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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Birding the Extraordinary in India: Discovering Francolins, Fulvettas, Shamas, Pratincoles, Prinias, and Munias

[North India, and Goa. December, 2013]

Some bird families are known to birders of both hemispheres because they are found in both the Old and New Worlds -- eg., Kingfishers, Flamingos, Pelicans, Herons, Sandpipers, Plovers, etc.

However, just as Wood Warblers, Tanagers, Thrashers, and Hummingbirds (being exclusive to the New World) would elicit puzzled expressions from Old World birders; likewise, New World birders will be similarly intrigued by Munias, Hornbills, Mynas, and Shamas.  In the next series of posts, this blogger will cover taxa that perhaps will sound both familiar as well as unfamiliar to the reader.

Unlike my previous trips to the subcontinent where social, business or tourist obligations have inevitably taken precedence, my sojourn in India during the Winter of 2013 had a singular focus on exploring the avifauna of the region.

In particular, areas covered included sites in Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat (North/Northwest India) as well as sites in the state of Goa. All in all, over 200 species were observed (with 174 photographed) including several spectacular species such as Blue-eared Kingfisher, Crab Plover, Black Francolin, Oriental Pratincole, Verditer Flycatcher, Lesser Adjutant Stork, River Lapwing and Lesser Flamingo. Of course, numerically, this is a drop in the ocean for a country with 1301 species of birds (or 13% of the World total).

Posts will include:
  • Kingfishers and Shrikes 
  • Rails, Jacanas and Grebes
  • Hornbills, Parakeets and Woodpeckers
  • Herons and Storks
  • Flycatchers and Starlings
  • Landfowl and Waterfowl
  • Raptors
  • Shorebirds
  • Cranes, Ibises and Flamingos
  • Pratincoles, Lapwings, Terns, Gulls and Crab Plover
  • Extraordinary Passerines
  • Frogmouths, Nightjars, and Sunbirds
  • Bonus: Big Cats and other mammals
First, an overview of the sites followed by some "teaser" photographs.

Birding sites in the State of Haryana:
Birding sites in the State of Rajasthan:
Birding sites in the State of Gujarat:
Birding sites in the State of Goa:
In retrospect, this was a lot of ground to cover -- and, the three weeks I had could hardly do justice to the sites in any one State let alone four!.

Finally, here's a preview of what to expect in successive posts (identification of the species left as a challenge to the reader!):

Species 1:

Species 2:

Species 3:

Species 4:

Species 5:

Species 6:

Species 7:

Species 8:

Species 9:

 Species 10:

Finally, a teaser mammalian species:

With that, stay tuned and enjoy the posts!


Bob Pelkey said...

This is my second visit to this post, Hemant. I wanted to be sure to add the comment that your work is always found to be intensely rewarding and fun.

custom research paper writing service said...

I am jealous that India does bird watching too. I am from your neighboring country but never have I heard any event taking place regarding bird watching.