Friday, December 26, 2014

Weekend Birding in Thol Bird Sanctuary, Ahmedabad - 28th Feb to 1st March, 2015

Date: 28th Feb'15 morning 06.00 am to 1st Mar'15 eve 8.00 pm (travel days excluded). The bookings for Thol bird sanctuary (Gujarat) bird-watching trip are on… your seats now (see the details at the end)..... A Perfect Weekend Birdwatching in one of the highly recommended birding hot-spots in India with Nature India.


Thol Bird Sanctuary - A Birdwatching Surprise

Thol Sanctuary is located 40 kms northwest of Ahmedabad, in Mehsana District. This lake, created in 1912, covers 7 sq. kms of mostly open water. There are small marshes at the edges and some scrub forest on the sides of the high embankments.  In 1988, officially this Lake was renamed to Thol Bird Sanctuary. Thol name comes from the local village “Thol” situated near the lake.

Thol is in fact a man-constructed artificial tank utilized mainly for irrigation purposes that possesses 1450 hectares of command plot and 153 square kilometers of catchment plot. The shallow water reservoir speckled with reed beds gives it a distinct ambience while being an ideal dwelling for varied species of birds and insects. The agricultural land surrounding the lake provide ample amount of food for quite a number of birds while the hydrological ecosystem takes care of the others.

Thol promises a memorable birding experience and offers an incredible array of bird species, both resident and migratory. It is home to large nos. of visiting Great White Pelicans, Common Cranes and variety of waterfowls. One can even see (if lucky) some rare species like Mallard, Saras Crane, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-crested Pochard etc. It became particularly known in last few years when the critically endangered Sociable Plover were seen in the nearby areas.


Some other birds that can be seen in Thol are Eurasian Wigeon, Gargeney, Northern Shovellers, Common Teal, Common Pochard, Comb Duck, Spot-billed & Lesser Whistling Ducks, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Gray-lag & Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Several species of Egrets, Herons and Storks, Greater & Lesser Flamingos, Darters & Cormorants, Several species of Raptors that include Indian & Greater Spotted Eagles, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Steppe & Tawny Eagles, Booted Eagles, Marsh & Montagu’s Harriers, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Egyptian Vultures, Red-necked Falcon, Pregrine Falcon, Eurasian Hobby etc, Jacana’s, Swamphens, Waders and Grebes are abundant...


The adjoining scrubland and agricultural edges can fetch birds like Warblers, Prinias, Flycatchers, Robins, Redstarts, Bee-eaters, Stonechats, Starlings, Parakeets, Drongos, Woodpeckers and several other species of birds.

One of the finest places, a visit to this lesser known paradise is a must for all the enthusiastic birders and photographers alike. It is now slowly becoming a very popular birding destination in India.

Also on the way while going towards Thol we can see a place now wellknown for the critically endangered vultures, where atleast 3 species of vultures can be seen at a close range. This sanctuary has now become one of the most sort after places for birders of India.


Nature India has organized an exclusive weekend Birdwatching trip to this paradise from 28th Feb-1st Mar 2015 (travel days excluded).

Have a look at a couple of photoblogs on Thol Sanctuary, Gujarat

Trip Details & Itinerary
 28th February, 2015 morning 6.00 am to 1st March, 2015 eve 8.00 pm

Mode of Travel:

By Air:
Several option are available... Please book any flight reaching Ahmedabad on 28-Feb-15 by 06.00AM and leaving Ahmedabad on 1st Mar-15 by 10.00PM

By Train: Although several train options are available, but we suggest following trains, which suit the Itinerary.

Mumbai to Ahmedabad:
12901, Gujarat Mail (22.00 Mumbai Central) or 12267, ADI Duronto Exp (23:25 Mumbai Central Terminus)

Ahmedabad to Mumbai:
19144, Lokshakti Express (21.05 - Ahmedabad)
12902, Gujarat Mail (22.00 - Ahmedabad)
12268, BCT Duronto Exp (23:45-Ahmedabad)

Train bookings are easily available, but need to book quickly.... Participants have to book their own travel upto Ahmedabad....However  Nature India can only assist in bookings if required. 

