Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Chambal River (North India - Day 8)

Christmas morning was a bit of a disaster for Helen, she woke up with a migraine and was in no shape to go out birding. The Safari Lodge cottage was very cold too and it was pitch black outside. I resolved to obtain a hot water bottle, which after two trips to the kitchens I sorted. This helped. Me hanging around wouldn't help and she needed sleep so we agreed I should head out on the river cruise alone so to speak.

Out in the grounds of the lodge a Brown Hawk Owl was roosting:

We stopped at a few points on the road to the Chambal, spotting Jungle Prinia:

Desert Wheatear:

Crested Bunting - splendid looking bird this one:

Common Babbler:

Brahminy Starlings:

Variable Wheatear:

And the bird the guides got most excited about, a Sirkeer Malkoha:

Down by the river the lodge guards made tea and coffee before we (me, the guide, the guide from the lodge and the pilot) climbed aboard to explore the Chambal River.

A target bird for this part of the trip was the River Lapwing:

A bonus came in the form of a roosting Eurasian Eagle Owl, which is huge bird:

A more familiar species, the Pied Kingfisher:

We approached some islands in the river being used as haul out spots by the local Gharials, strange looking creatures:

Another such island accommodated my number one hope for the trip, the scarce Indian Skimmer:

Fabulous bill and plumage:

The guide snapped me taking these pictures:

Here you can see the Gharials closer-up:

As well as Marsh Crocodile:

A Black-bellied Tern flew past:

Before settling on another island:

We spotted some more land birds on various bits of the shoreline, including Black Francolin:

Bar-headed Geese:

Asian Pied Starling:

The cruise was very pleasant and back on land we had another cuppa before setting off back to the lodge. I was getting very twitchy and keen to check-in on Helen.

We did stop a couple more times for new species, including Black-throated Weaver:

associating with Ashy Prinia:

And the very scarce Red-necked Falcon:

Helen was recovering but we decided to take it easy for the afternoon, adding only a snap of a Yellow-footed Green Pigeon before retiring after dinner ahead of the mammoth drive on Boxing Day to Corbett in Uttarakhand.

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