Tag Archives: Bird watching

Guiding their territories : Birds at Keoladeo

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I am continuing with birds and my trip to Bharatpur’s Keoladeo Ghana National Park, sometime back. This time more with just images

Shikra can be easily seen at Keoladeo. It is most common small hawk but an aggressive hunter, can be found almost everywhere in the neighbourhood.

A shikra at Keoladeo
Another Shikra

Like Shikras, marsh harriers are also found worldwide. They are raptors of medium size in the harrier family. Watching them fly is fascinating when they make a V in low flight. Look for them at KNP.

A marsh harrier on a flight at Keoladeo

You know Keoladeo is also famous for its turtles! Read them about here-

The giant turtles of Keoladeo National Park

Darters are also called as snake birds owing o their long thin neck which has a snake like appearance when they swim with their bodies submerged. There are large number of oriental darters at Keoladeo.

Darters or snake birds
An Indian darter scratching its back… while drying its wings

There might be snake birds, but nobody gives more thrill than the reptile itself and actually Keoladeo has many species of them including turtles, lizards, snakes and pythons. Sometimes scary, but always fascinating.

A reptile creates ripples!

Keoladeo national park has been popular for its Sarus cranes. Read more about Sarus at Keoladeo-

The tall, beautiful and a mate for life!

There are many type of herons found in Keoladeo and purple heron is one of them. This large, slender wing bird is migratory in Europe and north Asian regions and resident elsewhere. Looks fascinating because of its strikingly different colour and appearance. Although it is called as purple heron, but its head and neck is chestnut-red in colour.

A purple heron at KNP

Night herons are called so because they hunt at night and early morning and rest during the day.

A night heron cautious of my presence

Keoladeo has been once very popular for its huge population of painted storks. But it also has good numbers of Black stork, woolly-necked stork, European white stork and black-necked stork.

An asian open bill flying high

Planning to go to Keoladeo National Park? Here is a guide to easiest tips: Read-

Tips to Travel inside park for some serious bird watching?

Whistling ducks produce very prominent whistling sound while flying, hence commonly called as whistling ducks. Its a loud two-note wheezy call. There are big colonies of whistling ducks at Keoladeo national park.

Who’s whistling!

Indian grey hornbill is among the most common of the Indian Hornbills and also the smallest among them. It is also called as Dhanesh locally.

Indian Grey hornbill at KNP

Looking for a place to stay around Keoladeo? Read:

Perfect host for a birding trip

There are said to be more than ten types of owls in Keoladeo. And among the easily spotted are the spotted owl. Its also adapted

An eye for an eye!

Laughing doves get their name due to their particular call which sounds like a human laughter. Mauve pink in colour with white shading on the breast. Even if you don’t listen them laughing you can still feel good by looking a hem.

No more laughing!

Bored of English? Want to read in Hindi? Read more about birding

परदेसी परिंदों के नजारे

Pied Kingfisher (below) is among the five types of kingfishers found in Keoladeo. Rest four are common kingfisher, stork-billed, white throated and black-capped.

Tough to locate in dense woods

There are five types of starlings (common, rosy, purple-backed, Asian pied and Brahminy) besides common Myna and Bank Myna found at Keoladeo national park.

Brahminy Starling at KNP

Have you seen some rare birds at Keoladeo National Park? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

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Morning lights at Menar – the birds village!

City of Lakes Udaipur is famous for many things but rarely for its birds. Ironically village Menar, 15 kms from Udaipur’s Dabok airport is known for many things including its birds. Menar is also called as the bird village.  More than couple of lakes in close surroundings of the village are known to host a huge number of migratory birds every year. Menar also has a long history which connects it closely to the Kings of Mewar. Rich in culture, this village also has an honour to produce some of India’s finest chefs who have worked in kitchens of many celebrities- home and abroad. Residents of this village have been known as Menarias.

But my recent trip to this village, roughly around 45 kms from my hometown Udaipur, was purely to catch some morning light. Capturing birds at sunrise (for that matter also at sunsets) has been always very delightful.

The Wild Fire!

And, indeed it turned out to be so. With sun playing hide and seek in the clouds and birds, ready to start their day- it was morning worth every minute.

Lakes around Menar get good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Pintails and Shovellers in the winter months.

There are two lakes- one inside the village and another at the far end. Later one is better for spotting birds because of its calmness and undisturbed environs.

Early morning movement of the birds

Menar has always been hosting here birds but it has come to the radar of bird watchers across the world only recently.

Now a large number of bird watchers flock here in winters to capture some memorable images. The local community here has played a big role in conservation efforts and popularising this place as the bird village. Volunteers here are called as Pakshi Mitras (friends of birds). They take care of patrolling, rescue and reporting of any attempts of poaching. Many other steps are taken to maintain the ecology of this place as a safe haven for the birds. Besides regular weeding and prohibition of fishing, locals have also stopped using water from these lakes for the purpose of irrigation. These lakes have no other source of water besides the rains. Hence, it is very significant to use the water judiciously.

The water of gold!

As the light gets brighter, birds are off to their daily routine.

Flying in tandem

Besides waterfowls, Menar is also second home to many other birds, small and big including this Bluethroat-

Among the goose family, these Bar-headed goose make a big colony here every year-

Here these common (Eurasian) coots seem to be having a morning meeting before starting day’s business-

Eurasian coots at Menar

Interestingly, Menar also gets fairly good number of Flamingos. Here greater flamingos look in small number but in another lake close by, there are good number of flamingos visiting every year.

How to reach: Little known village of Menar is 45 kms from Udaipur. It is 15 kms ahead of the Udaipur’s Dabok airport. That means while going to Menar from Udaipur, one has to first cross the airport and than move ahead towards Menar. Menar now has a few homestay options for those, who are serious in bird watching and want to spend more time around. But alternatively, you can always make Udaipur as the base and go to Menar early in the morning for bird watching. There are many young people in Menar village who can be your guide for the bird-watching tour of the village. One of them is Dharmendra Menaria who is also pursuing B.Sc. in agriculture.

P.S. Menar is also famous for some of its festivals which include a grand festival to commemorate the valour of local people. The festival is held on second day of Holi every year.

