Banni Grassland and Chhari Dhand
Location: 69o24' E 23o42' N
Area: 3,847 sq. km
Habitat: Arid grassland interspersed with thorn scrub. The inherently saline soil, deposited by long lost river systems, is naturally suited for nutritious grasses. More than 20 grass species and 20 other herb and shrub species grow in Banni. ‘Banni’ comes from word ‘banai’, meaning made.
Chhari-Dhand is a seasonal wetland in the Banni. 'Dhand' means a saucer shaped natural depression. Chhari-Dhand is an important wintering area for a variety of waterfowl and is also a roosting place for over 30,000 Common Cranes in winter. A list of over 250 species of birds have been reported from the areas around Chhaari-Dhand.
Key species: Great place for many types of raptors and water dependent birds. Other key birds include Grey Hypocolius, White-naped Tit, McQueen's Bustard and Dalmatian Pelicans.Naliya Grassland (Lala Bustard Wildlife Sanctuary)
Location: 68o45' E 23o30' N
Area: 500 sq. km
Habitat: The habitat comprises of dry grasslands mixed with tropical and desert scrub and thorn forests.
Key species: This is a breeding area for the threatened Indian Bustard and about 20 birds are known to reside here. Other species include Lesser Florican, McQueen's Bustard, Stoliczka’s Bushchat and nesting populations of Tawny Eagle.
Other Birding Hot Spots in Gujarat (see Map):
Gir Forest: Famous as the last refuge of the Asiatic Lion, Gir boasts of a list of 300 bird species which includes an impressive list of raptors and woodland species.Velavadar: 170 kms to the south of Ahmedabad lies the 34 sq. km. Velavadar National Park. Created to provide protection to the last large herds of Blackbucks, Velavadar is famous for its huge harrier roosts in winter and is also a good place to see Stoliczka's Bushchat and breeding Lesser Floricans.Nalsarovar Bird Sanctuary: Nalsarovar is a large lake 65 kms southwest of Ahmedabad. Depending on water availability, Nal sarovar can cover an area exceeding 120 sq. kms. Dotted with hundreds of islands, this large waterbody attracts large flocks of Common and Demoiselle Cranes, Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Great White and Dalmatian Pelicans plus a variety of storks and wintering waterfowl.Thol: Thol Wildlife Sanctuary is located 40 kms northwest of Ahmedabad. More about Thol here.