Breathless!!! That’s the only way to describe what I felt after spending a day at Pirotan Island. Pirotan island is located off the coast of Gujarat. You have to go there by boats, which land you on the sandy beach at high tide, and collect you at the next high tide. During the day, these boats lie beached on the Pirotan coastline. Pirotan is home to huge flocks of that extremely rare bird, the Crab Plover. Pirotan island is controlled by the Indian Navy and has a lighthouse on it. It completely untouched and the birds are quite fearless. You have to take permission to go there.
So we landed on the shore and after wading towards the beach, we began our long walk around the island to try and locate crab plovers. After numerous interruptions (caused by sightings of darters, oystercatchers, stints and other birds), we finally reached the lighthouse and made our way down the rocks towards the far shoreline, hoping to see at least a few crab plovers. A 200 strong pack of smallish white birds seemed a good place to start our hunt. So up came our binoculars and we began scanning. Down came the binoculars, a bewildered look exchanged!!!! ALL of those 200 birds were Crab Plovers!!!
The crab plover is a winter visitor to very few parts of India (it is probably well seen in about 5 places in all of India). Pirotan has one of the highest density of these birds as compared to any other place.
I was able to take this photo after making our way quietly and gently, slithering towards them on our bellies, so as not to disturb them unduly. This photo was taken against the flat grey seas, under an overcast grey sky.
The one thing I have learnt early on in my wildlife viewing is to respect and give sufficient space to the denizens of the wild. If you approach too closely and too rashly, it is likely that they will bolt and you will be deprived of good sightings. Each bird or animal has a particular “standoff distance”. If you go beyond this line, they will fly. Learning to judge this distance, from the behaviour of your target, has been one of the most frustrating and rewarding learning processes for me.
After getting good shots of these birds, we looked around for other birds. Another bird high on our list was the oystercatcher.
Other interesting waders and birds we sww were the darter, western reef heron, and some gulls.
After a long day of wandering around, with no food or water or shelter, we finally trudged back to the boat It was a long walk. When we got to the boat, we found that the tide had still not come in and we would have to wait.
We were wet because of crawling in the sand and also due to the rain that came unexpectedly,
But we had just had incredible sightings of some really rare beauties so we were ecstatic and it left us physically and emotionally, Breathless!!!