Welcome to Birds of Gujarat
More Than 345 Species…
More Than 290 Birding Locations…..
Gujarat – the land of BIRDS……
Gujarat is one of India`s most prolific birding areas. It has a variety of habitats including the saline desert wilderness of the Great and Little Rann of Kutch, the arid grasslands and scrub of Banni in Kutch and the Kathiawad Peninsula (Saurashtra); a 1666 km long coastline with offshore islands like the 42 in the Gulf of Kachch Marine National Park, the dry deciduous forests of Gir and Barda Hills, the moist deciduous forests of South Gujarat, and mountain ranges like the Aravallis of North Gujarat, the Satpura and Vindhya hills of Eastern Gujarat and the Sahyadhris of South Gujarat.
This geographic diversity and the state`s location on the migration route of many birds heading south from the Palaearctic ensures that visitors to the state return with an impressive list of bird sightings. The wetlands in the arid regions of Kutch and Saurashtra attract an immense variety of birds in large flocks during the winter months when migration is at its peak.
Gujarat is also the breeding area of many birds including endangered species like the Lesser Florican and Great Indian Bustard that nest in the grasslands. Large heronries can be seen at the Marine National Park and along the Bhavnagar District coastline. Below are five of the very best bird locations in the state.
In addition, Kutch District is amazing for desert and wetland birding, Gir is also interesting for birders. The Union Territory of Diu, an island offshore from Gujarat, has a Bird Sanctuary that is good for coastal bird watching.
Gujarat has an unrivalled diversity of eco-systems reflected in the rich and varied birdlife of the state. Ranging geographically from the moist forested hills of Dangs district in the south-east to the salt-encrusted desert plains of Kutch district to the north-west, Gujarat has deciduous forests like Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary, vast grasslands of Kutch and Bhavnagar districts, scrub-jungles, river-systems like the Narmada, Mahi, Sabarmati and Tapti, a multitude of lakes and other wetlands known for their birdlife, and a long coastline with two gulfs, many estuaries, beaches, mangrove forests and offshore islands fringed by coral reefs inhabited by marine life.
Lying on important flyways for millions of birds migrating south in winter, the wetlands of Gujarat are a paradise for birdwatchers. A large percentage of the world population of Demmossile and Common Cranes winters in Gujarat. Congregations of resident and winter-visiting ducks, geese and waders at lakes, marshes, coastal creeks and estuaries of Gujarat can be seen in numbers beyond comprehension in winter. At the wetlands, huge flocks of flamingos, pelicans, storks, ibises, geese, ducks and other birds can be watched.
Gujarat has important habitats of critically-endangered White-backed and Long-billed Vultures. About half the world population of the endangered Lesser Florican breeds at the grasslands of Saurashtra, Kutch and Dahod district during the monsoon months. Kutch has a significant population of the endangered Great Indian Bustard, flagship of India’s bird conservation movement, with a sanctuary created to protect this species in Abdasa taluka of this district. Other species likely to interest a birdwatcher visiting Gujarat are the Indian Skimmer often seen at Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary, the Stolikcza’s Bushchat that could be seen at Velavadar National Park and the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary of Kutch district, the White-naped Tit that can be seen in Kutch district and the Saras Crane that breeds in Gujarat. Two vulnerable species of eagle, Imperial and Greater-spotted, inhabit Gujarat in winter.
Gujarat also has spectacular flamingo colonies in the Great and Little Rann of Kutch, the only known regular breeding areas of the near-threatened Lesser Flamingo in India.
Outside the four national parks and 21 wildlife sanctuaries too a variety of birds can be seen in Gujarat because of the conservation efforts of the local people who are known for their compassion for animals. Even in congested city and town centres of Gujarat, like the pols of Ahmedabad, birds gather at bird-feeding structures called chabutaras or parabadis, and many houses give grains to peafowl, parakeets and other birds in their gardens. A good number of bird species can be seen at parks, gardens and lakes in cities, towns and villages of Gujarat.
