The spectacular display by the Lesser Florican: Sonkhaliya

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The Kharmor, as it is locally known in Rajasthan, during its mating season displays in Moong ki Daal fields in Sonkhaliya in Rajasthan.

The Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indicus), also known as the Likh, is a large bird in the bustard family and the only member of the genus Sypheotides. It is endemic to the Indian Subcontinent where it is found in tall grasslands and is best known for the leaping breeding displays made by the males during the Monsoon season. The male has a contrasting black and white breeding plumage and distinctive elongated head feathers that extend behind the neck. These bustards are found mainly in northwestern and central India during the summer but are found more widely distributed across India in winter. The species is highly endangered and has been extirpated in some parts of its range such as Pakistan. It is threatened both by hunting and habitat degradation. The only similar species is the Bengal Florican (Houbarobsis bengalensis) which is larger and lacks the white throat, collar and elongated plumes.

Sonkhaliya, a hitherto unknown hamlet, 40 kms from Ajmer district in Rajasthan, has in recent years captured the imagination of birders for the two of the most sought after species in the oriental region - Lesser Florican (Sypheotides indicus) and Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps). Not just because both birds are strikingly pretty in their own respect, but because their populations have suffered rapid declines and not many are sure they'll see them in future decades. Best season to see these birds is from 15th July till 1st week of Aug when the Jowar in fields is not very high and chances of spotting the birds are high. The other factor is also the amount of rainfall that the region experiences. With heavy rains, the birds aren't easily visible though it probably is good overall for the survival of these very vulnerable birds. Drought like situation has been detrimental to the population in the past.

In the recent years, a substantial area in the region has come under Moong cultivation, which has found favours with both the farmer and the Lesser Floricans. Farmer, because it requires less water and grows quicker and Lesser Floricans for some unexplained reason. The village of Sonkhaliya is still untouched by surrounding urban compulsions and looked every bit a north Indian village, with small hutments, kuchha roads (or paths) turned into tiny stagnating puddles, harbouring mosquitoes, their larvae and the kins, children with curious expressions and relaxing elderlies by the well. Vast emerald fields interspersed with thorny scrubs were adjoined by vast Grasslands that looked very pristine and ideal for scrub land species. There's a large grassland just outside Sonkhaliya that's used for cattle grazing by villagers.

Source: birdsandbeyond.blogspot, wikipedia

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