Bird Watching

Keoladeo National Park

Posted by Pranay Rai on February 21, 2016

 
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Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, also known as Ghana Bird Sanctuary, is one of the best bird sanctuaries in the world.
The name Keoladeo comes from the temple of Lord Shiva which is located in that area. And Ghana means ‘dense’. The sanctuary is a heaven for animal lovers and bird watchers.
The park is open throughout the year, although, the best experience of watching the migratory birds and pythons, comes in the winter months from mid October to February. December is considered to be the ideal month for bird watching as a plethora of birds can be seen.
The park allows the visitors to hire bicycles and rickshaws for the tour.
A narrow road, fit for cycling, winds its way throughout the park surrounded by dense green forest.
A sweet chirping of various birds can be heard in the magnificence of the forest. A large variety of birds can be seen basking in the sun, feeding the chicks, soaring high in the sky, plunging into the water bodies for fishes.
Along with the umpteen birds, mammals such as the Spotted Deer and Nilgais can be spotted.
On our visit, in September this year, a male Spotted Deer stag was seen crossing the road. It stood there for a few seconds, flaunting its majestic body, and then disappeared in the bushes.
A Nilgai was spotted running through the swamp waters, creating a sudden ruckus which alarmed the birds around the place. The then serene scene was filled with boisterous chirping and splashing of water in no time.
Frogs can be heard croaking around the muddy and still water of the marsh. Snails can be easily and abundantly found in the bogs.
The best thing about the park is the independency for the tourists. There are no limitations in the safari timings and zones. A person can go anywhere and can stay in the park until the sun sets. Guides, possessing an ample amount of knowledge about the flora and fauna and about the park, can be hired accordingly by paying an extra amount along with the tickets and bicycle charge.
The park is a bliss for the wildlife enthusiasts and is one of the must visit places in Rajasthan.

Bird Watching

Searching for Winged Wonders in Northern India

Posted by Uday on August 21, 2015

 
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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.      

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