See below for the top sanctuaries and National Parks
Besides the four bird sanctuaries, and other wildlife sanctuaries of Gujarat, the state has a number of other wetlands that are also good for birds like Nani Karad in Navsari District, Vadvana and Timbi in Vadodara Disrtrict and Subapura in Patan District. Kutch and Surendranagar districts have a number of reservoirs that attract birds in large numbers in winter.
An interesting bird-viewing route is the highway from Kheda to Khambat that passes a number of wetlands inhabited by vulnerable species of birds. While driving on this highway, watch for birds at the paddy fields of Kheda district like the Saras Crane, a vulnerable species that breeds in flooded fields, Openbill Stork, Black-headed White Ibis and egrets. The canals and pools on the roadsides in this well-irrigated district offer opportunities to get close to waterhens, moorhens and other birds. The highway passes Narda Lake, with thick aquatic vegetation near the shores, where brilliantly-coloured Purple Swamphen can be seen. This is a good place to see Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas. Jacanas are called lily-trotters as the webs of their feet spread like spiders to balance gracefully on aquatic plants as they walk over the vegetation. Scan the lake with binoculars to see large flocks of resident and migratory ducks. A little further ahead from Narda towards Khambat is Periej, a large reservoir where large congregations of ducks and other birds can be seen. Other important wetlands for birdwatchers in Kheda district are Kanewal, Daloli, Gobrapura and Machial. The Mahi River has its estuary near Khambat where pelicans are seen in good numbers and a variety of waders can be watched.
Another route interesting for birdwatchers is the road from Jamnagar to Dwarka with reservoirs located off the highway like Sinhan and Khambaliya that are excellent for cranes, ducks, pratincoles, plovers and other birds. Closer to Dwarka is a detour to Charakla, with its salt-works, fisheries and shrimp breeding centres, which is an important bird area listed by International Bird Conservation Network. Thousands of flamingos and hundreds of pelicans can be seen here. There are chances of seeing four or five species of gulls in a single visit and a good number of terns. This is one of the few places in the Indian peninsula where the Caspian Tern nests.
Lakes at cities of Gujarat are also excellent sites for birdwatchers. Large flocks of White Pelican can be seen Lakhota or Ranmal Lake in Jamnagar, and nearby water bodies in the city, which also attract a variety of ducks and waders. More than 75 species of birds have been recorded in and around the lake. The Victoria Park and neighbouring Gaurishankar Lake in Bhavnagar comprise a very good bird-viewing area with an impressive checklist of birds possible over a three or four hour walk along the park trails and on the embankments of the lake. The New and Old Port of Bhavnagar also offer good bird-viewing, including huge Western Reef Egret heronries, and the city-centre parks like Pill Gardens are breeding areas for the near-threatened Painted Stork.
Rajkot has good birdlife at lakes and dams in and around the city. The Hamirsar Lake in Bhuj and areas prone to flooding in its vicinity are very good bird sites in years of good monsoon.
The medieval Kankaria Lake in Ahmedabad is also visited by a good number of bird species and the trees of the zoological and other parks in the vicinity provide suitable nesting areas for Spoonbill, Black-crowned Night Heron and other birds.
Birdwatchers will find a good number of species at the forests, reservoirs and streams of Narmada District, and can also delight in watching birds at places along the canals like the Bhashkarpara wetland, a tank in Surendranagar District near the Narmada Canal where counts have exceeded 20,000 waterfowl and lists include specialty birds of river-systems like the Indian Skimmer.
Like the Rann of Kutch, the Banni area is a low-lying plain said to have been formed from the silt left by the Indus River that once flowed through this region. This is one of the largest grassland tracts in India with an area of over 3800 sq km with around 40 different species of grasses. This area is widely recognised as important for birds because of its location on the flyway for many migratory species and migration studies have been conducted here by well-known organisations like the Bombay Natural History Society. The main focal point for those interested in birds is Charri Dhand, a lake near Fulay village, which in years of good rainfall is a birdwatcher’s dream destination. This lake is visited by large flocks of Demoiselle and Common Crane, said to be a large share of the world population, and equally impressive flocks of myriad duck species. The mix of grasslands, scrub and wetland also make this a heaven for raptors (birds of prey) with the Tawny Eagle and Bonnelli’s Eagle breeding here and Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle and Steppe Eagle wintering in the Banni area. Endangered species like the White-backed and Long-billed Vulture are seen in the Banni area. White-naped Tit is a vulnerable species of the Banni region.