Ahmedabad to Thol & Back: Trax Cruiser Jeep (The best travel option to move around the places quickly)

Rough Tour Itinerary : (Ahmedabad to Ahmedabad)

Day 1: Saturday 28th Feb, 2015 : Pick-up from Ahmedabad Station / Airport at 6:00 am –Check in the hotel - Breakfast – Proceed to Thol Bird Sanctuary (24 kms from Ahmedabad) - Full day birdwatching - Lunch - Continue birding in Thol - Checkin Hotel – dinner and Overnight stay at Hotel

 Day 2: Sunday 1st March, 2015 : Early morning breakfast - proceed for birdwatching at Thol Sanctuary – Packed lunch - continue birding @ Thol - Return by 6 pm to hotel - freshn up and leave to Board train from Ahmedabad

Trip charges (Ahmedabad to Ahmedabad : Rs.7800/- (Includes Stay in Hotel on  twin sharing basis, Local travel by Trax cruiser, Park entry charges, food , Information articles & on board snacks and mineral water)…….

These charges are Ahmedabad to Ahmedabad and participant has to make their own travel arrangement upto Ahmedabad and Back. This does not include any charges other than the above.

Group Size : 14 persons only

 You can register by sending a confirmation mail to and by paying non-refundable advance of Rs.5000/- (and only after our registration confirmation by return mail .....) as per the payment guidelines given below…...

Stay Arrangement: A comfortable Hotel near Thol Bird Sanctuary, Ahmedabad. The Stay arrangement is on a twin sharing basis. The Camp Premises and toilets are clean and the food is wonderful……

Resource Person: Mr.Adesh Shivkar and Mr. Mandar Khadilkar

Mode of Payment:
 You can either
1. Transfer non-refundable advance amount of Rs. 5000/- directly to Adesh's HDFC A/c : (please call Adesh @ 09869071091 for A/c no.) .... please mention your name, date and other details….OR

2. Courier a cheque of Rs.5000/- to the following address
Name: Mr.Adesh Shivkar
Address: D-8, The Adi Janata Society, Behind HP Petrolpump, Sion (East), Mumbai-400022.
Please Note:

1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 5000/- is strictly non-refunadable
2) The seats will be confirmed only against the advance amount on first come basis
3) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on Nature India Tours
4) Nest Photography or any collection of specimens is prohibited
5) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with Nature India's rules and policies

Please revert on ID, in case you need any clarification …..
For any other queries we are available on 9869071091 or 9820455713 (Adesh) or 9930318665 or 9967518665(Mandar)

Thanks for your patience.

Looking forward for a very rewarding trip with you all !!

Warm Regards,
Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar
Nature India
Appreciate, Respect and Conserve

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tal Chappar and Bikaner, Rajasthan - Raptors Galore (18th Feb'15 to 21st Feb'15)

Date: 18th Feb'15 08.00 am to 21st Feb, 2015 12.30 pm (travel days excluded). The bookings for our Super-Hot Destination Tal Chappar Wild Life Sanctuary & Bikaner - Bird- watching trip are on… your seats now (see the details at the end)..... Tal Chappar is an exciting Destination with a unique Grassland habitat surrounded by Desert that has recently come to limelight because of its Rarities....while Bikaner is wellknown for hundreds of Vultures and Eagles .... An offbeat destination that surprises any birder with its amazing quality and quantity of birdlife.....

TAAL CHAAPAR - A Grassland Oasis, Rajasthan

"Kesariya Baalam Aavo Ni, Padharo Mhare Des" this sign can be seen throughout the Shekhawati region of Rajasthan, to signify that THIS is the gateway to India. Perhaps this sign is best applied for the Migratory birds that enter the mainland India through this corridor..............
There are several incredible Bird-watching destinations in India.... some are frequently visited for their abundance and variety, while some are visited for the endemic species that they offer. However, there are very few destinations which can be termed as "Hidden treasures" and which have been seldom visited due to either ignorance or poor logistics..... Amongst them Tal Chappar WLS is on Top of the list.... It is truely an Oasis for Birds surrounded by Desert.

It is only in recent times that Tal Chappar has come to limelight, due to some credible work by Rajasthan's forest Dept. especially by the current DFO Mr.Surat Singh Poonia. He has transformed this place from a dry featureless scrubland to a bird rich habitat where amazing varieties and Rare species of birds can now be encountered.

The Tal Chappar sanctuary is located on the fringe of the Great Indian Desert and is Located at a distance of 220 km from Jaipur. It is a small but rich wildlife sanctuary in Churu district of Rajasthan between Ratangarh & Sujjangarh. The word "Tal" means plane land which is actually a flat saline depression with open grassland scattered with acacia and prosopis trees which give it an appearance of a typical Savanna. Tal Chappar Sanctuary is known for its enchanting natural beauty and a unique fragile ecosystem spread across 719 Ha. And is more famous for the amazing population of Black Bucks, having highest density in India harboring more than 2000 of these elegant antelopes.

