Bird Photography / Birding / Culture & Heritage / India

Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India

Photographing birds in Gujarat | Kutch District| India

Photographing birds in Gujarat, Kutch district in India, holds a very unique landscape for wildlife and birding. My interest in Gujarat started after reading the documented journeys made by the late Salim Ali and Datuk Loke Wan Tho back in 1943 to 1944 in the book, “Loke Wan Tho’s Birds” published in 2008.

Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Spectacular sunset in the desert of Kutch Gujarat

Map of Kutch (above) in the western state of Gujarat India. Showing Bhuj, Dhordo and Jakhau.

Unlike the Sahara Desert, the desert in Gujarat changes with the season. It can be very dry during winters, revealing a flat land, but flooded with water forming a shallow lake during the summer and monsoon seasons. This landscape is called as a ‘Rann’, and where the ‘Great Rann of Kutch’ and ‘Little Rann of Kutch’ are well known. This natural ecosystem supports a large variety of birds such as the migratory waterfowls, flamingos and brings together wildlife animals such as the endangered Asiatic Wild Ass. 

Asiatic Wild Ass. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Endangered Asiatic Wild Ass in Gujarat

This western most part of India, Kutch and the rest of Gujarat makes a unique travel and birding destination for wildlife and bird photographers. With the myriad of birds and wildlife gathered at the Ranns, while also observing how tribes care for their livestock using very ancient methods all these years in such a climatic environment.

People in Kutch. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Tribes care for their livestock using very ancient methods all these years in such a climatic environment.
People in Kutch. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Traditional kitchen in Kutch

Photographing birds in Gujarat, Kutch district in India in January 2013.

It was only during the Covid-19 lock down recently in July 2020, while organizing and culling my photo library, that I managed to trace back the places we visited, identified and tagged more than 50 species of birds in Gujarat that we photographed. Here is the highlight of our trip.


Photographing birds of Gujarat, Kutch district | India:

Our birding itinerary:

  • Day 1: 
    We started from Ahmedabad city, travelled west by bus in the morning through Little Rann of Kutch. Arrived at Bhuj just before sunset. After a short refuelling for the bus, we continued north to Dhordo near the Great Rann of Kutch. We finally checked-in to luxurious tent for the night.
  • Day 2: 
    We spent a few days in Dhordo for the annual Rann Utsav festival. We went birding near Chhari Lake, also known as Chhari Dhandh, which is a shallow pond of collected rain water with an area of 10 square kilometre. Chhari Dhandh is the largest lake amongst the 34 others which attracts more than 50 species of waterfowl in Kutch.
Annual Rann Utsav festival in Dhordo
Sunset Camel Cart ride in greater Rain of Kutch. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Sunset camel cart ride to the Great Rain Of Kutch near Dhordo.
  • Day 3: We spent an afternoon birding at Kalo Dungathe highest hill in the Kutch desert at 462 metre situated 97 km from Bhuj.
  • Day 4 to day 8: 
    From Dhordo, we journeyed south-west through Nokhtarang and Niliya to Jakhau salt pans for water birds near the coastline of western Gujarat. On the last day we took an overnight bus from Bhuj to Amedabad to catch the early morning flight home.
Jakhau. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Jakhau salt pans for water birds near the coastline of western Gujarat.

Here are a few of our memorable sightings in photographing birds of Gujarat, in Kutch from Dhordo to Jakhau:

Great Indian Bastards. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
The Great Indian Bustard (Critically endangered).
Stoliczka's Bushchat. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Stoliczka’s Bush-chat (Endemic to the region, name after Dr Ferdinand Stoliczka, a geologist who made a systematic list of birds found in Kutch in 1860).
White-Named Tit. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
White-naped Tit (Endemic tit to India found in dry thorn scrub forest) 
White-tailed Iora or Marshall's iora. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Marshall’s Iora (White-tailed Iora, recently been given as a full species status)
Grey Hypocolius. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Grey Hypocolius- Male (A regular winter visitor from Middle East, found only in Kutch)
Grey Hypocolius. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Grey Hypocolius- Female (A regular winter visitor from Middle East, found only in Kutch)
Sociable Lapwing. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Sociable Lapwing (Critically endangered plover)
Photographing birds in Kutch Gujarat-
Approaching the Sociable Lapwings on the ground
Black-necked Stork.Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Male Black-Necked Stork (with yellow iris) in Kutch Gujarat
Black-necked Stork. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Female Black-Necked Stork in Kutch Gujarat
Lesser Flamingos. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Lesser Flamingos in flight near Chhari Dhandh.
Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Purple Sunbird. Photographing Birds In Gujarat|Kutch District|India
Purple Sunbird one of the 5 sunbirds found in Gujarat. The other four sunbirds are:
Crimson, Crimson-backed, Purple-Rumped and Vigors’s (sub species of Crimson)

High lights of Photographing birds of Gujarat, in Kutch from Dhordo to Jakhau:

  • The Great Indian Bustard (Critically endangered).
  • Stoliczka’s Bush-chat
  • White-naped Tit
  • Marshall’s Iora
  • Grey Hypocolius
  • Sociable Lapwing
  • Black-necked and Painted Storks
  • Demoiselle and Common Cranes
  • Dalmatian and Great White Pelican
  • Greater and lesser Flamingos
  • Great Crested Grebes
  • Western Reef Egret
  • Black-winged stilt
  • Blue-throat
  • Purple Sunbird

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