North & North West India - About
North & North West India include the states of:
Delhi, Punjab, Harayana, Uttaranchal, Himachal and Jammu & Kashmir
Rajasthan,Uttar Pradesh, and Gujerat
The birding areas visited by our tours in this region cover an amazing diversity of habitat extending from wet land at near sea level through scrub & grass land, semi desert, mixed deciduous forests to coniferous forests up to an altitude of 4600 m.
The following Birding sites are included:-
Delhi & Surroundings
Ranthambore National Park
Keoladeo Ghana National Park,
Ranthambhor National Park
Chambal National Park
Kumbalgarh Wild Life Sanctuary
Desert National Park
Corbett National Park and surroundings. Includes Ramnagar, Dhikala, Kumeria, Fork tail stream, Mohan, Betal ghat, & Kaladungi Forests.
Nainital Includes Mongoli Valley, Pangot, Sat Tal, Ranikhet, & Binsar
Great Himalayan National Park, Kulu
Valavedar National Park
Sasan Gir National Park
Little Ramm of Kutch (Wild Ass Sanctuary).
Khijadia bird Sanctuary
Planning your birding trip
Your Birding itinerary depends upon your interests, the duration of the planned trip, and other matters such as your budget.
We feel the best way to finalize your itinerary is to first check out the iternary page to decide what you want. Thereafter together, via e-mail, we can formulate your trip plan.
The best time for birding in Northern and North West India is
For Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujerat, Punjab and Corbett: Oct to March
For Himalayan region other than Ladakh: Feb to June and Oct-Nov
For Ladakh: June-July- Aug.
The duration of your tour can be as long as you like. You will find our suggestions of days required for each birding hot spot. We have some itineraries, for ready reference. These can be tailored to your requirements.
Delhi & Surroundings
Delhi the capital city of India, has a bird list of 450 species. For detailed description go to www.delhibird.org/site_guides/siteguides_delhi.htm
There are many birding sites, you can visit whilst passing through Delhi. The best time of the year is from Oct to March
Keoladeo Ghana Bird Sanctuary, Bharatpur and Bund Baretha
A World Heritage bird sanctuary, this is the best place in India for bird watching. The surrounding marshlands were once nurtured and developed by the royal family to support the famous duck shoots, which satisfied many a bored Maharajas' morbid craving for both sport and meat. With the fading of the royal lifestyle the first family of Bharatpur, like many other royals, switched over from plundering to conservation.
Ghana has become a vast field laboratory for ornithologists and is one of the world's best-studied wetland ecosystems.354 species of birds are found in this small park of 29 sq km of which 11 sq. km. are marshes and the rest scrubland and grassland. The unique mix of marshes, pastures and oodland at Keoladeo is the key to the high density and diversity of birds.. It is possible to spot 150 species in a single morning.
Nesting for resident birds, coincides with the arrival of the monsoon, which brings in its wake all the food that hungry chicks need for their development. In the crowded heronries, raucous 'fights' are commonplace as birds jostle for the best breeding sites and for nesting material.
The park heronry , is said to be one of the finest in the world. Talking about the heronries of the world, Roger Tony Peterson wrote, "Perhaps the most impressive spectacle of all is the great assemblage at Bharatpur, near Agra, India, where half a dozen species of herons and egrets nest in association with painted storks, spoonbills, ibises and cormorants..." Seventeen species of birds, namely, Grey heron, purple heron, night heron, large egret, median egret, little egret, cattle egret, large cormorant, Indian shag, little cormorant, darter, painted stork, open-billed stork, black-necked stork, white-necked stork, white ibis and spoonbill are known to breed at Keoladeo heronry. Half- submerged trees seem bent with the weight of birds in August, when crowded heronries of resident birds can be studied. At this time herons, cormorants, egrets and shags compete for space with each other for such nesting sites. Till the young ones are able to take off and fend for themselves (around November/December) there is a constant race to grab food from the swamps that provide a virtual buffet comprising such exquisite offerings as snails, tadpoles and frogs, beetles, crustaceans and mollusks. Jacanas use the floating vegetation, treading like ballerinas on the broad leaves that spread across the water bodies. Such vegetation is also used by them to lay their eggs, safe from terrestrial invaders.
By October when migrant birds start to arrive, so do migrant birdwatchers. A third of bird species are are migrants, many of whom spend their winters in Bharatpur, before returning to their breeding grounds, as far away as Siberia and Central Asia. Migratory birds at Ghanainclude, as large a bird as Dalmatian pelican, which is slightly less than two meters, and as small a bird as Siberian disky leaf warbler, which is the size of a finger. Other migrants include several species of cranes, pelicans, geese, ducks, eagles, hawks, shanks, stints, wagtails, warblers, wheatears, flycatchers, buntings, larks and pipits, egrets, , biterns, snipes, spoonbills, coots, storks, kingfishers, Sarus crane, falcons, and many more
Of all the migrants, the most sought after is the Siberian Crane or the great white crane, which migrates to this site every year, covering a distance of more than half the globe. These birds, numbering only a few hundred, are on the verge of extinction. It is birds from the western race of the species, that visit Keoladeo, migrating from the Ob river basin region, in the Aral mountains,
in Siberia via Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are only two wintering places, left for this extremely rare species. One is in Feredunkenar inIran, and the other is at Ghana. The journey to Bharatpur takes them 6,400 kms from their breeding grounds, in Siberia. They arrive in December and stay till early March. Its well-studied behaviour and movements suggests it arrives after travelling 6,400 kms from its Siberian home and that it stays till March to feed and rest before making the long journey back home for the summer.
