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Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana (Bharatpur) National Park

Oriental Darter

Northern India
20 February - 7 March 1999

Taj Mahal

by Mike Prince

Text-only Version | Introduction | Daily Log | Systematic List | Other Wildlife| Daily Totals


This trip was a combined birding and sightseeing visit to India. The first week was entirely spent birding, with two full days at Ranthambhor National Park and four at Keoladeo Ghana National Park (or Bharatpur). I then met my girlfriend in Agra for a non-birding week. This involved visiting the Taj Mahal and other sites in Agra, the abandoned sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri, and Orchha, a village in Madya Pradesh famed for its many temples. After this we attended my girlfriend's cousins wedding, had a brief visit to Nepal, and spent several days on the family farm just outside Lucknow.

Although birds were the main focus of the first week I was keen to see Tigers at Ranthambhor, having missed them at Periyar in Kerala and Royal Chitwan National Park in Nepal the previous two years. However, it was not to be third time lucky! Sloth Bear and a brief glimpse of a Leopard were the main mammalian recompenses. Birding was excellent in the vicinity of Ranthambhor, including sightings of the endemic Painted Spurfowl, as well as Indian Courser, Painted Sandgrouse, Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and several larks and pipits. Keoladeo Ghana was a place I had long wanted to go to, and certainly lived up to expectations. Not only were the numbers of birds impressive but the variety, of waterbirds in particular, was incredible. The two adult Siberian Cranes were the undoubted highlight since the species' future looks very gloomy: last year a young bird was present as well but unfortunately would appear not to have survived. The days of flocks of over 100 are unlikely to ever be repeated, and it may not be long before the extinction of the wintering birds in India. Elsewhere in the world the bulk of the population winter in China (where BWP reports up to 2915 in 1993), with the only other known site, in Iran, barely reaching double figures in recent years. Other highlights of Keoladeo included the variety of raptors, especially aquila eagles. I had seen many before, having spent 18 months in Israel, but here they were far more a test of identification skills! Views were frequently of perched birds, or from above in flight, and the majority of birds had to be left unidentified. Spotted Eagle proved to be the commonest of the aquilas, but I also managed to positively identify a few Lesser Spotted, Steppe and Imperial Eagles. A very pale eagle caused me a few problems; I initially thought it to be a Tawny but eventually decided it was probably an adult fulvescens Spotted Eagle. (Note: I later queried the identification and removed the records of Lesser Spotted Eagle, following the split of this from Lesser Spotted as Indian Spotted Eagle, and the findings that it is more similar to Greater Spotted than Lesser Spotted.)

My flight was booked through Wildwings and accommodation and transport in India arranged beforehand through Cox & Kings in Delhi. Although more expensive, I was keen to make best use of the limited time available in India, and using Cox & Kings proved (relatively!) hassle-free. Beware, however, the habit of Cox & Kings confirming bookings before actually checking with the hotels! The day before I left for Bharatpur I received a message that my hotel had been changed from the Bharatpur Forest Lodge to a hotel a few miles away from the Park. Since I had specifically requested the Forest Lodge in order to be in the Park to make best use of my birding time, I was not best pleased! However, due to the helpful staff at the Forest Lodge, and the fact that they had a room available for the first two nights and then got a late cancellation, meant that I managed to stay there after all!

In Ranthambhor I stayed at the Hammir Resort along the road from Sawai Madhopur to the reserve. It was a very basic (e.g. cold showers or a bucket of hot water upon request) and not very impressive hotel arranged by Cox & Kings, but had good birding within walking distance.

For convenience I ate in the hotels: dinner was 100 Rs at the Hammir Resort for some good and plentiful home cooking, whereas it cost 267 Rs at the Bharatpur Forest Lodge for fairly ordinary food obviously tailored for a Western taste!

The weather was excellent for birding. Although chilly early morning and when on a jeep, it was hot during the day but not unbearable - I generally birded throughout the midday period.

Two books were pretty much essential during this trip:

  1. Birds of the Indian Subcontinent, Grimmett, Inskipp & Inskipp - A refreshing change from having to use Ali & Ripley's Pictorial Guide, although somewhat heavy!
  2. A Birdwatcher's Guide to India, Kazmierczak & Singh - Includes very good site notes for birding Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana, plus details of other nearby sites.

All birding was on my own in both Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana. Afterwards I met my girlfriend Nisha for our tour of Agra and Orchha.

Daily Log

20 February

Arrived in Delhi on BA 143 from London Heathrow at 1220 local time (having left at 2230 GMT the previous night). I was met on arrival by a Cox & Kings representative and given travel vouchers for the rest of my trip. We then transferred to the domestic terminal for the Jet Airways 9W 721 flight to Jaipur (1630 - 1710). Again met by car and then driven to Sawai Madhopur (approximately 3 hours away). Night at Hammir Resort.

