Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Bird Photography at Bharatpur Keoladeo National Park


Standing at the milestone of my life-list of 200, I was looking ahead to understand how far can I go and how fast can I go. How far was not tough, as it was way too far. For in India there are close to 1300 species.  How fast, on the other hand was a difficult one.

In that quest of increasing my life-list, Bharatpur was planned. I knew my life-list number would shoot up very fast in Bharatpur. During this trip I breached the 250 mark. It could have been easily close to 300 if I was in the correct season. However Bharatpur was still thirsty and hot and birds still were not preferring it as their sweet spot. Nevertheless, I managed 50+ new species to my list in that 3 days and 4 night stay.

Some Info for Visitors:
  • Season or no season, anything less than 3 full days is too less for Bharatpur.
  • Must choose Hotel Sunbird, perfect location, beautiful ambiance, reasonable rates, wonderful staff and service. (Average food – but you are not there for the food I believe, you are there for the birds right!!)
  • Always take a guide along, although rickshaw can show you birds but guides can take you inside the treks where rickshaw cannot go. Rickshaws charge 100 per hour, guides charge 150 per hour and you can hire a cycle if you want for 25 rupees for 6 hours. Entry fee is another 50 per head.
  • Ask the hotel staff for the bird guide – they charge just 150 per hour and Hotel Sunbird has tie up with good guides, our guide Gajender Singh was brilliant.
  • Be ready for some really hectic and physically exhaustive workouts. The guide will make you trek for atleast 7-8 km and you also will have to cycle for an additional 10-12 km everyday. That’s the minimum if you are serious about birding.
  • At the end of the day not a single bone or muscle in your body will be without pain, more so if you carry a big lens, however the rewards are also commensurate.
  • Hotel sunbird will recommend you to hire a taxi and go for Birding at Nonera Village one day. Please visit there, it is a beautiful place worth every penny. Amazing sighting which is not present inside the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. (Around 70 km from Bharatpur)
  • Rickshaw is not that helpful for birding, so hire a cycle. It is fast you can pace it yourself and cover more distances in less time and you can even ride into the sub segments of the park where rickshaw cannot go. Unless ofcourse one doesn’t know cycling.

The total number of birds I clicked was close to 100, however for the purpose of this post, I will restrict myself mostly to the 50+ lifers I got there unless I want to bring about the diversities of a particular species.

Ranthambore was highly disappointing, we took 3 jeep safaris and still couldn't spot the Tiger. Even the birds were not that generous on us. Just spotted three lifer - the Indian Vulture, Southern Grey Shrike and the White Naped Woodpecker (Female), other than that nothing else. You are not allowed to get down from the jeep, hence birding depends on chance sightings. The guides and drivers were pathetic and had no knowledge what-so-ever. Gir and Jim Corbett was far more professionally managed.

However I was not complaining much since Bharatpur had already satiated me.

Enjoy the pics below.

Sarus Crane

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail Female

Northern Pintail Female

Northern Shoveler Male and Female

Pied Avocet

Comb Duck

Greater Flamingo

Greater Flamingo

Little Grebe br

Common Moorhen

Greater Painted-Snipe Male

Greater Painted-Snipe Female

Eurasian Spoonbill

Asian Openbill

Grey Heron

Wooly-necked Stork

Painted Stork

Black-necked Stork

Bronze-winged Jacana

Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher

White-throated Kingfisher

Common Hawk Cuckoo juv

Grey Francolin

Black Redstart Male

Black Redstart Female

Red-collared Dove

Wire-tailed Swallow

Brown-headed Barbet

Pied Cuckoo

Southern Grey Shrike

Isabelline Shrike Female

Common Woodshrike

Lesser Whitethroat

Indian Roller

Indian Roller

Eurasian Roller

Eurasian Roller

White-eared Bulbul

Bank Myna

Bay-backed Shrike

Rosy Starling

Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Female

Lesser Goldenback Male

Common Hoopoe

Common Hoopoe

Black-breasted Weaver Male

Streaked Weaver and Baya Weaver Female

Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Male

Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Male

Stoliczka's Bushchat

Pied Bushchat juv

Common Chiffchaff

Lesser Whitethroat

Rufous Treepie

Ashy Drongo

Laughing Dove

Asian Pied Starling

Common Babbler

Egyptian Vulture

Egyptian Vulture

Crested Serpent Eagle

Crested Serpent Eagle

Crested Serpent Eagle

White-eyed Buzzard

White-eyed Buzzard

Shikra Female

Shikra Male

Oriental Honey Buzzard

Oriental Honey Buzzard

Eurasian Marsh Harrier

White-eyed Buzzard

Black Kite

White-eyed Buzzard

Tawny Eagle and Red-wattled Lapwing

Eurasian Hobby

Indian Vulture

Spotted Owlet

Indian Scops Owl

Indian Nighjar

Paddyfield Pipit

Crested Lark

Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark Female

Ashy Crowned Sparrow Lark male

Crested Lark

White Wagtail

White Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Black-winged Stilt juv

Curlew Sandpiper

Black-winged Stilt

Common Sandpiper

Little-ringed Plover br

Little-ringed Plover non br

Green Sandpiper

Temminck's Stint

Little Stint

Marsh Sandpiper

Common Greenshank

Common Redshank


Greater flamingo

Northern Pintail

Pied Avocet

Northern Shoveler


Hotel Sunbird

Asian Paradise Flycatcher

Blue-tailed Bee-eater

Indian Jungle Crow

Sarus Crane

Large Grey Babbler

Southern Coucal

White-naped Woodpecker Female

Tawny Eagle

Purple Heron


  1. Great pics Sumeet! Seems like the long awaited trip to Bharatpur finally did happen!

    1. Hey Thanks Sonia, yeah it was indeed a wonderful experience even though my timing to visit wasn't the most appropriate. Still managed to add 50+ to my existing list of 200.

    2. That is really cool. A friend has just returned from Kabini and can't stop raving about the bird watching trip there! Been there?

    3. Haven't been there yet, probably that's a little later in my priority as I have already covered a lot of Birds in Western Ghats through Thattekad and Munnar. Since Kabini primarily will have birds of Western ghats hence I am keeping it for sometime later. Before that I need to go to Orissa and Lucknow. Orissa and Lucknow should take my life list close to 300. The next boost to that list can only happen from Himalayas. Let's see if I can plan out something for the Himalayan Birds sometime soon.

  2. Thought you might find it interesting:

    1. Hey Priyanka! Nice link, very informative, thanks for sharing,