Friday, 14 August 2009

Last tales of the Taj - Part I

Garden visits take on an altogether different meaning in Rajasthan, India, particularly at this time of year! It is monsoon season and the gardens, are for the most part, green and glorious, but the heat remains a challenge!

I have spent the last two weeks in Rajasthan, working on my hospital scheme for the village people near Udaipur - The Raven Foundation - but have also managed to fit in several garden visits, and quite a few birdwatching trips. Both the gardens and the birds in India are very different from what we find at home, either here in the UK or in the continental US, so it has been an interesting trip for me. But what is so striking about rural Rajasthan at this time of year is the unending vista of green, thanks to the monsoon.

My travels took me from Delhi to Agra and the Taj Mahal (above) and then on to Jaipur, Udaipur and Dungarpur. The first three are all on the well-trodden tourist beat, but the last is a little different and it was there that I got to see not just green vistas, but some of the most remarkable birds I have ever seen, including sarus cranes (below), various different storks, many wildfowl, hornbills and many smaller birds that are only found on the Indian subcontinent.
The sarus crane (grus antigone) is a bird that I have been hoping to see for the last five years in my frequent trips to India and the far East - it is the tallest flying bird in the world at 1.65 metres (5' 5") and is actually the same height as me!

But it is also one of the most graceful birds I have ever seen, and I was lucky enough to see one pair perform their courtship dance (right), which involved a series of finely choreographed movements at the edge of a lake. I saw many other large birds during my recent travels, although there is little doubt in my mind that the most unusual and spectacular was the painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala) seen below, which was standing just yards from the dancing cranes. This is a smaller bird than the sarus at just under three feet tall, but it still makes an impressive sight with its black and white barred wings, yellow bill, bare reddish face and striking pink legs (below).This is just one of the many great storks you'll find in southern Rajasthan, which is a birdwatcher's paradise. There are also black-necked and black storks, open-billed and white storks ... but more of that in my next entry, because I am now heading home to England and will catch up when I finally get there!

16 comments:

  1. it's looks like a wonderful land!
    you took great pictures of those beautiful big birds!
    I would never go there for a holiday, (never go anywhere at all)
    so I am glad I can take a peeck through your camera!
    have a nice weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What an incredible trip! The pictures of the cranes are outstanding. I think I told you my boss is leaving for India tomorrow. I talked him into visiting the Taj Mahal because he wasn't intending to. He's only there for business! But how you can you all the way to India and NOT see the Taj? Beautiful pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We have massive sandhill crane migrations that appear overhead here in Nebraska, USA, (very loud) and I've always wanted to get up early, drive west, and see them in the prairie ponds before they head out to feed. Cranes are something else!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh Charlotte, what grand places you take us via your blog! I love seeing the different birds as well as the gardens (and palaces )

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Taj Mahal is a very beautiful place with a romantic past. I love the cranes. We regard cranes as a symbol of longevity. I have a picture of a hundred cranes hanging in my home.

    ReplyDelete
  6. What beautiful birds. How lucky to travel and see not only beautiful gardens, but the wildlife they attract.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lovely pictures. I love the Taj Mahal. To me it is India! I would have picked this post but when I opened it I found I had already picked it even though this was the first time of viewing! :-) I don't know whose name I used! Val

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thanks for visiting my blog, and what a treat to find yours! Thanks for sharing your India adventures, I have never been, but will one day. It seems that sharing ones adventures with others gives an added sense of purpose and perhaps even responsibility that enriches the experience for all. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wish I could be a fly on your wall as you travel. What a fascinating country. India is on my unfortunately lengthy list of places on my travel wish list.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Such peace and beauty in these photos! I remember our tour of the Floating Palace and I have a very similiar picture taken of the Taj...thanks for bringing back these wonderful memories. Btw, your job sounds fascinating!
    Lynn

    ReplyDelete
  11. That photo of the flying cranes is just beautiful! You were really lucky to see that courtship dance . Isn't it wonderful to see something so special when you're "just visiting" ! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Once again, I'm delighted to tag along with you.
    Donna

    ReplyDelete
  13. Charlotte, I have a Meme award for you. Please go to my post today to find out more.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Just amazing and how lucky you are to have seen this in person. To be able to witness this, and other things while traveling might make one want to leave their cozy home. Or let you do the traveling and then show and tell what you have seen! You do such a fabulous job of that. Thanks!!! I really mean that too. :-)
    Frances

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great that you can put in some Sightseeing while working. I guess the sightseeing is compulsory when travelling to India! I have read a novel about the Taj Mahal how it came about. The sarus crane is a dancer like our Brolga Grus rubicunda.
    On our grazing property we had a fair area wet land and I could watch the Brolgas dance. India is an awesome, wonderful country, in nature and history; it was not for nothing called the jewel in the crown.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I was there back in the early 80's. O wow, it is still as I remember it. Just amazing. It is so hard to tell people what it is really like. and pictures just do give the sense of the size of the whole.
    I truly enjoyed the Red Fort as well. In some ways just as incredible as the Taj.
    Thanx for sharing these great photos and bring back for me some great memories

    ReplyDelete