Thursday, April 30, 2009

Northern India bird tours

Trip Report Rajasthan Uttranchal by Uday Patel

Delhi – Bharatpur - Chambal – Sat Tal-Pangot-Corbett

Duration: 5th April to 18th April 2009

India Footprints a package tour operator has been organizing various tours to several destinations in India. But wildlife and birding tours are the company’s forte. This particular itinerary had been devised keeping the sole objective of birding in mind. The group consisted of Germans - a group of sixteen birding enthusiasts, Neelesh Agrawal and tour leader Uday Patel all birders down to core.

The trip started at New Delhi which was just a landing point. Upon arrival at the airport afternoon we left immediately for Bharatpur Sun Bird Hotel in Bharatpur in the evening.

Our birding trip at Bharatpur began at 6.00 in the morning to see yellow wattle lapwing, rufous tailed shrike, ashy prinia and grey franklin in the nearby fields. We spent one and a half day birding at Bharatpur bird sanctuary which yielded good results.

We moved to Agra for overnight stay. The next morning we arrived at Chambal around 7 am. We could sight large number of interesting bird species at Chambal river sanctuary along with gharials, crocodiles and river dolphin. The area consists of sparsely wooded ravines and cliffs on the bank of the river which is one of unpolluted rivers in India. After morning river safari and a brief birding session and lunch at Chambal safari lodge we departed for New Delhi for stay overnight. Next day we proceeded to Sat Tal in Nainital District of Uttranchal. At Sat Tal we sighted interesting bird species. The next birding destination was Pangot about 35 kms from Sat Tal. We spent and three nights Pangot and then proceeded to Corbett National Park to add to our burgeoning list of bird species check listed.

In this birding trip report I am not presenting all the species here but rather those species that interested us the most and those which may interest the readers.

New Delhi -– April 5th

Birding on the way: Rose ringed parakeets, black drongo, bank mynas, pied myna, northern house martin, Black kite, Bronze winged Jacana, Pheasant tailed Jacana, Shikra and Egrets.
Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary – 6th to 8th April
The time spent birding at Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary was quite fruitful. We had one and a half day of birding at the sanctuary. Our list comprises of following birds.
Grey Francolin, Tickle’s Thrush, Brown Crake, Booted warbler, Ashy and Plain Prinia, Great white pelicans, Shikra, Dusky Fish Owl, Spot-billed duck, Sykes Warbler, Black-rumped Flameback, Common Crane, Sarus Crane, Brown-headed barbet, Hoopoe, Common Kingfisher, Black necked stork, White-throated Kingfisher, Spotted owlet, Collared Scops Owl, Eurasian ring dove, Laughing Dove, Purple Swamphen, White-breasted Waterhen, Wood sand piper, Spotted redshank, Green Sandpiper, Bronze-winged Jacana, Black-winged Stilt, Black Bittern, Yellow-wattled lapwing, Greater Spotted Eagle, Eurasian Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Lesser spotted eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture, King Vulture, Temminck’s stint, Yellow footed green pigeon, Oriental Darter, Grey Heron, Indian Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Purple Heron, Painted Stork, Intermediate Egret, Black-crowned Night-heron, Glossy Ibis, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Asian Open-billed Stork, Rufus Treepie, Black Drongo, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Oriental Magpie-robin, Indian Robin, Brahminy Starling, Asian Pied Starling, Bar Headed Geese, Bank Myna, Barn Swallow, Wire-tailed Swallow, House Martin, Common Tailorbird, Hume’s Warbler, Purple Sunbird, Cotton Teal, Northern Pintail, White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Eurasian Coot and Indian Silverbill.

Chambal River Sanctuary –9th April

We stayed at Agra overnight and left for morning birding at Chambal River Sanctuary. Chambal is an ancient land with sun baked mountains lining up the river. The ravines are mostly sandy and scrub between mountains. This unique habitat harbors unique species some of which we could sight.

