Sunday, 26 May 2019

Bharatpur National Park - a Birders Delight

A Snake Bird in flight at Bharatpur National Park

Barely 185 km away from Gurgaon, a four-hour drive can take you to the birders paradise of Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, also known as Keoladeo Ghana National Park.

Flamingos & Ducks at the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary

The best time to visit the Park is in winters when the place is swarming with migratory birds from as far away as Siberia and even Africa! 

A Deer & an Egret at the Bharatpur National Park

There are plenty of stay options at Bharatpur including the hotel inside the park as well as several hotels and guest houses at a walkable distance from the Park. 

A huge Sparrow Hawk at the Bharatpur National Park

Owls at the Bharatpur National Park

Best time of the day for bird watching is early in the morning as the birds are more active then. The entrance fee is Rs 50 per person. 

All the way from Africa - Egyptian Vulture at the Bharatpur National Park

Once you reach near the entrance of the Park you will notice that there are lots of cycle-rickshaws. It is a huge Park of 29 sq km. So it is advisable to take some form of transport. 

Darter & Cormorants at the Bharatpur National Park 

Mother comes to feed its Kids at the Bharatpur National Park 

Avoid taking a rickshaw from outside. Rather take one from inside the Park as the rikshawalas inside also serve as guides (they have done the guiding course and are experienced and competent). 

Flock of Birds being watched by Cormorants at the Bharatpur National Park

In 2018 the Cycle cum guide rent was Rs 150 for an hour. They also have binoculars for which you pay extra but it is definitely useful as the birds like to keep their distance from the tourists. 

A Glossy Ibis watching another bird at the Bharatpur National Park 

Several of these guides are Sikhs (as was mine) who were given land near Bharatpur when they migrated from West Punjab (now Pakistan) in 1947 at the time of partition. 

A Purple Pond Heron at the Bharatpur National Park

One can also hire cycles inside the Park but as my partner could not cycle, I therefore took the rickshaw for 5 hours. After that I let the rickshaw go and explored further on foot going on trails not visited by too many people. For bigger groups there are options of battery operated golf-carts and horse drawn carts as well. 

Glossy Ibis at the Bharatpur National Park

The rickshaw pullers cum guides know the routine, the nests and the favourite spots of birds and they can also identify them for you. Our guide knew exactly the nests of owlets, eagles and kites, snakes taking siesta in the sun etc. They also tell you anecdotes, so it is worth the money. 

An eagle about to attack its prey at the Bharatpur National Park

It is advisable not to hurry. See the birds and the wildlife at leisure. 

Kingfisher at the Bharatpur National Park

However, keep in mind that if you are going to spend a long part of the day inside the Park then do carry sufficient water bottles and eatables (please do not litter) as inside the Park the two canteens serve miserable snacks. 

Bharatpur National Park has a huge colony of Storks

Storks displaying themselves at the Bharatpur National Park

Let's take 'Stork" of the Situation

I sat for half an hour at one place and was rewarded by this - absolutely still like a statue -  Pond Heron catching a fish. It was a delight to watch. 

Nice catch - A Pond Heron with its prize - Bharatpur National Park

A Pelican at the Bharatpur National Park

Besides the birds that I could identify like the Egyptian Vulture, Green Himalayan Pigeon or the Ghuggi (in Punjabi), Common Babbler, Dove, Sparrow Hawk, Goose, Oriental Magpie Robin, Pelican, Herons, Cormorants, big colonies of Storks, various types of Kingfishers and wildlife like the Deer, Wild cows (there were some domestic ones also roaming around. Villagers get rid of unproductive cows by dumping them in the Sanctuary over the boundary walls), Wild Boar, Snakes etc. There were several others, which were a delight to watch.

Ajgar Snake sunning itself at the Bharatpur National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage Site incidentally was earlier was a royal Duck game reserve where the local royalty use to come and shoot the ducks as a game.

Perched high on a tree at the Bharatpur National Park

Purple Swamp-hens at the Bharatpur National Park 

Do remember to have good walking shoes, water bottle, snacks, good binoculars (if not then good zoom camera) so as to enjoy your birding experience!

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