Searching the Sandgrouse

Most of the living beings in this world adapt to the environment they live, except for humans who change the environment to the likes of them. In Rainforest its tough to spot even a very colourful bird because of the denseness of the forest and we thought in open desert sighting a bird is easier as its just open in front of our eyes. There was nothing to hide the visibility except for few shrubs or grasses. Still you won’t see any living being in the desert unless you really look for them.

mathi, barren terrain, jaisalmer , birding

The terrain seemed to be barren but actually it was full of life. We were looking for a bird which looked like a florican, which just ran away.

Birds are the most popular group in the animal kingdom. We feed them and tame them and think we know them. And yet they inhabit a world which is really rather mysterious.

 –David Attenborough

In the desert, if you wish to see Sandgrouse then find a waterhole. These Desert Water Carriers have adapted to the desert environment but they need water regularly as they are seed eaters. The Dads carry water to the chicks in their feathers. They are well adapted to desert.

Striolated Bunting , jaisalmer , fossil park

The desert birds are mostly seed feeders – Striolated Bunting one of them.

The entire week in desert we didn’t see even one sandgrouse closely. We always notice them only after hearing their wings flapping sound and by the time we focus of our eyes in that hazy weather, the bird would have gone inside another shrub. Its like they were always under our feet and we couldn’t spot them. So on the final day in the desert our only goal is to spot a sandgrouse before it spots us. We went to Akal Wood Fossil Park on our final day of the trip. The park has good bird population, but our eyes were searching only for sandgrouse. Our eyes scanned the bushes,shrubs but couldn’t spot them. Finally we saw a flock of sandgrouse flying over us. We were pretty sure then there was a waterhole nearby.

vinod, silhouette , jaisalmer, fossil park

Searching all the bushes was what we were doing.

We started searching for a waterhole. The first waterhole we spotted was empty and the second one had very little water. But the little birds like bulbul,wheatear were happy with that.  We were watching the birds happily chirping and bathing in that water, then there was a sudden movement in the nearby bush. A rabbit emerged out of the bush and ran to the next bush so quickly. We ran to that bush and by the time we reached the bush, the rabbit ran to its next hiding location. We were now so focused on the rabbit, we missed to see the sandgrouse who was sitting openly under a shrub. Cursing ourselves for losing our focus we returned back to the trail.

We reached the end of the park where the fossils were kept. We had our breakfast, previous night’s packed chapati with jam and rested for sometime as we were all tired.  We all were suffering from some form of allergies after a week in Jaisalmer as the town is very much polluted. And also searching for birds in the hot weather worn us out. Now on the final day of the trip we were all sucked out of our energy. Still the eagerness to see sandgrouse pushed us further.

Emu, jaisalmer, fossil park

Emus’s are not native to India. Somebody had let them loose and they were happily roaming around.

When we were resting, suddenly in distance there was a huge bird in the midst of the rocks. I was screaming “Indian Bustard” and at the same time thinking I was losing my mind in the heat as the Indian Bustards are only in Desert National Park. Looking through the binocular, we found out its a Emu. Laughing at the unexpected sighting we went to the third water hole.

There were lots of bushes for us to hide. So we set up our cameras and hid under the bushes. Bulbuls,sparrows,sunbirds,wheatears were chirping around us, but we were fully concentrated on our goal. After 20 minutes we heard the well known wings flapping sound. We all got ready and there they were ! A flock of Sandgrouse landed on the water hole and drank water. I was seeing their beauty through binocular and admiring, while others were clicking the cameras continuously.All these happened in few seconds and the flock flew away.

chestnut bellied Sand Grouse , jaisalmer, fossil park

Chestnut bellied Sand Grouse – The one we were searching. Sandgrouses have a unique habit of carrying water to their chicks by wetting their feathers and this one had come to do the same.

Even if its for just few seconds we were all very happy to finally see the Sandgrouse closely.

When we neared the entrance of the park, we saw few Emus standing near the trees and realized that, the Emu we saw earlier was from this park. We just shot few pictures of Emu as they were curiously watching us and continued to walk. But one of the Emus walked towards us and came so close to us. We were thrilled and bit scared realizing the size of the bird as it came very close. We just stood without moving, when the park guard came and called the birds. They turned their attention to him and we all quickly moved and went near the park guard.

Emu, shanti chellappa , jaisalmer, Fossil park

The emu’s were very friendly towards the end.

The park guard told us that not many tourists visit this place and even if they come they won’t walk till the end of the park. And he asked us to pay extra!! These funny things happen only in India. We paid the fees that was mentioned in the entrance and told him if there was a time limit that should be mentioned in the board.

Now we have ticked all our wishlists for this trip, we were happy to wind up our trip.



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