Barda Hills Sanctuary
Walking down the trails after reaching the Kileshwar Temple complex, gives you chance to spot nesting Pond Heron, nesting of Cattle Egret, Indian Pitta, Great-breasted Warbler, Whiteeye, Spotted Munia, Little Egret, Green Pigeon, Red-vented Bulbul, Indian Robin, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Paradise Flycatcher, Spotted Dove, Magpie Robin, Black Ibis, Nesting Sandgrouse, Common Iora, Pied Cuckoo, Indian Peafowl, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prinia, White-breasted Kingfisher, Little Ring Dove, Pearl Spotted Owlet and also experience nature untouched by humans. Other wild life found here are: Jackal, Wolf, Jungle cat, Mongoose, Rabbits, Porcupine, Hyena, Civet, Cobra, python, Blue Bull, Mugur crocodile, etc. Barda hills are located about 90 Kilometers from Jamnagar…
Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary
Gir National Park & Wildlife Sanctuary is internationally known as the remaining habitat of the Asiatic Lion. For birdwatchers, Gir is an interesting place to see raptors like the critically endangered White-backed and Long-billed Vultures, near threatened Red-headed Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, vulnerable Greater Spotted Eagle and the endangered Pallas’ Fish Eagle. Crested Serpent Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle and other magnificent birds of prey nest in the forests of Gir. Even non-birdwatchers will enjoy seeing attractive birds like the Asian Paradise Flycatcher that looks fairy-like as it flies with its tail feathers trailing behind, the brilliant golden yellow Black-hooded Oriole, the Blossom-headed Parakeet, the Painted Francolin, Painted Sandgrouse, the colourful Coppersmith Barbet and myriad flycatchers. The water bodies like Kamleshwar Dam are also good sites for birdwatchers. Darters, Painted Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, motley species of ducks and other waterfowl can be seen at this dam and at other wetlands of Gir, and the vulnerable Indian Skimmer is also known to visit the water bodies in the sanctuary.
Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary
Close to Jamnagar, the Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary is one of the top sites for the Indian Skimmer, a vulnerable species that most birdwatchers want to have on their list of sightings in India. The Indian Skimmer is a delightful bird to watch with its striking red bill and black-head standing out against its predominantly white body. A unique feature of the Indian Skimmer is its bill that has a longer lower mandible than the upper one enabling it to feed while flying over the surface of the water with only the tip of its beak skimming the surface, a graceful sight to behold.
The bird sanctuary is unique in having fresh-water lakes on one side of the road bisecting it and salt water marshes on the other. Driving or walking on the road offers a good opportunity to scan both kinds of wetlands to see a variety of wading birds that are characteristic of each. The sanctuary has resident populations of Nakta or Comb Duck, Spot-bill and other ducks and also attracts large flocks of migratory ducks like Shoveler and Pintail. It is an important site for the Baer’s Pochard. The Black-necked Stork nests at Khijadiya. This is also one of the few sanctuaries in peninsular India where the Crested Grebe breeds. Khijadiya is also the breeding area for a number of wading birds.
Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary – The largest wildlife reserve in Gujarat is the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary, comprising more than 7500 sq km which includes part of the Great Rann of Kutch. This sanctuary is specially noted for the area called the Flamingo City near Solanki Bet. The marshes of this great sanctuary The breeding of the White Pelican and Avocet also been recorded here and nowhere else in India, and many other interesting species of birds can be seen at the marshes of the Great Rann of Kutch. Most of the mammals seen in the Wild Ass Sanctuary are also found here.
Little Rann Of Kutch
Once part of the Arabian Sea, the Great and the Little Rann of Kutch were separated from each other and from the Gulf of Kutch by silting and other geographical forces. In the monsoon, the Great and the Little Rann of Kutch are inundated with water. As they dry in winter, the land gets converted into a salt-encrusted desert landscape interspersed with elevated areas called `bets’ or islands that are vegetated as they fall above the water-level and wetlands. This unique landscape harbours a rich and varied birdlife typical of the habitat.