Have you been to Menar? What was your experience? You can share it here in the comments section.

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Keoladeo : Tips to travel inside park for some serious bird watching!

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Keoladeo Ghana National Park at Bharatpur in Rajasthan has always been the numero uno of India’s bird sanctuaries. One of the oldest and the most acclaimed one. It is also close to hearts of all birders as it was the playground of India’s most known birder, none other than Salim Ali for more than half a century.

Visiting this park is always a thrill for serious bird watchers. Watching birds here need some good planning. I will be discussing tips for good experience of bird watching at Keoladeo in few posts. Here is the first one on means to travel inside the park and the charges associated with them.

Morning mist in Keoladeo

Firstly, it is a bird sanctuary, not a tiger reserve. Hence no safaris are needed here. Since we don’t have normal wildlife, else than deer family, reptiles and predators are very rare (unless some big cat moves in from any nearby forest), hence it is safe for tourists to roam around. Since it is all about birds, than we probably want to enjoy a closer view of them and don’t scare them away, hence no motorised noise-making vehicles are allowed inside. This is quite sensible.

Forest department has some battery operated vehicles to move inside with their work. There is also a Tourist rest house inside the gate of the park, but not deep inside and actually before the second check post of the park. This is also close to the Salim Ali bird interpretation centre. Tourists staying in that RTDC rest house might take vehicles to carry the luggage. Overall, it is in our interest to enjoy the park in as much less noise as possible. After all, we are here to listen only to the birds. Isn’t it!

Jungle Babblers

Secondly, park is open from sunrise to sunset but obviously, you won’t be enjoying birding in a glaring sunlight in noon. Best times are in the morning and in afternoon, just after the sunrise and just before the sunset. Those are the times, when bird take flight and light is best for photography. In noon sunlight will fall directly on water, making it more glaring. It also gets too hot for the tourists to enjoy bird watching. So we should adjust our time accordingly. The good thing is that, unlike other national parks, we don’t have to worry about getting out of the park in stipulated time.

Sarus made of Swarovski at interpretation centre

There are four ways to enjoy the park- on foot, on bicycle, on cycle rickshaw and on tonga. Now there is very inverse experience per each way. Walking will be tough and time-taking as well as tiring but it will take you to trails where you won’t be able to reach through a cycle, or rickshaw or a tonga. Those will be the places, where you will see most of the birds, as they will be least disturbed with tourist traffic. Inversely, tonga will be least tiring, but it has limited access to the trails. I had some close shots of sarus crane, when I was on foot, deep inside the park, where there was no access to even cycle. But problems with walking is that you won’t be able to cover the longer distance inside. And some migratory birds make their colony deep inside the park. Even the Keoladeo temple is far in the middle of the park. You need time to access all this.

Ways to travel in park

My best bet is to use a bicycle. It gives you three benefits- speed to cover the distance inside the park, second- freedom to stop and start at will, and lastly, with the bicycle you also have liberty to park it anywhere and walk inside on the trail, where it is not possible to take the bike or when you want to be closer to the birds. It gives you the option of having best of both worlds. One thing is for sure, you need time to enjoy the park as birding needs patience. Don’t move inside with a very tight schedule. Also, you need to plan for atleast two trips inside, if not more than that, so that you can move to different deeper areas inside.

Also Read:  Tall, handsome and mate for life!

Dr Salim Ali immortalised at Keoladeo

There is another way besides these four, and it is boating. Keoladeo has a few water channels, which are accessible through boats and forest department runs a few boats for tourists to enjoying birding while boating. But the problem is lack of water. The water to the sanctuary is actually the water overflown from Ajan Dam reservoir which reaches here through Ghana canal. Gambhir river feeds the Ajan Dam. Water level in reservoir is also lot dependent on rains, so is the bird life in the Keoladeo park. Keoladeo has been facing acute shortage of water for years now. This has hindered the movement of boats. For few years even number of birds had fallen because of this. So this boating option might not be available for most of times, even during the entire season.

Whistling ducks at Keoladeo

As about charges, for walking you just have to pay the entry fee. It is 75 Rs for Indians and 500 Rs for foreigners. Sale of tickets is generally stopped one and half hours before the sunset. Cycle charges are 20 Rs and 40 Rs for two different categories of cycles. That charges are for day. Rickshaw charges are 150 Rs per hour and Tonga 300 Rs per hour. Sometimes you might even find a battery operated electric van for the charge of 300 Rs per hour. If you are lucky enough to wind some water in channels and boats running than boating charges are Rs 75 per person per hour. You can hire an entire four seater boat for Rs 300 per hour and an eight seater boat for Rs 600 per hour. There are also handy cam charges mentioned, as high as 600 Rs but in these times of advanced smartphones capable of recording HD videos, these handy cam charges look pretty ridiculous and actually discriminatory. There can be argument for hefty charges of professional video or movie camera charges but handy cam charges are just unnecessary.

Guide charges are 250 Rs per hour for a group of 5 people and 400 Rs per hour for groups bigger than that. Guide is essential for group bigger than 10 people. Most authorised rickshaw pullers and tonga persons also double up as guides (unofficially) owing to their experience and some training that they get. That is the point, where you can bargain on guiding charges. But an official guide or naturalist what they are called as will always come with a powerful binocular to show you the distant birds, unofficial guides won’t have that. Actually, I have experienced both the things. Once we have used the services of our rickshaw puller as a guide and next time took a naturalist with us on bicycle. With no disrespect to the rickshaw pullers and their efforts, there is a marked difference between two experiences. Obviously, the naturalist guides are better trained and have more focused vision, better communicating skills.

Also Read: Perfect host for a birding trip!

Welcome to my territory!

Have you been to Keoladeo? How was your experience of travelling inside the park? Please share your views in the comments section below!

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The tall, beautiful and a mate for life!

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They are the true ‘love-birds’. Always found in pair and always remain loyal to each other. Hardly we recognise bird species with these qualities but our guide or naturalist- as they liked themselves to be called as, was more than beaming in explaining Sarus Cranes to us in this manner. But it was really so amusing to hear all this, though we had already heard about crane couple ‘singing’ and dancing together and seen some amazing photographs earlier too.

Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur has been one of the favourites to watch this amazing bird, although they can be found in Gangetic plains. There number is decreasing constantly everywhere, including Keoladeo, due to various threats. Hence it was on top of my bucket list while going to this amazing bird sanctuary. Our naturalist cum guide Gajendra Singh told us that there were hardly around six pairs left in the park.

We weren’t that lucky on the first day. We could see a pair but it was quite far in the fields (pic above) and due to a stream flowing in between, there was no way to get closer to them. I was still able to get a slightly closer view through my telephoto and look of its dark orange head was exciting enough.

Its an amazing bird without any doubt. It is the tallest flying bird in the world, standing at six feet (taller than me). Its wingspan is bigger at almost eight feet. How fascinating it would be to watch this bird fly!

Also Read: The giant turtles of Keoladeo National Park

We were luckier next day morning. Early mornings are always the best time to watch birds. Company of an energetic guide helped. What helped more was the fact that we were on cycles and hence were able to go to interiors of the park where a cycle rickshaw or a tonga wouldn’t have been able to. We were able to locate a pair at a distance. I will always suggest to go inside the Keoladeo National Park on a bicycle.

Since it was a dry patch, it was possible to go closer. Another benefit of going to a bird sanctuary is that you can dare to go closer to the birds for nice close-ups. Although there is always a fear that they might fly away, but then that’s a chance you need to take. Something you are not allowed to do in a wildlife sanctuary.

Our naturalist Gajendra Singh was busy telling us about Sarus crane, as how they will mate for life with a single partner. They are always found in pair and rarely in large group. He also told us that if any one in the pair dies, the other one will stop eating food and thus give life too- something which we were not able to corroborate factually, although I have heard of this from various people.

I left others behind and started moving in the field closer to the pair. I was clicking while moving forward and also taking care of the ground below- small pools of water, marshy area, thorny bushes and any chance encounter with an unwanted reptile.

My idea was to get as closer as to get a good close-up shot using my telephoto lens and also not too close to scare them away. They indeed noticed me coming close, but didn’t fly away. Just kept moving further.

For a layman like me, it was tough to distinguish between a male and a female. Another interesting thing about this bird pair is that they both (female as well as male) incubate the eggs for a period of 26 to 35 days.

Sarus Cranes are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red list, mostly because of the loss of habitat, i.e. destruction of wetlands due to human population pressure, expansion of agriculture, ingesting pesticides and lot more.

There are said to be 25,000 to 37,000 Sarus cranes globally with there population limited to Indian sub-continent, south-east Asia and northern Australia. It is sad to know about their reducing numbers as they are known for their ability to live in closely with humans. They live in open, cultivated, well watered plains, marsh lands and lakes. Such areas suit them well for foraging, roosting and nesting.

Going closer to the pair and returning back to others and our bicycle took too much of time. But I was still content, wanted to go more and more closer, but didn’t want them to fly away hence marked my limit and turned back.

It wasn’t like I didn’t want to go further, but having spent two hours already and now after watching a pair of Sarus crane so closely, I knew I could call off the visit without any regrets. And in any case, in any wildlife trip you can’t see everything in a single visit. I already had two.

Where: Home to a host of migratory birds and large number of domestic birds, Keoladeo Ghana National Park is located in Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. Park is on the outskirts of Bharatpur city. Park gate is right on the Agra-Jaipur national highway about 20 kms from Fatehpur Sikri and 65 kms from Agra.

Park is open from sunrise to sunset. Unlike other national parks there are no safaris, no motor vehicles allowed inside. We can walk inside the park but that takes too much time and one won’t be able to see big area while on foot. There are cycle rickshaws as well as tongas. Best option is to take a cycle. Also take a guide as they will be able to tell you about the park and its birds. Guides also come with a high powered binoculars to watch birds at far off places. Rickshaws, tongas and guides have per hour rates while cycles can be hired for the day. There is also an entry fees for every visitor.

Also see: Perfect host for a birding trip

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Birding in a tiger reserve

I am not a birder specifically, but being interested in wildlife I love bird watching as much as I love sighting tigers. Both give you equal chance to play with your camera. All the tiger reserves and national parks per say (other than specific bird sanctuaries) too have rivers, lakes, ponds and other water holes which are shelter for waterfowls and migratory birds. Jungle themselves are best places to see the birds. Having been to few bird sanctuaries, this was first time I specifically kept time to see birds in a tiger reserve and I was certainly not disappointed. Hence, comes this fourth post from Sariska visit.

Kankwari Lake surrounded by hills of Rajaurgarh
Kankwari Lake surrounded by hills of Rajaurgarh

Sariska is a big national park and has many perennial sources of water which in turn become good harbouring ground form birds. Hence, when you are close to a water body, it makes easy for you to locate birds, rather than when you are in jungle as then you are always moving in a safari and desperately looking for bigger animals. It is tough to locate birds while on move, unless you are an expert in movement and sounds of birds. I am neither. Hence I tried to give some time close to lakes to see birds. One is the Kankwari lake, which is right at the base of the hillock on which Kankwari fort is built. Other lake is close to Sariska gate on right side of the main road leading to Pandupole.

The lakes or the water bodies of the Sariska Tiger Reserve also have many crocodiles, as is normal with this region. Ranthambore too has man crocodiles and Sariska and Ranthambore share the same topography.

Sariska Tiger Reserve has almost 225 recorded bird species which makes it ethereal for bird watchers. Among them are many rare species as well. Few are even endangered ones. While there is a large number of resident species, it is also a good wintering ground for many migratory species of central Asia. I was delighted to see a big colony of Bar Headed Goose at Kankwari Lake. This bird migrates from Central Asia and is said to one of the world’s highest flying birds. It is distinguishable by two black bars on back of its head.

There were also Brahminy ducks, as they are commonly known in India. This Ruddy shelduck also migrates from southeastern Europe and central Asia. This is quite distinctive due to its colour.

A Brahminy duck
A Brahminy duck

At Kankwari lake, I was also able to see a group of Black headed ibis on the other side of he lake as they probably didn’t want to get disturbed.

