Monday, 14 February 2011

Spectacular display in Rajasthan desert!

First demoiselle cranes flying in at sunrise
It's strange weather in Rajasthan! We've had monsoon rain in February; roads were flooded and skies dark yesterday and today as I made my way to Jaisalmer in the far Northwest corner of the state to witness a crane feeding ceremony unlike any other I've seen before.
Shortly after sunrise, thousands of demoiselle cranes appear over the horizon
If you travel north of Jodhpur, you'll come to a remote village near the Indian border, where thousands of demoiselle cranes descend every morning at this time of year to be fed by the villagers. It's a spectacular sight, even in the current cold, damp weather, and has been going on for many, many decades.
It's impossible to work out how many pairs of demoiselles there are - cranes are birds that partner for life - but they start descending on the village shortly after sunrise during the winter months (October- March) and have been returning to the same spot for nearly 100 years. They fly in strict formation.
As more and more birds arrive, the noise is deafening! You can hear them coming from a considerable distance because of their distinctive chattering, and once they descend onto the sand adjacent to the village, they start to walk down the dunes to the patch where the villagers spread grain every morning.
They feed in rotation, with one flock coming into land and eat the grain on the ground, while others return to the desert to wait for their turn again - hence the difficulty in ascertaining numbers - although I suspect there must have been in the region of 8,000 birds this morning. 
Now in Jaisalmer for the Desert Festival, so more tomorrow. Happy Valentine's Day and Namaste! My garden visits begin in earnest later this week!

12 comments:

  1. Wow, what a magnificent sight! To think this has been going on for such a long time ... and it involves such a huge number of birds! Amazing! Your photos are terrific ... they are lovely birds.

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  2. I really enjoyed your cranes. You don't see them everyday and was just as happy to see them as any garden. I was amazed by them coming in over the fields, so many of them.

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  3. Amazing photos Charlotte, unbelievable the way the birds arrive in big waves like that. Best wishes from a wet and windy Sussex!

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  4. What an amazing sight (and sound) that must be. Great shots. Some of them seem almost like paintings. Namaste, Charlotte.

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  5. Hi Charlotte, i haven't seen cranes, and haven't seen birds in flock that plenty. I am also amazed when you mentioned they feed on rotation, and they fly in such organized way through centuries, how far from the ways of men! I now recall a book i read that in Tibet burial, the vultures have their organization also, the leader comes first to get the heart, then the 2nd in rank gets another important organ and so on, till all those in the flock are fed. But nobody complains why they are at the last getting the lesser tasty portions! How i wish i can visit the areas you frequent, to see those flocks, and experience the sunrises you witnessed too. thanks. Namaste too!

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  6. Wonderful photos - I wonder what the origins of this custom are.

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  7. An amazing sight, Charlotte. Thanks for sharing it. Will cool damp weather be a plus for planting the new garden? -Jean

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  8. Wonderful photography. Those birds are so Majestic looking. Have a great trip.. Thanks for sharing..

    yvonne

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  9. You're very lucky, Charlotte ! It's really beautiful.

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  10. How amazing!! What a fabulous experience. I wish I had been there. It's incredible how polite and ordered the birds are. I wonder how much grain they eat.

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  11. Namaste! Glad that you are enjoying your trip here in India. Lovely shots! We do get a lot of cranes here in Nawabgunj Bird Sanctuary near our city as well. Looking fwd to more pict frm the festival.
    Happy Valentines Day!

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  12. I had to add myself as a follower. Some great photos. Thanks.
    Cher
    Goldenray Yorkies

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