Joan Weinmayr recently noted the scarceness of trip reports to BirdChat. She wrote in response to Clive Harris's list of the birds he had seen at India's famed Keoladeo Bird Sanctuary near Bharatpur this year on 28 Feb. and again on 2 Mar. We birded the area the previous month on 18 and 19 Jan. and a couple of hours early in the morning of 20 Jan.
Fortunately, we got to see and hear the three wild Siberian Cranes (two adults and an immature) on our two full days there plus four Sarus Cranes. This is the second year Siberian Cranes have returned there. We also saw three introduced Siberian Cranes that seem to have little interest, if any, with the wild ones -- and against the wishes of the wildlife officials. We dipped on the Pheasant-tailed Jacana there but saw a number of them at Ranthambhor N.P. where we were lucky at that time of the year to have seen Bengal Tigers and, luckier still, a Sloth Bear.
We chose not to look for a known Tickell's Thrush plus several other passerines because of time constraints. Keoladeo is the kind of place where you can never have enough time to bird.
Our rickshaw guide, Ratan Singh, was superb and knew some of the best areas in which to concentrate and as it turned out is mentioned in the small A Photographic Guide to the Birds of India and Nepal by the author Bikram Grewal as being so helpful when touring the area. But several rickshaw guides who sometimes were with us part of the time (there were two others on our trip who were interested in birds but mostly for photographic reasons) had super eyes and knew the birds. The point is that should you visit the area and ask for a knowledgeable guide, we doubt one can go wrong. They also all seem to have their own binocs.
While we saw more mammals at Ranthambhor N.P. and later at Jim Corbett N.P. to the northeast, we still managed to see two Indian Wildcats; several Common (Indian) Mongooses; several Blue Bulls (Nilgai), Sambar and Spotted Deer; three Common (Indian) Jackals; a number of Rhesus Monkeys, plus 8-10 Indian Pythons together in a breeding area.
Our bird book of choice at Keoladeo was Salim Ali's new The Book of Indian Birds (1996) but it was extremely helpful to have along A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia by Bharat Bhushan, et al) because of all the waterbirds seen there and its compact size. At Corbett and in Nepal we depended more on The Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Salim Ali and Dillon Ripley with plates by John Henry Dick (reprint with corrections, 1996). There are several new guides in various stages of development that it is hoped will be more helpful than the latter book that manages to be barely adequate. Finally, the book by Nigel Wheatley Where to Watch Birds in Asia is a must if you are not going with a bird tour group.
Our Keoladeo bird list follows and is based on Jim Clements's check list (Santa Barbara Software):
India; Keoladeo; One Sighting per Species; from 1-19-98 to 1-21-98
Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger F Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus (2 sitting and soaring) Lesser Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna javanica (a number) Greylag Goose Anser anser (many) Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus (about 25) Comb Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos Cotton Pygmy-goose Nettapus coromandelianus Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope Gadwall Anas strepera Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (only 1 male!) Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha Northern Pintail Anas acuta Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata Common Pochard Aythya ferina F Ferruginous Pochard Aythya nyroca (mostly males) Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula Little Egret Egretta garzetta Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia Gray Heron Ardea cinerea Great Egret Ardea alba Purple Heron Ardea purpurea Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Striated Heron Butorides striatus Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax Yellow Bittern Ixobrychus sinensis F Black Bittern Ixobrychus flavicollis (4 sightings; 2 super views) Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus F Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus (1 standing and photographed) Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus F Pallas' Fish-Eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus (sitting in tree) Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela Western Marsh-Harrier Circus aeruginosus Shikra Accipiter badius (one) Lesser Spotted Eagle Aquila pomarina (imm. fly.; adult in tree) F Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga (several both days) Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis (2) F Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca (1 on the ground) White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Eurasian Coot Fulica atra Common Crane Grus grus F Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus (3 wild; 3 introduced) Sarus Crane Grus antigone (four) Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos Eurasian Thick-knee Burhinus oedicnemus F Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticauda (3 sitting; 1 flying w. bl. belly) River Tern Sterna aurantia Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis Yellow-footed Pigeon Treron phoenicoptera F Common Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus varius (male sitting in tree) Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis F Dusky Eagle-Owl Bubo coromandus (2 nests, adults in/out;1 young) Spotted Owlet Athene brama Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis F Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla (1 at close range) F Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Dendrocopos mahrattensis (2 males) Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda House Crow Corvus splendens Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach F Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus F Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina Brahminy Starling Sturnus pagodarum Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra Common Myna Acridotheres tristis Red-throated Flycatcher Ficedula parva Gray-headed Canary-flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis F Siberian Rubythroat Luscinia calliope Bluethroat Luscinia svecica Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata F Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Sitta castanea Wire-tailed Swallow Hirundo smithii F White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucotis F Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis Plain Prinia Prinia subflava F Blyth's Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum F Clamorous Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus F Booted Warbler Hippolais caligata Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides F Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca F Yellow-eyed Babbler Chrysomma sinense F Common Babbler Turdoides caudatus Large Gray Babbler Turdoides malcolmi Jungle Babbler Turdoides striatus House Sparrow Passer domesticus F White-throated Munia Lonchura malabarica Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus108 species
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