Birds of Bharatpur

Talk to any birder about India and they say ‘you’ll love Bharatpur’ – and so we did. This premier site – proper name Keoladeo Ghana National Park (named after a Shiva temple within its boundaries) – is a man-made and man-managed wetland, spreading over 29 square kilometres. Designated as a national park in 1982, a World Heritage Site, this special place plays host to more than 350 bird species. Unfortunately this year the exceptionally wet monsoon season had delayed the arrival of many species and the high water-levels meant that the birds which were there were well spread out – compounded by much of the park being off limits to regular visitors. The public areas of the park are only accessible on foot or by pedal-power, which does mean there are large areas which remain relatively undisturbed – unsurprisingly these proved the best for birding. The dominant feature are the wetlands – vast shallow lagoons which dry out completely in the hot months – but there are also areas of rough grazing, scrub and riparian woodland, holding a rich diversity of species. Here is a sample of what we enjoyed during our five day stay.

But first we had to get there – a four hour train ride away from Ranthambhore
..and then there was the ceremonial welcome at our hotel, Surya Vilas Palace
Once inside the park we were transported on a ‘fleet’ of sedate rick-shaws – a marked contrast to our earlier jeep safaris!
So what about the birds? A network of tracks between numerous lagoons afford great views of the water birds – here the aptly named Bronze-winged Jacana
With luck and persistence you might strike it lucky with this prize skulker – Black Bittern. We found two – neither easy!
In the surrounding trees the default hornbill – Indian Grey
and at one stop the brightly coloured Indian Golden Oriole
More subtle in appearance but equally as engaging, Pied Bushchat – this is the male
Bluethroat is a regular winter visitor – this individual was more colourful than most
White-eared Bulbul (why not yellow-vented I’ve no idea!) is restricted in range but common at Bharatpur
The drier scrubby areas had obvious shrike-appeal – this was the only Bay-backed we got good views of
Raptors were ever-present with a good number of the larger eagles sat up on prominent perches – but this Imperial Eagle was our first and only
Close-by was this, our only Pallid Harrier
But perhaps one of the ‘best’, certainly most intriguing, was this bird – shape, structure and behaviour of a Moorhen but looking more like a Spotted Crake! Any comments welcome…

A fabulous place and my kind of birding – wander about and find your own. Bharatpur certainly didn’t give up all it’s secrets this time, leaving a return match a real possibility – but they’ll certainly have to sort out the visa situation before that happens!

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This entry was posted in Birding.

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