Saturday, January 7, 2017

Birding Northern India. Bharatpur Pt. 2

Bharatpur is primarily a wetland: ' Keoladeo Ghana National Park is a man-made and man-managed wetland and one of the national parks of India. The reserve protects Bharatpur from frequent floods, provides grazing grounds for village cattle, and earlier was primarily used as a waterfowl hunting ground.' As such it is the birds that favour wetland habitat that make this national park so famous and valuable. Indian Darter, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant and Great Cormorant are all present in abundance and easy to locate. As are Little, Intermediate and Great White Egrets. Grey Heron and Purple Heron are both common and so too is Indian Pond Heron. We also had regular views of Black-crowned Night Heron and Striated Heron.
Black Bittern   Ixobrychus flavicollis
Grey Heron - Pulling shapes - Ardea cinerea
Indian Cormorant - Phalacrocorax fuscicollis
Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii
Intermediate Egret  Mesophoyx intermedia
Little Cormorant  Phalacrocorax niger
Little Egret  Egretta garzetta
Purple Heron   Ardea purpurea
Striated or Little Heron  Butorides striata
The singular most impressive sight is the Painted Stork rookery. Pairs of these birds are to be seen raising young in huge rookeries containing numerous pairs. Photo opportunities abound and had it been in the days of analogue film I would have had to keep a count of the rolls of film used as it is so easy to just keep firing the shutter. Isn't digital brilliant!
Painted Stork   Mycteria leucocephala One of about half a million photos I took of this species.
Other storks seen on the reserve were Asian Openbill, Woolly-necked Stork and Black-necked Stork.
As to be expected there was a good variety of duck although the expected Wigeon were strangely absent. The most abundant duck was the Indian Spot-billed Duck and I was pleased with this as it is a beautiful duck...I think!
Indian Spot-billed Duck  Anas poecilorhyncha
Asian Openbill  Anastomus oscitans
Eurasian Spoonbill  Platalea alba

 Lesser Whistling Duck were present in big numbers, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Teal, Ferruginous Duck, Greylag and Bar-headed Goose, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Comb Duck, Gadwall, Pintail and Shoveler made up the remainder of the wildfowl species.

Lesser Whistling Duck  Dendrocygna javanica
Ruddy Shelduck  Tadorna ferruginea  (On Golden Pond!)
At the end of the first day in Bharatpur we were treated to a spectacular sunset and an Indian Darter posing on a suitable stump.
Indian Darter  Anhinga melanogaster and Bharatpur sunset.
I could not recommend a visit to Bhatatpur strongly enough. And of course if you're thinking of going then you should book a trip with Norfolk Birding and Chris Mills. Loads of eco-tourist companies run trips here but Chris gives real good value for money and there are the other sites that we visited that Chris knows well. Not to mention the tigers! More of which later!

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