This year, after a gap of 2 years made another visit to 'Keoladeo Ghana National Park' popularly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. This park has thousands of migratory birds arriving for breeding every year from October to March. I was particularly keen to visit the park this year as there had been a very good monsoon and I expected the marshes and lakes of the park to have plenty of water for migratory water birds to land. Was therefore unpleasantly surprised to see that most of the park was dry with just some pockets of water in the many ponds, lakes and marshes. Apparently whereas most of North India had excess rainfall, the region of Bharatpur ( which is just 150 Kms from Delhi) recd very little rain. However did manage to see a number of local as well as migratory birds. The most prominent bird at the park is the Painted Stork. This year two there were more than 2 colonies of painted storks nesting and breeding.
A painted stork with it's catch
As usual there were a number of migratory ducks. Spotted some comb ducks, mallards, greylag goose, ruddy sheldock amongst others. Ibises, egrets, cormorants and herons are other water birds that are abundantly present.
Was fortunate to come across a pair of Sarus Cranes that were feeding in the marshy waters. Sarus cranes are always found in pairs. It is believed that in case one of partner dies, the other starves itself to death.
A pair of Sarus Cranes
Was also fortunate to spot some birds of prey at close distances - the Shikra and Crested Serpent Eagle.
This shikra had a just hunted down a rat and was busy eating it's catch. Though not visible in this photograph, the rat is firmly held by the bird in it's claws.
Crested Serpent Eagle on the lookout.
The Keoladeo National Park is situated in Bharatpur in Rajasthan which is short 4 hours drive from Delhi. Bharatpur is also well connected by train and buses.
Bharatpur has a number of hotels to stay which cater to both the Indian and foreign tourists. I would recommend The Bagh - an excellent property with well furnished rooms, excellent service and good food. It also has a library which has a very good selection of books on birds of India. The hotel has a nice garden with numerous trees and many species of birds can be spotted in the trees. You would also be able to spot turkeys roaming the grounds during the day. If you are planning a visit, be sure to carry your binoculars and if you are a photo enthusiast, carry your telephoto lens.