What is peculiar to Bharatpur, is that many of the species are specialist feeders, like the Siberian crane. Each helps itself to one ingredient of the wetland soup. Flamingos sieve the water for plankton, spoonbills rake the mud with their lower mandibles for mollusks, tadpoles and weed, while egrets and herons spear their prey, and geese and Brahminy ducks graze at the water's edge.
As water sources dry up, Sarus Cranes, the world's tallest flying birds, are attracted to Ghana from far and near. In March and April perhaps around 400 birds populate the park, but they start moving out again when the monsoon arrives and water is easily available. Perhaps around two or three dozen mating pairs stay back and their breathtaking courtship dances around July, when their sonorous calls float over the swamps, are wondrous to watch.
Some of the birds you are likely to see are:-
Water Birds (wetlands): Painted Stork, cormorant, egret, Open-billed Stork, White Ibis, darter, shoveler, teal, Bronze winged and Pheasant Tailed Jacanas, Ruddy Shelduck, Demoiselle and Sarus Cranes, Gadwall, Pintail, Mallard, Coot, Purple Moorhens.
Raptors: King Vulture, White-backed Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Crested Serpent Eagle, Ring-tailed Fishing Eagle, Short-toed Eagle, Blackwinged Kite, Pallas Fishing Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Collared Scops Owl, Spotted Owlet, Dusky Horned Owl.
Others: Lark, pipit, kingfishers, doves, mynahs, bulbuls, Blue Jay, oriole, Blossom-headed Parakeet, hoopoe, shrike, bee-eater, wagtails, finch.
Migrants: Siberian Crane, Steppe Eagle, Pale and Marsh Harriers, Osprey, Common Teal, Indian Little ringed Plover
Besides the avian fauna, a large variety of mammals and reptiles are also common in the park. These include the Nilgai, Sambar, Chital, Leopard and the Wild boar. A bonus to reptile-lovers are the large rock pythons which can be spotted, sunning themselves, especially at Python Point, beyond the Keoladeo Temple.
You need at least 04- 05 days for birding. Bicycle Rikshaws - with the birding guide pedaling, and bicycles are the only transportation allowed in the sanctuary.
Agra (55 km) is the nearest airport with connections to many places in the country. Bharatpur in on the main railway line and is connected to Delhi and Sawai Madhopur ( Ranthambhore). Agra, is linked to most destinations in the country. By road, Bharatpur is 180 km and approximately a 4-hour drive from Delhi. It has good road connections to Jaipur (178 Kms) and Agra (56 Kms).
Our tours allow time for visiting Taj Mahal and the ruined city of Fetehpur Sikri., and include Ranthambore, Chambal, and Patna bird sanctuary. A visit to the fascinating pink city of Jaipur with stay at a heritage palace hotel can be added on from Ranthambhore.
The best time to visit is late October to early March. The National park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Varied accomodation is available. Our choice is hotel Sunbird in the standard catagory, and Lamxi Vilas Palace in the Heritage luxury catagory.
Patna Bird Park, Agra
Patna is a small wetland covering 2 sq. km. It is jam-packed with migratory waterfowl and other species. More than 200 species have been recorded there. One can see large concentration of rosy pelicans, waders, ducks, cranes etc. The birds allow close access and there are watch-towers for birding.
Ranthambore National Park
Ranthambhor used to be the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Today, it is famous for its tigers and is one of the best places in the country to see these majestic predators in the wild. The tigers can be easily spotted even during the day. Ranthambore's royal past manifests itself in the picturesque ruins the dot the Park. There are lake palaces, old fortifications and a majestic thousand year old fortifications on a height overlooking the Park. The Park which covers an area of 1334 sq. km. and is set between the Aravali and Vindhya ranges. Its deciduous forests were once a part of the magnificent jungles of Central India. The terrain is rugged and there are rocky ridges, hills and open valleys. It is centered around five lakes which attract water birds and mammals during the winter months. The park also offers good birding. Species recorded here include
the crested serpent eagle, Bonelli'seagle, great Indian horned owl, grey partridge, common sandgrouse, quail, red spur fowl, common pea fowl, tree pie, paradise fly catcher, pheasant tailed jacana, painted stork, white necked stork, spoonbill, green pigeon, whitebacked vulture, king vulture, whitebreasted kingfisher, spotted dove, ring dove, couca and the golden Wood pecker.
The three lakes that are so central to the fauna are ideal spots for birdspotting. Snipe, coots, grebes, black-tailed godwits, sandpipers, cotton teal and large egrets can sometimes be seen hitching a ride on the backs of half-submerged sambar deer; picking ticks off their backs.
Grassland and scrub birds like quail and partridge scurry away from vehicles as they traverse muddy forest tracts and shrikes can be seen sitting on tall grass stalks waiting to catch flying insects.
