Wednesday, January 04, 2012

The Road to Bharatpur and birding in the local area (North India - Day 4)

An early start saw us on the road to Bharatpur, home of the World Heritage site Keoladeo National Park. Worth noting at this point that Indian driving is mad, with six lanes of traffic in roads intended for three, constant hooting of horns (no need for wing or rear view mirrors) and general impatience - we were deliberately rammed by one chap who was desperate to queue jump at a toll station, to which event no-one even blinked!

En route a new species, the Red Collared Dove:


Another, the Coppersmith Barbet:


and in an adjacent tree a Spotted Owlet was having a daytime nap:


Owls are tough to locate in the UK due to the massively diminished habitat so seeing them so regularly on this trip was a real treat.

We checked in at The Bagh hotel in Bharatpur and enjoyed a really tasty lunch. We had some time to spare so wandered around the grounds, spotting first Indian Grey Hornbill:


and then a female Red-throated Flycatcher:


The afternoon drive was aimed at one specific species, the massive Sarus Crane (reaching 1 metre 52 cm in height!). On the way we stopped by a river and spotted a small group of Red Avadavats feeding:


Also present an Orphean Warbler:


We crossed into Utter Pradesh from Rajasthan, via a railway crossing where a completely mad bloke tried to sell us some cannabis plants he'd uprooted from somewhere. We had to wind up the windows in the end as he wouldn't take no for an answer.

Once safely across we headed along a track between fields looking for the Crane, spotting Common Hoopoe:


We located a small group, two adults and a single juvenile, in a potato field:


Sarus Cranes are amazing and beautiful birds. Their numbers however are plummeting as more farmers use insecticides to increase crop productivity...



We were delighted to see them and chuffed when a couple of fields away we also spotted a flock of Black Ibis:



A loud tractor prompted them to take flight, allowing me to photograph one on the wing:


We headed back into Rajasthan and back to Bharatpur stopping to snap the sunset.



The next day promises to be good as Keoladeo National Park is considered the premier birding location in India...

Back at the Bagh for dinner I requested the mulligatawny soup be done 'Indian hot'. They agreed and when served I have a small audience of waiting and kitchen staff while i ate the soup, which was really good. The curry dish I had ordered which had been delivered was promptly whisked back to the kitchen to be spiced up. When that was served and I ate that the waiter said 'you are different, that is Indian food, I would eat that'. Smiles all round!

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