Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Unforgettable moments at Velavadar National Park

To break down the intense cycle of daily disappointments and frustrations, I along with Vishnu got a chance to visit the Velavadar National Park in November and we had grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The visit could have been doomed by the impending super-cyclone 'Nilofer' but thanks to the almighty, it fizzled away before reaching the Gujarat coast. Hence, both of us along with our guide Ritesh Khatri were brandishing our weapons (read cameras) in the eerily quite park which was thus devoid of many visitors owing to 'Nilofer'.

The picture of these fighting black-bucks have to be one of the defining moments of the time spent at Velavadar. I have to confess that such moments are entirely capable of taking you into oblivion.

These animals mate throughout the year and during this point in time, the male Blackbucks strive to drive every other male out of its territory. In order to impose their superiority, they indulge in horn-fights. We captured this moment on one of the early morning safari's.

The park had opened in October and we had been there in early November. The grass was perhaps was too long enough to cover the Blackbuck completely. But the yellow and black colours made an amazing contrast.

While the male Black-bucks are a combination of brown and white with almost 30cm long horns, the females are small, look meek and are golden in color.

I was desperate to click the Common Cranes during my visit to the Little Rann of Kutch but the open landscape had made it intensely difficult for them not to sight me. There were thousands of Cranes then but I wasn't able to get a single picture. The sight of this beautiful bird beckoned us to go closer in Velavadar. We managed to not only click them but also managed to silently ogle at them for hours as they kept playing.

There are umpteen occassions when while in the park, you encounter these beautiful creatures crossing the roads. Sometimes they would nicely pose for you as well. Once while we were returning after an eventful safari, I clicked the first picture near the exit point as the outside world in the background became a huge blur.

I have clicked these naughty bee-eaters so many times earlier on many bird watching trips, but this has to be the best click so far.

I remember going mad after sighting Common Hoopoe in Navi Mumbai once and sulking after missing a good opportunity to click a picture. Alas! The wish did come true!!

When we saw the European Roller for the first time, we believed it was an Indian Roller. (Shame on us as we didn't bother to check the notes). Thanks to one of the guides who clarified.

The Blue Bulls are everywhere in the park. And they would pose happily for you as well. A lovely sight indeed!!

It's sulking time again! I clicked this picture on our way to Velavadar. It is not by any means the kind of picture which I will upload anywhere (from the quality point of view). I consider this as only a record shot and me lucky enough to sight the Sarus Crane family.

Another record shot. They DSLR zoom makes them look really near but they weren't. The predators of Velavadar - A Wolf Couple...

A couple of Black-Tailed Godwit's look on....

While some of the pictures above summed up our visit to this park, there is much more to it. The above picture again is a blurred one but the sighting of Lesser Florican - female was definitely a lifer!!

The Velavadar National Park is also known for being the largest roosting site for Harriers. We indeed got a chance to see many of them. Will definitely plan to visit the park yet again for photographing those wonderful birds of prey.

This entire trip was arranged by Mr. Ritesh Khatri whom we found equally enthusiastic as us. The time and effort he spent to make us comfortable were commendable. We'd always remember the enthusiasm he showed while chasing Sarus Cranes and when we were desperate to click Common Hoopoe. He lives in Ahmedabad and can be reached on +91 99092 43038.

                                                                          Au revior!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Road Signs of Ladakh

The roads across Ladakh with its curves and bends are one of the most dangerous roads I have ever come across. They are prone to shooting stones and the extreme climatic conditions make their maintenence very difficult. The Border Roads Organization who is responsible to maintain these roads are doing a commendable job. There are road signs everywhere and they are quite witty and full of humor. With these wise words, they want to ensure that the people driving on the roads reach their destinations safely.