Nests of raptors such as blackwinged kites, Bonelli's eagles and crested serpent eagles can be spotted in tall trees, which also serve as excellent lookout posts from where these 'tigers of the sky' are able to survey their aerial kingdom.
Birds recognise no physical boundaries and visit villages on the fringes of the park, which make for excellent birding spots in the hours between the morning and evening forest rounds (11 am to 2.30 pm).
Located in Rajasthan, Ranthambhore is linked by rail via Sawai Madhopur, 350 Kms ( 05 hrs) from Delhi, and 170 kms (02 hrs) from Bharatpur. The park entrance is 10 Kms from the rail station. It is also linked by road to Bharatpur, Jaipur & Delhi.
The best time to visit is from October to March. No walking is permitted within the park. Open jeeps and trucks are the means of transportation for viewing animals and birding.
Varied accommodation is available.
Chambal National Park
Located astride the Chambal River, this sanctuary, once the abode of gangs of dacoits comprises ravines and river spread over three states - Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. This sanctuary is famous for the rare Gangetic dolphin, Indian Mugger, gharial, turtles, and 225 species of birds. It is one of the best places to see the Indian Skimmer.
In a 3 hrs boat trip you can see perhaps some 40 species of birds, among them flamingos, Indian Skimmers resting on a sand bank, an Asian Openbill, Wooly-necked Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, Whiskered and Black-bellied Tern, Ruddy and Common Shelduck, some Calidris, Tringa, Limosa, and Charadrius wading birds, Brown-headed Gull, Bar-headed Goose, Lesser Whistling Goose, teals and ducks, White-breasted and Pied Kingfisher, Shikras and a Brahminy Kite.
The nearest airport as also railhead is at Agra, which is 90 km away from the sanctuary
The best time to visit the sanctuary is November to February.
The Chambal safari lodge provides good accommodation with dining facilities. It is also possible to stay at Agra and spend the day on the Chambal, birding by boat, camel and on foot.
Located in Rajasthan, Kumbalgarh is 84 Kms North of Udhaipur. It is well connected by road to major destinatiomns in Rajasthan and is a convenient stop- over whilst driving to Udhaipur from Jodhpur, Ajmer or Jaipur
Kumbalgarh; once the private hunting grounds of the Maharana of Mewar, is now a wild life sanctuary. Located astride the rocky AravaliRange at an altitude of 1080 m. Kumbalgarhs royal past manifests itself in the magnificent fort of the rulers of Mewar; dating back to the 15th century. The walls of the fort stretch for 36 Kms, and enclose many palaces, temples, gardens and water storage facilities.
The Park covers an area of 578 sq Kms of mixed deciduous forests and scrub The terrain is rugged with forested and rocky ridges. The park has a some rough forest trails. Birding within the sanctuary requires the use of a 4WD jeep. Entry is by permission of the Deputy Chief Wild life Warden. The best time to visit is from October to March. Good birding on foot is possible in and around the Fort – which also houses a heritage hotel, and on the road from Saira to Kumbalgarh in fields growing sugar cane, mustard, wheat, Millet, and amongst Acacia patches.
Kumbalgarh has recorded some interesting species such as Sulphur-belied Warbler, Green Avadavat, and White-naped Tit, Red Spurfowl and Grey Junglefowl. It also hosts common species such as the Gray Francolin, Jungle bush Quail, Indian Peafowl, Changable Hawk Eagle, Short- toed snake Eagle, Alexandrine and Plum-headed Parakeets, Brown –headed barbet, Yellow- crowned and Brown-crowned wood peckers, Indian Pitta, White-belied Drango, Tawny –belied and yellow–eyed Babblers, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon,Jungle & Spotted Owlets, Eurasian Golden OrioleTickell’s Blue Flycatcher, White-browed fantail, Grey breasted, Rufous-fronted, Plain and Ashy Prinias, Hume’s Warbler,, Brown Rock Chat, Pied Bushcat, Blue Roch thrush, Black –lored Tit. Thick-billed flowerpecker, White-caped and crested Buntings, Chesnut –shouldered Petronia, Baya Weaver, Indian Siverbill and Common Rosefinch.
Some of the mammals in the sanctuary are: Sambar, Nilgai, Striped Hyaena, Jungle cat, Wild Boar, Grey Langur, Four –horned Antelope, Chinkara, Wolf, Indian fox, and Sloth Bear.
Birders can choose between the “blissfully tranquil” Hotel Aodhi at the foot of the fort to the Kumbalgarh Fort hotel, within the fort . One to two full days birding is recomended.
The Desert National Park
The Desert National Park was designated in order to preserve the desert habitat and protect the Indian Bustard. It is spread over 3000 sq Kms of Rajasthan’s Thar Desert; in a habitat of sand dunes, with sparse vegetation of low bushes, grasses and scattered clumps of trees.
Entrance to the park is located just 45 Kms from the Spectacular Desert Citadel city of Jaisalmer – a popular tourist attraction. Even hard- core birders will find the sights of Jaisalmer irresistible. This Fort city founded in 1156 A.D, glitters in the sunlight, like a mirage. It has been dubbed “The golden City” because of the honey colour imparted to its sandstone ramparts by the setting sun. The vision of Jaisalmer’s massive fort thrusting heavenwards out of the barren desert is unforgettable and breathtaking. The magic of this view will linger in your imagination for a lifetime.
