This is one of my favourite images from my photo collection!
Can you guess, from where this picture was photographed??
This was photographed from one of the terrible “dump-yard” in India, called Jorbeer. Jorbeer is a protected area around 15 Km from Bikaner in Rajasthan. People throw carcasses of cattle everyday in this place, which attracts thousands of raptors like eagles and vultures that migrate to India during winter.
I visited Tal Chhapar Blackbuck sanctuary with Darter Photography during Jan 2013, for photographing the migratory raptors and grassland birds. Tal Chhapar is beautiful grassland and though it is a blackbuck sanctuary, you find wide variety of fauna. I wanted the experience again, and visited the place again during Nov 2013. As a part of the tour, we visit this “dump-yard” near Bikaner.
Thousands of Eurasian Griffon, Egyptian vultures and Steppe Eagles are found here, along with other raptors like Cinereous Vultures, Tawny eagles, Eastern Imperial Eagles, Spotted Eagles, Long legged Buzzards, Black eared Kites, Laggar Falcons, etc.
For a birder, it will be a dream place to find at least 7-10 raptors sitting on a small tree.
The majority - Egyptian Vulture, Steppe eagle and Eurasian Griffon vulture
A rough estimate puts the number of migratory vultures at about 1,200 at Jorbeer (Bikaner). The place nowadays is dominated by big sized migrant Eurasian Griffon variety that is about one meter long and with a wingspan of 265 cm looks intimidating with grayish black color. Three migratory varieties are seen in the area and they are Eurasian Griffon coming from Spain and Turkey, Cinereous from Mongolia and Tibet and Himalayan Griffons from Central Asia. The later two varieties are less in number while the Eurasian comes in large number. The local varieties are Egyptian and King Vulture. The migratory vultures start coming in October and stay till February-March, they come here to pass harsh winters at their native place.
Some of the images I could manage from the “dump-yard” are here:
Apart from birds, it is a good place to photograph some of the mammals like Nilghais, Chinkaras (Indian Gazelles), Desert Jirds, etc.
This dumping ground is one of the reliable place to find some of the rarest of the rare birds like Yellow-eyed Pigeon, Cream coloured Coursers, etc.
The rare Yellow-eyed Pigeon, at the turn of the 19th century, used to migrate to India in swarming flocks during winter. However, habitat destruction and unrestrained hunting had driven them out of their wintering grounds in India. But now, the highly vulnerable species is making a comeback and favors this dump-yard in Rajasthan. The birds’ reappearance is great news for the conservation of their numbers.
The Cream coloured Courser, is another winter visitor to India, and is not found commonly anywhere else.
Another highlight of the “dump-yard” is the Sunset! One can make amazing sunset images with the colourful sky of setting sun at the background with raptors’ activity in the front.
Apart from the raptors, many other birds here, like babblers, egrets, starlings, shrikes, ibises, etc., find this place a great opportunity for food, which are abundant from the decomposing dead bodies.
This place is also infested by feral dogs, which are extremely territorial and people visit here in four-wheelers are generally not advised to get down from their vehicles, as it becomes very dangerous with these local dogs. They are well fed and look intimidating.
My birding guru once said, “dump-yard” is one of the best place for birding. I never expected that I could make some of the best images I have in my collection, from this terrible dump-yard.