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Ranthambore National ParkRajasthan : Ranthanbore Tiger

Ranthambhor used to be the hunting grounds of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Today, it is famous for its tigers and is one of the best places in the country to see these majestic predators in the wild. The tigers can be easily spotted even during the day. Ranthambore's royal past manifests itself in the picturesque ruins the dot the Park. There are lake palaces, old fortifications and a majestic thousand year old fortifications on a height overlooking the Park.

The Park which covers an area of 1334 sq. km. and is set between


the Aravali and Vindhya ranges. Its deciduous forests were once a part of the magnificent jungles of Central India. The terrain is rugged and there are rocky ridges, hills and open valleys. It is centered around five lakes which attract water birds and mammals during the winter months. The park also offers good birding. Species recorded here include the crested serpent eagle, Bonelli'seagle, great Indian horned owl, grey partridge, common sandgrouse, quail, red spur fowl, common pea fowl, tree pie, paradise fly catcher, pheasant tailed jacana, painted stork, white necked stork, spoonbill, green pigeon, whitebacked vulture, king vulture, whitebreasted kingfisher, spotted dove, ring dove, couca and the golden Wood pecker.

The three lakes that are so central to the fauna are ideal spots for birdspotting. Snipe, coots, grebes, black-tailed godwits, sandpipers, cotton teal and large egrets can sometimes be seen hitching a ride on the backs of half-submerged sambar deer; picking ticks off their backs.

Spotted DoveGrassland and scrub birds like quail and partridge scurry away from vehicles as they traverse muddy forest tracts and shrikes can be seen sitting on tall grass stalks waiting to catch flying insects.

Nests of raptors such as blackwinged kites, Bonelli's eagles and crested serpent eagles can be spotted in tall trees, which also serve as excellent lookout posts from where these 'tigers of the sky' are able to survey their aerial kingdom.

Birds recognise no physical boundaries and visit villages on the fringes of the park, which make for excellent birding spots in the hours between the morning and evening forest rounds (11 am to 2.30 pm).

Located in Rajasthan, Ranthambhore is linked by rail via Sawai Madhopur, 350 Kms ( 05 hrs) from Delhi, and 170 kms (02 hrs) from Bharatpur. The park entrance is 10 Kms from the rail station. It is also linked by road to Bharatpur, Jaipur & Delhi.

The best time to visit is from October to March. No walking is permitted within the park. Open jeeps and trucks are the means of transportation for viewing animals and birding.

Varied accommodation is available. Click here for more information

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Chambal National Park

Chambal Indian Skimmer

Located astride the Chambal River, this sanctuary, once the abode of gangs of dacoits comprises ravines and river spread over three states - Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.  This sanctuary is famous for the rare Gangetic dolphin, Indian Mugger, gharial, turtles, and 225 species of birds. It is one of the best places to see the Indian Skimmer.

In a 3 hrs boat trip you can see perhaps some 40 species of birds, among them flamingos, Indian Skimmers resting on a sand bank, an Asian Openbill, Wooly-necked Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, Whiskered and Black-bellied Tern, Ruddy and Common Shelduck, some Calidris, Tringa, Limosa, and Charadrius wading birds, Brown-headed Gull, Bar-headed Goose, Lesser Whistling Goose, teals and ducks, White-breasted and Pied Kingfisher, Shikras and a Brahminy Kite.

The nearest airport as also railhead is at Agra, which is 90 km away from the sanctuary

The best time to visit the sanctuary is November to February.

The Chambal safari lodge provides good accommodation with dining facilities. It is also possible to stay at Agra and spend the day on the Chambal, birding by boat, camel and on foot.

Kumbalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary

Located in Rajasthan, Kumbalgarh is 84 Kms North of Udhaipur. It is well connected by road to major destinatiomns in Rajasthan and is a convenient stop- over whilst driving to Udhaipur from Jodhpur, Ajmer or Jaipur

Kumbalgarh; once the private hunting grounds of the Maharana of Mewar, is now a wild life sanctuary. Located astride the rocky Aravali Range at an altitude of 1080 m. Kumbalgarhs royal past manifests itself in the magnificent fort of the rulers of Mewar; dating back to the 15th century. The walls of the fort stretch for 36 Kms, and enclose many palaces, temples, gardens and water storage facilities.

The Park covers an area of 578 sq Kms of mixed deciduous forests and scrub The terrain is rugged with forested and rocky ridges. The park has a some rough forest trails. Birding within the sanctuary requires the use of a 4WD jeep. Entry is by permission of the Deputy Chief Wild life Warden. The best time to visit is from October to March. Good birding on foot is possible in and around the Fort – which also houses a heritage hotel, and on the road from Saira to Kumbalgarh in fields growing sugar cane, mustard, wheat, Millet, and amongst Acacia patches.

