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Birding Tour of Rajasthan
Visit :: Bharatpur, Agra, Ranthambore, Sonkhaliya, Jaipur, Delhi
This tour to Rajasthan combines the world famous Bharatpur, with its huge numbers of wintering birds, with the spectacular Ranthambhor reserve, home to a completely different avifauna and Tigers! You will also have the opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal, Agra and Jaipur and have a chance to look for the rare and declining Indian Bustard.
Day 1 Overnight flight to Delhi.
Day 2 Arrive in Delhi and transfer to Hotel in Bharatpur for a five-night stay. En route, we will see our first common Indian birds which may include Black (Black-eared) Kite, Common and Bank Mynas, Black Drongo, Laughing Dove, Pied Bushchat, Indian Robin, Little Swift and Rose-ringed Parakeet.
Days 3-6 Bharatpur is world famous for its wildlife, and justifiably so. It was once the preserve of the Maharajas for hunting and, ironically, this is the reason that it has survived in such pristine condition. It is possible to see over 100 bird species in a day in this 29 square kilometre reserve using cycle-rickshaw or by foot. As we arrive early in the morning, we will see hoards of Bar-headed and Greylag Geese flying in to feed alongside Sarus Cranes. If Siberian Cranes have returned, we will make a special effort to locate them. There are many walks to follow around the "Bounds" and the habitat varies from shallow lakes to flooded forest and dry savannah. Storks are particularly conspicuous and we should see Asian Openbill and Black-necked, Painted and Woolly-necked Storks, whilst other fish-eaters include Little Cormorant, Indian Shag, Oriental Darter, Black-headed Ibis and Black Bittern. Ducks are numerous and may include Lesser Whistling-duck, Comb, Ferruginous and Spot-billed Ducks, Red-crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck and Cotton Pygmy-goose.
Other water-dependent birds commonly found include Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, Purple Swamphen and White-breasted Waterhen. Waders are plentiful and as well as the common Palearctic migrants we may see White-tailed, Red-wattled and Yellow-wattled Lapwings, the enigmatic Indian Courser and with a great deal of luck, Sociable Lapwing.
There are also plenty of land-birds, which may include Orange-headed Ground-thrush, Greenish, Hume's, Smoky, Thick-billed and Yellow-browed Warblers, Small Minivet, Common Wood Shrike, Brahminy Starling, the virtually endemic Marshall's Iora, Bluethroat and the spectacular Siberian Rubythroat. Grey Francolins are commonly heard and are relatively easy to see but Black Francolin are much more difficult. Birds of prey are numerous and omni-present. Up to ten species of eagle include Bonelli's, Crested Serpent, Eastern Imperial, Great Spotted, Indian Spotted, Steppe and Tawny, while the most regular vulture is now Red-headed. Most species of owl and nightjar can be seen at their daytime roosts and target species include Dusky Eagle-owl, Indian Scops-owl, Brown Hawk Owl and Spotted Owlet as well as Large-tailed Nightjar.
During our stay at Bharatpur we will make a half-day visit to both the spectacular Taj Mahal and Red Fort in Agra. Nearby, on the River Yamuna, we will look for River Lapwing and Great Black-headed Gull, whilst at the fort we may see Dusky Crag-martin.
Another day we will visit Bund Barita, a reservoir which is one of the few reliable spots for Indian Skimmer in the area. The reservoir holds huge numbers of wildfowl and other waterbirds and we may also see Black-bellied, River and Whiskered Terns. At an old hunting lodge nearby we will look for Barred Buttonquail, Sulphur-bellied Warbler and Indian Chat, whilst at a nearby government house, we will look at the large colony of Indian Flying-foxes. On the way back to Bharatpur we will stop at a breeding colony of Long-billed Vultures, a very rare bird in India these days. At the end of our stay at Bharatpur we should have seen over 200 species together with a few mammals including Nilgai, Sambar and Spotted Deer and Golden Jackal.
Day 7 We transfer to Ranthanbhor for a three-night stay at the Hotel. This is another former hunting preserve, especially for Tigers, of the Maharajas of Jaipur. We have a good chance of seeing a Tiger during our stay, much better than either Leopard or Sloth Bear. This is a spectacular reserve comprising deep ravines and steep cliffs with thorn and dry deciduous forests all overlooked by an impressive eleventh century fortress. We will make a series of morning and afternoon visits to the reserve in either canters (22-seat open trucks) or gypsies (6-seat open jeeps).
Days 8-9 The different habitat at Ranthanbhor ensures that we will see plenty of new species. These may include Common Peafowl, Painted Spurfowl, Jungle Bushquail, Great Thick-knee, Alexandrine and Plum-headed Parakeets, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Common Hawk-cuckoo, Yellow-legged Green Pigeon, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-lark, Rufous-tailed Lark, Bay-backed Shrike, White-bellied Drongo, Large Cuckoo-shrike, Rufous Treepie, Tickell's Blue and Asian Paradise-flycatchers, Indian Roller, Indian Grey Hornbill and Greater Coucal. Birds of prey are again present in good numbers and may include Crested Honey-buzzard, White-eyed Buzzard, White-backed Vulture and Black Eagle whilst Shikra sit inconspicuously close to the tracks. We may find a roosting Brown Fish-owl here and will also make an effort to see Savannah Nightjar one evening. Nearby are some lakes and arid areas and here we may find Chestnut-bellied and Painted Sandgrouse.
Day 10 Leaving Ranthanbhor, we will transfer to Sonkhaliya to stay at Juniya for two nights.
Day 11 Today is a very special one as we will look for the rare and spectacular Indian Bustard. Other birds that can be found in the area include Stoloczka's Bushchat and White-naped Tit. It can be extremely dusty in the jeeps however but it is well worth a little discomfort for this opportunity. As we look for the Indian Bustard we may see Desert, Isabelline and Variable Wheatears and huge numbers of Greater Short-toed Larks together with the occasional Bimaculated Lark. This is also a good site for Rock Eagle-owl and in 2004 we saw no less than seven of these spectacular birds.
Day 12 We will return to Delhi via Jaipur, birdwatching and sightseeing en route. In Delhi we will have shared accommodation available to us for a wash and change before boarding our flight.
General Information Days are warm but early mornings and late evenings can be chilly. Rain is unlikely. The pace is easy. On most days, we will take a break in the middle of the day when it is hot and bird activity is low. There are a number of health requirements and you must consult your GP in this respect. Insects are not a major problem at this time of year but you must take precautions to avoid other health risks. Accommodation is in good-standard hotels all with private facilities.
Best time to visit is between October till April.
Bird sightings depend greatly on season, timing, and patience.
Bird Watching Tours
Birding Tour of Rajasthan | Himalayan Birding Tour | Birding Tour in Kerala | Birding Tour in South India & Goa | Birding Trails of North India | Bird Watching Tour of Goa | Birds Watching Tours of Sikkim | Birds Watching Tour North Bengal | Weekend Birding Jimm Corbett | Birds Watching Tour of North India | Birding Tour in Nepal & Bhutan | Weekend Birding Bharatpur | Weekend Birding Harike National Park