Black Headed Ibis
Black Headed Ibis

There were also painted storks and a black-necked stork high up on a far tree. Clicking storks in flight is very fascinating because of their size and amazing flight.

While returning from the Kankwari fort, we also got to see few spot billed ducks distinctive due to  a yellow spot on the tip of the beak and orange-red spots at the base of the beak.

Also were fortunate to locate a Golden-backed woodpecker on a tree. This bird is so agile that it is tough to click it, still I was able to. Although it is quite common but too beautiful, not to click a photograph.

Golden-backed woodpecker
Golden-backed woodpecker

At the other lake, I was also able to see Eurasian Spoonbill. This migratory birds is identified with its spoon shaped bill.

Eurasian Spoonbill
Eurasian Spoonbill

Another interesting sight was of Yellow footed green pigeon. They get so camouflaged with the colour of the trees that it is tough to spot them, but they really look beautiful. These common green pigeons are residents of Sariska.

Overall it turned out to be a good sightings in limited time and was quite enjoyable. There were few more like cattle egrets and command pond herons and others.

SO, next time you are in Sariska, keep your eyes open for birds as well. Mansarovar Dam near Tehla gate is also a big wintering ground for migratory birds. So when, you go to Neelkanth Temple, you can keep some time to visit this dam also for a bit of birding. There is a also a lake at Karnakawas.

Any question? Please write me and I will be pleased to answer to best of my knowledge.


A lake with nine corners – Naukuchiatal

One of the many lakes the lower himalayan region of Nainital is famous for- Naukuchiatal (नौकुचियाताल) is one of the biggest among them and perhaps most serene. The only lake comparable to this in serenity will be the Sattal. Located at an altitude of 1220 metres, this is also the deepest lake in the region. Fed by underground perennial spring, this lake is an all the year round spot to be. Might not suit those bubbly-shubbly north Indian tourists who prefer to have some ‘happening’ spot, but will certainly be liken by all those who want to spend some quite quality time in the lap of nature.


This lake is within a beautiful valley offering tremendous opportunity for angling and bird watching. Off late many adventure activities like paragliding, rowing, paddling or yachting have also come up at this place. You can enjoy calm boating as well. So serene is the atmosphere here that, many writers and artists have made this region as their second home. One of the finest places to revitalise mind and soul and go for your creative pursuits. Appealing sights of paddocks and terraced fields make this place a perfect and pleasing destination. A nice promenade through the tree-flanked banks of the lake is a miraculous experience. This lake also has some association with a few mythological and religious folklores. As said, lake has nine corners but it is impossible to see all of them in a single ground view. Above all, Naukuchiatal is also an idyllic location to watch some rare butterflies and himalayan birds.

Naukuchiatal has many descent places to stay and The Lake Resort is perhaps best of them as per location as well as facilities. There is also a Club Mahindra Resort and few other descent properties. There is KMVN guest house right at the lake. As always KMVN guest house has the best view in the town. A few images rom the Lake Resort which also holds a now famous film festival here every year.

This lake is approximately 4 kms from Bhimtal. While coming from Kathgodam side, once you cross Bhimtal and start climbing towards Bhopal, there is a turn to right which takes you to Naukuchiatal.

Delhi always gives best to you: An ideal weekend!

Humayun's Tomb is considered by many as an inspiration to Taj Mahal
Humayun’s Tomb is considered by many as an inspiration to Taj Mahal

However busy the national capital might be, it always gives you a break- to relax, enjoy and be yourself. As it is always said that Delhi is for the ones with heart (Dil walon ki Dilli– what is termed in Hindi). So even if you may not find snow clad mountains or sandy beaches or even dense forests but still you can have some perfect weekend trips to the heart of the nation. More so, if you find a host as hospitable as a Club Carlson hotel. So, come let’s plan an ideal weekend trip to Delhi.

Shrine of sufi saint Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya
Shrine of sufi saint Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya

Culture and heritage is something that is unique to any place. Despite having a cosmopolitan nature of society, Delhi has a very rich culture and a heritage which dates more than thousand years. Having seen so much turmoil, upheaval and rulers- Delhi now has a habit of welcoming anything new with open hands, giving it a space and still retain its distinctive features which had been backbone of its culture for centuries. Therefore, first and foremost idea should be to relive that culture. Now revisiting that too has two parts, first to have a glimpse of history through the monuments- first the Red fort which has been always closely associated with country’s seat of power, secondly UNESCO World Heritage site of Humayun’s Tomb which is an architectural delight and to some an inspiration for great Taj Mahal and next is medieval marvel of Qutub Minar, a minaret which is just not any ordinary historical monument but along with Ashoka’s pillar located just in front of it, a symbol of India’s might in science, design and architecture. Though there are many monuments in Delhi, but these three are representative of them in three distinct manners. Starting the day with Red fort in old Delhi, we can come to Humayun’s tomb in the central part and then end the day in south at Qutub Minar in Mehrauli. In the evening spare some time to visit the shrine of sufi saint Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya at Nizamuddin and get yourself soaked in spiritual fervour by listening to devotional sufi music and qawwali. He had been the patron saint of Delhi’s Mughal dynasty.

Segaway tours are new to India
Segaway tours are new to India

Start the next day with an early morning tour of Lutyen’s Delhi on a Segaway, a new entrant to Delhi’s tourist circuit. This almost an hour tour takes you on a round of the area from Rashtrapati Bhawan to India Gate and back in a unique way on a Segaway Personal Transporter. Come back to your hotel, have your breakfast and start afresh. Devote your day to enjoyment of Delhi’s cultural heritage. They might be bit spicy or calorie rich but don’t give some delicacies a miss. Start your gourmet trip from Chandni Chowk in Old Delhi. Gali Paranthe Wali has some shops serving paranthas for more than a century now. Go to Fatehpuri to taste some finest Lassi India has to offer. Karim’s near Jama Masjid serves some most delicious Mughlai delicacies. In the evening treat yourself to another spiritual evening by visiting Akshardham temple at the banks of Yamuna river. Even if you are not of a spiritual type, you will certainly admire the recreation of India’s architectural past. This temple gives a glimpse of India’s prehistoric culture. A sound and light show, that takes place in the evening is not to be missed, which is actually a musical fountain show with a story of founder of Akshardham sect in the tandem. If you are really interested in historical sound and light shows, then Delhi has two of them- one at the Red Fort and another at the Old Fort near zoo. Both give an idea of Delhi’s tumultuous past. Perfectly enjoyable.

