Barbary Falcon (Falco pelegrinoides) on the pedestral   Leave a comment

Barbary Falcon_1 with blur_sRGB

A visit to Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) was high on my agenda. But when I got there, nothing in my wildest imagination could have prepared me for what I saw. It was a terrain like no other that I had seen – miles and miles of greyish brown flat land. The surface was parched with cracks all around. It was almost like landing on the moon with nothing around you. But unlike the moon atleast here, once in a while, one would come across small patches of greenery and some pools of water as we traversed this great flat terrain. We were lucky to have a guide with us but in the absence of one, it would have been impossible to have any sense of direction and more of less impossible to get out.

The ecology of this land is also fascinating. This region was once connected to the Arabian Sea. Geologic forces within the Earth forced the land to rise, which turned this area into a lake. Silt gradually filled it, and the area became a seasonal salt marsh. For most of the year, this region is dry but during monsoons this turns into a vast, shallow marsh. At many places it is covered in knee deep water. The mythological river Saraswati might have flowed through this region as well.

For all the dryness and parched look in February, this land that covers around 28,000 sq km, turns pink post the rainy seasons as this area forms one of the largest breeding grounds for the pink flamingoes. This is one of the few places in the world where one can find the Asiatic wild asses. Two cat species live here too – the caracal and the desert cat. More than 200 bird species live in these seasonal salt marshes. Three of these species are threatened- the lesser Florican, Houbara bustard, and Dalmatian pelican. Many of these survive on the salt, algae, salt marsh flowering plants, insects, desert grass etc.

While I was soaking in the marvel called LRK, we came across this Barbary falcon resting in the shade of a slab of rock. A flying one day visit to LRK that too only from morning to late afternoon, is not the ideal itinerary for spotting wildlife and I didn’t have too high expectations from this visit. But lady luck was smiling on us that day and we found this quite elusive falcon. The falcon on its part more than obliged by hopping onto the top of the slab to give us this pose.

The Barbary falcon is quite similar in structure to both the Peregrine and Lanner falcons. In comparison to the Peregrine its smaller and has a greater buff underparts. This bird is classified as “Least Concern” as per IUCN but relatively hard to photograph given their choice of habitat and camouflage. Had this not been a close up shot, the bird would have almost blended in with the background.

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