With its variety of climates, topography and habitats, North India is home to a corresponding diversity of birds, as well as many iconic large mammals.
To the south of Delhi, some superb wetlands host sizeable congregations of waterfowl, none more famous than the man-made lakes of Bharatpur where 150 species in a day is not out of reach. Here, one of India’s cleanest waterways sustains rich agricultural lands, with Indian Skimmer, the endangered South Asian River Dolphin and curious pot-nosed Gharial viewable along the Chambal River. Further west, this region hosts large swathes of semi-desert and acacia where two big cats make their home among atmospheric ruins – Tiger at Ranthambhore and Leopard at Jhalana. During the Indian monsoon, dry plains become lush, green grasslands. In this setting, somewhat at odds with the preconceived notion of the Rajasthani desert, the highly endangered and otherwise secretive Lesser Florican, among India’s most endangered birds, can be found displaying conspicuously.
North of Delhi, the Indo-Gangetic Plains rise into the outer Himalayas. At the base of these hills, Corbett National Park is a melting-pot of species where lowland birds mingle with those of higher elevations, and megafauna including Asian Elephant wander vast floodplains and forests. Into the foothills, birding in the productive mid-altitudes at the junction of the Western and Central Himalayas is incredible, with dynamic mixed feeding flocks vocal laughingthrushes. These hills are home to various montane pheasants, including the spectacularly hued Himalayan Monal at higher elevations. In the extreme northern reaches of India, the states of Kashmir and Ladakh host localised breeders and iconic species of the Tibetan plateau.
During the winter months birding is particularly productive. Resident birds are accompanied by a host of winter migrants from the Palaearctic and species more usually associated with higher altitudes can often be found at lower elevations.
Key species across the region: Cheer Pheasant, Koklass Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, Tibetan Partridge, Chukar, Himalayan Snowcock, Tibetan Snowcock, Black-necked Crane, Sarus Crane, Lesser Florican, Indian Courser, Indian Skimmer, Ibisbill, Himalayan and Siberian Rubythroats, Himalayan Bluetail, Immaculate Cupwing, Black-chinned Babbler, Kashmir Nuthatch, White-throated Tit, Orange Bullfinch, Spectacled Finch, Bristled Grassbird, Indian Spotted Eagle, Indian Scops Owl, Tiger, Leopard, Asian Elephant, Ganges River Dolphin, Tibetan Wild Ass, Himalayan Tahr, Himalayan Goral.
NORTH INDIA BIRDING & WILDLIFE TOURS
Kumaon and Garhwal: Monal and More
A 15-day birding tour to the scenic mid-elevations of the Central Himalayas, looking for unequivocal montane species, including the spectacular Himalayan Monal.
15 DAYS | NOVEMBER & APRIL TO MAY
Kashmir and Ladakh
A 16-day birding tour to India's northern extremes, exploring little-visited forests, valleys, high elevation grasslands and lakes as we look for localised specialities.
16 DAYS | JULY TO AUGUST
MODERATE TO CHALLENGING
Monsoon Magic: Lesser Florican & More
A 14-day birding tour of Rajasthan during the Indian monsoon, when lush grasslands host displaying Lesser Floricans, plus Great Indian Bustard and more summer specialities.
14 DAYS | JULY TO AUGUST
EASY TO MODERATE