Having spent the last ten days in fairly remote locations, Bharatpur also know as Keoladeo National Park wasn’t quite what we were expecting. We knew that the wetland sanctuary had been created some 250 years ago, initially as a hunting ground for the maharajahs of Bharatpur. There were duck shoots organised yearly in honor of the British viceroys. Now a World Heritage Site and one the the most famous bird sanctuaries in the world. What we were not expecting was that the the park was just off the major road from Agra. It was on the edge of Bharatpur and surrounded by numerous hotels.
We arrived at the Birders’ Inn in the dark. This is one of the closest hotels to the park. We settled in for the night ready for another early start. Next morning we had an early breakfast. Eddie had arranged for our local bird guide and the tricycle rickshaws to meet us outside.
Into the Park
After a five minute rickshaw ride we were at the park gate. Then another short straight road took us into the core area. The park is a mixture of woodland, wetland and scrub. It wasnt long before we began to come across birds ranging from the huge Sarus Cranes to small passerines.
It was a true birdwatcher’s paradise. The highlight of the morning’s visit was a family of owls in a tree and a pair of Sarus Cranes close to the path. They eventually performed their famous courtship dance.
With our total bird count rising we headed back for lunch at the hotel. On the route back we came across a troupe of Rhesus Macaques playing in a pond. They provided us with some excellent photo opportunities.
After lunch and a rest we set off for the park again. The stars of the afternoon’s visit included a Dusky Eagle-Owl and a Greater Spotted Eagle. We also had the opportunity to get some close shots of both a common and pied kingfisher fishing in one of the park sluices.
Next morning we headed back into the park for the last time before we started to head back to the UK. As it was our last outing we took breakfast with us to make the most of our time. This morning highlights included excellent views of an Oriental Honey Buzzard, a Greater Spotted Eagle, Hoopoe, Herons and Scops Owls. There was also a large flock of Greylag Geese. These are very common back home in Norfolk UK, but obviously one of the parks star species at this time of the year.
As we made our way back to the gate were delighted at the sight of a small pack of Jackals approaching along the path. They provided excellent opportunities to get some great close up shots of the dominant male.
Back at the Birder’s Inn we had lunch before heading off to the railway station for our train to Delhi and then on to the airport, for our night flight back home.