Land of Indian Wild Asses and Indian Coursers

We had an early morning departure for the desert of Little Rann of Kutch. My personal target definitely was to find the spectacular Indian Courser. Traveling in an open jeep in such a chilling morning was not a fun. The vast area didn’t look like a classical sand dune desert. The flat grounds was interspersed by acacia-like bushes making the habitat more diverse than a desert. 

We had another species on our wish list. That was a mammal, the local endemic subspecies of Wild Ass (khur ssp). Our guide knew the desert quite well and he showed us this lovely animal quite soon. We found several small group of Indian Wild Asses with foals. It was a fun to photograph them in the rising sun. Another beautiful mammal, the Blackbuck were also found. We saw a gorgeous male with two females. 


Endemic subspecies of Wild Ass in the Little Rann of Kutch. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Balázs is trying to photograph a small group of Wild Asses. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Common Cranes shared the bare grounds with Wild Asses. © Gyorgy Szimuly

At sunrise calls of some Grey Francolins broke the relative silence of the desert. The grassy patches was found by large flock of Rose-coloured Starlings. Some birds allowed photographing them from a very close distance. Eastern Marsh Harrier, Besra, Shikra, Long-legged Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Greater Coucal, Laughing Dove, Eurasian Hoopoe (20), Green Bee-eater (60+), Brown Shrike, Rufous-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Siberian Stonechat, Variable Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, White-eared Bulbul, Grey-breased Prinia (lifer), Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Oriental Skylark, Eastern Yellow Wagtail (200!), Tawny Pipit (70) have been found in the desert. At a large lake in the desert Ruddy Shelducks, Greater Flamingos (8), Black-winged Stilts (50), Pied Avocets (120), Red-wattled Lapwings (40), Black-tailed Gidwits, Spotted Redshanks, Common Greenshanks and Brown-hooded Gulls (80) have been seen.


Black Drongo was a common species in the bushy areas. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Desert Wheatear was the most abundant of wheatears. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Some Rose-coloured Starlings was sunbathing in the morning while others were feeding on grasshoppers on the ground. © Gyorgy Szimuly

As we didn’t feel good we decided to return the hotel earlier than planned. Balázs suffered by indigestion while I had a cold and a light fever. However I suddenly forgot all my pain when we spotted a few Indian Coursers on an arable land. How nice bird it was. I have seen many awesome images taken by my Indian online friends and was stunned all the time I was watching them. This species is simply wonderful. There was another bird guide at the same location with a couple of Taiwanese. They informed us about a presence of a Sociable Lapwing as well. Unfortunately circumstances wasn’t perfect for photographing them but for a snapshot it was ok. On this single and not so large agricultural filed we also found 4 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses (lifer).


4 Indian Coursers have been found. © Gyorgy Szimuly

In the afternoon we allowed us a longer break in a hope to be recovered. Since we didn’t feel better by the afternoon but bored in the room at the same time, we left for an afternoon session of birding. At the time of our departure a nice flock of Lesser Whistling Ducks flew over the lodge. Actually we visited the same places as yesterday. Birds were quite the same but we had some nice chance to photograph birds in the region. We had two more lifers including a single Hume’s Wheatear and a small flock of Indian Silverbills.


The gorgeous Green Bee-eater was quite common. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Local people on the streets in traditional clothing. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Another golden moment of Indian logistics. © Gyorgy Szimuly

By the evening a some new guests arrived to the lodge. They all were known from the conference. Next morning we all spend together.


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