Jaisalmer is the base for birding in the Desert National Park. Entry is restricted and requires a Restricted Area Permit, issued by the District Magistrate. Birding is by jeep along a dirt track with occasional forays on foot. Densities are low and it takes time and patience to spot the specialties. Interesting species to be seen are the Indian Bustard, MacQueens Bustard, Stoliczka’s Bushchat, Cream-coloured Courser, Spotted and Black-belied Sandgrouse, Greater Hopee Lark, Plain Leaf Warbler and Trumpeter Finch.
Some of the common desert birds inhabiting this area are Long-legged Buzzard, Tawny Eagle, Lagger and Lesser Falcon, Pallid Harrier, Chesnut-belied Ssandgrouse, Rufous-tailed Shrike, White-eared Bulbul, Graceful Prinia, Desert Warbler, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, Greater short-toed and Bimaculated Larks, and Isabelline, Rufous–tailed, Desert and Variable Wheatears. With patience and repeat visits you may spot Lesser Spotted, Imperial, Bonelli’s short-toed Eagles, Spotted Sandgrouse, and Short-eared Owl. There are good chances of finding the White-backed Vulture, now on the verge of extinction in India, and four other species of this group (Long-billed, Scavanger, Red-Headed, and hopefully Griffin and Cinereous Vultures).
Mammals most likely to be seen are: Chinkara, Desert Gerbil, Desert Fox, The Desert Hare, and a good variety of reptiles; including common krait and saw scaled viper.
There is a wide range of accommodation, available to suit every pocket. Click on Lodges for more information on the better hotels.
A minimum of two full days birding is recomended.
Whilst travelling by road between Jaisalmer and either Jodhpur or Bikaner, or train between Jaisalmer and Jodgpur it is worthwhile to break journey at Phalodi. This enables visiting the small village of Khichan to see one of the most unusual avian sights in Asia. Several years ago this small village established a feeding station for wintering Demoiselle Cranes and now, every morning and afternoon, thousands of these graceful birds crowd in to a fenced-off area to take the grain put out for them.
Phalodi; 08 kms from Khichan offers a comfortable stay at Lalbagh heritage hotel
One nights stay is adequate to see the Demoiselle Cranes.
Corbett National Park
The Corbett National Park is located in the Terai region of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Nestling in the foothils of the Himalayas, the park extends over an area of 1200 sq. km, at an elevation of 400-1200 meters.. The Ramganga River flows through the park and little forest streams tumble through the ravines. While dense stands of sal cloak the higher ridges, mixed deciduous forests are found throughout the park.
The park was established in 1936, following the advice of the hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett. The park Project Tiger, which was set up with the help of the World Wildlife Fund, was launched at Dhikala, in the Corbett National Park in1973. This project was aimed at saving the Indian tiger from extinction.
The park is a prime birding area with a list of 580 species. Here the avifauna of the lower Himalayas meets that of the Indian plains One reason for the rich birdlife is said to be the fact that the park is located in the transition zone between high altitudes and the plains. Additionally, migratory birds are attracted to the river, especially species that migrated vertically up (in summer) and down the Himalayas (in winter).
Birders can spot the rare Ibisbill, in the Kosi River bed in winter Other winter migrants include the Greylag and the Barheaded goose, Great Crested Grebe, Snipe, Sandpiper, Gull and the Wagtail.
Habitat changes have actually benefited a large number of water birds like Cormorants, Darters, Herons and Egrets, Storks, Fishing Eagles and Kingfishers, whose populations have increased manifold. Moorhens have become permanently resident in the park.
The Lammergeyer, King and Griffon Vulture are present. Himalayan Golden Eagles, Steppe Eagles, Honeybuzzards, Crested Serpent Eagles, Long legged Buzzards and Kestrels can be seen here. Apart from Peacocks, the Kalij, Monal and Koklas Pheasant are all visible (Chir Pheasants only at higher altitudes)
many as 17 kinds of Woodpeckers, five different species of barbets, including the Great Himalayan Barbet, five different Wagtails, Minivets, Redstarts, Finches, Cuckoos, Babblers, Parakeets and Thrushes.
Nights are resplendent with nocturnal birds like the Nightjar and Owls. Stone Plovers and Stone Curlew are active hunters on the night waters of the river. dhole, jackal, yellow throated marten, Himalayan palm civet, Indian grey mongoose, common otter, porcupine, clack taped hare are the other attractions of this area. It is possible to see wild elephants all over the park.
Four species of deer are found here. These are the chital, the well known spotted deer, para, kakkar, and the barking deer. The goat antelopes are represented by the ghoral.
Reptiles, which are residents of this area, are the gharial, the rare fish eating, long - nosed crocodile, and a few species of turtles and tortoises. The Indian python, viper, cobra, krait and king cobra also inhabit the Corbett National Park.
