Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Jewel in the Crown Part II, Bharatpur

Thursday 12th - Saturday 14th February.

Our group had two full days inside Keoladeo National Park, with the luxury of travelling by cycle rickshaws (Jaldi Chalo!). When I last visited here, in November 2007, successive poor monsoons had led to the park being very dry. Even then, it was still a great place for birding, although it left one feeling the place wasn't quite at it's best. As such I didn't see one Painted Stork.

15 months, and an excellent monsoon season later, voila:

And not just Painted Storks. But Sarus and Common Cranes, Asian Openbill and Black-Necked Storks, Great White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Glossy and Black-Headed Ibis, Great White, Intermediate, Little and Cattle Egrets, Grey, Purple, Night and Indian Pond Herons, Black Bittern, Oriental Darter.

But the park isn't just a heronry. There are excellent areas of woodland and scrub in the park. The local birding guides really know their stuff. Randeera was our guide on the first day, and knew the exact spots for roosting Spotted Owlet:

Grey Nightjar:

And Large-Tailed Nightjar:

The park is also good for birds of prey. Those seen included Marsh and Hen Harriers, Oriental Honey and White-Eyed Buzzards, Black-Shouldered Kite (always photogenic when perched):

Shikra, Egyptian Vulture, Booted, Indian Spotted and Greater Spotted Eagle (pictured):

Both Randeera and Brijendra (our guide on the second day) have been guiding at Bharatpur for about 30 years. Brijendra took us round similar areas of the park on the second day. Then towards dusk we were taken to some fields between the park entrance and Hotel Sunbird. Which is where, in addition to the Indian Coursers (pictured in my last entry, which I thought were going to be my birds of the trip, more later!), were a group of 11 Yellow-Wattled Lapwings:

On the final morning prior to leaving Bharatpur, Brijendra took us back to these same fields for the Indian Coursers and Yellow-Wattled Lapwings, but also larks such as Crested Lark and Ashy-Crowned Finch-Lark. We were also taken to a stretch of river in town which, as you can see, is a reliable spot for Painted Snipe. Two females were here at the time:

There was an excellent array of other waders here, including Red-Wattled Lapwing, Black-Winged Stilt, Marsh, Common, Wood and Green Sandpipers, Ruff and Temminck's Stint. Eventually we returned to Hotel Sunbird for lunch, and we then embarked on the three and a half hour drive to the Chambal Safari Lodge.

To Be Continued..................


Reg The Birder said...

It's just a different league, isn't it!

Richard Powell said...

That's only scratching the surface. Bharatpur is by far the best birding site I've ever been to.

I forgot to mention some others that I saw, that are vagrants over here. Including Olive-Backed Pipit, Greenish, Hume's Leaf, Blyth's Reed and Dusky Warblers. That'll save a few trips to the east coast!