Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Jewel in the Crown Part III, Chambal/Taj Mahal

Saturday 14th February.

I appear to have gained a bit of a reputation at Chambal from my last visit, which mainly was to due getting up to my knees in mud whilst leaving the river to look for Sirkeer Malkoha. In fact, it was around this very spot:

So after that, just about all the staff at the safari lodge just laugh at me, in a good hearted way of course. And we did see the Malkoha, top of the hill. It was also great to meet Dalveer again, the lodge's resident birding guide. An evening walk around the grounds produced Brook's Leaf Warbler, Orange-Headed Ground Thrush, Plum-Headed Parakeet:

And the Safari Lodge's resident Brown Hawk Owl:

2 Barred Buttonquail were also in adjacent fields.

Sunday 15th February.

It's about a 25 minute drive from the safari lodge to the embarking point along the Chambal River for the boat trip, taking in Crested Bunting and Sulphur-Bellied Warbler along the way. Digiscoping isn't really possible on the boat, but I managed these shots from before and after the boat ride:

Small Pratincole

Great Thick-Knee

Indian Skimmer

River Lapwing

A plethora of other birds were seen from the boat, including a fantastic male Black Francolin, Bar-Headed Geese, Woolly-Necked Stork, Lesser Sand Plover, Red-Headed Vulture, Chestnut-Bellied Sandgrouse, Bonelli's and Short-Toed Eagles, Desert and Variable Wheatears.

Back to the safari lodge for lunch, then off we go to Agra. I took loads of photos of the Taj Mahal last time. Call me a philistine if you like, but it hasn't changed much since. But even I, who doesn't have that much interest in architecture, must admit it's an impressive sight:

This time I did concentrate more on birding in the gardens and the view of the Yamuna River behind the Taj. The gardens produced Asian Koel, Shikra, Brown-Headed Barbet, Hoopoe amongst others; plenty of Black Kites overhead with the odd Egyptian Vulture and an Osprey. Then along the river was my first ever Caspian Gull. A slightly different backdrop here than at Stubber's Green!

We had time for about two hours at the Taj, prior to heading off to Agra Cantonment railway station, for the overnight sleeper train to Jabalpur.

To be continued..............


Martyn Yapp said...

Hi Richard

Sounds like a great trip.

My funniest memory of Agra Cantonment Railway Station is that having took the 6.00am Shatabdi Express from Delhi having only arrived in India at just after midnight. India was new to me and of course the melay outside the station was overwhelming and as we walked over to the pre-pay taxi booth my mate Ian stopped and pointed to sky and said "Grey Wagtail", sure enough, one flew over.

Richard Powell said...

Hi Martyn

It really was a great trip, and I've just finished blogging the last bit. I saw a few Grey Wags out there, plus a few others we get here.

My main memory of Agra Cantonment Railway Station is looking down from the platform, and looking at all the Rats. So that's why there are so many Black Kites!

I know the company I went with are doing two group tours next year. One to Kerala and one to Gujurat. I'm very tempted.

Kay said...

Love the photo of the Taj Mahal!

Sounds like you had the most amazing time.