Thursday, August 24, 2006

TIGER in Nannaj, Solapur

I am sure you all were shocked and surprised with the title��.Well!! Tough
there are no Tigers in Nannaj, we experienced the same thrill, frustrations,
emotions, suspense that one experiences during the quest for a Tiger in an
Indian Forests.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that what a Tiger is for the Indian
jungles�.The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) is for the Indian Grasslands.

And while the focus is always on the Big cat��the fate of GIBs is hanging.
It is estimated that less than 500 of these majestic birds remain
precariously in the ever shrinking patches of grasslands along with the
other grassland birds like the Floricans and grassbirds��GIBs are the best
indicators of a Grassland plain.

I had been to Nannaj many times before, but the charm of the GIB always
attracted like a magnet. This time tough, there were 17 wonderful birders
and birding with such a group is always a great experience�..Thanks to
Mandar Khadilkar, the train & accommodation was well managed. Nannaj is also
an easy-to-plan wildlife destination particularly for the people of Mumbai
and Pune and a Friday to Saturday itenary is sufficient.

There are an estimated 24 to 27 GIBs in Nannaj and the surrounding area.
However the GIB is a very shy bird & possesses excellent camouflage and
hence difficult to spot. The birds seem to dislike humans so much that it
will not allow anyone to approach less than 100 mtrs and it was with great
effort that we could see 2 birds at last. There were no sightings for about
a week prior to us��and I knew that this trip would promise a great treasure

Never before, I scanned the grasslands and fallow lands like this trip for a
glimpse of this magnificent bird, with apt concentration and hope and to
have a glimpse of expressions on the faces of my collogues who had come
here for the first time��..I had to agonizingly wait for 2 days�..though I
had a fleeting view of a Bustard for a couple of seconds before it vanished
over the horizon��the feeling was somehow painful as none of the people
present except I had seen it�, after the lunch without taking rest and
not withstanding my swollen foot, we went to the same area and the sharp
eyes of Kevin tracked a magnificent male Great Indian Bustard, walking
gloriously with a grace comparable only to Tiger�..after co-ordinating /
calling all the group on phone we saw this majesty for quite some time
appreciating its gate and style in his realm of Grassland, before taking
flight���it was as if, he had come only for us to view�..�.you should have
seen the expressions of thrill, excitement and relief on each of the members
present��After all ..... Birdwatching is all about "Patience and

However, a chilly feeling also crept in the mind whether this bird will also
go along the faith of the "Dodo"?? �.whether we would ever see this majestic
bird in future and for how long??...whether, declaring a sanctuary is
sufficient for the survival of this bird??......what more needs to be
done??........the protection of Grasslands is not only critical for the
GIBs, but also the other grassland species, like Floricans, Quails,
Partridges, Chinkaras, Blackbucks, Larks, Pipits, Coursers etc��there are
many such questions that have to be answered seriously��..I think
"Conservation is not just about saving other species��.its more about our
responsibility as a human species towards other life forms"

For the complete drama, Birdlists and excellent trip reports�.please click
the following links by my passionate birding pals below:

I think one visit is a must for all nature enthusiasts to view this
magnificent Grassland (Or any such grassland) to see its denizens and the
wonders of survival (If anyone needs any information on planning and other
info. Please do not hesitate to call me)��some of the friends that went the
next weekend saw 4 GIBs in the core area and last year we had seen plenty of
sightings��there seem to be lot of local movement of this species as per the
food availability.

One very unusual sighting was of a lone Alpine swift that was seen hanging
around with Red-Rumped swallows and House swifts for a couple of days��far
from its usual montane habitat��.probably a new record for Nannaj checklist.

I sincerely hope, that we in India would never have to make a phrase "As
dead as a Bustard"��.

Warm Regards,

Addi The Birde

To have a detailed report on Bustards, please click

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