Bharatpur And Himalayan Birding

by pateluday

Birding is a growing industry in India and most of the enthusiasts are from overseas. Bharatpur or Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary and Sattal in Himalayas are hotspots...

Though the activity is widespread and spreading all over India thanks to locals participating in bird watching tours the industry is still in a nascent stage. India has a great potential with thirteen percent of the World's birds. If you include the sub species the number goes right up to 2000 with lot many endemics.

Most of the enthusiasts still favor the old track, but slowly new hot spots are being explored and discovered. The growth in tourism infrastructure has enabled birders to explore the length and breadth of the country. This has given rise to professional bird tour operators with a wide network of guides, interpreters and travel service providers. Today this industry is poised for a big leap forward and why not the recreation is of the finest type and healthy.

The availability of better optics and handbooks has made a World of difference with emergence home grown bird watchers and local guide for whom this is the best wage earner.


Short Toed Snake Eagle
Short Toed Snake Eagle

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary

Keoladeo Ghana

Bonelli's EagleBharatpur MarshKeoladeo Ghana means dense forest where Shiva deity resides. Yes there is a temple Keoladeo dedicated to Lord Shiva a member of holy trinity where the Lord is the destroyer. Bharatpur must have been a natural water body as well which was in later period made into a huge reservoir by the Maharajah. 

Not dwelling into history this extensive wetland covering twenty eight square kilometres was eventually notified as bird sanctuary, and now as a National Park(1982) by the State of Rajasthan where it is located. The ecosystem is an assemblage of large shallow water bodies or wetlands, woodlands, marshes, grasslands and scrub. This avian paradise is located at one end of Bharatpur City and is easily accessible from Agra. 

The main feature of this park is the assemblage of large number of wetland species along with grasslands and forest birds. The numbers are immensely augmented by the winter migrants.

The history has not always been glorious and after Anjan Dam was built 250 year back this became hunting grounds for the royals and the British rulers. They would end up shooting thousands of waterfowls  during the Royal hunts. Mercifully all that is past and Keoladeo is now one of the major tourist attraction in Western India.  


Grey Faced Woodpecker
Grey Faced Woodpecker
Hari Lama

Bharatpur Birds

Target Species

Sarus CraneBharatpur was once famous for hosting wintering Siberian Crane which do not arrive here anymore having been exterminated on their migratory path. Only cranes that can be seen here are the Sarus and Common Crane. 

The wetland has more than 300 species many of which are breeding residents like cormorants, herons,storks, many species of passerines, raptors, woodpeckers etc. Some of the interesting avian species which are resident are the Nakta, lesser whistling teal, pygmy cotton goose, spot billed duck and brahminy.

The winter migrants mostly comprise of wetland birds which arrive from Palearctic. They arrive from far off land from Siberia, Europe, Asia and Himalayan Ranges and beyond. 

Among the target species are the Siberian Rubythroat, ferruginous pochard, warblers like dusky warbler, Brook's leaf warbler, booted and sulphur bellied warblers, pelicans, raptors like the Great Spotted and Indian Eagle, Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Eurasian Sparrow hawk, Shikra, white eyed buzzard, orange headed thrush, Dusky eagle owl, night jars, bitterns, crakes, nuthatches, shore birds like green and common sandpipers, red and green shank, lapwings, parakeets, Demoiselle Crane, Northern pintail, Mallard, common pochard, gadwall, Eurasian wigeon, red crested pochard, gargeny and many more. The list of birds seen at this National Park is endless and above is a window to what all can be seen on one visit in winters. 

Most of the birding is done on foot but cycles, paddle rickshaws are also available for hire. Guides are available at the gate where entry fee has to be paid.  

Indian Skimmer

Indian Skimmer
Indian Skimmer
Margret Norah

Chambal River Sanctuary

National Chambal Sanctuary

GharialThe river intersects three states namely Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. A part of the river is notified as sanctuary. This is where tourism activity chiefly boating and trekking takes place. The best areas are near Dholpur City in Rajasthan although boating takes place in waters of Madhya Pradesh and is organized by MP Tourism Development Corporation. 