Migratory Birds at Sultanpur Lake
Migratory Birds at Sultanpur Lake

Save your last day for some adventure activity in and around Delhi. If you are a wildlife lover, I will suggest you to take a trip to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary in Gurgaon which is very close to Delhi. It is a beautiful place to see migratory birds considered to among the top bird sanctuaries in India. Approximately 250 species of Birds are found at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. Some of them are resident, while others come from distant regions like Siberia, Europe and Afghanistan. Specially in winter Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary provides a picturesque panorama of migratory birds. Sultanpur can be accessed by buses and taxis from Delhi and Gurgaon. Sanctuary is located at 40 kms distance from Dhaula Kuan in Delhi and 15 km from Gurgaon on the Gurgaon-Farukh Nagar Road. But if you are looking for some hard adventure, then go a bit further to Neemrana for a zipping session at Flying Fox, fit enough to pump up your adrenaline. Come back in the evening to the city get some quick bargains to Delhi’s all-famous flea markets at Janpath, Palika Bazar and Karol Bagh and in the end calm your senses by a walk to the Garden of Five Senses.

Souvenir market at Red Fort
Souvenir market at Red Fort

But that might still be not enough to experience what all Delhi has to offer. Better to leave something fo

r the next time. There are many more weekends we can plan. Till then… Good Bye!

परदेसी परिंदों के नजारे

A migratory sea-gull
A migratory sea-gull

हवा में ठंडक कम हुई है। लेकिन सर्दी अभी गई नहीं है। हजारों किलोमीटर दूर सुदूर उत्तर के यहां से भी ज्यादा ठंडे इलाकों से प्रवासी पक्षी भारत में कई जगहों पर अभी बसेरा बनाए हैं। ऐसा वे हर साल करते हैं। बड़ी लंबी व दुष्कर उड़ान के बाद उनका अपने तय ठिकानों पर हर साल आना, वाकई कुदरत का बड़ा हैरतअंगेज करिश्मा है। अब जरा कल्पना कीजिए कि साइबेरिया (रूस, चीन व उत्तर कोरियाई इलाकों) के अमूर फॉल्कन हर साल 22 हजार किलोमीटर दूर अफ्रीका में प्रवास के लिए जाते हैं और इस दौरान वे बीच में भारत के उत्तर-पूर्व में नगालैंड में थोड़ा आराम करते हैं। यहां से अफ्रीका जाने के लिए यह पक्षी समुद्र के ऊपर चार हजार किलोमीटर की उड़ान बिना रुके भरता है। ऐसे ही कई पक्षी भारत में प्रवास के लिए आते हैं। दुनियाभर के पक्षी प्रेमी इस मौसम में भारत आते हैं, परिंदों की इस खूबसूरत दुनिया का नजारा लेने के लिए। बर्ड वाचिंग के शौकीनों के लिए भारत में कई जगहें हैं जहां वे दुर्लभ प्रवासी पक्षियों का नजारा ले सकते हैं। उनके घर लौटने में बस कुछ ही दिन बचे हैं। लिहाजा एक झलक उनमें से कुछ खास जगहों कीः

भरतपुर का घना

Bharatpurआगरा-जयपुर राजमार्ग पर आगरा से महज 55 किलोमीटर दूर राजस्थान में भरतपुर का केवलादेव घना पक्षी अभयारण्य है। कई लोग इस दुनिया का सबसे खूबसूरत, शानदार व संपन्न पक्षी विहार मानते हैं। दुनियाभर के पक्षी प्रेमियों व पक्षी विज्ञानियों के लिए यह किसी मक्का से कम नहीं है। वैसे तो यह पक्षी अभयारण्य है लेकिन आपको यहां कई और किस्म के वन्यप्राणी भी मिल जाएंगे। कई बार तो साथ ही लगे रणथंबौर से बाघ भी भटकते हुए यहां पहुंच जाते हैं। वैसे यहां अन्य कई जानवरों के अलावा पक्षियों की 366 प्रजातियां, फूलों की 379 किस्में, 50 तरह की मछलियां, सांप की 13 प्रजातियां, छिपकलियों की 5 प्रजातियां और कछुए की 7 प्रजातियां रिकॉर्ड की गई हैं। यहां की वनस्पतीय विविधता ही शायद अलग-अलग तरह के जीवन के लिए अनुकूल भी है। इन्हीं विशेषताओं के चलते इसे प्राकृतिक स्थानों की यूनेस्को की विश्व विरासत सूची में भी शामिल किया गया है।

ढाई सौ साल पहले बने इस अभयारण्य का केवलादेव नाम पार्क में मौजूद शिव के प्राचीन मंदिर पर रखा गया है। 19वीं सदी के अंतिम दशक में भरतपुर के महाराजा ने खुद इस क्षेत्र का विकास किया। पहले यहां जंगल व बंजर भूमि थी। गड्ढों में बारिश का पानी इकट्ठा हो जाता था तो वहां पक्षी डेरा डालने लगते थे। तब राजघराने के लोगों ने पास में बहने वाली गंभीर नदी के पानी को नहरों के जरिये इस इलाके में पहुंचाया जिससे यहां नम इलाका और कम गहरी झीलें बन गईं। धीरे-धीरे यही परिंदों की सैरगाह बनने लगी। राजघराने के लोग और अंग्रेज पहले यहां शिकार किया करते थे। 1956 में इसे अभयारण्य और फिर 1981 में इसे नेशनल पार्क बना दिया गया। पक्षियों की इस सैरगाह में देशी-विदेशी साढ़े तीन सौ से भी ज्यादा प्रजातियों के पक्षी शरण लेते हैं। इनमें एक-तिहाई संख्या प्रवासी पक्षियों की है। इन प्रवासी मेहमानों में से ज्यादातर छह हजार किलोमीटर का सफर तय करके साइबेरिया व मध्य एशिया के बाकी देशों से सर्दियों की शुरुआत में आते हैं और अप्रैल में फिर से अपने इलाकों को लौट जाते हैं। हालांकि देशी प्रवासी पक्षी यहां बारिशों के बाद से ही आना शुरू हो जाते हैं। कई प्रकार के सारस, पेंटेंड स्टॉर्क, ग्रे हैरॉन, ओपन बिल, स्पून बिल, व्हाइट इबिस, सरपेंट ईगल आदि यहां देखे जा सकते हैं।