The location of the sanctuary makes it suitable as a passage stop for many migratory birds travelling to India. Thousands of birds of various species either stop-over here on their passage to mainland India or spend most of the winter months in this bio-diversity rich grassland habitat.

Rarities Galore: Tal Chappar WLS has especially shot up in prominence due to some of the rare birds recorded here that include Yellow-eyed PigeonsStolickza’s BushchatSpotted CreeperLaggar FalconSpanish Sparrow, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Flocks of Demoiselle Cranes, European Turtle Dove, Lesser Kestrel, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Spotted Flycatcher, Singing Bushlark, Eurasian Skylark, Water Pipit, Sociable Lapwings, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, Raven etc.

The bounty of bird, spiny-tailed Lizards and rodent population also ensures incredible variety of Raptors including Greater & Indian Spotted Eagles, Tawny, Imperial & Steppe EaglesShort-toed, Booted and Bonelli’s Eagle, Harriers, Falcons, Sparrowhawks, White-eyed Buzzard , Indian Eagle-owl and several species of Vultures.

The park also harbours several other migratory and resident birds in good numbers including collard Doves, Greater Short-toed, Rufous-tailed, Crested, Indian Bush, Bimaculated and Oriental Sky Larks, Peafowls, Wheatears, Pipits, FrancolinsQuails, Wyrnecks, woodpeckers, Bee-eaters, coursers, Cuckoos, Warblers, Wagtails, Shrikes, Rollers and owls.

The Saltpans near the North-western corner of the Park attracts a number of waders and other waterbirds including Sandpipers, Godwits, Avocets, Ibis, Storks, Stints, Egrets, Herons etc. which adds significantly to the list of this unique landscape.

Apart from the rich avifauna, Tal Chappar also hosts several other fauna that can be encountered easily including huge nos. of Blackbucks, NeelgaiDesert Jerbils, Desert Fox and Desert CatIndian FoxHedgehogs, Mongoose, Spiny-tailed Lizard.

It is just amazing to see the plethora of fauna in a land otherwise known as impoverished desert….. The best time to visit the Tal Chappar Wildlife Sanctuary in Churu is from September to March.

(Some of the images in this blog are courtesy: Mr.Nirav Bhatt)

BIKANER -  Where Eagles & Vultures Rule the Sky

Do you know the only place in India, where the critically endangered species of Vultures are still found in thousands or Aquila Eagles cover the skies in huge flocks ????..... there is only one place - Bikaner 

Bikaner is a city in the northwest of the state of Rajasthan in northern India. It is located 330 kms northwest of the state capital, Jaipur. The city was founded by rajput Rao Bika in 1486 and from its small origins it has developed into the fifth largest city in Rajasthan.... it is more famous for sweets and snacks (or namkeens in Hindi).

One of the reasons why such huge congregations of Vultures and Eagles are still found in Bikaner is because of the Bisnoi community that dominate this place and their large no. of livestock. The people here do not send their cattle to abattoirs and instead dump the dead animals in the carcass dumping yard situated in a place close to Bikaner. Hundreds of dead animals are brought in here from the nearby places as a result the Vultures and scavenger Eagles are lured to this spot. One should see it to believe it. Literally hundreds of Steppe Eagles and Egyptian Vultures pour over the area like crows in our dumpyards. The trees are full with these raptors.

Apart from hundreds of Steppe Eagles and thousands of Egyptian vultures, there is a fair sprinkling of Tawny, Eastern Imperial and Greater Spotted Eagles..... along with Eurasian Griffons, Cinereous Vultures, Long-legged Buzzards, Laggar, Red-necked & Peregrine Falcons,  etc.

This lesser known place is also home to one of the globally threatened species – Yellow-eyed Pigeons. The nos. Of this species here is amazing and they too come here in hundreds..... a significant world-wide population.

The surrounding region also holds good bird species like Desert & Indian Coursers, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, Variable, Isabelline & Desert Wheatears, the rare Stolickza’s Bushchat,  Black Redstart, Crested Larks, Bimaculated Larks, Black-crowned Sparrowlarks, Punjab Raven, Demoiselle Cranes, Indian Peafowl, Tawny Pipit, Long-billed Pipit and numerous other species. 

Nature India has organized an exclusive Birdwatching trip to this paradise from 18th February, 2015 to 21st Feb, 2015 (travel days excluded). We shall cover The Grasslands of Tal Chappar, The surrounding Scrubland and Carcass dumping ground in Bikaner.

read our last years experience...