A Black-shouldered Kite was seen at Delhi Airport, and a few Black Kites were seen in the Delhi area. Thereafter the journey produced plenty of Common Mynas, Little Swifts and Ring-necked Parakeets, plus a couple of Long-tailed Shrikes and the first Indian Peafowls of the trip.

21 February

Birding on foot along the road from the hotel early morning, then got a lift into Sawai Madhopur to arrange a 'gypsy' (a jeep) into Ranthambhor National Park. I could only book for 22 February afternoon and 23 February morning so spent the rest of the day birding on foot around Ranthambhor Fort and back to the entrance gate. Later I discovered that I could probably have joined a gypsy, or at least a 'canter' (an open-topped lorry-bus) at the entrance gate.

Red-breasted Flycatchers proved common as did Hume's Warblers, and several Large Cuckooshrikes were seen. My first tick came with a party of eight Large Grey Babblers in the acacia semi-desert beside the road. Other good birds on the early morning walk included Grey Francolin, Indian Bushlark, Bay-backed Shrike, Red Turtle Dove, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon and Dusky Crag Martin. Two Indian Gazelles or Chinkara were seen on the hillside beyond the acacias. At the entrance to the Jogi Mahal several Plum-headed Parakeets fed at very close range, and scope views of the lake from Ranthambhor Fort produced both species of Jacana, Cotton Teal and Painted Stork, plus Marsh Mugger crocodile! A speciality of the area, Brown Rock Chat, proved easy to find in the rambling fort itself although, in the heat of the day, small birds were not evident. A probable White-capped Bunting did fly over, but could not be relocated. The slow walk back to the entrance gate was very enjoyable, with Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers, White-bellied Drongos and a Barred Buttonquail, which ran across a dried up stream. Near the gate itself were a Tickell's Thrush and the only Tickell's Blue Flycatcher of the trip. Towards dusk I scanned the cliffs for Eagle Owl and was rewarded with good views of one bird, first seen at about 5:30pm. I then flagged a jeep down to show them the owl, and hitch a lift back. The jeep occupants turned out to be Michaela Strachan and a BBC film crew filming tigers for The Really Wild Show! They were impressed by the Eagle Owl, and I by their tales of stunning views of tigers that afternoon!

22 February

In the morning I got a lift from Hammir Resort to the area of semi-desert and cultivation north-west of the road from Sawai Madhopur and was picked up at midday. This area was very productive for desert birds. Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks were common, and amongst many Paddyfield Pipits were a few Blyth's and one Tawny, all providing quite an identification challenge. Prinias were also difficult, although I eventually managed a singing Rufous-fronted as well as the commoner Jungle Prinias. Both Painted and Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse were seen, and two Indian Coursers were the highlight of the morning.

I had hired a gypsy into Ranthambhor Park for the afternoon and eagerly looked forward to the prospect of seeing tigers and other mammals. Birding was possible from the gypsy as well, aided by the guides' knowledge of some of the regular species. At the entrance they pointed out a pair of roosting Collared Scops Owls. We also saw a few of the endemic Painted Spurfowls - it had been a little surprising that I hadn't seen any the day before since the entrance track is generally regarded as the best spot.

Views of deer were superb from the gypsy: it was possible to get very close to Chital (Spotted Deer), Sambar and Nilgai (Blue Bull), and we also saw two Chinkaras (Indian Gazelles). There were signs of tigers, but unfortunately no sightings. The other mammals seen were some Wild Boar and a fabulous Sloth Bear, which approached just yards from the gypsy. Apparently there was one tiger sighting in the afternoon, of one along the entrance track where I was walking alone at a similar time the day before!

23 February

Another tiger attempt in the morning, which again proved fruitless! However, as we were stopped beside a stream I caught a glimpse of a large buff-yellow mammal with black markings as it disappeared behind a line of bushes. It was almost certainly a Leopard (which are seen far less frequently than tigers). However, instead of waiting patiently where we would have probably seen it move out of cover again, the guide told the driver to get much closer. Thirty seconds of bumping around in a high-speed jeep later, we had difficult views through vegetation to the area where the leopard had been. Undoubtedly it had heard us coming and had long gone by then! Had it been a tiger it would probably have stayed in the area, but unfortunately leopards are far more secretive.

We returned to Hammir Resort where I was then taken by a Cox and Kings driver in an Ambassador car to Bharatpur (approximately a five hour drive). After my hassles booking in to the Forest Lodge I took a cycle rickshaw and spent the final couple of hours birding along the main road of Keoladeo Ghana National Park as far as Sapan Mari and then west from there. The numbers of waterbirds were spectacular, with a single jheel holding almost 1000 Purple Gallinules as well as numerous herons, egrets, storks, ibis, ducks and geese. The night was spent at Bharatpur Forest Lodge.

