NORTH INDIA: Just Bharatpur
A 4-day exploration of Bharatpur, where huge numbers of wildfowl, waders, cranes, storks, raptors and passerines congregate around the outstanding wetlands.
Our tour is a thorough exploration of Bharatpur, one of India’s finest bird sanctuaries. With four days here we have plenty of time to thoroughly cover the park’s extensive shallow wetlands, together with its patches of woodland and acacia scrub that flank the park’s network of trails, and the roadside marshes of surrounding irrigated farmland. It is not unusual to see more than a hundred species a day here, and as we explore using Bharatpur’s unique cycle rickshaws we can expect to encounter a good diversity and abundance of waterfowl and waders, including Indian Spot-billed and Knob-billed Ducks, White-tailed Lapwing and Black-winged Stilt, an impressive selection of storks that includes Black-necked and Painted, Red-naped Ibis, Sarus Crane, roosting owls including Dusky Eagle-Owl and Indian Scops Owl, and an abundance of passerines such as Orange-headed Thrush, Siberian Rubythroat and Eastern Orphean Warbler. We’ll stay in a village homestay run by our guide Lokesh’s family, perfectly placed to explore surrounding fields looking for dryland birds such as Indian Courser, Desert Wheatear and Crested Bunting, and to look for Greater Painted-snipe and Baillon’s Crake in roadside marshes.
A diversity of species in contrasting habitats with dryland species of the wider region, such as Isabelline and Desert Wheatears, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse and Indian Courser, complemented by wetland birds in the vast man-made wetlands of Bharatpur and roadside marshes of irrigated farmland.
An impressive selection of waterbirds over four days at Bharatpur, one of India’s finest bird sanctuaries, including Sarus Crane, up to six species of stork, three species of ibis, White-tailed Lapwing, Greater Painted-Snipe, Black Bittern, and numerous waterfowl including Indian Spot-billed and Knob-billed Ducks and Bar-headed Goose.
Numerous passerines in woodlands and acacia scrub including Siberian Rubythroat, Orange-headed and Tickell’s Thrushes, Eastern Orphean Warbler and several flycatchers, plus Dusky Eagle Owl, Indian Scops Owl and Large-tailed Nightjar, and with numerous eagles including Eastern Imperial and Indian Spotted Eagles drawn to the spectacle.
An enjoyable stay with our guide Lokesh Kumar's family in their comfortable homestay, where we’ll experience warm hospitality, excellent home-cooked meals and a good location from which to explore surrounding fields looking for Greater Painted-snipe and Baillon’s Crake in roadside marshes.
Day 1: Delhi to Bharatpur
Arrivals into Delhi airport this morning. We will spend the rest of the morning driving south into Uttar Pradesh to Bharatpur for a four-night stay. We will arrive in time for our first visit to Keoladeo-Ghana (or simply just Bharatpur) Bird Sanctuary, a former royal game reserve. We might otherwise decide to spend the afternoon exploring surrounding dry fields and irrigated farmland, where we can expect to encounter a good selection of dryland species as an introduction to the avifauna of the region. Key among these will be Grey Francolin, Indian Courser, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Sirkeer Malkoha, Eurasian Hoopoe, Indian Roller, Isabelline and Desert Wheatears, Brown Rock Chat, Black-breasted, Streaked and Baya Weavers, White-capped, Grey-necked and Crested Buntings, the delightful Red Avadavat, Indian Silverbill, Rufous-tailed Lark, Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark and Bank Myna, with Baillon’s Crake and Greater Painted Snipe in roadside marshes.
Day 2-3: Bharatpur
We have two full days to thoroughly explore the extensive man-made shallow wetlands of Bharatpur, undoubtedly among India’s finest bird reserves, on foot and by the park’s unique bicycle-rickshaws. This is a haven for resident and migratory waterfowl, and many of the birds we will find are conspicuous, numerous and easily seen. With more than 100 species in a day not uncommon here, birding is both highly enjoyable and immensely rewarding. Among Sarus Crane, Bar-headed and Greylag Geese, Black-necked, Painted and Woolly-necked Storks, Eurasian Spoonbill, Black-headed and Red-naped Ibis, White-throated and Pied Kingfishers, various egrets, waders, and huge congregations of waterfowl we’ll look for scarcer Knob-billed and Ferruginous Ducks, Red-crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Black Bittern, Indian and Great Thick-knees, and White-tailed Lapwing. In patches of trailside woodland and acacia we’ll look for Common and White-tailed Ioras, Eastern Orphean Warbler, Brooks’s Leaf Warbler, White-browed Fantail, Taiga and Ultramarine Flycatchers, Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Eurasian Wryneck, White-eared Bulbul, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Brown-headed and Coppersmith Barbets, Indian Golden Oriole, Indian Grey Hornbill and skulkers such as Orange-headed and Tickell’s Thrushes, and Siberian Rubythroat. We can also expect to come across Indian Scops Owl, Dusky Eagle Owl and Large-tailed Nightjar at day roosts, and a superb assortment of raptors including Eastern Imperial, Indian Spotted and Steppe Eagles, and Indian, Red-headed and Egyptian Vultures.
Day 4: Bharatpur to Delhi, depart
After a full morning at Bharatpur we will drive back to Delhi. Departures from Delhi airport this evening.