Bharatpur Keoladeo National Bird Park

Ok, I am on a roll!  Busy as ever since Arvind and our group parted ways.  The great news is that this internet cafe, as much of a dive as it is, is rapid!  I can download pictures in a flash.  So here I go, word processing as fast as I can think!  Within this blog, I am listing what we saw.  Sometimes the names of the birds are as lovely as the birds themselves.

Keoladeo is one of the three best bird reserves in the world.  We took a two hour train ride from Ranthambore to Bharatpur.  Ramesh Gupta was our ornithologist for the day.  He has been working for this national bird reserve for over 20 years.  He was quite knowledgeable and a very pleasant guide.

Mr. Gupta told us that this bird reserve used to be a hunting reserve.  In the winter months (like now), there are 385 bird species to be seen in the park!  This number includes some rare Siberian cranes.

Here is the beautiful reserve:

Marshy area filled with Painted Storks:

He also told us that though people come here to primarily see birds, other animals live on this vast reserve and include the following: the sambar (Indian elk), spotted deer, the blue bull antelope (the largest Asiatic antelope), jackals, jungle cats, ONE Royal Bengal Tiger (“Just one male”, Mr. Gupta explained, “who has come over from Ranthambore for easy meals, for his “buffet”.”), wild boars, hyenas, fishing cats (these are wild cats with black marks on their faces and they mainly eat fish out of the many ponds here), 14 kinds of snakes!!!, including the cobra and 3 other poisonous snakes, and the mongoose (who feed on the snakes).

The night before leaving for Bharatpur, Jim told Terri and me, “I could go either way on the bird reserve visit.  You know, I’m not really much of a big bird guy.”  Well, we all, including Jim, had a fascinating time at the reserve.  How could we not??  The night prior to our outing, we had thunderstorms and heavy rain.  The rain made for clean fresh air.  It washed the dust off the leaves and everything looked greener and very lush.

The reserve was pleasantly cool and shady. Bicycle rickshaw wallas brought us through the main roads of the park. Here is Terri and Vivek.  Rick is behind them:

Every so often we would stop and Mr. Gupta would lead us to a viewpoint where we could observe the painted storks or where he would identify a number of birds for us.

Black Bunting Bulbul

Browning Starling

Eagles

Collared Scop’s

Owlets

Little green bee-eaters

Indian Rollers (also known as Shiva’s bird, this bird brings good luck!)

Shrike

I rode on the bicycle rickshaw with Rick. Our rickshaw wallah never stopped talking, pointing out the most obvious birds over and over again!  “See see, that is crow.”   “And Miss, over there, a stork!”  He talked and talked and talked.  I couldn’t understand half of what he was saying, so finally, I tuned him out and focused on the incredible bird sanctuary around us!

When I tuned into the forest I came to this truth:

Birdsong is the loveliest of music!

Our rickshaw wallah was working his butt off, carrying Rick and me throughout the park.  He was so strong.  He pedaled and spoke endlessly without being winded.  But still, I kept wishing that Rick and I weighed less for this man’s sake.  I was relieved when we got off the bicycle rickshaw and walked around with our guide.

Kulkul (coppery colored crow pheasant)

Painted Storks

Stork nests in acacia trees

Red breasted flycatcher (this guy was super adorable!)

Black Drongo

Gray headed flycatcher

Turtles

Patty Wally heron

Snakebirds

Green sandpipers and common sandpipers

Purple heron

White backed water hen

White breasted water hen

Our guide, Mr. Gupta, is impassioned and shares his bird knowledge with such excitement!  After 20 years of working here, his enthusiasm has not waned.  It makes me happy, especially after seeing heaps of rubbish in the cities, to know precious places like this are preserved in India.  I am excited to see India’s national parks and reserves visited by Indian and international birders.  We were all in awe of what we saw in Keoladeo National Park.

We passed marshy ponds and I was surprised that there were no mosquitoes. I saw huge catfish fighting near the water’s surface.  They were so huge they reminded me of the Loch Ness Monster surfacing.

Red vented bulbul (very beautiful song)

Blue kingfisher

When I saw the blue kingfisher, I was stunned by its exquisite color.  I thought to myself, “How will I ever describe this beautiful creature?”  I asked our group to please describe the color for me.  As they spontaneously called out their descriptions, I quickly noted down their words: sapphire, metallic, azure, cerulean, peacock blue, azurite!

Spoonbill

Imperial Eagle

Laughing Dove

I think our “I’m-just-not-really-much-of-a-big-bird-guy” is now fully converted! I have many great pictures of Jim glued to his binoculars, looking out at the birds, grinning from ear to ear.  This place is magical.

Here is our group up on the bird observatory:

After our bird outing, we had lunch at the Udai Group Hotel where we had great food.  The kind and friendly owner of the hotel, Mr. Udai Singh, came out to greet us.  He lived in the states for a while and worked for Elder Hostel.  When we told him how much we loved the bird reserve, he smiled proudly and said, “You see, this is why I had to come back from the states.  I LOVE MY INDIA.”

I will many more bird photos to download for later!

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