It is advantageous to have one's own vehicle here. Birding on foot is restricted to rest house compounds, watch towers and areas outside the park boundry. Elephant rides for wildlife viewing, in the mornings and evenings, have to be booked in advance at the Dhikala complex
Densities are low - particularly as compared to Bharatpur. On our tours we arrange to take you to selected hot spots around Ramnagar, Mohan, Dikala, Betalghat and Kaladhungi ( see map above) We expect that you should be able to record around 200 species
The nearest town and rail link is at Ramnagar, 51 kilometres away. New Delhi is a six hour drive ( 300 kms ).
The best time for birding is from late November to February, when there are altitudinal and long distance migrants You need 4-5 days for birding in and around Corbett.
A variety of accommodation is available outside the park boundery. Inside the park you have to avail of the Project Tiger Rest Houses.
Birding areas around Corbett
Your birding trip to Corbett would be incomplete without birding at Kaladhundi Forests and Betal Ghat,
The Kaladhungi forests located 30 Kms East of Corbett Tiger Reserve on the Ramnagar- Nainital road have long been famous for their birds and Tigers. Jim Corbett, the legendary wildlife author and hunter of man-eating tigers, who lived in Kaladhungi betwen 1875 and 1947, remarked in his book "Jungle Lore" that he never saw such a variety of birds as existed in Kaladhungi.
The fauna and flora of the Kaladhungi area is basically similar to Corbett Reserve. The Kaladhungi forests have resident tigers, leopards, elephants and an incredible diversity of birds. Best of all, as it isn't a designated reserve, you are free to walk in the forest, which is certainly not the case in Corbett Reserve, where you are restricted to jeeps or elephant rides. Also, Kaladhungi has more interesting and varied scenery, all in a relatively compact area of about 12 x 8 km. These dimensions are approximate as we are talking about a tract within a belt of forest that extends for hundreds of km. west to east.
The amazing diversity of habitat types is reflected by the recordings made by Christopher Salt on successive trips in a relatively small area (as opposed to the huge areas of rather boring Sal forest in Corbett Reserve) Christopher recorded about 305 species. Most of these were seen within a small area of about 4 x 3 km. . Most productive are the wooded margins of the Boar River and its tributaries, where numerous sub-environments can be found, each with its own characteristic Some of the birds most likely to be seen are: Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Black Headed Oriole, Black Crested Yellow Bulbul, Blue Bearded Bee Eater,Large Bee Eater; Blue Whistling Thrush, Brown Fish Owl, Changeable Hawk Eagle, crimson , Emerald Dove, Fire Capped Tit, Fulvous Breasted Woodpecker, Great Barbet, Great Indian Hornbill, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Green Billed Malkoha, Green Magpie, Himalayan Flameback Woodpecker, Grey Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher, Griffon Vulture, Himalayan Pied Crested Kingfisher, Large Billed Leaf Warbler, Lesser & Greater Racket Tailed Drongo, Long Tailed Broadbill, Nuthatch - Chestnut Bellied & Velvet Fronted, Olive Backed Pipit, Orange Bellied Leafbird, Orange Headed Thrush, Red Billed Leiothrix, Red Billed Blue Magpie, Red Jungle Fowl, Rubythroat, Siberian & White Tailed, Rufous Bellied Niltava,Stork Billed Kingfisher, Scaly Breasted Munia, Scarlet Minivet, Flycatchers etcSlaty Blue Flycatcher, Slaty Headed Parakeet, Spotted Owlet, Tawny Fish Owl, Tickell's Thrush, Verditer Flycatcher, White Capped Water Redstart, White Crested Laughing Thrush, White Throated Fantail Flycatcher, andYellow Eyed Babbler. Two days are required for birding
Located 60 Kms from Corbett on the Ranikhet road, this is another prime birding area with a atmospheric lodge called The call of the wild safari Lodge - located on the Kosi banks. More than 400 species of birds have been spotted in and around Betalghat. Some of the species you are likely to spot here are: Hill Prinia, Himalayan Bulbul, Green-Tailed Sunbird. and Rufour Treepie., Spotted Forktail.,Hill Prinia, Rusty-Checked Scimitar Babbler, Streak- Breasted Scimiter Babbler, Chestnut Thrush, Rufous-Bellied Niltava, and Mrs Goulds Sunbird., Crimson Sunbird, Plumerous Redstart, White-Capped Water Redstart, Wall Creeper, Crested Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, River Lapwing, Red-Wattled Lapwing, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, White-Browed Wagtail and Lammergier, Himalayan Griffon, Jungle Owlet, Chestnut-Eared Bunting, Small Niltava and Slaty-Blue Flycatcher., Blue-Throated Barbet.Blue-Capped Redstart, Red-Billed Blue Magpie, Green Tit and Black-Lored Tit.
Nainital is a hill station of the "Raj" period, located at 1938 meters. It surrounds the Naini Lake. It is only 60 kms from the fringes of Corbett, and is best combined with a visit to Corbett. The mountains around Nainital rise to over 2,800 metres. On a clear day, the view from the pine-clad ridges above the town is nothing short of spectacular and, gazing across the snow-capped giants towards the borders with China and Tibet, we may be able to see Nanda Devi, at 8,500 metres, India's highest peak.