कब, कहां व कैसेः राजस्थान के भरतपुर में स्थित केवलादेव घना नेशनल पार्क दिल्ली से लगभग पौने दो सौ किलोमीटर दूर है। नवंबर से मार्च तक का समय प्रवासी पक्षियों को देखने के लिए बेहतरीन है। भरतपुर शहर से पार्क महज एक किलोमीटर दूर है। भरतपुर शहर दिल्ली, जयपुर व आगरा से रेल व सड़क से अच्छी तरह से जुड़ा है। पार्क के बाहर के इलाके में कई होटल हैं। पार्क के भीतर भी फॉरेस्ट लॉज और कुछ अच्छे रिजॉर्ट हैं।


सुल्तानपुर में रौनक

Sultanpurदिल्ली में धौला कुआं से बमुश्किल 40 किलोमीटर दूर सुल्तानपुर बर्ड सैंक्चुअरी दिल्ली-एनसीआर के लिए सर्दियों के महीने के सबसे पसंदीदा वीकेंड डेस्टिनेशन में से एक है। इसे भारत के प्रमुख पक्षी अभयारण्यों में से एक माना जाता है। गुड़गांव से फर्रूखनगर के रास्ते पर स्थित इस बर्ड सैंक्चुअरी में पक्षियों की 250 से ज्यादा प्रजातियां देखने को मिल जाती हैं। साइबेरिया, चीन, यूरोप, तिब्बत व अफगानिस्तान से प्रवासी पक्षियों की सौ से ज्यादा प्रजातियां यहां सर्दियां गुजारने आती हैं। इनमें ग्रेटर फ्लेमिंगो, नॉदर्न पिनटेल, रोजी पेलिकन, वुड सैंडपाइपर, रफ, ब्लैक विंग्ड स्टिल्ट, कॉमन टील, कॉमन ग्रीनशैक, यलो वैगटेल, व्हाइट वैगटेल, नॉर्दन शोवलर, गैडवल, स्पॉटेड सैंडपाइपर, स्पॉटेड रेडशैंक, स्टार्लिंग, यूरेशियन वाइगेन, ब्लूथ्रोट  आदि शामिल हैं। चूंकि यहां देशी पक्षियों की संख्या भी खूब है, इसलिए यहां लगभग पूरे सालभर अच्छी संख्या में पक्षी देखने को मिल जाते हैं। यहां के निवासी पक्षियों में कॉमन हूप्पु, पैडीफील्ड पाइपिट, पर्पल सनबर्ड, लिटिल कॉर्मोरेंट, यूरेशियन थिक-नी, ग्रे फ्रैंकोलिन, ब्लैक फ्रैंकोलिन, इंडियन रोलर, कई तरह के किंगफिशर, आइबिस, इग्रेट्स, डव, बुलबुल, मैना, कबूतर, पैराकीट व स्टोर्क्स आदि शामिल हैं। लगभग 44.5 हेक्टेयर इलाके में फैले इस अभयारण्य को 1972 में सैलानियों के लिए खोला गया था। इस बर्ड सैंक्चुअरी को पैदल घूमने में लगभग दो घंटे का समय लग जाता है। पक्षियों को देखने के लिए यहां चार मचान भी बने हुए हैं। यहां नील गाय व ब्लैक बक भी देखने को मिल जाते हैं। प्रवासी पक्षियों के बसेरे सुल्तानपुर लेक से आगे भी फैले हैं। दिल्ली के कुछ इलाकों में प्रवासी पक्षियों की संख्या में आई गिरावट के बावजूद सुल्तानपुर में उनकी संख्या और प्राकृतिक माहौल कायम है।

कहां, कब व कैसेः सुल्तानपुर लेक हरियाणा के गुड़गांव जिले में है। गुड़गांव से फर्रूखनगर जाने वाले रास्ते पर चलें तो लगभग पंद्रह किलोमीटर बाद सुल्तानपुर पहुंचा जा सकता है। पर्यटन विभाग ने सैलानियों की सुविधा के लिए बुनियादी इंतजाम भी यहां किए हुए हैं। हरियाणा पर्यटन ने यहां गेस्ट हाउस बना रखा है और बर्ड म्यूजियम व वॉच टावर भी मौजूद हैं। दूर बैठे परिंदों को देखने के लिए दूरबीन भी किराये पर मिल जाती हैं। सर्दियों का समय प्रवासी पक्षियों को  देखने के लिए बेहतरीन लेकिन सुल्तानपुर उन पक्षी अभयारण्यों में से है जहां देसी निवासी पक्षी भी खूब हैं, इसलिए उन्हें देखने के लिए गर्मियों में भी जाया जा सकता है।


