North Northumberland Bird Club, September meeting

A good turnout, approaching nearly 80 people, gathered in Bamburgh Pavilion to hear Mike Watson’s talk entitled India Wildlife Spectacular.

The one-time banker turned professional bird guide and photographer now leads groups for Birdquest all over the world, but confesses to having a very special place in his heart for the Indian sub-continent, which still has an amazing diversity of wildlife in spite of its burgeoning population of 1.2 billion people.

Beginning in Gujarat, he took us to some very special places such as the Gir Forest where the Asiatic lions have their stronghold, the Velevadar Blackbuck reserve with its superb spiral-horned antelopes, and the Little Rann of Kutch reserve, home to many of India’s remaining Asiatic wild asses.

We were treated to his amazing close-ups of some of the iconic birds of the region such as Indian courser, the rare forest owlet and beautiful demoiselle cranes, which are devotedly looked after and fed during the winter months by the Jains, around the village of Khichan in neighbouring Rajasthan.

Moving on via the fabulous Taj Mahal and its amazing birds around the nearby Chambal River, we headed to the forested hills of Madya Pradesh – Rudyard Kipling country – with its famous tiger reserves at Bandhavgarh and Kanha.

We were equally enchanted with the colourful orange-headed thrush, Tickell’s blue flycatcher and the cleverly camouflaged painted snipe.

There was just time to visit one more National Park – Kaziranga – in the remote north-eastern state of Assam.

Here the wet grasslands support a thriving of population of Indian one-horned rhinoceroses, the fearsome water buffalo and the massive gaur, all most safely seen whilst seated on the back of an elephant – they are all extremely dangerous if encountered on foot or in a flimsy vehicle!

Needless to say the birdlife is equally amazing and we enjoyed some stunning shots of spot-billed pelicans, dazzling Indian rollers, black kites and stoical adjutant storks.

Next month’s talk by Bill Gordon will be on Friday, October 10, at Bamburgh Pavilion, when he presents The Sights and Sounds of the Ring Ouzel – a celebration of the iconic species which is the logo of the club, as part of our 30th anniversary season. Visitors are always welcome to our indoor meetings (£2).