If the sound of the chirping birds draw you to the outdoors, then come to Gujarat. This place is an absolute paradise for bird watchers and spectacular sightings as it harbours more than 600 bird species.
Gujarat welcomes a large number of bird watchers every year, thanks to the vast sanctuaries, lakes and national parks. It is a hub where one can watch alluring birds in all their beauty and splendour. So, whether you are a seasoned bird watcher or simply pursuing a hobby, pack your bags and equipments and come to Gujarat. There are some amazing bird sanctuaries that will serve your purpose.
Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary
Nal Sarovar Bird Sanctuary is the largest wetland bird sanctuary in Gujarat, and one of the largest in India. Located near Sanand, this bird sanctuary is a lake which attracts over 210 species of birds during winter and spring. It is more famous for its migratory bird population of rosy pelicans, flamingos, white storks, brahminy ducks and herons. During monsoon, thousands of migratory waterfowl flock to this sanctuary. Wading birds are often found feeding in its shallow waters. If you visit the place between November and February, you can see more of these indigenous and migratory birds. The best time to watch Ducks, geese, pelicans and flamingos is during the wee hours of the day and in the evenings.
Gaga Wildlife Sanctuary
Gaga Wildlife Sanctuary is in the coastal area of the Gulf of Kutch enclosed by high tidal zone in the north and pastoral fields and wastelands in the south. It’s a secure abode for a variety of birds that flock to this place in winter, especially the enormous, pouched bills of serene white and large pelicans, textured and patterned feathered Spot-billed Ducks, and elongated & regal forms of flamingos. These birds along with demoiselle cranes and common cranes make this sanctuary an ecstatic locale for bird enthusiasts.
Thol Lake which is an artificial lake near Ahmedabad was declared a Bird Sanctuary in 1988 after water birds and migratory birds were seen building nests and breeding here. The lake is now home to 150 species of birds out of which about 60% are water-birds. The two most prominent species of birds recorded in the sanctuary are flamingoes and sarus crane. Thol Lake is also known as a very good habitat for waterfowl during the monsoon season, extending through the winter. Among the other birds that can be spotted here are Dalmatian pelican, greater spotted eagle, sarus crane, and the Indian skimmer which is a vulnerable species, and the critically endangered white-rumped vulture and Indian vulture.
Gir National Park
Although famous for its Asiatic lions, Sasan Gir is also rich in terms of avi-fauna. Gir National Park and Sanctuary has a wide variety of habitats- woodlands, grasslands, high hills, cliffs and ponds, which cater to the needs of different bird species, both resident and migratory. As a result, nearly 350 bird species can be found in Gir, some of which are also enlisted as endangered.
Some of the rare birds found in Gir are Greater Coucal, Spotted Owlet, Indian Nightjar, Little Swift, Common Hoopoe, and White Breasted Kingfisher. Bird watching tours are organized in the national park, and one can spot 55 types of birds in and around the Asiatic Lion lodge itself.
Hingolgarh Nature Education Sanctuary
The Hingolgarh Natural Sanctuary is home to nearly 229 different species of birds. The green patch of the sanctuary is in contrast with the barren zone of the neighbouring areas of Saurashtra. The park was declared as a sanctuary in 1980, and by 1984, it was recognised as an eco-educational centre. Native birds like the vibrant Red-vented Bulbul, twittering Green bee-eater, Spotted Dove, Wood Pecker are commonly seen flying and nesting all over the region.
Kutch Bustard Sanctuary
The Great Indian Bustard
Kutch Bustard Sanctuary, located in the Kutch District, is a breeding ground for the endangered great Indian bustard, the heaviest flying bird. It is a shy bird and a good flier but prefers to walk. In India, the total population of 3 species of Bustard – namely the great Indian bustard, the lesser florican and the Bengal florican – is estimated to be only about 1,000, out of which approximately 30 birds have been seen within the sanctuary. In all there are 23 species of Bustards found in the entire world. The magnificent, tall, long-necked great Indian bustard is the only one to have been recorded as endangered according to the 2009 IUCN Red List Category. The sanctuary is also home to harriers, common cranes, black partridges, sand grouses, black and grey francolin, spotted and Indian sand grouse, quails, larks, shrikes, coursers, plovers, flamingos, herons, egrets and sandpipers. Endangered species such as the Stoliczka’s bushchat and white-naped tit have also been sighted here, along with the migratory imperial eagle.
Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary
The Indian Skimmer
Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary in Jamnagar offers an incredible diversity of ecosystems. It has both, fresh water and salt water lakes, which creates an opportunity to observe diverse species of birds. There are the marine and fresh water habitats, and the marshy lands, mangroves, Prosopis areas, mudflats, salt pans, creeks, forest scrub, sandy beaches, and even farmlands bordering the area. A perfect haven for more than 220 species of resident and migratory birds! This includes globally threatened species such as Dalmatian pelican, Asian open bill stork, Black-necked stork, Darter, Black-headed ibis, Eurasian spoonbill, and Indian skimmer. A delightful feast for the bird enthusiasts!