Encounter - Black Francolin

All right, shoot me. I have never had any luck with the Black Francolin. When other birders talked of it as if it were domestic poultry, I would clear my throat and look west until the conversation had drifted past. Not any more. Kutch offered me the best-ever sighting of this handsome fowl. The CEDO folks drove us towards the Naliya grassland and all the while we looked for the elusive bustards. This, they told us, was the habitat of the Great Indian Bustard and the MacQueen's Bustard. We combed the grassland but saw none. But in the early morning light, as we trailed a large flock of Eurasian Griffons, we saw a movement in the shin-high grass. As our driver Mangal cut the engine, the suspect emerged from his cover and lorded over the path ahead of us for a glorious three seconds. Then he obliged us by moving into the light and showing off for a bit, completely unperturbed. Sandy, who was in the passenger seat next to the driver, fired away. And that's how we got this picture. And that's how when the Black Francolin comes up in conversation, it's my turn to gloat. Photograph © Sandeep Somasekharan. All rights reserved