Sunday, August 20, 2006

Nannaj - A Grass Land Sanctuary

One of the most endangered species of bird, Great Indian Bustard (Choriotis Nigriceps Vigors) , has a sanctuary named after him, "The Great Indian Bustard (GIB) Sanctuary", at Nannaj 22 kms from Solapur in Maharashtra. One of the very very few places, where these species can be seen.
The Government of Maharashtra declared GIB sanctuary in 1979 to conserve these highly endangered species. The sanctuary consist of the area of North Solapur, Madha, Mohol and Karmala talukas of Solapur District and Karjat, Shrigonda, Newasa talukas of Ahmednagar district covering total area of 8496.44 sq. km.
Last year I went to Nannaj with Adesh Shivkar & Dr. Vaibhav Deshmukh and had a wonderful experience. This time we were 18. Yes, 18 bird enthusiasts from Mumbai were in the land of GIB for 3 days.
Since the migratory visitors are yet to arrive only resident birds were seen. Obviously the main attraction was the King, Great Indian Bustard. We saw 2 of them, one in flight for few seconds and one for few minutes feeding himself, but at quite a distance from us. There are many other interesting bird species to be seen at Nannaj like Indian Courser, Chestnust-bellied Sandgrouse, Eurasian Thick-knee, Southern Grey Shrike, Bay-backed Shrike, Syke's and Indian Bush Lark,Quails, Partridges, Bonneli's Eagle and many many Blackbucks.
Praveen J, fellow birder from Bangalore was very keen to observe the Jungle Bush Quails, Grey & Painted Partridges. Myself & Parag managed to see Barred Button Quail. I had a wonderful experience to observe a Juvenile Bonnelis Eagle. The Eagle was sitting as usual on a termite mount and the Blackbuck females were grazing nearby him. One female Blackbuck disturbed that Eagle and made him to leave that place. The Eagle flew away, but within 2 seconds that fellow turned back towards the Blackbucks and now it was female Blackbucks turn to retreat. The Eagle again captured its throne, a termite mount. Amazing facts of wildlife!!!

Indian Coursers are the elegant fellows of the Grass Land. We saw pair of Coursers with 2 small chicks. The parent were so caucious and concerned about the safety of their chicks that both of them were on continuous look out for any possible even remote threat to their next generation.
We also saw a nest with chicks, of Small Minivets being attended by 3 pairs and 2 nests of Syke's Lark on the ground. Overall 73 species of birds were seen in 3 days.

Something Bitter: Forest Dept. has a rest house with 4 suits, of which 2 are always reserved for DFO [Divisional Forest Officer] and 2 normal rooms (dormitory class), and it has to be booked from Pune. Can't undersand this logic though. Why one need to book the rooms in Nannaj which is 22 kms from Solapur, via Pune?? Anyways, I must have called the Pune office atleast 10 times to confirm the booking. I got the oral confirmation from Pune. But the scene was different when we actually reached Nannaj. As per the Nannaj officials, they had not received any communication from Pune office. We all were like stranded totally as there is no other hotel nearby except Solapur. Finally we have to request them to get atleast one suit and others slept in the dining room. Also the food has to be arranged from the town, which is 1.5kms from the rest house. So when you go there, be preapared for inhospitable welcome!!