Chambal river cruise

Our journey to Agra took us via the River Chambal, near the city of Dholpur. One of our main targets on the cruise – I say cruise but in truth it was more a ‘high-end’ rowing boat with an outboard – was Indian Skimmer, a threatened species with a fragmented population across northern India, Pakistan and adjacent countries. The only known breeding colonies are on sandbanks along the Chambal river. Unfortunately, with water-levels still high after the monsoon season, there were no exposed sand spits available for them to breed and, sadly, they were a ‘no show’. We did however see some nice stuff, including Gharial crocodiles, with their distinctive long thin snouts. The best birds were undoubtably Black-bellied Tern and River Plover.

The Visitors Centre at the government run cruise centre on the Chambal River
River Plover were an early target – seen on the shore around the ‘visitors centre’ and throughout the cruise in small numbers
There are eight species of turtle living in the Chambal River – several of them endangered. This one though is the common Softshell
Along the sand cliffs of the river we saw our first Blue Rockthrush
.. and Desert Wheatear – this one is practicing its levitation skills
This Egyptian Vulture, taking a bath, was a bit of a surprise
..as was this raptor seen overhead. Initially identified as Osprey, on closer views it turned into a splendid Bonelli’s Eagle
We were familiar with Mugger Crocodile, having seen them earlier on the trip in the national parks and, previously, in Sri Lanka
What was new were the intriguing, fish-eating, Gharial Crocodile – with their distinctive long thin snouts
Kentish Plover were another addition to our bird list
..and then there were these – absolutely stunning Black-bellied Tern, which flew up and down the Chambal River
One of them was wearing a leg-flag ‘Y63’. If anyone knows how to get in touch with the ringer please do let me know
They’ve built a new bridge over the Chambal River at Dholpur – seen here in the background. That’s because the old one, in the foreground, gets flooded during the monsoon! You can see the debris on the old bridge, caught on the pillars under the carriageway! I estimate that must be 6-8 metres above the level of the river. That’s a lot of water!
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This entry was posted in Birding.

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