कन्नौज का लाख-बहोसी

Lakh Bahosiउत्तर प्रदेश में छोटे-मोटे कई पक्षी विहार हैं। हालांकि भरतपुर या चिलिका जैसी प्रसिद्धि किसी को नहीं मिली लेकिन इसी वजह से वहां सैलानियों की भीड़ कम है, शोर-शराबा कम है और प्रवासी पक्षियों के विहार के लिए यह बिलकुल मुफीद है। इन्हें में से एक है लाख-बहोसी पक्षी विहार। कन्नौज से 40 किलोमीटर दूर स्थित दो तालाबों लाख व बहोसी को मिलाकर यह पक्षी विहार 1988 में स्थापित किया गया था। उत्तर प्रदेश के जिस इलाके में यह स्थित है, वह पर्यटन की दृष्टि से बेहद कम विकसित है इसलिए इनके बारे में ज्यादा चर्चा नहीं होती। जाहिर है, यहां बाकी सैलानी स्थलों की तरह रुकने, ठहरने व खाने की अच्छी सुविधाएं नहीं मिलेंगी। लेकिन प्रवासी पक्षी देखने का शौक हो तो फिर भला क्या बात है। और फिर, सैलानियों की भीड़-भाड़ का अभाव ही यहां की अल्हड़ खूबसूरती के बने रहने की वजह भी है। यहां कई तरह के स्टोर्क, किंगफिशर, क्रेन, गूज, आइबिस व डक के अलावा पक्षियों की अन्य कई दुर्लभ प्रजातियां देखने को मिल जाती हैं। जंगली मुर्गियों, उल्लुओं, बुलबुल व मैना आदि की भी कई किस्में यहां मिल जाती हैं। इनमें बार-हेडेड गूज, पिन टेल, कॉमन टेल, सैंड पाइपर वगैरह शामिल हैं। पक्षियों से संबंधित जानकारियों के लिए यहां एक पक्षी विज्ञान केंद्र भी है।

कब, कहां व कैसेः कन्नौज कानपुर-मथुरा मुख्य रेल मार्ग पर और दिल्ली-कोलकाता नेशनल हाईवे 24 (जीटी रोड) पर स्थित है। बहोसी तालाब का रास्ता सुगम है। आम तौर पर सैलानी वहीं जाते हैं। लाख के लिए बहोसी होकर जाना पड़ता है और वहां का रास्ता थोड़ा दुष्कर है। बहोसी कन्नौज से 40 किलोमीटर दूर है। ओरैया जिले में दिबियापुर से बहोसी तालाब की दूरी 38 किलोमीटर दूर है। कन्नौज के अलावा फफूंद (38 किलोमीटर) सबसे पास के रेलवे स्टेशन हैं। कन्नौज की तरफ से आने के लिए तिर्वा, इंदरगढ़ होते हुए बहोसी पहुंचा जा सकता है। दिबियापुर से आने पर कन्नौज की तरफ जाते हुए बेला से आगे कल्याणपुर के रास्ते में बहोसी पहुंचा जा सकता है। हालांकि उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार अब अपने ऐसे विहारों में सुविधाएं बढ़ाने पर ध्यान दे रही है, लेकिन अब भी लाख-बहोसी में कई बुनियादी सुविधाओं का अभाव है। खाने-पीने को भी अच्छा ठिकाना नहीं। इसलिए फिलहाल अपनी तरफ से सारे इंतजाम करके ही जाएं तो बेहतर।


गुजरात का नल सरोवर

Nal-Migratory bird flamingoगुजरात के अहमदाबाद व सुंदरनगर जिलों से सटा नल सरोवर अभयारण्य अहमदाबाद से लगभग 65 किलोमीटर की दूरी पर है। नल सरोवर भारत में ताजे पानी के बाकी नम भूमि इलाकों से कई मायनों में अलग है। उपयुक्त मौसम, भोजन की पर्याप्तता और सुरक्षा ही सैलानी पक्षियों को यहां आकर्षित करती है। सर्दियों में सैंकड़ों प्रजातियों के लाखों प्रवासी पक्षियों का जमावड़ा यहां रहता है। इतनी बड़ी तादाद में पक्षियों के डेरा जमाने के बाद नल में उनकी चहचाहट से रौनक बढ़ जाती है। नल में इन्हीं उड़ते सैलानियों की जलक्रीड़ाएं व स्वर लहरियों को देखने-सुनने के लिए बड़ी संख्या में लोग यहां प्रतिदिन जुटते हैं। यहां पक्षी विशेषज्ञ, वैज्ञानिक, शोधार्थी व छात्रों का भी जमावड़ा लगा रहता है तो कभी-कभार यहां पर लंबे समय से भटकते ऐसे पक्षी प्रेमी भी आते हैं जो किसी खास परिंदे का फोटो उतारने की तलाश में रहते हैं। नल सरोवर अपने दुर्लभ जीवन चक्र के लिए जाना जाता है जिस कारण यह एक अनूठी जैवविविधता को बचाए हुए है। नल का वातावरण कई तरह के जीव-जंतुओं के लिए उपयुक्त है और एक भोजन श्रृंखला बनाता है। मूल रूप से यह बारिश के पानी पर निर्भर नम क्षेत्र है। सीजन की शुरुआत में यहां छोटे पक्षी ही आते हैं लेकिन जब नवंबर में मछलियां बड़ी हो जाती हैं तो भोजन की प्रचुरता व उचित वातावरण पाकर प्रवासी जल पक्षी भी यहां आने लगते हैं। दिसंबर से फरवरी तक इनकी संख्या अधिकतम होती है। नल एक खास प्रकार की जैवविविधता को बचाए हुए है। इस सरोवर में पिछली पक्षी गणनाएं बताती हैं कि नल में पक्षियों की संख्या साल दर साल बढ़ रही है। 2002 में यह संख्या 1.33 लाख थी, तो 2004 में यह 1.84 लाख रही, 2006 में यह बढ़कर 2.52 लाख हो गई। तब बत्तख व हंसों की संख्या 1.19 लाख व क्रेक्स, रेहस व कूट की संख्या 82 हजार थी। इस सरोवर में प्रसिद्ध फ्लेमिंगो की संख्या 5820 आंकी गई। सरोवर क्षेत्र में छोटे-बड़े कुल 300 टापू हैं। भूगर्भवेताओं का मानना है कि जहां पर आज नल सरोवर है वह कभी समुद्र का हिस्सा था जो खंभात की खाड़ी को कच्छ की खाड़ी से जोड़ता था। भूगर्भीय परिवर्तनों से जब समुद्र पीछे चला गया तो यह बंद मौसमी झील में तब्दील हो गया। सरोवर क्षेत्र में 225 किस्म के मेहमान पक्षी देखे गए हैं जिनमें से सौ किस्म के प्रवासी जल पक्षी हैं। इन पक्षियों में हंस, सुर्खाब, रंग-बिरंगी बतखें, सारस, स्पूनबिल, राजहंस,  किंगफिशर, प्रमुख हैं। कई बार यहां पर कुछ दुर्लभ पक्षी भी देखे गए हैं।

