Western India chiefly Gujarat is a diverse region with varied ecosystems. It has affinity with the Ethiopian Zoo Geographical region hence exhibits avifauna that is unique. Not a popular tourism destination some years ago the paradigm is changing. Paradoxically an industrial state little weight age is accorded to wilderness, nevertheless it survives and at some places it thrives.
The diverse topography of salt encrusted deserts, Moist forests of Dang, the tip of Western Ghats and not forgetting the terrible chaos of its urbanity amidst industrial towns all support life. The life support systems are Narmada, Tapti, Sabarmati, Mahi and many smaller rivers. A large network of lakes, estuaries, wetlands and the coastline at Arabian Sea support fragile ecosystems in Gujarat. Add to all this the mangroves, islands, coral reefs, thorny scrubs and beaches all give rise to tremendous diversity of life forms including the avian. Among the top destinations for bird watching are the Little Rann of Kutch, Khijadiya Sanctuary, Gir National Park, Banni grasslands, Velvadar, Thol and Nal Sarovar. The grasslands of Suarashtra support a large population of critically and rare population of lesser florican.
These are home to endangered species as well as migratory water fowls which arrive in thousands every year. At Kutch the Abdasa region the Kutch Bustard Sanctuary is a breeding place of this endangered species besides, lesser florican and houbara bustard. At Kutch coastline flamingos breed in substantial numbers.
Among the top birding areas are the National Parks and Sanctuaries which incidentally support many species of rare fauna. Many tours are organised in Gujarat for watching rare birds.
Gir National Park is home to the critically endangered Asiatic Lion but is a paradise for birding enthusiasts. Some of the species seen here are the vultures White Backed, Red and Long Billed, Greater Spotted Eagle, Palas’s Fish Eagle and wintering ducks. More than two hundred avian species can be seen here.
Little Rann of Kutch contains Banni Grasslands Common and Demoiselle cranes inhabit this area besides tawny eagle, Bonellis eagle, Imperial eagle and the spotted eagles. The extensive grasslands support many migratory and resident species.
Velavadar lies in the Bhal region of Saurashtra adjacent to Gulf of Khambat. One can also see the rare Sto;lizca’s Buschat, lesser florican, Montagu’s harrier, rosy and white pelicans and lesser flamingo. Dasada is an important gateway to Velavadar and offers good sightings of birds. Nalsaovar and Thol are conspicuous by their easy accessibility from Ahmadabad and support large number of waterfowls many of which are migratory.
Uday is a bird guide hence this article on birding in West India with emphasis on Gujarat. He has often visited Gujarat on tours. Uday works at parks in India as naturalist.