Kumbalgarh has recorded some interesting species such as Sulphur-belied Warbler, Green Avadavat, and White-naped Tit, Red Spurfowl and Grey Junglefowl. It also hosts common species such as the Gray Francolin, Jungle bush Quail, Indian Peafowl, Changable Hawk Eagle, Short- toed snake Eagle, Alexandrine and Plum-headed Parakeets, Brown –headed barbet, Yellow- crowned and Brown-crowned wood peckers, Indian Pitta, White-belied Drango, Tawny –belied and yellow–eyed Babblers, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon,Jungle & Spotted Owlets, Eurasian Golden OrioleTickell’s Blue Flycatcher, White-browed fantail, Grey breasted, Rufous-fronted, Plain and Ashy Prinias, Hume’s Warbler,, Brown Rock Chat, Pied Bushcat, Blue Roch thrush, Black –lored Tit. Thick-billed flowerpecker, White-caped and crested Buntings, Chesnut –shouldered Petronia, Baya Weaver, Indian Siverbill and Common Rosefinch.

Some of the mammals in the sanctuary are: Sambar, Nilgai, Striped Hyaena, Jungle cat, Wild Boar, Grey Langur, Four –horned Antelope, Chinkara, Wolf, Indian fox, and Sloth Bear.

Birders can choose between the “blissfully tranquil” Hotel Aodhi at the foot of the fort to the Kumbalgarh Fort hotel, within the fort . Click here for more information.

One to two full days birding is recomended.

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The Desert National Park

Thar Desert Common Quail Indian Bustard Grey Francolin Birds of The Thar Desert NP

The Desert National Park was designated in order to preserve the desert habitat and protect the Indian Bustard. It is spread over 3000 sq Kms of Rajasthan’s Thar Desert; in a habitat of sand dunes, with sparse vegetation of low bushes, grasses and scattered clumps of trees.

Entrance to the park is located just 45 Kms from the Spectacular Desert Citadel city of Jaisalmer – a popular tourist attraction. Even hard- core birders will find the sights of Jaisalmer irresistible. This Fort city founded in 1156 A.D, glitters in the sunlight, like a mirage. It has been dubbed “The golden City” because of the honey colour imparted to its sandstone ramparts by the setting sun. The vision of Jaisalmer’s massive fort thrusting heavenwards out of the barren desert is unforgettable and breathtaking. The magic of this view will linger in your imagination for a lifetime.

Jaisalmer is the base for birding in the Desert National Park.  Entry is restricted and requires a Restricted Area Permit, issued by the District Magistrate. Birding is by jeep along a dirt track with occasional forays on foot. Densities are low and it takes time and patience to spot the specialties. Interesting species to be seen are the Indian Bustard, MacQueens Bustard, Stoliczka’s Bushchat, Cream-coloured Courser, Spotted and Black-belied Sandgrouse, Greater Hopee Lark, Plain Leaf Warbler and Trumpeter Finch.

Some of the common desert birds inhabiting this area are Long-legged Buzzard, Tawny Eagle, Lagger and Lesser Falcon, Pallid Harrier, Chesnut-belied Ssandgrouse, Rufous-tailed Shrike, White-eared Bulbul, Graceful Prinia, Desert Warbler, Black-crowned Sparrow Lark, Greater short-toed and Bimaculated Larks, and Isabelline, Rufous–tailed, Desert and Variable Wheatears. With patience and repeat visits you may spot Lesser Spotted, Imperial, Bonelli’s short-toed Eagles, Spotted Sandgrouse, and Short-eared Owl. There are good chances of finding the White-backed Vulture, now on the verge of extinction in India, and four other species of this group (Long-billed, Scavanger, Red-Headed, and hopefully Griffin and Cinereous Vultures).

Mammals most likely to be seen are: Chinkara, Desert Gerbil, Desert Fox, The Desert Hare, and a good variety of reptiles; including common krait and saw scaled viper.

There is a wide range of accommodation, available to suit every pocket. Click on Lodges for more information on the better hotels.

A minimum of two full  days birding is recomended.

Khichan

Whilst travelling by road between Jaisalmer and either Jodhpur or Bikaner, or train between Jaisalmer and Jodgpur it is worthwhile to break journey at Phalodi. This enables visiting the small village of Khichan to see one of the most unusual avian sights in Asia. Several years ago this small village established a feeding station for wintering Demoiselle Cranes and now, every morning and afternoon, thousands of these graceful birds crowd in to a fenced-off area to take the grain put out for them.

Phalodi; 08 kms from Khichan offers a comfortable stay at Lalbagh heritage hotel

Demoiselle Cranes Khichan

One nights stay is adequate to see the Demoiselle Cranes.

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Tour options for non-birding spouse/friends: www.gurudongma.com.
 
 

Bird photographs by Yashodhan Bhatia,

Ronald Saldino,  Niels Poul Dryer, Ketil Knudsen
Kalypso Adventures & Gurudongma Team
.



 
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