Trip Report: Keoladeo N.P. (India), January 18-20, 1998

Tom and Margot Southerland, Princeton, NJ, USA;

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 philippinus
108 species

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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; April 24, 1998; corrected January 4, 2000