I was bit taken aback by the reach of urbanity as we neared Bharatpur bird sanctuary. The feel was missing but not for long. The wetlands as I discovered are a paradise for bird lovers. I was leading a group of Germans
and this was my first trip to Keoladeo Ghana.
The Sibes have gone but the sanctuary retains much of its glamor. At Bharatpur a two day trip yields a checklist of more than 150 species of wetland birds. Some of the bird we check listed here and at Bund Baretha include:
Little Heron, Black-crowned Night-heron, Glossy Ibis, Siberian ruby throat, Bar Headed Geese, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Asian Open-billed Stork, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Barn Swallow, Wire-tailed Swallow,
House Martin, Hume’s Warbler, Black Bittern, Cotton Teal, Northern Pintail and Eurasian Coot. Grey Francolin, Tickle’s Thrush, Brown Crake, Booted warbler, Great white pelicans, Spot-billed duck, Sykes Warbler, Common Crane, Sarus Crane, Black necked stork,
Dusky Fish Owl, Purple Swamphen, Wood sand piper, Spotted redshank, Green Sandpiper, Bronze-winged Jacana, Greater Spotted Eagle, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Lesser spotted eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, King Vulture, Temminck’s stint,
Oriental Darter, Grey Heron, Indian Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Purple Heron, Painted Stork.
We could sight Indian skimmers at Bund Baretha but could sight whiskered tern, Ferruginous pochard, Spanish sparrow, oriental skylark, Russets sparrow and more....
Our next destination was Chambal River Sanctuary more than an hours drive from Agra. It is a pristine river parts of which are designated as river sanctuary. Chambal is a unique destination as apart from birding this
is a good place to see Gangetic dolphin, Marsh crocodile and the endangered Gharial. On a boat trip we could come across Indian skimmers, sand lark, Isabelline Wheatear, Brown Crake, Long Legged Buzzard, Variable Wheatear, Desert Wheatear, Bonelli's eagle
on nest, brown fish eagle, booted hawk eagle and brownhawk owl.
A day is enough at Chambal River Sanctuary for
birding trip during winters. Most of the bird watching is done on the boat ride but substantial number of birds can be seen on the banks. The
boat ride is about three hours and covers a long distance.
For avid birders Chambal is a must see destination. Most of the tour operators include this destination in their itineraries for birding in Northern India.