Note: some US travel guides spell this national park as "Ranthambore" but we prefer the Indian way as shown below.
Ranthambhor N.P. is located in the state of Rajasthan 82 miles from the historic city of Jaipur. You can reach Jaipur from Delhi (162 miles) by car, plane or train. We took the train. The park was established in 1955 under Project Tiger. It is perhaps the most reliable place in northern India to see tigers, and it was not until the last hour of our last day that we saw a female with three large cubs. Various people spotted other tigers while we were there. But a sighting is never a given as we knew some visitors who failed to see one.
The park is 150 square miles and is very hilly with abundant woods, streams and some artificial lakes. The impressive Ranthambhor Fort sits high on a ridge, and near the entrance we saw Hindu pilgrims making their way along the road going up to the fort.
While we were there it was unseasonably cold (34°F in the early mornings), and even a little colder than Corbett N.P. to the northeast of Delhi that we visited a few days later. For watching birds you are handicapped in not being able to walk within the park except in a very few (and even then restricted) places. You can, however, find a variety of birds near the entrance so a stop there is worthwhile.
Our first trip into the park was on a canter -- long, flat-bed trucks with benches on the top. There were at least 20 people. Not great for birds although we still got to see our first Indian Scops-Owl this way. Some on the canter on that run got a glimpse of a tiger (we did not) but just about all of us got to see a Sloth Bear, an even more unusual sighting than the tiger according to the guides. The rest of the time we were squeezed into an open, small, jeep-like vehicle (four of us, a required park guide, a non-birding tour guide and a driver) that often made turning our heads difficult. Finally, you are assigned a route (it's all based on tigers and to keep their stress to a minimum) that is not always the best for birds.
Other mammals include Leopard, Spotted Deer, Sambar, Blue Bull, Wild Boar, Indian Gazelle and Black-tailed Mongoose. We saw Blackbuck outside the park. The alarm call of the common Langur (monkey) by one or two individuals in a lookout post at the top of a tree is the best indication that a tiger is near. The second best indicators are paw prints.
The Indian Peafowl (peacock) is common and is seen in trees and on the ground. It is a good area for waterfowl (including two jacana species), vultures, parakeets and various passerines. If we had been able to concentrate more on birds, our list and numbers of individuals would have been higher. A visit around mid-February or March would have been warmer and, we understand, a better chance to see tigers.
The below list is based on the world check list of James F. Clements (Santa Barbara Software) so there could be some confusion regarding common names. For example, the Plum-headed Parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) below is shown in Indian field guides as Blossom-headed Parakeet.
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis (1) Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster (3) F Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea (2) Cotton Pygmy-goose Nettapus coromandelianus (4) Common Teal Anas crecca (2 pairs) Little Egret Egretta garzetta Gray Heron Ardea cinerea (1) Great Egret Ardea alba Purple Heron Ardea purpurea (1) Indian Pond-Heron Ardeola grayii Striated Heron Butorides striatus (1) Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala (5) Black Stork Ciconia nigra (5) Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus (1) Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus (1) White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis (35 feeding outside; several inside) F Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus (several) F Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus (1 soaring; 1 sitting in tree) Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela (1 plus another; both sitting in tree) Shikra Accipiter badius (2) Gray Partridge Perdix perdix (around 15 but in several small groups) Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus (many) F Brown Crake Amaurornis akool (1 plus 2) White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus (several) F Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus (1 plus 3 or 4 more) F Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus (2) Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago (1) Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa (2) Common Redshank Tringa totanus (1) Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia (2) Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola (2) Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus (over 25) F Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus (2 en route to Ranthambhor N.P.) Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus (about 20) Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus (1) River Tern Sterna aurantia (5) Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis (3) F Yellow-footed Pigeon Treron phoenicoptera (20 in tree; later 60 in flight) F Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria (1 on one day: 1 on the next) F Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala (several plus 15-25) Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis (2) F Indian Scops-Owl Otus bakkamoena (4) Spotted Owlet Athene brama (4) Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis (3) Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis (1) White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis (about 10) Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis (1) F Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis (at least 5) Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops (1) Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala (2 or 3) F Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense (4) F White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola (2) F Asian Paradise-Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi (female; nice view) F White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens (4) F Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda (40-50) Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos (1) Common Iora Aegithina tiphia (1) Small Minivet Pericrocotus cinnamomeus (1) Bay-backed Shrike Lanius vittatus (several) Northern Shrike Lanius excubitor (6 or 7) F Brahminy Starling Sturnus pagodarum (4) F Red-throated Flycatcher Ficedula parva (2) F Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina (2 males) F Tickell's Blue-Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae (1) Gray-headed Canary-flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis (3) Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis (2 males) Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata (pair) Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros (3) Streak-throated Swallow Hirundo fluvicola (2) Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus (at least 5) Inornate Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus (1) F Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides (1) F Striated Babbler Turdoides earlei (1) F Large Gray Babbler Turdoides malcolmi (1 plus several together) Jungle Babbler Turdoides striatus (quite common) Great Tit Parus major (3) F Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix grisea (3) F Greater Short-toed Lark Calandrella brachydactyla (1) F Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis (several) F White-browed Wagtail Motacilla madaraspatensis (1) Gray Wagtail Motacilla cinerea (1 plus another) F Purple Sunbird Nectarinia asiatica (pair) F Crested Bunting Melophus lathami (several) 84 SPECIES
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