In all national parks that have big cats, they tend to attain super star status. They dominate the conversation between guides, trackers, tourists and hotel staff. Be it tigers, lions or leopards.
When your jeep drops you off at your hotel, the hotel staff greets you with a drink, cold towels and the question " How many lions did you see? ". It is easy to get carried away by all the cat mania and count the day as lost if a feline was not glimpsed.
Gir is a birders paradise, and particularly so in summers. The brush is tinder dry and so drab, the more brightly coloured birds stick out like sore thumbs. Ive seen a lot of peacocks, but never have they looked more beautiful than in Gir. Take my word for it, my photos probably do not do them justice, but they are simply breathtaking.
During the evening, large numbers of them like to sit high up on electric pylons - the light is too poor to take pictures, but the unmistakable silhouettes look beautiful against the evening sky.
As the jeep drives through the forest, the sound of multitudes of chirping birds rents the air. This can be experienced in most forests, but what really pleased me was that you can actually see little birds going about their activities even as you drive past, they are so easy to spot among the bare branches! Minivets, tickels blue fly catchers, bee eaters, magpie robins are present by the thousands. They are no longer nameless chirps in a sea of leaves.
Of course, being able to see and being able to photograph are two completely different things. We saw a lot of dancing peacocks thanks to a heavy down pour on our first day at Gir. Unfortunately, peacocks dance for peahens; not for tourists. So most of the time, we get a back stage view of the performance. Thanks to K for lending me his peacock photo that Ive featured at the top of this blog.
The birds were great, but the real bonus was yet to come.
As we tore through the forest in the quest for lions, our hawk eyed guide abruptly pointed out a movement in a tree. We backed up and stared in the direction he pointed and saw nothing.
A closer look revealed a large monitor lizard that was pretending to be a gnarled branch.
Fortunately it moved and gave a better pose, allowing us to see it better.
I'm glad that I was able to capture the leathery quality of its skin thanks to the sunlight and the new camera. It was a first for all of us, apparently they are not easily spotted.
When not looking at lions, we saw :
Wooly necked stork
Red Wattled lapwings at nest
Small green bee eater
Plum Headed parakeets at nest
Eurasian thickknees at nest
Changeable Hawk Eagle at Nest
Honey Buzzard pair
Small grey un-identified woodpecker
Paradise Fly catcher ( Male, female, juvenile male )
Tickels blue fly catchers
Magpie Robin pairs
Red vented bulbuls
White Breasted KingFisher
Small blue kingfisher
Yellow footed green pigeon
Rose Ringed parakeet
Spotted Owlets at nest
I embed my Flickr photos in my blog, I do this because I have a Flickr pro account that gives me unlimited storage, and Flickr has some magic that makes my photos look some how better, no matter what the size.
I recently learnt that Flickr is still not visible in CamelCentral ( it is banned by UAE, Orkut is also banned )
So I thought I'd upload the gir photos of the previous blog to picasa ( not full size ), here is a shot slideshow of those, more will be added as I shake off laziness. :)
This post was delayed by too much work and too little electricity. The electricity part has been dealt with by investing in an inverter, photos can now be processed fearlessly. God bless Sukam and Exide!