5000 cranes at Keechen
Trip Start Nov 01, 2005
27Trip End Apr 30, 2006
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I caught a local bus in the afternoon to Pokaran, where mysterious illnesses occured after nuclear testing in the region. The official diagnosis was that it was due to the unusually hot summer they had that year.
It was a bit of a squash to get off the bus at Pokaran as the men were all pushing to get on, at one point I toppled over and was like an overturned beetle on the steps of the bus
While looking for the bus to Phalodi I got hussled onto one of the jeep taxis with my backpack tied to the roof. I counted 17 adults and 6 children inside, two on the roof and four hanging from the back door, it was not the most comfortable ride.
The next day I had an autorickshaw pick me up to take me to see the dawn feeding of the demoiselle cranes. Over 5,000 birds migrate here each year from the central asian steppes. The villagers have been feeding them donated grain for over 150 years.
When I arrived it was just getting light and many birds were sitting on a dune outside the village. As the sun rose, swirling flocks of birds flew from the desert in every direction.
I was shown onto the flat roof of one of the villagers to get a better view as the flock came to land in a specially fenced off area where the grain was spread. The fenced area was pretty ugly, but it was good to see the birds so close up.
Apart from the villagers, the only other people there were with an esteemed Indian nature photographer. I was filmed in front of the birds doing a mock interview. I wasn't ready or my tv debut at 7am in the morning!
On the train from Phalodi to Jodhpur I sat for about 4 hours in the luggage rack drawing animals with the youngest daughter of a family who persuaded me to try on a turban. With the lack of window seat, I was glad of the distraction.