Grill and Grime sets the pace for birding in Northern India. The race begins from the T3 Airport where avid birders from far away lands arrive. The trip begins as we move towards Agra on the way to Bharatpur and Chambal
River Sanctuary. The mini bus rattles along past a quagmire of human dwellings tortuously placed in a juxtaposition. Soon we we begin rolling past the green fields and small hamlets. But not for long, for at Mathura Township we turn in the direction of Bharatpur
the avian paradise like non else where.
A fifty km drive further on will lead us to Bharatpur. The road riddled with pot holes - as treacherous as they can be - wades across a picturesque countryside. The yellow lined mustard fields are the hall mark of
this drive. The quaint hamlets are as striking as they can be. The colorful courtyards, veranda all painted in Rajasthani motifs impress my foreign visitors.
At Bharatpur we are greeted by Mr. Singh - the robust and cheerful owner of the Sunbird Lodge. The day begins with the search for avian in the fields near by the Sanctuary Gate. The search is for Indian Courser but
we also come across lot of grassland birds.
The whole day is spent in the sanctuary on foot we we come across scores of avian species. We visit extensive wetlands, mounds and dikes. The small patches of forests also yield many delights. We also visit Bund Baretha
which is about fifty km from the park. Here we score for some water birds, pipits and buntings. This is where we come across Indian Skimmer whence they come to nest.
From Bharatpur we head to Dhaulpur and visit the Chambal River Sanctuary. This is an exciting destination, and boating in one of the most unpolluted river is an experience. We come across many birds besides the marsh
crocodile, gharial and river dolphin. The long stretch of river accords an exciting boat ride in between low lying sandy hills and shores. Jackals, foxes, hyenas and wolves are often encountered in the shores with luck.
Some of the birds we come across are prinias, buntings, gulls, storks, ducks, sand grouses, falcons, eagles, owls and warblers to name a few.
We head back to Agra and then move towards Nainital. On the way we look for Sarus Cranes as well as species on the Ganges River Banks. Nainital is a hill resort but badly urbanized hence we chose Sat Taal And Pangot
up hill each at a distance of about fourteen km from the township. Sat Tal at 1400 MSL is crowded but the natural beauty of remaining forests and lakes also offers magnificent bird watching opportunity. At Sat Taal we look for Forktails, thrushes, flycatchers,
minla, leiothrix, golden robin, buntings, woodpeckers and more. A two day birding yields a checklist of more than fifty exciting species.
We climb higher to 2100 MSL in the Himalayan Foothills two reach snow covered Pangot. Our target species here are the Kokals Pheasant, Chir Pheasant, Himalayan and Eurasian Vultures, Bearded Eagle, buntings, thrushes,
tits and many more. A two day stay accords sightings of unique birds which are altitude migrants.
The drive to Corbett Tiger Reserve is a pleasant eighty km via Kaladungi the home town of legendary Jim Corbett. The avi fauna begins to change as we descend towards the plains. The fantastic tiger landscape has more
than five hundred avian species to sight. We stay at the Dhikala Complex while in the park and look for tigers and other mammals besides avian species.
The foothills are frequented by species from the plains as well as the altitude migrants from the Himalayan Landscape. We search for the Siberian ruby throat, paradise flycatchers, Niltavas, flycatchers, wren warblers,
laughing thrushes, bulbuls, nuthatches, woodpeckers and many more.
We than move to outskirts of Corbett to search for more species. The trip is full of excitement a midst tigers and elephants. We visit Mohaan, Lal Dang, river banks of Kosi, Kumeria and Sita Vani for some amazing discoveries.
The fortnight long trip ended as we headed back to New Delhi. Happy that the extensive
birding tour package organized by India Footprints was a great success. All around the tour we were assisted by local guides very familiar with the regions. We stayed at the finest lodges with great service, food and friendly staff.
Every year as winter sets in I look forward to exciting ornithological trips in India as tour leader and birder.