In search of Macqueen’s Bustard

My condition has not improved significantly by he morning. Balázs got better but I had a quite high fewer by the morning. What I wanted to avoid to stay home, so decided to took some more pills and joined the crowd. The convoy departed after breakfast which I apparently skipped. We visited the same part of the desert as we did last morning. The morning was beautifully sunny.


Indian Wild Asses were often escorted by Black Drongos. They hunted on the disturbed insects. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Galloping Indian Wild Asses made our morning. © Gyorgy Szimuly 

We soon fund some flock of Indian Wild Asses what others could photograph well. Dave, from the States, filmed them and we could chat a bit in the same car. It was a fun to follow the galloping group by our vehicle but was hard to photograph or film them in the shaking car. Only regular birds were seen here. We again found flocking Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouses. Altogether 45 birds were counted. 10 House Swifts were hunting above us while we watched for 30 overflying Great Knots. At the long lake River Terns were hunting while Indian Rollers, Brown Shrike, Desert Wheatears, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and Common Babblers were also seen.


Laughing Dove was very common in the region. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Grassy patches made the desert quite diverse. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Short-toed Snake Eagle. © Gyorgy Szimuly


The last lifer of our India trip, the Rufous-tailed Lark. © Gyorgy Szimuly

On our way back to the resort a Short-toed Snake Eagle was found. Another, apparently the last, lifer saved our not so productive morning. In a flock of Lesser Short-toed Lark and Crested Larks we found two Rufous-tailed Larks. We stopped by the arable land again and found 7 Indian Coursers. The single Sociable Lapwing was still present.


One of the ugliest shorebird ‘habitat’ on earth. © Gyorgy Szimuly


On our way to the desert we saw large salt works providing job opportunity for local people. © Gyorgy Szimuly 


Completely wet desert made crossing quite tricky and challenging. Anyway our guide solved it. The 4WD car was really powerful. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Only one afternoon remained to find the local speciality, the Macqueen’s Bustard. We asked local rangers and villagers for informations but no bustard had been seen in the past days. One of the reason could the be unusually high rainfall which made several part of the desert simply inaccessible. We found several good birds though including 2 Black-winged Kites, 6 Montagu’s Harriers, a Besra, 2 Shikra, a Black Stork and Indian Silverbills. In the villages Rose-ringed Parakeets were loudly communicating.


Kids were stopping by as we crossed the villages. © Gyorgy Szimuly


This image tells a story. It does’t belong to the happenings of 30 November. Our way back home was a complete torture what I would not wish for any of my enemies, if I have any. Out of the domestic flight in India all further flights (operated by British Airways) have been cancelled due to the snowy weather in London. Rebooked flight from Delhi to London made us temporarily happy but then the Austrian flight was again cancelled in London. We stuck in London for a night. The image of the two sick and tired adventurer was taken in the Hotel Mariott. The Christmas feeling and the nice dinner did not made us happy at all (moreover the wine thought to be good was obviously lousy but damn expensive). Finally we found a flight next morning (2nd of Dec) to Budapest so our hassle has not finished at all as our loves were prepared to wait for us in Vienna…

Finally I have to express my gratitude for those who made this trip possible:
Unknown Indian friends probably Arpit Deomurari and Vatsal Trivedi, who recommended me to be one of the participants of the 1st Global Bird Watchers Conference; Uttej Rao who kindly invited us and helped in the preparation of the trip; the Gujarat Government who funded our trip; Gaurav Kataria, who professionally organised a pre- and post-conference birding and became a good friend; Rajesh Batt, who was one of India’s kindest people, a guide during our Pangot stay; János Oláh who lend the Canon 500mm lens for the trip; Peter Csonka, who lend the Canon 40D for the trip; a very good friend, requested anonymity, who lend his Swarovski binocular, and spotting scope; and my ever very best friend and my fellow traveller, Balázs Molnár. Last but not least my wife, Andi, who cared our baby during my absence.


3 thoughts on “In search of Macqueen’s Bustard

  1. Hi, I am writing from Business Standard, a Indian newspaper. I work with their Delhi office and I am writing about the large numbers of foreigners who come to India looking for some of the rare species found here. I found out about your trip to India on Oriental Birding. There are a lot of pictures on website that would work very well as illustration for my article. For instance, a picture of you with your camera photographing a bird, or looking through the binoculars for species. Could you give me permission to use these? I would also like it if you sent me a few pictures in high res (around 300 dpi)?
    Thanks and regards,

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