The bird life is no less magnificent, with Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, Great Hill Barbet, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Black-throated Jay, Streaked Laughing-thrush, Altai Accentor, Red-headed Tit, and Golden Bush-Robin among an impressive list of upland species. Birding areas around Nainital visited by our tours are:-
Mallital area of Nainital Town & snow view ridge, 2260 m
Bajun-Mangoli Valley birding trek
Kilbury -, Pangot birding trek
Pangot- Naina Peak, 2610 m birding trek
Binsar wildlife Sanctuary
Some of the birds you are likely to see on the tour are: Woodpeckers, Greater Yellow nape, Speckeled Piculet, Niltavas, Chesnut headed Tesia, Bush warblers, Long-tailed Broadbill, Black-throated Jay, Black-throated Tit, Blue-headed Redstart, the stunning Spotted Forktail. blue whistling thrush, yellow billed blue magpie, blue capped rock chat, white capped redstart. Slaty headed parakeet, grey bushchat, long-tailed shrike, lesser kestrel, shikra, chestnut bellied rock thrush , and the. Streaked Laughing-Thrush - a common garden bird here, Rufus breasted Accentors, Slaty headed parakeet, Himalayan Green finch, and Asian barred owlet, Grey headed Canary flycatchers,
White-throated Laughing thrushes, Grey-winged Blackbirds and green backed tits. We can also look for Hill Barbet, Slaty grey Woodpecker, black chinned babbler, black headed and maroon orioles, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Lammergeier and Chukar, Khalij Pheasant, crimson Sunbird and the Fire-capped Tit,Spececkled Piculet, lesser yellownape, white browed shrike Babbler, Nepal House Martin, White crested and rufous-chinned Laughingthrushes, Rufous - gorgeted and snowy browed Flycatcher, Long billed thrush, Greater yellownape, Scaly- breasted Wren Babbler, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Golden Bush Robin, spotted Forktail, Scaly thrush and Vinaceous Rosefinch, White-crested Laughing Thrushes, black winged kite, Red-billed Leothrix, Himalayan Ruby throat, crested and rock bunting,
You may choose to stay at Nainital. But there are other options of staying at charming places outside Nainital and close to prime birding areas. We have selected accomodation at Nainital, Ramgarh, Pangot, and Ranikhet.
4-5 days are required for birding around Nainital
Binsar is located 110 kms ( 06 hrs drive) North of Nainital. One time capital of the Chand Rajas. It is a scenic spots and a hill resort. Jhandi Dhar peak located at an altitude of 2412 metres, is a view point offering a view of the 300-kilometre stretch of famous peaks that include the Kedarnath, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchchuli. The surroundings are abundant with alpine flora, ferns, hanging moss and many other species of wild flowers.
Birding in the Binsar Wildlife sanctuary can reveal fire-tailed or green tailed sunbirds, sultan tits, scaly breasted wren-babbler, Black bulbul, Black capped Sibia, Black Eagle, King Vulture, Black breasted sunbird, Blue throated Barbet and more. A 06 hrs birding trek to Jhandidhar. climbing from 1700 meters feet to approximately 2412 meters. through dense oak and rhododendron forests could add Blue whistling thrush, Booted Hawk Eagle, Broad billed roller, green, gold or rose finch, Brown crested tit, and more to your life list. In winter you may be lucky to spot snow partridge and snow pigeon. 02 days are required for birding at Binsar. Accommodation here is limited to the Spartan KMVN Rest house - but the food is delicious.
Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP)
The GHNP is located near Kulu in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Covering an area of 765 sq Kms, the park is enclosed on the northern, eastern and western boundaries by the Greater Himalayan range. The altitudinal variation is great - 1300 m to 6100 m.
The park comprises of the upper catchments areas of the Tirthan, Sainj, Parvati and the Jiwa Rivers – all are tributaries of the Beas River. More than half the area is above 4,000m with most of the eastern part perennially under snow Glacial advances have given the region its unique topography. It is characterized by dazzling high ridges, glaciers, deep gorges. Alpine meadows and valleys with closed virgin forests. It is arguably one of the largest areas of relatively undisturbed Western Himalayan eco-systems. With its stunning natural beauty, and dedicated conservation, the Park is a virtual treasure for the researcher, the sensitive nature lover and the adventure seeker.
The forests comprise sub-tropical alpine, and dry alpine shrub types. 'Chir' Pines, Conifers, Oaks, Firs, Rhododendrons and Junipers can be seen. Alpine meadows hold a high diversity of herbaceous species.
The excellent habitat shelters a large number of mammals. It is possibly the only place in the Himalayas where the 'Bharal' (blue sheep) occurs virtually side-by-side with the Himalayan 'Thar'. The largest population of the Himalayan Thar - endemic to India is in this park. The endangered Musk Deer can also be found here. The elusive and highly endangered Snow Leopard has also been reported .
The park is a delight for Himalayan avifauna watchers with over three hundred species that can be sighted. One of the few known viable populations of Western Tragopan, a highly endangered species of pheasants, lives in this protected environment. Out of the seven pheasants found in the Western Himalayas, six of them, the Western Tragopan, Monal, Cheer, Koklass, Khaleej and Himalayan Snow-cock can be found in the park. It also has an unexplored treasure of butterflies and a variety of insects. Click here for bird list.