This sanctuary is a paradise for birdwatchers because of its range of habitats from the salt-encrusted desert landscape to vegetated elevated patches called bets that were probably islands when the Little Rann was an arm of the Gulf of Kutch to wetlands left behind after the monsoon months when the Rann is inundated with water. Indian and Spotted Sandgrouse, Desert and Pied Wheatear, more than 10 species of lark, and other birds characteristic of the desert habitat are seen when driving around the Rann. White-eared Bulbul, Indian Courser, Stone-plover and shrikes are seen in the scrubby and grass-covered areas of the sanctuary. In winter, the sanctuary is visited by the near-threatened Macqueen’s Bustard. It is also an important area for critically threatened vulture species and vulnerable species of eagle.
The wetlands attract large congregations of birds and are best visited in winter when migrating birds join the residents. Both the species of flamingo found in India and all the three species of pelican have been seen at the wetlands, and the marshes of the Little Rann are the breeding site of thousands of Lesser Flamingo. Large flocks of Demoiselle and Common Cranes, a variety of ducks and two species of geese visit the wetlands in winter. This sanctuary is also the habitat of the Sarus Crane. Three species of ibis, Spoonbill and flocks of godwits, stints, sandpipers, shanks, moorhen and other wading birds can be seen at the water bodies.
Marine National Park
Offshore from the southern coast of the Gulf of Kutch, 42 islands sit like little gems in the Arabian Sea. Fringed by coral reefs and mangrove swamps, these islands are a treasure-trove of marine species and a paradise for birdwatchers. In 1980, Gujarat notified India’s first Marine Sanctuary covering about 460 sq km of the coastal zone including most of the islands, and two years later about 162 sq km from this was accorded further protection as India’s first Marine National Park.
About 80 bird species are recorded on the islands including Crab Plover, Kentish Plover, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Sanderling, Little and Temmick’s Stints, sandpipers, herons and godwits. The highlight of islands like Pirotan and Narara is seeing large flocks of Crab Plover. The swamp forests of the islands, featuring about seven species of mangrove, have breeding colonies of near-threatened species like Painted Stork, Darter and Black-necked Ibis, and other birds like egrets and herons. The islands are also breeding areas for terns and other birds.
On the boat crossing to the islands, there are chances of seeing Pallas’ Fish Eagle, Osprey and other raptors.
Another significant grassland habitat of Kutch is the Great Indian Bustard Sanctuary at Lala near Naliya in Abdasa taluka. Though covering only about 20 sq km of area, this grassland is very important for birdwatchers as perhaps the only sanctuary in India where three species of bustard are found – the endangered Great Indian Bustard is resident here, the endangered Lesser Florican breeds here during the monsoon months, and the near-threatened Macqueen’s Bustard is a winter visitor.
There is a good drivable track through the sanctuary that offers a chance of seeing the endangered Great Indian Bustard and a variety of other birds like the Black and Grey Francolin, Spotted and Indian Sandgrouse, quails, larks, shrikes, coursers and plovers. This sanctuary is also interesting for birdwatchers as vulnerable species like the Stoliczka’s Bushchat and White-naped Tit could also be seen. The sanctuary is important for birds of prey like the Imperial Eagle that visits in winter.
The sanctuary extends north towards the creeks of Jakhau along the coast of Kutch where large flocks of flamingos, herons, egrets, sandpipers and other birds can be seen.
Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary
The highest count of birds in the state is usually at the Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary, a shallow freshwater lake that is among the largest of its kind in India with hundreds of islands dotting its expanse of more than 100 sq km. About 250 species of birds have been recorded at this sanctuary and a birdwatcher can hope to record 100 or more on a winter day when Nalsarovar is one of the most important wintering areas for waterfowl in Gujarat with a waterfowl count yielding 190,000 birds.
