (we were 3) had a boat to ourselves and a guide.
The cars need to be left at the main gate of the sanctuary. From there, the sanctuary vehicles take you to the jetties which are about a kilometer from the main gate. The timing of the sanctuary is from 6AM to 6PM. Entry tickets are fixed but negotiations are a must for the boat and the guide.
The shallow area and ponds on the outer fringes of the lake attract the wading birds that feed in the shallow waters. Besides a few mammalian species including the endangered wild ass and the black buck, its migratory bird population includes Rosy Pelicans, Flamingoes, White Storks, Brahminy Ducks and Herons.
The sanctuary harbours over 250 species of wetland birds. Winter migrants from the north include Purple Moorhen, Pelicans, Lesser and Greater Flamingos, White Storks, four species of Bitterns, Cranes, Grebes & a few Indian species including Ducks and Geese. And of course the Harrier bird which preys on ducks!
I will recommend hiring the services of local experts. Our leader was Rehman who had organized the trips for us. The most exciting part of the trip was early next morning wherein small country boats were arranged to wade us through the waters. It was 5 hours of sheer delight.
The pictures will do the talking.
At 12 noon, we left for Little Rann of Kutch which was a 90-minute drive from our resort.
Nal Sarovar Image Gallery Photo viewer
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