24 February

I spent the early morning birding the wooded areas of the Forest Nursery and Forest Lodge, before taking a rickshaw to Keoladeo Temple. In the ditch along the main road was a Yellow Bittern. At least three Spotted Eagles were seen, plus an excellent sub-adult White-tailed Eagle which flew low over Sapan Mari and landed in a tree. I left the rickshaw at the temple and spent the rest of the day birding on foot as far as Python Gate and back to the Forest Lodge along the main roads. My main target for the day was to see the two adult Siberian Cranes. They had apparently been spending their time either on Mansarovar or Chakwa Chakwi. Sure enough, I found them towards the south side of Mansarovar, where there were large numbers of waterbirds. Walking alongside the Ghana Canal I saw two Tickell's Thrushes, both fairly skulking individuals. I walked back along the same route, passed the 12 White Pelicans on Mansarovar and five Dalmation Pelicans near the Temple. As it neared dusk I waited at a regular spot, looking towards Nil Tal, for Dusky Eagle Owl. At about 6:15pm, having been calling out of sight for some time, two birds flew into a dead tree, where one remained calling.

25 February

After an early morning birding around the Forest Nursery, I took a rickshaw and was dropped near Python Gate. I then spent the rest of the day birding on foot via Lala Pyare Ka Kund, the brick path west from there, Mrig Tal, Ram band and finally back to Shanti Kutir. The heat of the day proved ideal for raptors and, amongst the many White-rumped and occasional Long-billed Vultures, aquila eagles were quite an identification challenge. The single sub-adult Steppe Eagle, and a second calendar year and a sub-adult Imperial were not difficult, but Spotted and Lesser Spotted were more of a problem. The day produced at least four Spotted in total, with no definite Lesser Spotted. Other raptors seen included both Booted and Bonelli's Eagles, plus Red-headed Vulture and Oriental Honey Buzzard, and a ring-tail Montagu's or Pallid Harrier. The dry areas of the park were good for some different species, including a pair of Rufous-tailed Larks perching in a tree, a Rufous-tailed (Isabelline) Shrike and a party of Large Grey Babblers. Noticeable at Mrig Tal especially were the large numbers of Citrine Wagtails - I recorded about 100 in the day, and didn't see a single Yellow in my time at Bharatpur! Finally an impressive Lesser Adjutant was at Mrig Tal.

26 February

Once again I birded the Forest Nursery area in the early morning, and once again was unsuccessful in looking for Marshall's Iora. However, an Indian Grey Hornbill was seen in flight just outside the Nursery entrance, and I was shown a superb roosting Large-tailed Nightjar by some local boys, who wouldn't even accept a tip! I then hired a cycle from the Forest Lodge and birded along the eastern border of the park to the dry area of Koladahar. Four Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks were seen in a grassy area along the south-eastern border, where I got involved with a local game of cricket! I then went a little further, to near the southernmost point, where I had very good views of a Sirkeer Malkoha. Here I managed to get a puncture, and so ended up with a long walk back along the same route!

27 February

I spent my final morning with another fruitless attempt for Marshall's Iora in the Forest Nursery area, then hired a cycle and birded the main road to Python Gate and the dry area south of Mansarovar and around Python Point. Species seen were generally similar to the previous days. In the dry area near Python Point I saw a few Streaked Weavers, although was a little surprised not to find any other weavers. Birding back along the same route I saw a very pale aquila eagle in flight, which then proceeded to land in a tree. It looked like a light-phase Tawny Eagle but I couldn't rule out a fulvescens variant Spotted Eagle. In the end I decided it was most probably an adult fulvescens Spotted, though it would have been useful to have seen the underwing to be more sure. Luckily I managed to get some reasonable photos.

28 February

Today was the first day of the non-birding half of my holiday. A car picked me at the Forest Lodge up in the morning and took me to Agra Cantt Railway Station (1 hour from Bharatpur) where I met my girlfriend from the train from Delhi. We checked in to the Trident Hotel and then used the car to go sightseeing. In Agra we went to the incredible Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Itimad-ud-daulah. Then we went to the abandoned sandstone city of Fatehpur Sikri, between Agra and Bharatpur. This was also an impressive place, and had a few good birds such as Brown Rock Chat and large numbers of Little Swifts. We spent the night at the very comfortable Trident Hotel.

1 March

From the Trident we took a car to Agra Cantt Railway Station where we caught the Shatabdi Express to Jhansi. Here we were met by another Cox and Kings car and travelled to Orchha, with a stop to take in Jhansi Fort on the way (where I saw Dusky Crag Martin and Brown Rock Chat). The afternoon was spent exploring the many temples of Orchha (where there were several more Dusky Crag Martins and Brown Rock Chats). Overnight we stayed at the run-down yet spectacular Hotel Sheesh Mahal.

2 March

The day was spent at Orchha, unsuccessfully avoiding the local children armed with water pistols containing coloured water as part of the annual Holi celebrations! In the late afternoon we were picked up by car and taken to Jhansi Railway Station where we caught the Sabarmati Express overnight to Lucknow.

3 March

The day involved various preparations for Nisha's cousins wedding (including the mehendi ceremony where the bride's hands and feet are painted with henna). I spent some time birding around the family farm in the afternoon.

