One of the most mysterious passage migrants of India is the beautiful Amur Falcon (Falco amurensis) . This falcon breeds in Northern China and South eastern Siberia and spends all summer there . It undertakes a migration journey from this region all the way to Southern Africa where they spend the winter and then undertake the journey back home .This raptor is not among the endangered list . But there is a huge interest when it comes to the falcon. Why ?? . The reason seems to because of the ardous and one of the longest migrations underatken by a raptor . Also the fact that in one of the routes it undertakes , it has to cross the Indian Ocean , flying non stop for almost 3 days !!!! Wow !! On the Indian subcontinent , they have been seen in the North east , West Bengal , Madhya Pradesh , Gujarat , Rajasthan, Maharashtra , Goa and places in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh . These birds are hunted and eaten in areas around Nagaland , and this is a major threat to this beautiful bird.
The bulk of sightings of this bird in the western part of the country is restricted to mid-November to mid- December, and then again during April/May on their return journey . There is a possibility that they may change their route during the return journey . The sightings are normally of huge flocks of 200+ birds and maximum sightings are around dusk and dawn .
Dr Vaibhav from Alibag has been sighting and tracking this bird on a regular basis . My interest was fueled by his reportings and I too desperately wanted to see this beautiful migrant . I was planning a trip to Alibag to capture an image , but the plan never materialised .
On a work trip to Nasik , I happened to have a few hours free and I just started on a small trip on the outskirts of the city . My drive along the road was fruitless , except for the sighting of some shrikes and stonechats . It was when I was returning back when I saw a ‘kestrel’ hovering on a field next to the road . I stopped the car and then I saw a huge congregation of these birds on the powerline which was running across the field . It then dawned on me that I was in fact witnessing the ‘great migration ‘. I had finally sighted the ‘AMUR FALCON ‘ !!!!
My hands were trembling with excitement while setting my my my my ( I am still excited!!! ) big gun . None of the birds were on any natural perch . They seemed to favour the electric lines to perch . When the subject is rare and important ,the perch seems really unimportant . Made some images from the road .
To get near , I had to cross through a barbed wire fence along with my equipment . I tore my shirt in doing that , and the locals seemed very amused at my stunts . I got some good flight shots too .
The flow of the birds from the horizon was amazing and they seemed headed for the powerlines only . As I looked skywards , the scene stunned me . There was a huge cloud of 400+ birds which were hovering way up . Wish I had a normal lens to catch this sight .
I stayed there for another 20 mins , just watching them , trying to take in as much as possible , till the sunset . I headed back to the city , satisfied and elated that an ‘out of the blue‘ visit to the outskirts of the city yielded me with my much coveted dream of sighting the AMUR !!!!
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