The Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary

This year I fulfilled my dream of visiting the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary near the town of Bharatpur in Rajasthan. It can be easily reached from Agra, so it can be combined with a visit of the Taj Mahal.

After reaching the vicinity of the Park and spending a long time looking for a reasonable place to stay, my heart sank as I thought that maybe I had made a huge mistake in coming to a place that was more reminiscent of a lorry stop than a protected wildlife area. I had visualized rural woodlands with pleasant laid-back countryside resorts to be at the outskirts of the Park. Instead, I found myself in an ugly sprawling industrialized suburb that seemed to have no notion of city planning, with a noisy highway going through the middle of it. It seemed unbelievable that this could be the home to many migrant and resident birds attracting birders from all over the world…

The following morning I walked the short distance to the park entrance and hired a tatty bicycle with a rusty chain, which proved nevertheless the best and certainly the most ecological option to explore the sanctuary (most visitors took horse-drawn carts).

It was like stepping into a different world, because immediately after crossing the threshold I was rewarded with the most incredible sightings of all kinds of exciting birds. I spent the whole day cycling through the Park and saw all kinds of wildlife from quite close quarters. There were even mammals like Deer, Macaque Monkeys and Indian Palm Squirrels.

However, the birds were the main attraction here. There were huge numbers of waterfowl as the area is very swampy. I had sightings of Indian Pond Herons, Painted Storks, Oriental Darters, Coots, Cormorants, Pelicans, Black-headed Ibis, Purple Swamphens, Pintails, Dabchicks, Mallards, Cotton Pygmy Geese, Purple Herons, Ruddy Shelducks, Indian Peafowl, Egyptian Vultures, White-throated Kingfishers, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Greater Coucals, Brahminy Starlings and Indian Grey Hornbills to name a few. None of the birds seemed to be in the least disturbed by the presence of the visitors, and I was able to photograph quite a few. I could see all the birds with my naked eyes (I had not taken my binoculars to India). But the stars were definitely the Sarus Cranes that can often be found breeding in the most removed part of the Park and are not always spotted by visitors.
You might be interested to know that we offer visits of the Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary as part of our extension tours following our Rajasthan group trips!

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