Searching for Indian Coursers
If you are looking for Indian Coursers then this is the kind of place that you will have to search. Not the most prettiest of places. Almost a barren waste land to the eye. Nonetheless Life survives in such terrain also. After couple of days of birding in Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur we wanted some change. Bharatpur is primarily for water birds, with its water ponds and channels . So if one is interested in habitat specific species then one has to search else where. The Indian courser is a medium sized bird, which is approximately the size of a hen. I could say it as the size of a lapwing but for people not aware of a lapwing this would be a more apt description.
The bird shown below is the one we were looking for. When you see the above terrain and the color of the bird then you can understand why it could be a pain to spot it. They have the habit of scuttling along the floor and stopping at intervals and then moving again. When they stop they merge to their surroundings.
The camouflage is a good thing because they could be prey to falcons which could be spotted in the area. Infact just when we started our search, one of the first birds we spotted was a falcon which whizzed pass the horizon. We could not identify the species as it was far away but the profile of a falcon is distinct. The place we started looking was a mustard field which was tilled recently. We were a little afraid initially that someone might object to us on walking in the field, but once we saw the cows our fear was gone. Since they were grazing freely we thought no one cared and started stamping!
Once we started the search and as soon as our eyes got settled on the new terrain , the place came to life. The first bird was the Desert Wheatear which is shown below. It is small bird about the size of the sparrow which feeds on insects.
Along with the Wheatear, we were able to spot Bank Myna , Large Grey Babbler , Southern Grey Shrike , Oriental Skylark and a Falcon. Apart from these there was also a pleasant surprise – an Egyptian Vulture.
He took off immediately. Maybe we were a little loud as we had fanned out to cover a bigger area and were shouting to each other on what we found. Not the ideal way to do birding ! Nonetheless we spotted what we came for and can you check the bird in the image below ?
Add the morning mist to the already camouflaged bird , the result is a near impossibility. There were three birds here and all were lying down. We decided to approach them for a closer look and for taking a picture. As we approached , few stray dogs came inbetween and we were worried that they might disturb the birds and our nightmare came true. They disturbed the birds and we lost track of them and again back to the drawing board, which in this case is the barren terrain !
We kept on walking here and there searching for them but could not find them anywhere. We knew that they were somewhere around the spot but could not spot them at all. In between this , those cows we talked about earlier were giving us the stare and one of them gave us the charge. We obviously ran away from there and it only added to the frustration, as we had spotted the coursers near the cows only. Since it was barren and open we cannot outrun a bull or hide anywhere, so we circled around the cows and continued our search. And FINALLY ….
Just when we decided to pack and go we got a glimpse. This time since no dogs were around we were able to approach them. These are shy birds and will not let you very close. We got the above image and a few others snaps and decided to leave the birds alone as they started foraging. So finally with the mission accomplished we started our return and on the way back stopped at a mustard field which was in full bloom.
After looking at barren lands all along, it was a welcome burst of colors and greenery. After the refreshing sight we headed back to Bharatpur and all we knew about the place was that it was on Bikaner Agra highway and was approximately 30 km from Bharatpur. We reached the place by learning about it from some person we met in Keoladeo National park. Usually name of the place gets stuck in our heads and we recollect it but in this case both of us lost track of it. So it earned a distinction as the place with no name and thus something extra special.