Birding Prospects in Central India

by pateluday

This article summarizes birding potential in Central India. Dominated by tiger the Forests of Madhya Pradesh face neglect as far as birding is concerned.

Madhay Pradesh (MP) is a land locked State of India but is well connected by railway and roads with major cities. The region is also known as Central India as it lies in the middle of the country. Of late the State has experienced as surge in tourism. The State lacks propaganda machinery for promotion of lesser known destinations and yet to be popularized aspects of what it has to offer.

The main tourist traffic is generated by the Khajuraho Temples and the Tiger Reserves. But MP has more to offer and bird watching potential is one of the offerings which is still underrated. There are more than five hundred species of avian waiting to be discovered and properly check listed.

The State is blessed with a diverse geography that creates niche habitats for our avian friends. Lot of species found in various parts of India arrive in MP and spend varying degree of time. Being in the center of the country NP offers easy access to birds on migration from all directions and those seeking refuge for various reasons.

There are many places that offer good birding prospects in Madhya Pradesh and that is what we will discuss in this article.

Brahminy Duck Photo

Barhminy Duck
Barhminy Duck
John Matthai

Birds of MP

A short list

PeacockLesser Florican in Ratlam District at Khamore Sanctuary is a major attraction. Besides the Indian Skimmer, Great Indian Bustard, Sarus Crane, Bar Headed Geese, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Pitta, Malabar and Oriental Pied Horn Bills, Crested Hawk & Crested Serpent Eagles, Orange Headed Thrush, Peacock, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Black Naped Monarch, Golden Oriole, Black Naped Oriole, Gray Lag Geese, Bar Headed Geese, Brahminy Duck, Red Crested BPochard, Greater Racket Tailed Drongo, Painted Stork, Green Avadavat and many more.

These are much sought after birds in Central India. Some species like White Backed and Long Billed Vultures along with Green Munia and Great Indian Bustard are now rare.  Status of many avian species in MP is endangered due to habitat loss and toxic chemical effluents.    

Central India Birding Video

Birding Destinations in Central India

MP Birding

Black StorkWorking as guide I have been birding in Central India for a long time albeit in a limited area. In the process I have discovered areas which offer tremendous possibility of bird watching tourism. In this module we will discuss some destinations which I believe hold lots of potential for this recreation.

Some of the destinations which are lesser known from tourism point of view and contain immense potential for birding are: 

Pachmarhi Biosphere Reserve

Amarkantak Hill Resort

Chambal River Sanctuary

Madhav National Park

Achanakmar Sanctuary

Central Indian Tiger Reserve

Karera Bustard Sanctuary

Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary

Rani Durgawati Wildlife Sanctuary

Some of these destinations have a well established tourism infrastructure in terms of accommodation, accessibility and travel services. Many places do not have these attributes hence accommodation in immediate vicinity is not possible.  For expeditions in such areas one needs to seek it in nearby towns.  

Chambal River Video

Destinations at a Glance

Bar Headed GeesePachmarhi Biosphere Reserve constitutes Pachmarhi Wildlife Sanctuary, Satpura Tiger Reserve and Bori Wildlife Sanctuary. This is an excellent bird habitat in Madhya Pradesh. No organized tours are being conducted here devoted to birding. Tourists on tigers safari at Satpura enjoy birding with greatest pleasure since many exciting species are being discovered here. Dhoopgarh in Pachmarhi Hill Resort  is the highest point in MP at 1350 MSL.

Amarkantak Hill Resort is situated at a height of 1048 MSL with extreme cold climate in winters. Very little birding has Glossy Ibisbeen carried out here but the altitude variation between it and nearby Achanakmar Tiger Reserve promises the possibility of exciting species to be discovered. I have seen many wintering warblers and pipits at heights.

Madhav National Park is situated in the District of Shivpuri and was the hunting reserve of erstwhile Maharajahs of Gwalior.  The park is well known for wintering waterfowls at Chandpatha Lake besides hordes of forest species in the park. Along with Karera Bustard Sanctuary on the way from Jhansi this forms an excellent birding corridor.    

Chambal River Sanctuary encompasses a long passage that runs through the States of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.  The river offers exciting bird discoveries and is frequented by birders from various countries who enjoy boating besides sighting fresh water crocodiles, gharials and Gangetic river dolphins.  

Naurdehi & Rani Durgawati Wildlife Sanctuaries are situated near Jabalpur in MP State. Both the places are close by and offer exciting avian finds in all seasons. One of the largest protected area in India, habitat variation at Nauradehi is impressive hence fit for extended birding tours. The Nauradehi WLS is situated at a distance of 100 km from Jabalpur    

Popular Tiger Reserves in MP are Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna and Pench National Parks. These protected areas are tiger heavens but contain no less than two hundred fifty avian species each. The focus here is on the tiger but scores of exciting avian species can be seen in these reserves on tiger tours.    

Malkoha Photo

Green Billed Malkoha
Green Billed Malkoha
John Matthai

Bird Blog MP

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Birding in Madhya Pradesh: How To?

Madhya Pradesh is well connected by flights and railway with Mumbai and New Delhi. The landing points in MP are Jabalpur, Gwalior and Bhopal for reaching some of the destination mentioned in the above modules. One can drive down from Agra and Bharatpur to to Chambal River Sanctuary (Dholepur) and from there to Madhav National Park and Karera Bustard Sanctuary.

From these major towns one can taxi down to the birding spots nearby.  The best time for bird watching is in winters and summers but not the monsoon period.  One also needs services of birding guide which are available in the tiger reserves. One also needs reference books which are easily available in top stores in big cities.

Before arriving in India one should contact a tour operator in Central India for all the necessary bookings and arrangements.  Those specializing wildlife packages should be of immense help. Many tour operators specialize in Indian birding tours all over. 

Advance reservations for transport and accommodation is a wise step to consider whence visiting India. Madhya Pradesh is relatively a safe place but one needs to take some precautions like traveling during the day time and possibly in company. 

Some services and amenities may not be available in interiors or remote locations hence arrange for them before hand, this also applies to banking services.

Plum Headed Parakett Photo

Plum Headed Parakeet
Plum Headed Parakeet
John Matthai

Map of Madhya Pradesh

Bird Books of India

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Updated: 05/16/2020, pateluday
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