Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Around Gujarat in 5 days

Ok, so not quite up to the standards of Sir Michael of Palin but still some pretty mental travelling
After leaving Goa we arrived in Ahmedebad 24 hours later, via a 40 minute dash across Mumbai to a different train station, somehow avoiding the political riots as we went.
After arriving in Ahmedebad, cpaital of Gujarat we immediatley headed southwest to Sasan gir, pausing overnight in Junagadh. The obvious targets in Gir ereAsiatic lion and Leopard, our last chance of big cats in the country (Jungle Cat doesnt count). So, after our disappointment with tigers, di our luck change? Did it fuck!! Time and financial restraints meant we could only squeeze in one safari in the park itself and we fialed mmiserably. Some fresh prints and distant deer alarm calls being the closest we got. I reckon that there are no big cats in India, its all jsut a big con to lure in tourists, theyre just another asian myth, like yetis and straight politicians. Anyway, it wasnt a completely wasted trip. The guide assigned to us on our safari new his birds and the location of a Mottled Wood-owl roost site. Biridng aorund the buffer zone of the park was also fairly productive with a few new speices for the trip but nothing spectaular, one highlight was 5 wagtail species feeding together on a muddy riverbank.
I had a very close shave(literally) in Gir village just before leaving. While killing time waiting for our bus out, we decided to have a shave i na roadside barbers. While I was sat in the chair, JP decided to take a quick look outisde the shop, underestimated the height of the door frame and properly twatted his forehead on the frame. Obviously I found this highly amusing (as did all the vilalge kids who were watching the barbers first ever white customers) and broke into a fit of laughter, with the razor gliding over my throat. Luckily the barber was alert to the situation and pulled back before I could do myself a mischief.
Leaving GIR we spent a night in Jamnagar, before heading out to Dwarka, truly the seasdie town that they forgot to close down. It was quite an interesting town, wit hthe somewhat bizzare sight of a modern lighthouse postioned right next to most impressive 1000 year old Hindu temple. Hoever I didnt really give a shit about cultural bollocks like that and we went another 30kms north to the pretty industrial town of Okha. This journey was unddertaken in the most cramped shared jeep i've ever seen, JP was sat next to the driver with the gearstick wedged between his legs. His grimaces were getting worse as the driver shifted up through the gears, he was most relived that reverse wasnt called for at any point. On arrival at Okha we caught a cramped little boat (there appears to be theme developing here) out to Beyt Darka island, marched right past the temple and gathered pilgrims and holy men and out to the beaches on the North-east side of the island with one goal in mind. Our luck was in and the tide was out, leaving a hige expanse of shallow coral reef which was covered in feeding birds, including about 15 Crab Plovers, awesome birds, like soem hideously deformed Avocet. After getting good views of these crackers, we turned to head back to try and catch the last boat back to the mainland. As we were walking a large bird flew quickly overhead and I raised my bins to see the unmistakable silhouette of an Indian Skimmer!!! I had totally forgotten that these things are recorded occasionaly in the Gulf of Kutch, what an excellent surprise. We got the boat back at sunset, and watched holy men lobbing bread at Black and Brown-headed Gulls, only to be shat all over in return, it wa hard not to giggle at them too much.
The next day we had a quick look at the salt pans north of Dwarka and picked up loads of new species inlcuding Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Great-white Pelicans, assorted waders and wildfowl and quality raptors inlcuding Long-legged Buzzard and Booted Eagle. Frome Dwarka we went back to Jamnagar and then caught a surprisingly comfortable sleeper bus 13 hours north-east to Udaipur, where we are now. A quick looka round the lkae next to the town this morning revealed loads more new waterfowl and 4 showy Painted Snipe. We leave here tomorrow for Jodhpur, on the edge of the Thar sesert and from there out Jaislamer before flying out of Delhi a week today. Time has just disappeared and we've had to remove a few items from the schedule , i jsut dont know where it all went. Anyway, cant write any more, the power has just gone and i'm running on the last bit of battery, more later!!!


Ramit Singal said...

Ahh! A pity that all the big cats have eluded you.

Which 5 species of wagtails did you spot together? White, Citrine, Yellow, Grey, and Pied?

Did you spot the Heuglin's Gull?

Joe Cockram said...

Hi Ramit, the wagtails were White, Citrine, Yellow, Grey and White-browed.

Got Heuglins Gull from the boat over to Beyt Dwarka, and narrowly avoided being shat on by them!