4 March

An early morning walk around the farm in the morning was enjoyable in that I didn't really know what to expect; a Sirkeer Malkoha was one of the first birds I saw, and there were good numbers of pipits (Paddyfield, Olive-backed and Tree) in the fields. I also saw the only Yellow Wagtails of the trip, and an unidentified aquila eagle. During the day I visited a few places in Lucknow (including The Residency and Bara Imambara). The afternoon was spent preparing for the evening's wedding ceremony.

5 March

I spent the day on the farm. The same aquila eagle as yesterday was seen again, and again remained unidentified! Black-winged Kite, Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, Pheasant-tailed Jacana and Rosy Pipit were some of the more interesting sightings.

6 March

We drove to Nepalgunj in Nepal for the wedding reception and spent the night in Nepalgunj.

7 March

After a morning drive back to Lucknow, I caught the 1540 Sahara Airlines S2 514 flight back to Delhi, and took the courtesy coach to the international terminal to await my departure on the 0030 BA flight back to London. I arrived in Heathrow at about 6am on Monday 8 March.

Systematic List

  1. Grey Francolin Francolinus pondicerianus
    Daily at Ranthambhor (up to 17) and Keoladeo Ghana (up to 20)
  2. Jungle Bush Quail Perdicula asiatica
    Two at Ranthambhor on 22/2
  3. Painted Spurfowl Galloperdix lunulata
    Seven at Ranthambhor on 22/2
  4. Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus
    Common at Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana with up to 50 at the former site; one also at Lucknow on 4/3
  5. Lesser Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna javanica
    Several hundreds daily at Keoladeo Ghana with 30 also near Lucknow on 6/3
    Lesser Whistling-Duck
  6. Greylag Goose Anser anser
    Up to 80 daily at Keoladeo Ghana
  7. Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus
    Daily at Keoladeo Ghana with a max of 120 on 25/2
  8. Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
    Seen on three occasions at Keoladeo Ghana, including 40 on 24/2
  9. Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos
    Up to four at Keoladeo Ghana
  10. Cotton Pygmy-Goose Nettapus coromandelianus
    Two at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and up to four at Keoladeo Ghana
  11. Gadwall Anas strepera
    Common at Keoladeo Ghana, including at least 500 on 27/2
  12. Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
    Daily at Keoladeo Ghana with a max of 200 on 27/2
  13. Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha
    Small numbers (up to 15) daily at Keoladeo Ghana
    Spot-billed Duck
  14. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
    Very common at Keoladeo Ghana: at least 2000 on 27/2
  15. Northern Pintail Anas acuta
    Common at Keoladeo Ghana with at least 600 on 25/2
  16. Garganey Anas querquedula
    Up to 12 at Keoladeo Ghana
  17. Common Teal Anas crecca
    25 at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and common (at least 400 on 25/2) at Keoladeo Ghana
  18. Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
    Two seen on a river between Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana on 23/2 was the only sighting
  19. Common Pochard Aythya ferina
    Seen on three occasions at Keoladeo Ghana, including 120 on 25/2
  20. Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca
    Small numbers (up to 20) daily at Keoladeo Ghana
    Ferruginous Duck
  21. Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
    A single bird at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2
  22. Barred Buttonquail Turnix suscitator
    One seen briefly at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and three flushed there the following day
  23. Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
    Two at Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2
  24. Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos nanus
    Two at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2
  25. Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Dendrocopos mahrattensis
    Fairly common, with two at Ranthambhor and up to three at Keoladeo Ghana
    Yellow-crowned Woodpecker
  26. Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense
    Common at both Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana (where four were seen on 25/2) with one also at Lucknow on 2/3
  27. Brown-headed Barbet Megalaima zeylanica
    One at Lucknow on 4/3 was the only sighting
  28. Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala
    Seen or heard daily at Ranthambhor and one at Orchha on 2/3
  29. Indian Grey Hornbill Ocyceros birostris
    A single bird seen in flight near the Forest Nursery at Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2
  30. Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
    Common throughout, with eight at Keoladeo Ghana on both 25/2 and 26/2
  31. Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
  32. Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
    One at Ranthambhor on 21/2, daily sightings at Keoladeo Ghana with a max of eight on 24/2
  33. White-breasted Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
    Common throughout, with 15 at Keoladeo Ghana on 24/2
    White-breasted Kingfisher
  34. Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis
    Daily sightings of up to seven at Keoladeo Ghana and singles on three occasions at Lucknow
  35. Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis
    Common throughout, including 150 at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2
  36. Common Hawk Cuckoo Cuculus varius
    One at Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2, then one or two daily at Lucknow
  37. Sirkeer Malkoha Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii
    One at Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2 and one at Lucknow on 4/3
  38. Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
    One at Ranthambhor, then daily at Keoladeo Ghana (with 12 on 25/2) and a few singles elsewhere
  39. Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri
    Very common throughout, with at least 500 at Lucknow the highest daily count
  40. Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala
    A few daily at Ranthambhor, thereafter one at Orchha on 2/3
  41. Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis
    Only seen at Lucknow where there were eight on 4/3
  42. Little Swift Apus affinis
    Common throughout, the max day total being 500 on 28/2
  43. Collared Scops Owl Otus bakkamoena
    One at Ranthambhor on 22/2, two more the following day and one at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2
    Collared Scops Owl
  44. Eurasian Eagle Owl Bubo bubo
    One at dusk outside the entrance gate to Ranthambhor Park on 21/2
  45. Dusky Eagle Owl Bubo coromandus