A country boat ride on the lake is a beautiful experience. As the boatman poles the boat through the aquatic grasses towards more open waters, you are treated to the sight of magnificently-coloured birds – both the species of flamingos and all the three species of pelicans found in India have been recorded at the sanctuary, and spectacular flocks of Demoiselle and Common Cranes, geese and myriad duck species can be seen here in winter. Brilliantly coloured birds like the Purple Swamphen and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, and a number of other wading birds, can be seen working the shallows of the lake. This is also the hunting ground of vulnerable species of raptors like the Pallas’ Fish Eagle and Greater-spotted Eagle. Sarus Cranes breed near the lake and other birds have been known to nest on the islands.
Thol Bird Sanctuary
The Thol Bird Sanctuary north of Ahmedabad, in Mehsana District, comprises a lake created in 1912 when the Maharajas of Baroda ruled parts of this district. There are good chances of seeing the Sarus Crane in the fields flooded by channels and overflow from the lake and a huge variety of birds can be seen when approaching the lake at the pools and canals. The lake is a good place to see White Pelican and Painted Stork in large flocks and a variety of ducks. Do not ignore the scrub along the embankments where a good number of birds can be watched. The low trees along the lake sometimes harbour nesting birds.
Velavadar National Park
The Savannah-like grassland of Velavadar National Park is one of the most important sites in India for the vulnerable Stolizca’s Bushchat. The Sarus Crane is another vulnerable species seen at Velavadar. This park is also good for Grey and Painted Francolins, quails, larks, wheatears, swallows and other birds. Three species of sandgrouse could be seen coming to the waterholes in the park for their mid-morning drink. In the monsoon months, Velavadar is one of the most important breeding sites for the Lesser Florican that displays by jumping in the grasslands. The park is usually closed at this time of the year but the surrounding Bhal area could yield a sighting of this endangered species. The park is also the hunting ground of Imperial, Steppe, Greater Spotted and Short-toed Eagles, many species of falcon, and hawks.
But a winter evening is the time for Velavadar’s greatest spectacle, the arrival of Montagu’s, Pallid and Marsh Harriers in numbers known to exceed 1500 from nearby cotton fields and grasslands, for their evening roost.
Wadhwana Lake is ready to welcome a large number of winged visitors leaving the cold climes of their breeding grounds in Northern Europe and Asia.
Vadhvana Lake Dabhoi Wadhwana Bird Sanctuary Vadhvana Bird Sanctuary A huge water reservoir to make provision for irrigating nearby fields or a vast wetland, are synonymous with Vadhvana. Located at a short distance of 40 kms from Vadodara City and 112 kms from Ahmedabad, Vadhvana is well connected through rail and air, nearest railway stations and airports being at Vadodara and Ahmedabad respectively. Vadhvana Lake Dabhoi Gujarat Also, known as Vadhvana, it is the second largest lake in Gujarat and was built at the initiative of Sir Sayajirao Gaekwad, the then King of the State of Vadodara. Vadhvana is famous as an irrigation reservoir and has been acting as water source for 25 nearby villages. It is located at a distance of 10 kms from Dabhoi and 20kms from the famous Jambughoda Sanctuary. The wetland is a popular sightseeing spot because of the natural beauty and for a great number of birds that flock the region. The prominent bird species include Stork, Tern, Ibis and Spoonbill. Since, many migratory birds flock the region during winters, it is a great eco tourism spot as well. The major months, which see the bird movement to this area, are October to March, when the place hosts numerous birds from all over the world, and this is hence, the best time to visit the place. There are great arrangements for camping at the site, to boost tourism and improve regional economy. The campsite provides facilities for orientation at the centre, cottage or tent facilities as per the patron’s adventurous spirits, bird watching towers, boat rides till the wetland to enhance the bird watching experience for the visitors and separate camp fire facilities as well.
Birds of Mahi River Estuary :
A total of 118 species of birds have been recorded which were found to be confined within the lower reaches of the Mahi River estuary before it eventually merges into the Arabian Sea. Coupled with the adjacent ravines, gorges and bushy habitats, numerous terrestrial and aquatic birds find a most favorable environment suiting their natural requirements. However, this number of avifauna would have definitely been larger, if not for the Vadodara industrial zone contaminating the upstream estuarine regions with their petrochemical and other organic wastes.