The nearest town is Kulu- 60 kms away by road. It is 530 Kms from Delhi. The entrance of the park is at the village of Gushaini, 60 kms from Kulu, and The Tirthan Wildlife Range office, which regulates entry is at Sai Roopa - 5 Kms from Gushaini.
To reach the park you can fly in from Delhi to Buntar airfield ( Kulu) and then drive by jeep in 02 hrs to Gushaini, or drive all the way from Delhi
If you choose to drive by exclusive vehicle, it is advisable to do this 14 hrs trip in two days with a night halt at the modern city of Chandigarh. The road journey in Himachal Pradesh is scenic passing through lush valleys, gorges and with views of lakes and mountains. Comfortable buses operate overnight between Delhi and Kulu.
Air service is available from Delhi and Chandigarh to Bhuntar.
There are two main options for bird watching in GHNP, the Ecozone and the Park itself.
The Ecozone areas are adjacent to the park and provide a combination of natural and man made forests. The trails go though villages, and therefore apart from birding they also provide a Nature & culture experience. Many circuits are available ranging between 10 to 24 Kms
Some of the birding treks available within the park are:-
Sainj Valley: 56 kms in 05 days
Sainj-Tirthan Valley: 85 Kms in 08 days crossing over 3400 m ridge separating the Sainj and Tirthan river valleys.
Gushani to Shilt: round trip of 30 Kms in 04 days going upto 2900 m.
Jiwa Nala to Parvati River 110 kms very strenuous 07 days trek crossing over 4636 m pass.
We will arrange treks with birding guide, along any of the above birding trails. Stay will be in fully serviced camps set up close to birding sites.
Valavedar National Park
The Park lies inland from the Gulf of Cambay on the West coast of India, in the Saurashtra Region of Gujerat. Bhavnagar the nearest city and usual entry point is 65 Kms away, and is connected by daily flights to Mumbai and by road to Ahmedabad. (137 Kms) and other parts of Gujerat.
Created for the conservation of the Blackbuck, Valavedar is a tiny 35sq kms but unique grassland ecosystem. Savanah grasslands along with areas ofMesquite and dry deciduous scrub are the habitat.
Valavedar is of interest to birders because of the huge roost of about 2000 harriers, which is formed every winter. (Oct to early Feb). The dominant species is Montagu’s. Another rare sight ( June to Oct) is that of the lesser Florican, which migrate and settle here to breed in the grasslands.
Birders can spot the Stoliczka’s Bushchat, Ashy- crowned sparrow lark, Rufous-tailed, and crested Larks, Desert and Variable wheatears, Southern Grey and Rufous–tailed Shrikes. Apart from the Harrier, other raptors to be seen could include Black-shouldered Kite, Shikara, and Short-toed Snake Eagle. Common Crane and other waders can be spotted on the Alag River.
The park has more than 1,000 Black Buck that can be viewed on the open grassland from very close range. This exclusively Indian animal is perhaps, the most graceful and beautiful of its kind. A visit to Valavadar is worthwhile just to see their magnificent leaps and lightning sprints.
The wolf and the jackal are the main predators in the park. Other mammals likely to be seen are Bengal fox, Black–naped Hare, Indian Desert Gerbil, Jungle cat, and Nilgai.
Driving in jeeps with walks is the usual method of watching. There are also some watch towers and hides maintained by the forest department.
Inside the park, the Forest Department Lodge offers basic accommodation. Better accommodation is at Bhavnagar town, at Nilambagh Palace Hotel – a former Maharajas palace with stately rooms a swimming pool and good dining facilities. More details at Lodges
A minimum of one full day is required for bird watching.
Sasan Gir National Park
Gir is located in southern Gujerat. It is connected by air to Mumbai via Rajkot airport 160 kms (3.30 hrs), and can be reached by a good network of roads from any part of Gujerat.
The main reason to visit Gir is to see the Asiatic Lion, in its natural habitat. Latest census reports have counted 107 lions at Gir.
Birders should know that Gir comprises diverse habitats - open scrub country, dry deciduous and tropical thorn forest and an evergreen corridor along the riverside. The forest is home to a large variety of birds. It is said that, had, Gir not been a lion sanctuary, it would have been termed one of the finest bird sanctuaries in Gujarat. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded.
Changable Hawk, Crested serpent, and Bonneli’s Eagle, Black Ibis, Wooley-necked Stork, Rock Bush Quail, Painted Sand Grouse, Crested Tree Swift, Greater Rocket-tailed Drongo, Black headed Cuckooshrike, Asian Paradise-Flycather, Brown, Fish and Great Horned Owls; Pygmy Woodpecker, Black Headed Oriole and Indian Pitta are the chief attraction
Birding and wild life watching within the park by jeep safari. There is a good birding walk available just outside the park. Two full days are recommended for lion safari and birding.
