For someone wants to observe the “birds of prey” up-close, Tal Chhapar and Jorbeer in Rajasthan are two names that come to mind. We had our Wild India Eco Tours tour to these areas in February 2016 which yielded over 80 species with three species each of the Vultures, falcons, eagles, two species of buzzards that included some rare birds like the Saker Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard along with Indian Spotted Creeper, Eurasian Wryneck, Rufous-fronted Prinia, Variable Wheatears, Brown Rockchat and more..
We landed in Jaipur early morning and proceeded to Sujangarh in Churu district (our stay for the next couple of days). Once we were out of Jaipur, we were on lookout for any birds we may sight on way and soon we were greeted by a pair a Grey Francolins and a Lesser Flameback. We continued our journey and we finally halted at a spot where in we started to explore for the Indian Spotted Creeper. We also sighted the Brown Rockchat along with Long-tailed Shrikes, Rock-bush quails and Black redstarts. We had our lunch en-route and just as we were about to reach our destination, we sighted a Steppe Eagle, Common Kestrel, Shikra and the beautiful Red-necked Falcon.
Day two started early with a visit to the salt pans in outskirts of Tal Chhapar Sanctuary. The weather was still overcast which meant the light was pretty low for photography, however we still managed to capture some of the birds that we saw like the Pied Avocets, Eurasian Wryneck, Ruffs, Indian Eagle Owl and Common Redshank.
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Post a yummy local breakfast, we visited to the Goshala area where in we came across one of the key highlights of the trip – a battle between two Blackbucks that went on for around 20 odd minutes..! We were told that generally these battle last 2-5 minutes but this one just went on and on.
We also spotted the Rufous-fronted Prinias, Variable Wheaters, Black redstarts, Common Babblers, Southern Grey Shrikes along with the Indian Gerbills in this area; before we took a break for lunch.
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Post lunch, we visited the Tal Chappar Sanctuary. Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is a sanctuary located in the Churu district of Rajasthan and is known of Blackbucks and a variety of bird species. Due to overcast weather, we could not spot many birds although we did come across Common Cranes, Grey Francolins, a Monitor Lizard, Desert and Isaballine Wheatears, Common Kestrel and an Eastern Imperial Eagle.
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We had planned Jorbeer on day three hence we started as early as 5:30 AM. With some birding on way, we finally arrived at Jorbeer by 11:30 AM. We spent the next 6 hours (with an hour of lunch break) at Jorbeer observing the various birds of prey from close quarters like the Griffon Vultures, Egyptian Vultures, Cinereous Vultures, Steppe Eagles, Eastern Imperial Eagle and so on.
We also came across the Yellow-eyed Pigeons, Common Starlings and the rare Saker Falcon. The Saker Falcon is the largest among all the falcon species and is currently “Endangered” as per ICUN Red List of Threatened Species v3.1. We also saw Punjab Raven, Laggar Falcon, Long-legged Buzzards and White-eyed Buzzards en-route to Jorbeer.
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Finally it was the last day of the trip and we did one final session again at salt pans in Tal Chhapar outskirts. Sightings were similar to the 1st session however we also got to see a pair of Indian Fox this time along with a huge flock of Ruffs.
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Total species sighted: 87
Saker Falcon, Common Starling, Cinereous Vulture, Punjab Raven, Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Laggar Falcon, Red-necked Falcon, Yellow-eyed Pigeons, Rufous-fronted Prinia, Vairable Wheatear, Long-legged Buzzard, Indian Eagle Owl, Brown Rockchat, Eurasian Wryneck, Lesser Whitethroat