Another option is at Bah in Uttar Pradesh accessible from Agra City.This is very good being isolated and less disturbed. The ambiance is soul stirring whence boating on these pristine unpolluted waters. At the shore dunes give away to large sandy mountains looming all over. It is a spectacle worth and experience. The jutting rock provide basking space to the reptiles and the sandy mounds in between the river are ideal for breeding Indian Skimmers.

The River Experience

Motor Boats are the best means of experiencing the river sanctuary and the target is the river dolphin, crocodiles and gavial. Fishes and tortoise are plentiful. While Indian Skimmer is the most sought after avian, there other interesting species to see. For birders this is a paradise and one can see lot many. 

Some of the avian species seen are:

  • Laggar Falcon
  • Bonelli's Eagle
  • Osprey
  • Black bellied tern
  • River tern
  • Sand lark
  • Bar headed geese
  • Gray lag geese
  • Brahminy duck
  • Spot billed duck
  • Dusky Eagle Owl
  • Indian Eagle Owl
  • Wooly Necked Stork
  • Blue Rock Thrush
  • Brown Hawk Owl
  • Sarus Crane
  • Demoiselle Crane
  • Booted Eagle
  • Pallas’s Fish Eagle
  • Long-legged Buzzard
  • Tickell's Leaf Warbler
  • Lesser Coucal
  • Brown Crake
  • Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse
  • Painted Sandgrouse
  • Greater Painted-Snipe
  • Little Tern
  • Desert Wheatear 

There plenty of birds to see at Chambal for the enthusiasts this along with sighting of Gangetic River Dolphin, marsh crocodile and gharial the one with long snout is the order of the day.


Birding In Snow

Hari Lama

Birding in Nainital District


Chir PheasantThere are three marvelous destinations mentioned in Nainital Districts these are few among many.

  • Sat Tal - 1400 MSL
  • Pangot - 2100 MSL
  • Corbett Tiger Reserve: Himalayan Foothills 

The target birds are:

  • Ibisbill
  • Rosy pipit
  • Wall creeperHimalayan Kingfisher

  • Crimson Sunbird
  • Little Forktail 
  • Crimson Sunbird
  • Koklass Pheasant
  • Cheer Pheasant
  • Laughing Thrushes
  • Parakeets
  • Blue Winged Minla
  • Red-billed blue magpie
  • Lineated barbet
  • Golden-throated barbet
  • Crimson-fronted barbet
  • Chestnut bellied rock thrush
  • Grey-capped pygmy woodpecker
  • Stripe-breasted woodpecker
  • Rufous-bellied woodpecker
  • Himalayan woodpecker
  • Lesser  and greater yellow-naped woodpecker
  • Grey faced woodpecker
  • Scaly-bellied woodpecker
  • Lammergeier
  • Himalayan Griffon
  • Kalij pheasant
  • Blue-eared kingfisher
  • Mrs. Gould’s sunbird
  • Black-throated sunbird and breasted sunbird
  • Fire-tailed sunbird
  • Russet Sparrow
  • Scaly-breasted wren-Babbler
  • White-rumped needletail
  • Black-chinned babbler
  • Rufous-breasted accentor
  • Black-chinned babbler
  • Lemon-rumped warblers
  • Brown dipper
  • Peregrine falcon
  • Red necked falcon
  • Alpine accentor
  • Golden bush robin

There are more than five hundred species of avian in this region and can be seen in different seasons especially in the winters. Local guides are available for assistance at all places along with birding lodges that provide fair luxuries and good food.  

NainiTal Forests

Landscape Sat Tal
Sat Forests
Sat Forests
Hari Lama

Birding Tours in North

Birding Expedition The Expeditions 

The expedition take place mostly during the winter whence migrants descend from the upper reaches of Himalayas. Winters can be harsh with frequent snow fall blocking the routes of some places. Hence all precautions should be taken including keeping stock of all personal necessities. Those with breathing problems can experience discomfort.

The tours are organized by Indian birding companies of repute. These cater to Bharatpur & Himalayan birding region in North India. These are specialists in this region and provide full services including expert guides. The package tours are booked much in advance to make requisite arrangements. The group travel is much better than solo and small groups of up to eight birders are preferred.      

The tours may continue till April but snow can be met with even in summers in the Himalayan upper reaches especially at Pangot.  

Updated: 05/16/2020, pateluday
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