Monday, 8 February 2010

The Lion, the twitch and the war robe !

And so the Magnificent Seven and their birding machines entered into Gir National park, Gujarat India to look for that elusive mammal, Asiatic Lion. There are only 400 or so left in the wild and roughly 360 in Gir NP. This is very much like your African safari parks though in this case the Lions won't eat you, they're just big tabbies waiting for a ball of wool and a some attention.
As can be seen from the sign above, there are very strict rules in the park including synchronised moving with guide and no blowing your horn...............ah peace and quiet on an Indian road, bliss ! I do sometimes wonder whether blowing your horn is one of the major tests and requires regular use in order to pass your driving test in India?
Anyway, there we were happily watching a Mottled Wood Owl when hot gen came through via Intel or Vodafone on Tabby Line that Lions had been spotted just down the road. Warm up the motor and the twitch was on, hopefully with good gen and very unlike surges at UK twitches for say Radde's Warbler, Troglodytes, troglodytes, Zitting Cisticola, Phylloscopus collybita, or possibly at a push Slender-billed Curlew, Numenius.........
Sure enough there they were two splendid Lions on show and very photogenic with the park guards just out of picture (I told you they were friendly) here kitty kitty
Magnificent and a fine specimen
Mega, note the small human bone in the foreground and discarded lens cap
Gir is generally quiet though unless you're lucky and spot a Leopard or ..........Leopard. Bird wise it can be hard work though the next few pix show what you could have had. Above, Spotted Owlet, common and the guides know the daytime roosts

Mottled Wood Owl, a huge Owl that was a well deserved tick and not a single torch battery in sight, that's my kind of Owling!
Yellow-footed green Pigeon, very smart
Changeable Hawk Eagle, close to the track and photographed like everything else from the jeep
Tickell's Blue Fly, common but very nice indeed.
Indian Thick knee, a 'split' from Eurasian Stone Curlew. And so ended a great trip to Gir with the Lions, the twitch and the war robes of the residents in the park that apparently are of African decent and years ago set sail from African and make landfall on the coast they believed to be Africa as they saw Lions in the forests, little did they know it was India? I believed the story !!


Josh Jenkins Shaw said...

Gripping stuff Barry! I'm very jealous.

Barry said...

Hi Josh
Apologies for gripping, I'm sure you'll be birding further abroad in the not too distant future

Tony Morris said...

The lion may look cuddly but I don't think I'd try tickling them under the chin! Great pics of the Owl.