Category Archives: India

Birding In Keoladeo National Park

Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, is an important bird sanctuary and was declared to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. The park is nearly 29 square kilometers and can be explored on foot, by bicycle or cycle rickshaw. Motorized vehicles are not allowed in the park.

We visited the park on 7 and 8 March, 2006.

We rented bikes from our hotel, the Falcon Guest House. There are several budget and mid-range hotels located within cycling distance of the park entrance. With names like The Spoonbill, Hotel Nightingale, Birder’s Inn and Hotel Pelican, the hotels know their clientele well and many offer bike rental. Binoculars and guidebooks may also be available, though it is also possible to rent binoculars as well as bikes at the entrance to the park itself. Of course, we saw many serious birders who brought their own equipment.

At the main entrance of the park you can buy admission tickets (good for one entry only – bring lunch with you) and hire binoculars of bicycles if required. Cycle rickshaws are also for hire; official rickshaws have a yellow plate on the front and the driver will act as a guide.

The park has a great new visitor center, the Salim Ali Visitor Interpretation Centre. Inside, there are interesting displays on the important role water plays in life on earth, plus dioramas of bird life and other animals that can be found in the park.

After purchasing an admission ticket, visitors proceed down the main road into the park. A hotel and restaurant are located about a mile past the main entrance. The second checkpoint is nearby; motorized vehicles may drive to the restaurant and hotel, but cannot proceed past the second checkpoint. There is also a small bookshop by the checkpoint, offering Indian bird and wildlife guidebooks and some souvenirs such as t-shirts, postcards, stickers, caps, and paintings of birds.

Past the checkpoint, the paved road continues south through the park. Cycle rickshaws may only drive on the main bisecting road. There are benches along the way and some informative signs giving details on the kinds of birds you can find in the park. There is a paved trail across the water at the Ghana Canal, and from that road you can find a brick trail. This and the many other side trails in the park are better navigated on foot rather than bike.

Over the two days we visited the park, we saw many birds. [Edit March 2012: apparently I didn’t keep the best of records during this trip. Here are my two eBird lists for Keoladeo: S6497553 and S6497566]

Related articles:
India Bird Sanctuary: Rickshaw Drivers Trained As Guides
Water Brings Birds Back To Indian Bird Park

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Water Brings Birds Back To Indian Bird Park

After three years of drought in India’s Keoladeo Ghana National Park, water levels are again at their ideal level and the migratory birds are back – and they’re staying.

Each year thousands of birds spend the winter months in the park, near the town of Bharatpur in Rajasthan. Birds migrate from far away locations including Europe, Siberia, Mongolia and China. At least 230 different species of birds overwinter in the park.

A good monsoon season last year has again filled the wetlands in the parks with enough water to sustain the abundant bird life. And park officials say that because of the water, the birds are staying in the park longer than usual this year.

The park gets its water from the Gambhir River, which is controlled by a dam. The dam diverts water for agricultural use. The park requires 550 million cubic feet of water each year to maintain normal levels. In 2004, the government diverted water meant for the park to local farmers. Because of this the park was only supplied with 18 million cubic feet of water. The land turned dry and most of the birds relocated to alternative locations with ample water, up to 100 km away from Keoladeo.

This year, an increase in the number of birds remaining in the park has also meant an increase in human visitors. The park is located on nearly 30 square kilometers of wetland, forest and scrubland. Declared a protected sanctuary in 1971, it is one of the most popular natural parks in India. The park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Keoladeo National Park on Wikipedia
Migratory birds attract huge crowds at Rajasthan’s Keoladeo Park

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49 Dead Birds Found In Indian Bird Sanctuary

Last weekend 49 dead migratory birds were found at the Okhla Bird Sanctuary on the Yamuna River not far from Delhi, India. Forty of the birds were shovellers. The cause of death is not yet known; water contaminated with farm fertilizers is one possible culprit. Read Lalit Kumar’s story Mercury may have caused bird deaths in the Times of India.

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India To Reroute Canal To Save Rare Bird

The first Jerdon’s Courser bird was discovered in central India in about 1848. Sightings thereafter were sporadic and the bird was believed to be extinct since about the turn of the century. In a story more impressive than the current Ivory-Billed Woodpecker phenomenon in the United States, the Jerdon’s Courser was redisovered in Andhra Pradesh in 1986. (The Ivory-Billed was thought extinct for “only” 60 years). This February, the government in Andhra Pradesh will insure that a proposed canal project will avoid the only known habitat of this rare bird. Read the story Decision brings hope for India’s rarest bird at BirdLife International.

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Indian Native Among Top-Seen Birds In Britain

The parakeet (psittacula krameri), native of India, is now the 20th-most-spotted bird in Britain. In some areas of London, the bird is in the top 10 most spotted. The current population of 13,000 birds is estimated to approach 50,000 by the year 2010. Read the story Indian Bird Among Top-Seen Birds In Britain at, but bear in mind that the RSPB is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, not the Prevention of Birds as mentioned in the article!

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India Bird Sanctuary: Rickshaw Drivers Trained As Guides

Over 300 species of birds can be found in the Keoladeo Ghana National Park in Bharatpur, India. As no motorized transport is allowed in the park, tourists who don’t wish to walk or cycle themselves can opt for a cycle rickshaw.

The 122 cycle rickshaw drivers from the rural surroundings of Bharatpur received a three-month training on bird identification from the World Wildlife Fund, making them not only tranport providers but valuable guides. Read one rickshaw driver’s story in Ranjana Narayan’s article for New Kerala, A bird view of a Bharatpur cycle rickshaw driver.

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