|Our hotel at Sujjangarh|
We had checked in the previous night into Hotel Rich Garden at Sujangarh, the accommodation of choice in this little town.
The rooms were clean, as were the bathrooms (importantly!) the water in the taps was salty, and the food came from somewhere we didn't want to know I guess!
We had an early morning start, and as usual, it was quite an effort of mind over body to face the morning cold!
We went outside only to be greeted by a strange sight and a lot of roaring engines! A bunch of bikers were on their way to the hills - Dharamsala, via Amritsar!
According to me, this was even more lunacy than ours!
Breakfast was not great - it just wasn't good quality food, and thanks to Lakshmi, we discovered a great place for lunch. (More about that later.)
I was glad to get into our warmer vehicles, as we headed to the outskirts of Taal chappar sanctuary, to the "cow shed area" or goshala.
Well, I expected to see some nice Indian cows, mooing in the morning, and a familiar rustic scene of milkmen and cow dung, but instead was greeted by this!
|The Khejri-tree filled landscape, made ghostly by the morning mist|
There was a silence filled only with our muffled laughs and whispers, as even the birds obviously felt too cold to call.
I spent some time in juvenile games of blowing "smoke" and pretending to puff a cigarette, delighting in the morning air, as I was layered like an eskimo and not feeling miserably cold!
Suddenly Nabeel, our guide was making frantic hand signals and asking us to follow him.
And so began our saga of creeping behind the tree creeper!
|Our first sighting! The Indian spotted creeper (Salpornis spilonotus)|
Through the binoculars, we got a clear sighting of its mottled or marbled back, so well camouflaged against the tree bark. And that thin long, down-curved beak with which it extricated insects from the bark.
|It was a fast worker, and no malingering at any point. Now you saw it profiled on the left.....|
|.....and in the blink of an eye it was on the right.|
The light had improved by now, and slowly we heard and saw some activity. Bulbuls called and flitted in the branches, while large grey babblers noisily moved around in groups in the undergrowth.
|A drongo flew into view, as if seeking our attention|
|It perched on the branch of the scrub, seemingly glad for the weak sun that had emerged.|
|Rose ringed parakeets screeched and settled in the khejri trees.|
|The grey-black heads and the orange chests seemed to catch the sun. Pericocotus cinnamomeus male|
|They moved in flocks and wouldn't sit still. I heard the shutters of everyone's cameras madly clicking.|
|Through the binoculars they made for a breathtaking sight, with their little perky heads and long tails,....|
|....and when they flew it was a flash of brilliant colour.|
|The treecreeper came into view again, and with the brighter light, the colours of its feathers could be seen better.|
And so ended our outing to the Goshala - and no I did not see a single cow through the morning!
We then went off to the lovely Taal chapper grasslands, with the oh so beautiful blackbucks.
And then there was lunch at this lovely old house/mansion - hot rotis, dal and sabji of the most fresh carrot and peas, papad and a local pickle which was rather delicious. We all burped contentedly after and then lazed around on chairs and in the verandah, feeling like rock pythons after a meal, not wanting to stir.
We shamelessly invited ourselves to dinner as well, which was a good thing as we met their lovely daughters as a result.