कब, कहां व कैसेः नल सरोवर के लिए आपको अहमदाबाद जाना होगा जो देश के प्रमुख नगरों से अच्छी हवाई व रेल सेवा से जुड़ा है। वहां से बस या टैक्सी से नल सरोवर पहुंचा जा सकता है। साठ किमी की दूरी को तय करने में डेढ़ घंटे लग ही जाते हैं। अभयारण्य की सीमा में गुजरात पर्यटन विकास निगम का एक गेस्ट हाउस है जो यहां पर एक रेस्तरां भी है। शोर न हो इसलिए सरोवर में मोटरबोट पूर्णतया प्रतिबंधित है। सरोवर की सैर के लिए बांस के चप्पुओं से खेने वाली नावें उपलब्ध रहती है। ये नावें अलग-अलग क्षमता वाली होती है। जैसे ही आप सरोवर में आगे बढ़ते है दूर-दूर मेहमान पक्षी नजर आने लगते हैं। पानी के अन्दर झांकने पर तलहटी में मौजूद जलीय जीवन भी आप देख सकते हैं। सरोवर में आपको निकटतम टापू तक ले जाया जाता है जिसतक आने जाने में दो से तीन घंटे तक लग जाते हैं। इस सैर के लिए वहां गाइड भी मिल जाते हैं। सरोवर के किनारे घुड़सवारी का आनंद भी ले लिया जा सकता है। यदि आप नल सरोवर के अलावा आसपास कुछ और देखना चाहते हों तो 60 किमी दूर लोथल जा सकते है जहां सिंधु घाटी सभ्यता के अवशेष देखे जा सकते हैं।


चिलिका में विदेशी मेहमान

Northern Pin Tailओडिशा की चिलिका झील देश में प्रवासी पक्षियों का सबसे बड़ा ठिकाना है। यहां हर साल पहुंचने वाले पक्षियों की संख्या कई लाखों में है। कुल 1100 किलोमीटर की परिधि वाली यह झील उड़ीसा के तीन जिलों खुरदा, पुरी और गंजम में फैली है। यह एशिया में ब्रेकिश पानी (मीठे व खारे पानी की मिश्रित) की सबसे बड़ी झील है। दया नदी यहीं बंगाल की खाड़ी में मिलती है। इसे चिलिका लैगून भी कहा जाता है। यह देश के सबसे खूबसूरत प्राकृतिक इकोसिस्टम्स में से एक है। देश में इरावडी डॉल्फिन देखने का भी यही अकेला ठिकाना है। इस झील में पहुंचने वाले शुरुआती प्रवासी पक्षी मेहमानों में शोवलर, पिनटेल, गैडवल और पोचार्ड शामिल होते हैं। परिंदों का मुख्य अड्डा 15.53 वर्ग किलोमीटर में फैले नलबन में है। मगंलाजोड़ी, भुसंदपुर और कई अन्य जगहों पर भी पक्षी पहुंचते हैं। नलबन का इलाका पक्षी अभयारण्य के तौर पर घोषित है। वन विभाग के सूत्रों के आम तौर पर 170 प्रजातियों के कुल लगभग 9 लाख पक्षी चिलिका में पहुंचते हैं। इनमें से 4.05 लाख पक्षी तो केवल अभयारण्य क्षेत्र में ही आते हैं। उत्तर में कड़ाके की सरदी से बचने के लिए अफगानिस्तान, इराक, ईरान, पाकिस्तान, लद्दाख, हिमालयी क्षेत्र, मध्य एशियाई देशों, साइबेरिया आदि से परिंदे चिलिका में आते हैं। हर साल दशहरे के बाद से ही यहां पक्षी आने लग जाते हैं। फिर ये परिंदे गरमी की शुरुआत होते-होते लौट जाते हैं। आखिरकार प्रवास ढूंढना कोई छोटा-मोटा काम नहीं, कड़ी मेहनत लगती है इसमें। कल्पना कीजिए कि मंगोलिया से चिलिका आने वाले पक्षी पांच हजार से ज्यादा किलोमीटर की उड़ान बिना रुके पूरी करते हैं। है न हैरतअंगेज? इनके आगे सारी तकनीक फेल हैं। ऐसे परिंदों को उनके प्रवास में देखने का रोमांच अनूठा है।

कब, कहां, कैसेः चिलिका झील बहुत बड़ी है। यहां के परिंदों को देखने के लिए झीले में फैले पड़े  कई द्वीपों पर या उनके करीब जाना होता है। जाहिर है कि वो केवल नावों से ही हो सकता है। नलबन के अलावा कालीजई आईलैंड, हनीमून आईलैंड, ब्रेकफास्ट आईलैंड, बर्ड्स आईलैंड व परीकुड आईलैंड भी देखे जाते हैं। चिलिका झील में पुरी से भी जाया जाता है लेकिन आम तौर पर डॉल्फिन देखने के लिए। प्रवासी पक्षियों को देखने के लिए रम्भा, बरकुल व सातपाड़ा सबसे प्रमुख जगहें हैं। यहां से झील में जाने के लिए नावें मिल जाती हैं। इन तीनों जगहों पर रुकने के लिए उड़ीसा पर्यटन के गेस्ट हाउस मौजूद हैं। सभी जगहों के लिए पुरी व भुवनेश्वर से बस व ट्रेनें बड़ी आसानी से मिल जाती हैं। भुवनेश्वर रेल व हवाई मार्ग से देशभर से जुड़ा है। अक्टूबर से अप्रैल का समय यहां जाने के लिए सबसे बेहतरीन है।

भारत के कुछ अन्य प्रमुख पक्षी अभयारण्य

  1. सालिम अली पक्षी अभयारण्य, गोवा
  2. कुमारकोम पक्षी अभायारण्य, वेम्बांड लेक, केरल
  3. रंगनथित्तु पक्षी अभयारण्य, कर्नाटक
  4. वेदंथंगल पक्षी अभयारण्य, कर्नाटक
  5. कौनडिन्या पक्षी अभयारण्य, चित्तूर, आंध्र प्रदेश
  6. मयानी पक्षी अभयारण्य, सतारा, महाराष्ट्र