Little Rann of Kutch – Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary
The Kathiawar Peninsula in Gujerat State is separated from land to its North by the Gulf of Kutch. A large portion of this low-lying peninsula accumulates water and gets converted into a vast swamp during the monsoons. As it dries in the winter sun, it becomes a desert like expanse of dry silt, interspersed by lagoons and small islands with vegetation called “bets”. This is the Rann of Kutch, bordering Pakistan. The South East portion of the Rann called theLittle Rann, is open to tourists. This unique region is astonishingly rich in bird life; particularly in winter when millions of waterfowl, along with desert species, can be spotted.
The entire 4950 sq kms of the Little Rann of Kutch, has been designated as the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary, as it is home to the rare and endangered “khur” – The Indian Wild Ass; not found anywhere else in the world.
In winter the Little Rann is host to a variety of birds - almost 300 species.
Some of the species that can be seen are:
Cranes: Demoiselles, Common, and Sarus,
Pelicans: Great White, Dalmatian, and Spot billed pelicans
Flamingos: Both lesser and Greater
Storks: Painted, Openbill, Wooly- necked, White, Black and Black-necked.
Ducks: Lesser-whistling, Spot- Billed, Comb, Marble teal, and most other common wintering ducks.
Waders: Collard, Oriental, and Small Pratincoles, White-tailed, Sociable, and Yellow-wattled Lapwings, and Long billed Plover (rare)
Raptors: Long –legged, common, and white-eyed Buzzards, Bonelli’s, Imperial, Tawny, Steppe, Greater Spotted, Lesser Spotted, Booted, and Short toed snake Eagle, Six species of vulture, Pallid and Montagu’s Harriers, Merlin, and Red-necked Falcon
Desert birds: Mac Queens Bustard, Lesser Florican (rare), Chesnut-belied and spotted Sandgrouse, Crean coloured, and Indian Coursers, Rain , Jungle Bush and Rock Bush Quails, and Yellow-legged and Barred Button quails,
Larks: Singing and Indian Bush Lark, Ashu-crowned and Black-crowned Sparrow larks, Rufous-tailed , Greater Hoopee, Greater short-toed, Sand, Bimaculated, crested and Syke’s Larks and Oriental Lark
Other birds:Wryneck, Plain, Crag, and Dusky Martins, Pied Cuckoo, Sirkeer Malkoha, Blue –cheeked Bee-eater, European Roller, Eagle and Short-eared owls, Grey, Sykes’s, Indian and Savanna Nightjars, Rosy Starling, Large Grey Babbler, Red-breasted and Asian Paradise Flycatchers, Grey-breasted, Rufous-fronted, Ashy, Graceful and jungle, Prinias, Wire-tailed Swallow, Southern , Bay-backed, and Rufous –tailed Shrikes, Grey –backed, and Blyth’s Reed, Booted, Orphean, Desert and Sulphur –belied Warblers. Pied-Bushchat, Issabeline, Desert and variable wheatears, Blue-headed Rock Thrush, Greater and Lesser Whitethroat, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Tawny and long-belied pipit, Chesnut-shouldered Petronia, Baya and streakedWeavers, Black-headed, Grey-necked, and House Buntings Ortolan Bunting ( rare), and Blyethroat, Brown-rock Chat.
The Indian wild ass represents the horse tribe. The Wild Ass is capable of marathon runs at a pace of about 24 km/h for as long as two hours, reaching a top speed of 70 km/h over short distances. In the Little Rann of Kutch, the Asses are attracted by the flat grass covered expanses of the bets, where coarse grasses spring up in the monsoons. With the advent of summer, the Asses move to bets in which there is perennial supply of water and grass.
Other mamalls found are: Blue-Bull, Chinkara, Hedgehog, Wolf, Jackal, Fox, Jungle and Desert Cats.
Zianabad is the logistics base for the little Rann. The nearest airport is at Ahmedabad – 110 Kms (2.30 hrs). Rajkot airport is 175 Kms ( 3.30 hrs). Zainabad is well connected to all parts of Gujerat by road.
The method of exploration and birding is by open jeeps.- Morning and Afternoon safaris are an unusual experience. Two full days is the minimum period for bird watching.
Birders interested in local culture can take excursions to a typical Saurashtra village, handloom weaving and dyeing units and the village potter.
Desert Coursers, operate Camp Zaianabad whilst Rann Riders, operate another complex at Zainabad. providing “kooba’ cottages, and “Bhunga” houses of the Rabari tribe of Kutch. Both provide Accomodation and meals. They are located amidst wet- lands, and are imaginatively designed using local materials to recreate the appearance of a village.
Khijadia Wildlife Sanctuary
Located just 06 Kms from the town of Jamnagar in Gujerat, this sanctuary has been created by building an Earthen Dam, to block the rainwater run off into the sea. This forms a freshwater wetland habitat. The 12 kilometer long dam, separates fresh water on one side and salt water on the other. You can spot thousands of wintering common and Demoiselle cranes, and other water birds including flamingos, pelicans, gulls, Whimbrel, ducks, waders and Indian Skimmers, nesting, and geese. The Black stork nesting can also be seen.
Method of Birdwatching is to walk along the dam. It is a refreshing change from riding in jeeps. One full days birding is recomended.
At Jamnagar. Hotel President has luxurious rooms with all facilities, Indian, Chinese and continental cuisine plus a 24 hrs coffee shop.
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