Several dams are located on the Mahi River and its various tributaries. The most important of these is the Kadana Dam and the Wanakbori Weir. The Bhadar Dam is located on River Bhadar, the Panam Dam on Panam River, Hadaf Dam and Umaria Dam on the Hadaf River, Karad Dam on the Karad River, and the Goma Dam is located on the Goma River tributary of the Mahi River. All these water resources immensely contribute to the agricultural growth and development of their respective regions of Gujarat State.
Porbandar Bird Sanctuary
Although Porbandar town has a Bird Sanctuary, on most visits I have found more birds at the creeks. This is a mind-blowing area to view and photograph Flamingos that allow you to get quite close as they are used to the bustle of the town surrounding them. A wide variety of other wetland birds can be seen in town and on the road to Dwarka, and also, coastal species by the sea.
Porbandar Bird Sanctuary is located amid the city of Porbandar flaunting the co-existence of man and nature. Spread over an area of 1 square kilometer this unique water dwelling, surrounded by trees and plants was affirmed as a sanctuary in the year 1988.
The splendorous beauty of the place though not reflecting any emergent vegetation is enriched by the migratory birds visiting this area every year. The multihued, textured feathered creatures with their harmonious twitters and chirrups identify this area as a popular destination for ornithologists. Varied species of birds in all shapes and sizes fly in every year enlivening the area with varied colors; patterns and making this zone a home and their nesting ground. Water birds are often seen splashing in the freshwater lake while the sky touching flights of certain birds bedecks the firmament.
Flamingos, Grebes, Pelicans, Ducks and geese, Avocets, Coots, Cormorants, Herons, Egrets, Bittern, Storks, Ibis, Spoonbill, Cranes, Whistling Teals, Gulls, Terns, Jacanas, Ruff, Red shanks, Indian roller and many other varieties of winged creatures are seen in this area.
Visit the locale in winters when millions of birds reside in this locale making it the most picturesque shelter for bird lovers and the birds. Spend an entire day away from the hustle-bustle of the city and daily life enjoying as the nature creation visit their seasonal homes. It is easy to catch a close glimpse of the birds residing and nesting in this area.
Pariej wetland located in gujarat near Kheda. Distance from ahmedabad is 60km. Lots of natural attractions and wetlands area. There are lots area near forest department to be visited for birdwatchers. Best time to visit is December to April. Birds are Black throated munia, Grey headed canary flycatcher, Red Avadavat, Red Breasted Flycatcher , Pied kingfishers, Osprey, Ashy crown sparrow lark, Creasted lark, Gull Billed tern, Purple swamphen, and the most i like Sarus Crane. The largest number of sarus crane is found here. As well as the migratory lesser flamingoes, Ruddy shelducks, common redshanks, Eurasian spoonbills & white strocks.
Birding Do’s and Don’ts
Wear comfortable clothing
– shoes or boots made for walking on trails, through puddles and mud. No platforms or high heels
– Dress appropriately for the weather, and in layers.
– Bring bug spray in season.
Avoid bright or noisy outerwear. Avoid bright reds, whites, yellows. If possible dress in drabber colors.
Nylon wind breakers make a substantial amount of noise (really!). Pay attention to your surroundings.
Even when conversing with others, scan for movement.
Train your ears. Even if you don’t know local bird songs, sounds are usually the first clue to the presence of a bird. Track down those elusive “chips” and keep alert for the sound of something “different.” Know the birds of your area. Spend time with a field guide or a state or local check-list, so you know what birds to expect before you see them. Know your local habitats and which birds to expect in each habitat. Move slowly and smoothly. You will see a lot more by staying inconspicuous but attentive than by charging through the woods (and so will anyone with you).
Converse in loud tones or shout. With a group of 15 people, all disturbances are magnified.Remmber two is crowd for birding. so if you are arranging group trip please make group of people not more than two and distribute your self so you can enjoy birding.
Never, never, never
Birding Code of Ethics
HOTELS IN GUJARAT