It was still dark as we got down at the nice looking Ratangarh station in Churu district of Rajasthan. Being January, it was cold though the recent rains had notched up the temperature levels a bit. It was nice to see our driver waiting for us at 4:45 in the morning. A journey of one hour brought us to the Home Stay at Tal Chhapar. There was still time for sun to break out and with possibility of rain in early morning, we went for a quick and much needed nap dreaming about the next two days of our activity in Tal Chhapar.
|Eagle with its kill|
Tal Chhapar sanctuary is known for blackbucks and raptors. Sankara was asking me for this trip for a long time. I was indecisive for some reason but the long weekend during Republic day made to think about Tal Chhapar. The plan was completely handled by Sankara and he did the booking of train tickets, searched for stay options and booked home stay. I contributed a small part by booking a flight ticket to Delhi and return. That was an easy job!!
|Eurasian Eagle Owl|
We roamed around Tal Chhapar for two days exploring various areas from dawn to dusk with a break for lunch. Mahendar, our home stay owner provided us the Jeep with Sarun as our driver. We basically covered Gow shala area, Salt bank, ponds around the park and the sanctuary itself.
|Common Kestrel with its kill|
Blackbucks are omnipresent in Tal Chhapar and you need not get into the sanctuary to find them. They are abundant in number due to the protection and lack of predators. Dogs do kill Blackbucks and saw few dead ones during our safari. Apart from Blackbucks, chinkara (Indian Gazelle) and Nilgai (Blue bull) are present but in smaller numbers.
But people visit Tal Chhapar for mainly for birds. Being our first time visit to this area, lot of new birds were seen. Our understanding of birds increased considerably during this visit.
|White eared bulbul|
Our trip was not without some adventures outside birding domain. A transformer in the area was damaged a day before our arrival resulting in power outage. Home stay had an inverter but it ran out of power on second day!! Water was the immediate problem but luckily there was enough water in the sump which had to be manually lifted!! With our camera batteries draining out, our situation was not good by the end of second day. A plan was made to send the batteries to Chhapar town which had power!! But luckily things did not go that far as the power was restored back on the second evening.
Reaching there and stay option
Sujangarh and Ratangarh are the two railway stations nearby which are connected to New Delhi and Jaipur. Stay options in Tap Chhapar are limited. There is a forest rest house but booking process is complex. We stayed in a small homestay managed by Mahendar, which was about 3 km from Tel Chhapar. He arranges the vehicle as well. A nice guy. There might be some options at Sujangarh or Ratangarh for stay but I do not have knowledge on it.
|Sunset at Tal Chhapar|
Tel Chhapar is not a place for general tourist but for person interesting in birds and wildlife, it is an amazing place. But Chhapar town and surroundings areas are filthy and does not give a nice feeling.