A Decade Later, the Rann Beckons Once More: A Photographer's Return to Little Rann and Nalsarovar.

Dec 25, 2023

Ten years had passed since the dust of the Little Rann of Kutch last settled beneath my boots. Memories of majestic eagles soaring against the endless white canvas, and the symphony of desert birds, still echoed in my soul. But whispers of exceptional raptor activity and the elusive Namaqua dove lured me back, like a moth to a flame.

So, under the cloak of a late December night, I found myself hurtling towards Ahmedabad, anticipation thrumming through my veins. My trusty tour guide, Karthik Patel, awaited me at the airport, and before the sun could even consider painting the sky, we were already hurtling towards the Rann.

Bazana, in the heart of the Rann, welcomed us with the piercing calls of Greater Spotted Eagles, their silhouettes stark against the dawn light. The entire day was a photographer's symphony. Peregrine falcons swooped and soared, a flash of feathered fury. Marsh Harriers danced on the thermals, while the Imperial Eagle, a feathered monarch, surveyed its domain. This time, however, I lingered over the oft-ignored: the delicate ballet of Sand and Crested Larks, and the Desert Warbler's melancholic melody.

The next day, the vast expanse of the Rann whispered promises of the Pallid Scops Owl. As we navigated the endless salt pan, a bold Peregrine Falcon stole the show, its steely gaze fixed on the world below. The mighty Imperial Eagle once again graced us with its presence, leaving me breathless with its grandeur. Though the Scops Owl remained elusive, evening brought solace in the form of a Short-eared Owl, its golden eyes gleaming in the dying light. The day ended with a thrilling nightjar safari, culminating in the capture of a Sykes Nightjar, its cryptic form emerging from the darkness.

But destiny had grander plans. Day three unveiled a scene straight out of a wildlife documentary. Two juvenile Lesser Flamingos lay fallen, and a macabre dance of predators unfolded. Marsh Harriers, Imperial Eagles, and Greater Spotted Eagles feasted in turn, creating a tableau of stark beauty. My lens devoured the drama, etching it onto my memory chip.

Leaving the Rann was bittersweet, but Nalsarovar awaited. This verdant jewel, shimmering under the winter sun, promised avian treasures of a different kind. On a gentle boat ride, I captured the vibrant hues of ibises, rare common ringed plover and finally, the object of my desire, the Namaqua Dove, its graceful yet undeterred search for grains at dusk.

Yet, my heart yearned for something more. The majestic Sarus Crane, with its elaborate courtship display, had always eluded me. We searched, and just as the sun dipped towards the horizon, fortune smiled. In a nearby field, a pair of Sarus Cranes commenced their famed unison calling. Their long necks swayed, their cries resonating through the air, creating a spectacle of epic proportions. This time, my lens did not simply capture; it surrendered to the spell of their dance.

These images, born from a decade of longing and a week of chasing light and feathers, are not merely photographs. They are testaments to the enduring allure of the Little Rann and Nalsarovar, and the unyielding spirit of a photographer who dared to dream. The Rann may have changed, but its magic remains, etched not just on my memory chip, but on my soul.

So, until the next call of the wild pulls me back, I carry these images like precious souvenirs, whispering tales of windswept plains, jewel-toned lakes, and creatures that dance on the edge of existence.