Meeting The Red-Naped Shaheen
Do you remember that feeling when you first see a tiger? The thrill, the adrenaline rush? Thats exactly how I felt when I first saw this guy around 3 years back. It was a blink and you miss sighting just before sunrise and since that day I had been waiting for my time with this bird. I did get my time with this gorgeous chap and I got loads of it…
My first tour to LRK last year started off with the lovely Short-Eared owl and a young Imperial Eagle. We hadn’t yet met the peregrine so on that particular morning, we set out looking out for the falcon. We did meet a falcon, but this one was even rarer.
Me and Samath Khan from Rann Riders were looking out for the Peregrine Falcon in an area of the Rann where chances of meeting the falcon were good. After about a half an hour search, we spotted something greyish-brown in the distance. It didn’t look like a peregrine from that distance and to tell you the truth I wasn’t even sure if I had spotted a bird or was it some stone playing tricks on my eye.
A further 200 odd meters and the excitement in the gypsy increased 100 times because by now, the ‘Red-Nape’ had become visible through the binoculars and we were all super thrilled to be witnessing what eventually would be one of my many many meetings with this individual. It was indeed the Red-Naped Shaheen and this is how I saw it on that day. I did not get more than 5 odd minutes with this individual on that day, but it was a start….
The following days were pure joy. Not only in terms of photography but also the joy in trying to understand this individuals behaviour. It had its set areas of roosting for the evening. We were able to find him for almost 7-8 days before it decided to move ship to an area around 6kms from there and then became slightly more difficult to track.
On one of the days, while we were basking in the early morning sun with the Falcon, it suddenly took off. Knowing that it was unlikely that it was caused by us because we hadn’t moved and there was no sign of distress from the bird either we started tracking it with our binoculars. Turned out that the falcon had seen a flock of pigeons flying over-head and he went straight for them. Pushing them farther and farther up and finally nabbing one in mid air. From the place where it took off to the place where it finally landed with the kill, the distance was around a km or more and It was thrilling to observe it in the field.
Once the bird had landed with the prey, we gave it some time. It must have been exhausting and we did not want to rush in and spoil the meal for him. Over the course of the next hour or so we made some lovely images of this chap and even had the pleasure of observing the bird along-side Tim and Carol Inskipp and my good old friend, Nikhil Devasar.
Some moments just stick with you and this particular one where the bird is bending down to grab the beak of the pigeon is one such for me. I call it ‘The kiss of death….’
The Little Rann of Kutch is probably the only place in the country where this beautiful raptor has been sighted consistently for the past few years and I cannot recommend of a better place than this to try and get some images of this falcon. If you haven’t yet been to Kutch, plan it NOW!
Staying options while at the Kutch: I have been visiting LRK for the last 8 years and have never had the need to look anywhere further than the Rann Riders at Dasada. I am not saying that this is the only place in Kutch but I doubt that anything else comes close. The difference that this place brings is the amount of interest they take in making your trip successful.
This winter a handful of people will be visiting Kutch with Toehold and under my friend Jayanth Sharma’s tutelage, it promises to be a real treat. If you haven’t checked already, do visit our tour page and grab this opportunity now!
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