Ferruginous Duck, Bonelli’s Eagle, Booted Hawk eagle, Long Legged Buzzard, Indian Skimmer, White eared bulbul, Sand Lark, Small pratincole, River tern, Black bellied tern, Asian Koel, Brown Fish Owl, Lesser Whistling teal, Bar headed geese, Orphean warbler, and Comb Duck. Other attractions of Chambal River Sanctuary are the River Dolphin, Marsh Crocodile and the Gharial.

Our next move was to New Delhi for overnight stay.
Day 9 th to 11th April

The journey to Sat Tal was long and we reached at around 4pm for some interesting birding. Though the most of wintering birds had departed their place was somewhat occupied by summer visitors to Sat Tal. We had an interesting time at Sat Tal and the results are below.
Crested serpent eagle, Asian barred owlet, Besra, Long tailed broadbill, scaly wren, Fulvous breasted woodpecker, Lesser yellow nape, Rufus bellied woodpecker, Common Rose finch, Bar winged flycatcher shrike, Grey Bush Chat, Mountain hawk eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Long-tailed Shrike, Slaty-headed Parakeets, White throated babblers, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Spotted Forktail, Slaty backed Forktail, Black winged cuckoo shrike, Rufus Sibia, Lesser Yellownape, Red Billed Leiothrix, Verdi or flycatcher, Small Niltava, Rufus Belied Niltava, Streaked Laughing Thrush, White Throated Dipper, Blue winged mina, Golden spectacled warbler, Green tailed sun Bird, Grey headed canary flycatcher, Dark Throated Sun Bird, Brown, Grey Faced Warbler, Black Hooded Warbler, Rufus-bellied Woodpecker, Small Minivet, Long Tailed Minivet, Great Barbet, Coppersmith barbet, White tailed nuthatch, Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch, Whiskered Yuhina, Bar tailed tree creeper, Striated Laughing Thrush, Himalayan griffon, Steppe Eagle, Grey Winged Black Bird, Grey Treepie, Eurasian Jay and Black Headed Jay.

11th April to 14th April
We drove to Pangot for lunch and saw Eurasian Griffons on the way.

At Pangot we sighted:
Kokla’s Pheasant, Striated prinia, Blue capped rock thrush, White browed flycatcher shrike, Altai accentor, Peregrine falcon, Lesser racket tailed drongo, Yellow browed tit, Spot winged tit, Ultramarine flycatcher, Yellow crowned woodpecker, Rufus bellied woodpecker, Himalayan woodpecker, Grey face woodpecker, Fire breasted flowerpecker, Black lored tit, Collared owlet (calls) Hill partridge (calls), Eurasian Cuckoo, Indian Cuckoo, Black bulbul, Common Hawk Cuckoo (Calls), Black eagle, Grey treepie, Red rumped swallow, Siberian bushchat, Maroon Oriole, olive backed pipit and Upland pipit,

14t April to 18th April

On 14th April we left for Corbett tiger reserve. On the way we could see Sulphur bellied warbler, Gold fronted leaf bird, Lammergeyer, Common wood shrike, Black crested bulbul, Common iora, and Black eagle.

We visited Laldhang, Sita Vani and Mohan forests and then moved into the core area of the park for two day wildlife safari and some great birding. On day of departure we visited Kumeria.
We saw Black chinned babbler, White crested laughing thrush, Black chinned Yuhina, Blue throat, singing lark, Oriental skylark, Brown dipper, Yellow footed green pigeon, Chestnut headed bee eater, Spangled Drongo, Maroon Oriole, Black Hooded Oriole, White Bellied Drongo, Dusky fish owl, Brown Fish Owl, Asian paradise flycatcher, Rosy minivet, Small minivet, Scarlet minivet, Kaleej Pheasant, Bar Tailed Flycatcher Shrike, Small Niltava, Rufus Bellied Niltava, Grey Crowned Pigmy Woodpecker, Rufus Breasted Parakeet, Plum Headed Parakeet, Jungle Owlet, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Pallas Fishing Eagle, Lesser fishing Eagle, Honey buzzard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Himalayan Griffon, White Rumped vulture, Steppe eagle. Next we sighted Chestnut headed tesia, White rumped shama (calls), Black naped blue flycatcher (calls), Dollor Bird, Pin Tailed Green Pigeons, Black Francolin, Great Hornbill, Oriental pied hornbill, Common grey hornbill, Himalayan Bulbul, Red whiskered bulbul, Wooly Necked Stork, Black Headed Stork, Ashy Bulbul, Black bulbul, Lineated Barbet, Crimson Throated Barbet, Common Stone Chat, Hodgson’s Bushchat, Lesser Coucal, Grey Bush Chat, Himalayan Flameback, Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch, Crested Kingfisher, Blue Whistling Thrush, Ruddy Shelduck, Stork Billed Kingfisher, Thick Billed Flowerpecker, Crimson Sun Bird, Purple sunbird, Common Kingfisher, Bar Tailed Flycatcher Shrike, Rufous Woodpecker, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Brown-fronted Woodpecker, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Great Tit, Black lored tit.