    Two seen and heard at dusk at Keoladeo Ghana on 24/2, and heard on two other occasions
  46. Spotted Owlet Athene brama
    Ones or twos at Ranthambhor, Keoladeo Ghana and Orchha
    Spotted Owlet
  47. Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus
    One seen roosting during daylight in the Forest Nursery at Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2 and 27/2
    Large-tailed Nightjar
  48. Rock Pigeon Columba livia
  49. Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis
    Common, 80 at Ranthambhor being the maximum recorded
  50. Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
    Fairly common in small numbers, although none recorded at Keoladeo Ghana
  51. Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
    One at Ranthambhor, two at Keoladeo Ghana and up to two at Lucknow
  52. Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
    Common throughout
  53. Yellow-footed Green Pigeon Treron phoenicoptera
    Two at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and one the following day
  54. Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus
    The two wintering adults at Keoladeo Ghana were seen on 24/2 but were thought to have departed by 26/2
  55. Sarus Crane Grus antigone
    Four or five daily at Keoladeo Ghana were probably the same family party
    Sarus Crane
  56. Common Crane Grus grus
    Seen on two occasions at Keoladeo Ghana, with 48 on 25/2
  57. Brown Crake Amaurornis akool
    One seen in the canal at Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2 and 27/2
  58. White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus
    Quite common at Keoladeo Ghana, with one also at Lucknow
  59. Purple Gallinule Porphyrio porphyrio
    Very common (maximum of at least 1000) daily at Keoladeo Ghana
    Purple Gallinule
  60. Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
    Common at Keoladeo Ghana
  61. Common Coot Fulica atra
    Very common at Keoladeo Ghana with about 5000 estimated on 26/2
  62. Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse Pterocles exustus
    32 seen in the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2
  63. Painted Sandgrouse Pterocles indicus
    Four seen in the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2
  64. Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
    Up to four at Keoladeo Ghana
  65. Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa
    One at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and up to ten at Keoladeo Ghana
  66. Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
    One at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and up to eight at Keoladeo Ghana
  67. Common Redshank Tringa totanus
    Up to five at Keoladeo Ghana
  68. Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis
    Two seen between Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana on 23/2, then up to four at Keoladeo Ghana
  69. Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
    Small numbers (up to four) at Keoladeo Ghana
  70. Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
    Fairly common in small numbers, including 20 at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2
  71. Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
    Common at Keoladeo Ghana, with 120 there on 24/2
  72. Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos
    One or two at Ranthambhor, and two between Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana on 23/2
  73. Temminck's Stint Calidris temminckii
    Two seen at Keoladeo Ghana on 24/2
  74. Ruff Philomachus pugnax
    Very common at Keoladeo Ghana with at least 300 on 23/2
  75. Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus
    One at Ranthambhor on 21/2, up to 30 at Keoladeo Ghana and five at Lucknow on 5/3
  76. Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus
    Two at Ranthambhor on 21/2, up to 10 at Keoladeo Ghana
  77. Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus
    Three at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2
  78. Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus
    Common throughout, with 40 on 28/2 the maximum daily total
  79. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
    Up to two at Keoladeo Ghana
  80. Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malarbaricus
    Ten in the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2
  81. Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus
    Common throughout
  82. White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus
    Quite common at Keoladeo Ghana: daily sightings of up to 25
  83. Indian Courser Cursorius coromandelicus
    Two seen in the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2
  84. Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans
    One immature seen in flight at Keoladeo Ghana on 27/2
  85. River Tern Sterna aurantia
    Up to two at Keoladeo Ghana
  86. Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus
    One at Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2
  87. Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus
    One or two most days at Keoladeo Ghana
    Oriental Honey-buzzard
  88. Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus
    Singles at Delhi Airport and Ranthambhor, and two at Lucknow on 5/3
  89. Black Kite Milvus migrans
    Not seen at Ranthambhor and just one at Keoladeo Ghana, but several around Agra and Lucknow
  90. White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla
    One sub-adult at Keoladeo Ghana on 24/2
  91. Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus
    Common in small numbers
  92. White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis
    Common with up to 40 at both Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana
  93. Long-billed Vulture Gyps indicus
    Common with up to 60 at Ranthambhor, 20 at Keoladeo Ghana and 50 at Orchha
    Long-billed Vulture
  94. Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus
    One at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2 and two the following day
  95. Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus
    One at Ranthambhor on 22/2
    Short-toed Eagle
  96. Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela
    One between Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana on 23/2 and up to two at Keoladeo Ghana
  97. Eurasian Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus
    Two on several occasions at Keoladeo Ghana
  98. Montagu's/Pallid Harrier Circus pygargus
    One ringtail at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2 was most likely a first-winter Montagu's
  99. Shikra Accipiter badius
    Widespread and relatively common with a max of four at Ranthambhor on 21/2
  100. Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
    Singles on two dates at Keoladeo Ghana and one near Lucknow on 6/3
  101. Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga
    The commonest aquila eagle. Up to five were seen at Keoladeo Ghana and one at Ranthambhor
    Spotted Eagle
  102. Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis
    One at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2 and two on 27/2
  103. Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca
    A first-winter and a sub-adult at Keoladeo Ghana on two dates
  104. Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus
    Juveniles seen on two occasions at Keoladeo Ghana
  105. Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
    Up to two dark phase birds at Keoladeo Ghana
  106. Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
    One at Keoladeo Ghana and singles at a few other locations
  107. Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
    Fairly common. Five at Ranthambhor, up to 12 daily at Keoladeo Ghana and six at Lucknow
  108. Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster
    Common (up to 50) at Keoladeo Ghana
    Oriental Darter
  109. Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger
    Common throughout, including up to 100 at Ranthambhor and 150 at Keoladeo Ghana
    Little Cormorant
  110. Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis
    Only seen at Keoladeo Ghana where there were about 30 on 27/2
  111. Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
    Common (up to 50 sinensis type) at Keoladeo Ghana
  112. Little Egret Egretta garzetta
    Common at Keoladeo Ghana (up to 100) and a few seen at various other localities
  113. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
    Up to 150 at Keoladeo Ghana
  114. Purple Heron Ardea purpurea
    Common at Keoladeo Ghana with up to 50 there, and one at Lucknow on 5/3
    Purple Heron
  115. Great Egret Casmerodius albus
    Fairly common, particularly at Keoladeo Ghana where there were daily sightings of up to 50
    Great Egret
  116. Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia
    Very common at Keoladeo Ghana with at least 400 on 27/2 and several seen elsewhere, including 100 at Lucknow on 5/3
    Intermediate Egret
  117. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis
    Fairly common and widespread, although just one at Keoladeo Ghana
  118. Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii
    Common and widespread
    Indian Pond Heron
  119. Striated Heron Butorides striatus
    One or two seen at Keoladeo Ghana
  120. Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
    Up to 80 at Keoladeo Ghana, mostly in a roost near Keoladeo Temple
  121. Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis
    A single in the ditch beside the main track at Keoladeo Ghana on 24/2
  122. Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus
    Common at Keoladeo Ghana with up to 200
    Glossy Ibis
  123. Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus
    One at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and daily sightings (max of 80) at Keoladeo Ghana
    Black-headed Ibis
  124. Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia
    Common (up to 200) at Keoladeo Ghana
  125. Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus
    12 at Keoladeo Ghana on 24/2 and five there on 27/2
  126. Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus
    Five at Keoladeo Ghana on 24/2 and one on 26/2
    Dalmatian Pelican
  127. Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala
    Very common at Keoladeo Ghana with at least 1000 at their nest colony; small numbers seen elsewhere
    Painted Stork
  128. Black Stork Ciconia nigra
    Two in flight over Ranthambhor on 21/2
  129. Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans
    Small numbers (up to ten) daily at Keoladeo Ghana
  130. Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus
    One or two seen most days at Keoladeo Ghana
  131. Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus
    Up to three daily at Keoladeo Ghana
  132. Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus
    One at Keoladeo Ghana was seen on 25/2 at Mrig Tal
  133. Rufous-tailed Shrike Lanius isabellinus
    Singles at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2 and 26/2
  134. Bay-backed Shrike Lanius vittatus
    Up to three at Ranthambhor, two between Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana and singles on two occasions at Keoladeo Ghana
  135. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
    A few seen at various sites, including five at Ranthambhor
  136. Southern Grey Shrike Lanius meridonialis
    Up to five at Ranthambhor and 15 seen between there and Keoladeo Ghana on 23/2
    Southern Grey Shrike
  137. Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda
    Common and widespread, the max being 25 at Ranthambhor on 21/2
  138. House Crow Corvus splendens
  139. Jungle Crow Corvus levaillantii
    Small numbers seen regularly
  140. Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei
    Six at Ranthambhor on 21/2
  141. Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus
    Small numbers at both Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana
  142. White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola
    Three at Ranthambhor and two at Keoladeo Ghana
  143. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
    Common throughout
  144. Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
    Two at Keoladeo Ghana in the Forest Nursery on 27/2
  145. White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens
    Six seen at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and two there the following day
  146. Common Iora Aegithina tiphia
    Two at Ranthambhor on 21/2 were the only sighting
  147. Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus
    A few observed at several sites
  148. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
    One seen in the village at the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2
  149. Tickell's Thrush Turdus unicolor
    One near the entrance gate of Ranthambhor on 21/2 and up to two seen at Keoladeo Ghana on three (always brief) occasions
  150. Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva
    Fairly common, the maximum observed being seven at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and eight at Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2
  151. Tickell's Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae
    One near the entrance gate of Ranthambhor on 21/2
  152. Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
    Six at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and up to four at Keoladeo Ghana
  153. Bluethroat Luscinia svecica
    Two daily at Keoladeo Ghana and three at Lucknow on 5/3
  154. Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis
    Common and widespread
    Oriental Magpie Robin
  155. White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus
    One at Ranthambhor on 21/2
  156. Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata
    Common, 25 at Ranthambhor on 22/2 being the maximum noted
  157. Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
    Up to three at various sites
  158. Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata
    Two at Ranthambhor on 22/2 and two at Lucknow on 4/3
  159. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata
    Seen at several sites including 40 at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2
  160. Indian Chat Cercomela fusca
    Seen at Ranthambhor, Fatehpur Sikri, Jhansi Fort, and up to 15 at Orchha
  161. Brahminy Starling Sturnus pagodarum
    Fairly common, peaks being 60 at Ranthambhor and 50 at Keoladeo Ghana
    Brahminy Starling
  162. Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
    One at Lucknow on 5/3
  163. Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra
    Two at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and then several at Keoladeo Ghana and a few around Lucknow
  164. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
    Very common and widespread
  165. Bank Myna Acridotheres ginginianus
    Up to 12 at Ranthambhor and just one at Keoladeo Ghana, thereafter several further north and very common around Agra
  166. Great Tit Parus major
    Up to eight at Ranthambhor
  167. Sand Martin Riparia riparia
    Two at Keoladeo Ghana on 27/2
  168. Plain Martin Riparia paludicola
    Eight at Ranthambhor and up to six at Keoladeo Ghana
  169. Dusky Crag Martin Hirundo concolor
    40 at Ranthambhor, two at Jhansi and up to 20 at Orchha
  170. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
    Very common at Keoladeo Ghana, few elsewhere
  171. Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii
    Two at Keoladeo Ghana on two occasions
  172. Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
    Two at Lucknow on 4/3
  173. Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
    Up to four at Lucknow
  174. White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucotis
    Up to ten seen daily at Keoladeo Ghana
  175. Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
    Common and widespread
  176. Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
    Up to 15 at Lucknow
  177. Rufous-fronted Prinia Prinia buchanani
    Two singing birds in the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2
    Rufous-fronted Prinia
  178. Graceful Prinia Prinia gracilis
    One at Keoladeo Ghana and two at Lucknow
  179. Jungle Prinia Prinia sylvatica
    Up to 15 at Ranthambhor
  180. Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis
    Three at Ranthambhor on 21/2
  181. Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
    Two at Ranthambhor, Keoladeo Ghana and Orchha, and ten at Lucknow
  182. Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus
    One near Lucknow on 6/3
  183. Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum
    Seen daily (up to eight) at Keoladeo Ghana and one near Lucknow on 6/3
  184. Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus
    Up to six at Keoladeo Ghana
  185. Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
    Small numbers seen throughout
  186. Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
    One at Ranthambhor, up to 30 at Keoladeo Ghana and two at Lucknow on 4/3
  187. Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus
    Three at Keoladeo Ghana on 24/2 and one there on 26/2
  188. Hume's Warbler Syrmaticus humiae
    Fairly common with up to eight at Ranthambhor, 25 at Keoladeo Ghana and singles elsewhere
  189. Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
    Four at Ranthambhor on 21/2 and singles at Keoladeo Ghana
  190. Common Babbler Turdoides caudatus
    Seven at Ranthambhor on 22/2, then singles at Keoladeo Ghana and Orchha
  191. Large Grey Babbler Turdoides malcolmi
    Seen at Ranthambhor (up to eight) and in the dry areas of Keoladeo Ghana where there were 50 on 26/2
  192. Jungle Babbler Turdoides striatus
    Common and widespread
    Jungle Babbler
  193. Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca
    One at Ranthambhor, up to 50 at Keoladeo Ghana and one at Lucknow
  194. Indian Lark Mirafra erythroptera
    Up to five at Ranthambhor, near the road from Sawai Madhopur and in the semi-desert area nearby
  195. Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix grisea
    80 in the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2, four at the southernmost point of Keoladeo Ghana, and a few at Lucknow
  196. Rufous-tailed Lark Ammomanes phoenicurus
    Two at Lala Pyare Ka Kund, Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2
  197. Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla
    Four in the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2
  198. Crested Lark Galerida cristata
    Two at Koladahar, Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2
  199. Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
    Two at Koladahar, Keoladeo Ghana on 26/2 and up to 20 at Lucknow
  200. Purple Sunbird Nectarinia asiatica
    Small numbers seen at various localities
  201. House Sparrow Passer domesticus
  202. Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis
    Seen at various sites including 50 at Keoladeo Ghana and 40 at Lucknow
  203. White Wagtail Motacilla alba
    Singles at a few sites
  204. White-browed Wagtail Motacilla madaraspatensis
    Up to two seen at Keoladeo Ghana
  205. Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola
    Common with up to 100 seen daily at Keoladeo Ghana
    Citrine Wagtail
  206. Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
    Four at Lucknow on 4/3 were the only sighting
  207. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
    Up to four at Ranthambhor, one at Keoladeo Ghana and two at Orchha
  208. Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus
    Common (at least 70) in the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2. Also four at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2 and up to 10 at Lucknow
  209. Tawny Pipit Anthus campestris
    One was seen in the Ranthambhor semi-desert area on 22/2
  210. Blyth's Pipit Anthus godlewskii
    About 10 were seen with other pipits in the semi-desert area of Ranthambhor on 22/2
  211. Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
    100 were seen in alfalfa fields at Lucknow on 5/3
  212. Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
    Fairly common in small numbers at Ranthambhor, Keoladeo Ghana and Lucknow, where the maximum count of 10 was recorded
  213. Rosy Pipit Anthus roseatus
    One at Lucknow on 5/3
  214. Streaked Weaver Ploceus manyar
    At least four seen near Python Point, Keoladeo Ghana on 27/2
  215. White-throated Munia Lonchura malabarica
    Single sightings at each of Ranthambhor, Keoladeo Ghana, Orchha and Lucknow

