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A male Blackbuck pronking at Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar

BLACKBUCK NATIONAL PARK CONTINUES TO GROW IN POPULARITY, thanks to its wonderful nearby lodge of the same name. This place is one of our favourite lodges in India and, as well as the plush surroundings, complete with lovely open-air showers, we also enjoyed some more great encounters here. Photographically the best were the numerous Blackbuck, including some fine males, followed by Nilgai against the lovely grassland landscape, however, this is also probably the most reliable place in the world to see wolves and again we managed to see one, which as usual only allowed a brief distant opportunity. Jungle Cats also put in a couple of brief appearances in the long grass.

Blackbuck, Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar

Nilgai, Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar

The biggest avian surprise was a Sykes’s Nightjar, which flew past our jeeps in broad daylight and dropped down just ahead of us. It is rare to see one here, mostly owing to the park being closed after sunset but it may be a regular visitor? Squadrons of Common Cranes lined the horizon and a nearby wetland hosted Great White Pelicans, Greater Flamingos, spoonbills, Pied Avocets and a selection of common shorebirds. A few birds in the mesquite-lined avenues included gazillions of Black Drongos as well as Siberian Stonechats, Brown and Bay-backed Shrikes and there were still a few harriers (Pallid and Montagu’s) floating around, some of which take a short-cut through the middle of the lodge grounds on their way to and from their grassland roosting area. Unfortunately Striped Hyenas are no longer reliably seen here though, the regular male having died some time ago. Eventually we had to tear ourselves away from this fabulous place and head northwest to the vast salt flats of the Little Rann of Kutch.

Sykes's Nightjar, Blackbuck National Park, Velavadar