The birding tour was a big success and we arrived at New Delhi on 19th April. We had check listed over 320 Birds.

Friday, April 24, 2009

North India Bird expedition

North India Birding Trip Report

Tour Conducted by Indiafoot Prints birding tour operator.

North India birding trip

Birding at Chambal River Sanctuary

Though primarily notified to protect marsh crocodiles and gharials Chambal River sanctuary offers a fine birding opportunity. The river passes through many states chiefly Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in India.

Chambal is visited by tourist on bird watching tours for check listing birds like the Indian Skimmer along with Bar Headed goose and Ruddy Shelled ducks. For birding a cruise on the river offers sightings of Indian Skimmers, River and Black Bellied terns, Raptors like Bonelli’s Eagle, Booted Eagle and Long Legged buzzard. The added attraction of is sighting crocodiles, gharials and river dolphins.

On the river banks a birder can see sand larks, pratincole, ruddy breasted crakes, wheatears and raptors. The skimmers are the star attraction among birding groups. Chambal is the breeding grounds for skimmers in India.

Wintering ducks like shovellers, pintails, common teals and many others can be seen here in cold seasons.

Birding at Kanha

Though the prime attractions of the preserve are the tiger and the swamp deer, Kanha offers good birding prospects. Other attractions are bison, leopard, wild dogs and the sloth bear. The spotted deer or Chital are ubiquitous and the main prey base of the carnivores. Sambar deer too falls in the same category but their numbers are less compared to Chitals.

Kanha offers best birding pleasure as more than two hundred sixty birds are found in the cold season. The migrants start arriving by middle of October and their number increases gradually. There are more of forest birds to be check listed on Kanha bird watching tours than wetland birds. The habitat is most suited for forest and grassland birds though wetland birds can be seen also but not in great numbers.

The major species to be seen are raptors like Crested Serpent eagle, Crested Hawk eagle, Honey buzzard, White Eyed buzzard and Osprey. The endangered White Rumped Vulture and Long Billed vulture can be seen but in less numbers.

Among owls Brown Fishing owl, Mottled Wood owl, Jungle owlet, Spotted owlet and Collared Scops owl can be sighted. Rufus tree pie, Coucal, Cuckoos, Flycatchers abound. White Rumped Shama, Brown Cheeked fulvetta and Indian scimitar babblers are commonly heard but less seen. Similarly Indian Pitta and Seerker Malkoha make Kanha National Park in Central India their preferred habitat.

Grassland birds like Common stone chat, Pied Bush chat, Cisticola, Larks, Pipits and Privies are the main avifauna. Racket Tailed drongo and White Bellied drongo are seen often and heard as well. In winters warblers like Hume’s warbler, Tickell’s Leaf warbler and Greenish warbler arrive along with some more warblers.

Among the wetland birds the Spot Billed duck and Lesser Whistling teals are common while migrants like Northern Pintails, Common Teals, Eurasian Wigeon and Tufted ducks can be seen in Sondhar and Bisanpura wetlands. Lesser Adjutant stork, Opened Billed stork and Wooly Necked stork

Kanha National Park offers fantastic opportunity for bird watching although the tourists are more interested in tigers. The park is often visited by local birders and birding enthusiasts from various countries. The bird tours are growing in Kanha as birders learn about the interesting species of the park.