Other Bird Notes

  1. [Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila (pomarina) hastata]
    Although at the time I believed that I had definite sightings of Lesser Spotted Eagle with one at Keoladeo Ghana on 25/2 and two there on 27/2, I now no longer consider the identification of these to be confirmed and hence remove these records. This follows the split of Indian Spotted Eagle A. hastata from Lesser Spotted Eagle A. pomarina and the realisation that it is more similar to Greater Spotted A. clanga than Lesser Spotted.
  2. [White-capped Bunting Emberiza stewarti]
    A bunting, probably of this species, was seen twice in flight at Ranthambhor Fort on 21/2

Other Wildlife

  1. Wild Boar Sus scrofa
    Seen at Ranthambhor both days and on one occasion at Keoladeo Ghana
  2. Five-striped Palm Squirrel Funambulus pennantii
    Very common throughout
  3. Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta
    Common at Keoladeo Ghana and seen elsewhere in the north
  4. Sambar Cervus unicolor
    Fairly common at Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana
  5. Nilgai (Blue Bull) Boselaphus tragocamelus
    Fairly common at Ranthambhor and Keoladeo Ghana
  6. Golden Jackal Canis aureus
    Common at Keoladeo Ghana
  7. Chinkara (Indian Gazelle) Gazella bennettii
    Two just south of the Sawai Madhopur road near Ranthambhor on 21/2 and two in Ranthambhor Park on 22/2
  8. Chital (Spotted Deer) Axis axis
    Common at Ranthambhor; fairly common at Keoladeo Ghana
  9. Common Langur Semnopithecus entellus
    Very common at Ranthambhor
  10. Indian Grey (Common Indian) Mongoose Herpestes edwardsii
    Three seen at Keoladeo Ghana, one at Orchha
  11. Ruddy Mongoose Herpestes smithii
    One at Ranthambhor on 23/2 and one seen beside the road from Nepalgunj to Lucknow on 7/3
  12. Sloth Bear Ursus ursinus
    One at Ranthambhor from the gypsy in the late afternoon of 22/2 gave superb close views as it walked along a stone wall before moving off into the vegetation
  13. Marsh Mugger
    Two seen at the lake at Ranthambhor on 21/2
  14. Indian Rock Python
    One in a tree near Keoladeo Temple on 24/2

Other Wildlife Notes

  1. [Leopard Panthera pardus]
    One large mammal seen briefly at Ranthambhor from the gypsy on the morning of 23/2 was almost certainly a Leopard, although couldn't be seen when we drove closer. Had we waited where we first caught a glimpse of it we undoubtedly would have seen it move out of its relatively flimsy cover, but the Indian guide insisted on taking the gypsy at breakneck speed until we were within ten metres of where it had been. Not surprisingly, although there was lots of commotion amongst the Common Langurs nearby, the Leopard was nowhere to be seen!
  2. [Tiger Panthera tigris]
    Although not seen personally, tigers were generally seen daily by at least one of the gypsies at Ranthambhor. At the entrance gate at dusk on 21/2 I met a BBC film crew, including Michaela Strachan, who had been successfully filming tigers for The Really Wild Show. I showed them an Eagle Owl through my scope, but unfortunately was not repaid with any tiger sightings! On 22/2, when I took a gypsy trip into the Park, one was seen from the canter along the entrance road, an area where I had been walking alone at a similar time the day before!
  3. [Turtle sp]
    At least two different species were seen at Keoladeo Ghana. One small species was seen daily and a larger, smooth-shelled, turtle was seen on 27/2.