Have a look at some of the Trip reports & photoblogs on Tal Chappar WLS, Rajasthan


Tour Itinerary & Other Details:

Date: 18th Feb'15 morning 08.00 am to 21st Feb'15 eve 12.00 pm (travel days excluded)

Mode of Travel : Tavera Jeeps (From Jaipur to Tal Chappar to Bikaner) 

Overnight train travel can be booked from Mumbai..... however since it is a busy sector, the train bookings should be done soon to get the desired train and class .... there are several trains available for Jaipur from Mumbai....Nature India can ASSIST in bookings if required.

Rough Tour Itinerary:( Ex.Mumbai)
17th Feb'15 (Tuesday): Departure from Mumbai to Jaipur 12216 +DEE Garibrath Express. at 12:55 Hrs (from Bandra) or 12979 Jaipur Sup Fast Exp @ 15:45.

18th Feb'15 (Wednesday): Arrival in Jaipur (7.10am) - Breakfast - Proceed to Tal Chappar Sanctuary - check-in hotel at Sujjangarh-  Birdwatching in the park in evening - Night stay at Hotel in Sujjangad (10 kms from Tal-chhapar WLS)

19th Feb'15 (Thursday): Early morning bird watching @ Tal Chappar for Grassland species - Lunch - Proceed to the Scrubland and Saltpans towards North of Park and Cow shed area -  Return to Hotel in Sujjangad - Dinner and Night Stay.

20th Feb'15 (Friday): Early morning check-out and proceed to Bikaner city (160 kms) - Breakfast on the way - Visit the Bikaner carcass dumpyard for Eagles and Vultures - Lunch - Continue birding till evening - Checkin hotel in Bikaner for night stay.

21st Feb'15 (Saturday): Early morning Checkout from Hotel and visit other birding sites in Bikaner to see Yellow-eyed Pigeons, Desert Coursers, Black-crowned Sparrowlarks, Wheatears etc - Lunch and proceed to board 12489 +BKN Dadar SF Exp @ 13:50 from Bikaner

22nd Feb'15 (Sunday): Arrive in Mumbai on 2nd Mar'14 by 12.00 pm.


Trip charges (Jaipur to Bikaner only)............. Rs.16400/-

Includes A/C stay ((but basic)) in a hotel in Sujjangad on twin sharing basis with attached toilet and in a Homestay in Bikaner in Non-AC rooms on twin sharing, Travel by AC Tavera Jeeps - Jaipur to Tal Chappar to Bikaner travel, Park entry charges, vegetarian food , Guide charges, Information articles & on board snacks and mineral water…….

This does not include travel charges from Mumbai to Jaipur and Bikaner to Mumbai, Photography fees or any charges other than the above.

Group Size: Max.8 persons only

How to Registration: You can register by sending a confirmation mail to and by paying a non refundable Advance of Rs.7000/- after our registration confirmation on e-mail…..The remaining amount will be collected on the day of travel.

Kindly register soon as the train bookings are not easily available in this sector.

Stay Arrangement:
(In Tal Chappar) At BDS International, Near Sujjangad, Churu District in AC 
rooms on twin sharing basis. Note: This is a remote place in Rajasthan, where the facilities are extremely basic.... and this hotel is the only option for staying near the sanctuary.....however, the Hotel is clean and food is hygenic. the hotel is situated approx. 10 kms from Tal Chappar Sanctuary.
(In Bikaner) Vinayak Homestay, Bikaner

Resource Person: Mr.Adesh Shivkar, Mr.Mandar Khadilkar 

Mode of Payment: You can either
1) Transfer the advance money directly to the HDFC A/c (Please send a mail for details).. please mention your name, date and other details….
2) Courier a cheque of Rs.9000/- as advance amount to the following address

Name: Mr. Adesh Shivkar
Address: D-8, The Adi Janata Society, Behind HP Petrolpump, Near Sion Signal, Sion (East), Mumbai - 400022

Please Note:
1) Once registered, the amount of Rs. 9000/- is strictly non-refunadable
2) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on Nature India Tours
3) Nest photography or any collection of specimens is prohibited
4) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with  Nature India's rules and policies

Please revert on ID, in case you need any clarification …..

For any other queries we are available on 9869071091 or 9820455713 (Adesh) or 9930318665 or 967518665 (Mandar).

Thanks for your patience.

Looking forward for a very rewarding trip with you all !!

Warm Regards,
Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar
Nature India
Appreciate, Respect and Conserve

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Appreciate, Respect & Care for Nature