As with the previous day, our morning was slowed by the time for breakfast. However, we arranged to have an earlier breakfast so that we could make good time and head out for some birds in areas near the park before the heat of the sun. I was awake at first light and spent the time before breakfast birding from the hotel rooftop.
Having a guide really paid off today. He had been more of a passenger for the previous couple of days as we had largely birded our own way round the park. However, we had asked him about a couple of species we wanted to target, namely Painted Snipe and Indian Courser, both of which he said he could provide. First up was Indian Courser! Our initial plan had involved driving round dry fields near Bharatpur in hope, but it was fortunate we did not do this, as it turned out the site was 24 kilometres out from the town.
The site was little more than dry arable fields in the middle of nowhere. Despite the fact that there was quite a bit of greenery, it did have a very desert like feel. The birding mainly involved scoping across the fields in the hope of picking up the Coursers, but there were also a number of larks and wheatears in the fields that were worth looking for. The change of scenery from the park was extremely rewarding as we saw a new range of species that we would have otherwise missed. We spent the morning birding there before heading back to Bharatpur.
Indian Courser - Not bad for my first Courser species! At our first stop in the area we had two of these stunning birds drop in and begin running around, but then at our next stop we were given a real treat with double figures scattered across the fields. They were very skittish but showed much better than I had expected.
White-browed Bushchat - Whilst most of us had been scoping the fields for Courser JHF had wandered off and found this. It looked like a cross between a stonechat and a whinchat, but was apparently extremely rare in the area. A tour leader I know actually leads a tour designed specifically for this species. But not only is it rare, but it’s also a very smart bird.
Greater Short-toed Lark - Seems like a bit of an odd choice for a highlight, but the sheer numbers of this species in the area was really something to behold. Thousands of birds could emerge from areas of crop forming huge flocks. The only species we were able to extract from the hoards were a few Bimaculated Larks, but it would not be unreasonable to think that there were plenty of rarer larks mixed in.
-Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark
Khumer: Indian Robin, Crested Lark, Tawny Pipit, European Stonechat, Black Redstart, Indian Silverbill, Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark, Desert Wheatear, House Crow, Greater Short-toed Lark, Egyptian Vulture, Large Grey Babbler, Indian Bushlark, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Common Myna, Isabelline Shrike, Ring-necked Parakeet, Hoopoe, Southern Coucal, Indian Courser, Isabelline Wheatear, White-browed Chat, Red-vented Bulbul, Green Sandpiper, Pied Bushchat, Long-tailed Shrike, Spotted Owlet, Black-winged Stilt, Common Babbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Bimaculated Lark, Indian Thick-knee, White-throated Kingfisher, Southern Grey Shrike,
Next on our morning of targets was Painted Snipe. These cracking waders were something I had long wanted to see, but the site we were taken to we would never have found; a small river running through the town, full of little and smelling extremely strongly of phosphorus. Still, it was the site of our quarry and it did not take us long to find them, two males perched under the bushes bordering the stream.
Painted Snipe - Always going to be a highlight of the trip if we saw them. Two males was extremely exciting to see, especially as well as we did. In my headed I imagined having to walk areas of vegetation to flush them out, but that was simply not the case, as they sat out in almost clear view.
Bank Myna - On our drive through the town we were held up by a crash on a bridge. Fortunately the place we stopped happened to be next to a bridge full of Bank Myna nests, and they helped entertain us whilst we waited. Really nice birds!
Bharatpur: Keoladeo National Park
For our final afternoon in the park we once again got a Rickshaw up to where we had left off the previous evening as we still had so much of the park left to explore. We continued birding the wetland area until the habitat changed once again into a more wooded grassland habitat. The tall grass was home to a few finch and sparrow species we had not previously encountered in the park. There were also a few new species in the trees around the grassland. Despite it being our third day, it was awesome to keep encountering new species all the time.
Keoladeo temple - Just round the corner from the temple is a small picnic area, and it was a brilliant place to stop. Brahminy Starlings, Bank and Common Myna would all come down stupidly close if you threw out food, and Jungle Babblers would take food from your hands if you offered it. House Crows and Rufous Treepies would also come down, but were a bit more wary. It also provided a relaxing location to scope for raptors flying over.
Dalmatian Pelican - My first ever Pelican species! Normally the park would be home to good numbers of these birds but because of the dry season we only saw one, which was the first of the year. JAB was scoping for raptors from a platform and radioed out to say that he had seen it flying high towards us. It looked like we had missed it but a sharp eyed PC picked it up circling just south of where we were.
Yellow Monitor Lizard - We also saw this monster yesterday, but cool to see again. Around a meter in length, easily the most spectacular reptile I have ever seen. It presumably spent most of the day hanging around its burrow, which was adjacent to the road, as it never seemed to move from this area.
-Indian Spotted Eagle
-Yellow-footed Green Pigeon
-Black-necked Stork & Nilgai
Keoladeo National Park: Asian Openbill, Black-necked Stork, Grey-headed Lapwing, Red Avadavat, Spotted Redshank, Red Collard Dove, Little Swift, Coppersmith Barbet, Peafowl, Grey Francolin, Plain Martin, Pintail, Teal, Spot-billed Duck, Knob-billed Duck, Lesser Whistling Duck, Garganey, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Greylag Goose, Bar-headed Goose, Painted Stork, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Striated Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Dalmatian Pelican, Indian Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Glossy Ibis, Black-headed Ibis, Shikra, Common Kestrel, Spotted Owlet, Moorhen, Coot, White-breasted Waterhen, Grey-headed Gallinule, Asian Darter, Little Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Black-winged Stilt, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Common Snipe, Spoonbill, Hoopoe, Pied Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Red-wattled Lapwing, White-tailed Lapwing, Crested Serpent Eagle, Southern Coucal, Indian Roller, Eastern Jungle Crow, House Crown, Rufous Treepie, Ruddy Shelduck, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Asian Pied Starling, Brahminy Starling, Common Myna, Bank Myna, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Plain Prinia, Ashy-headed Prinia, Laughing Dove, Eurasian Collard Dove, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Baya Weaver, Indian Silverbill, Bluethroat, Oriental Magpie Robin, Red-vented Bulbul, White-cheeked Bulbul, Jungle Babbler, Large Grey Babbler, House Sparrow, Citrine Wagtail, Pied Bushchat, Siberian Stonechat, Barn Swallow, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Nilgai, Sambar, Chital, Golden Jackal, Five-striped Palm Squirrel, Indian Flying Fox, Rhesus Macaque, Yellow Water Monitor, Indian Softshell Turtle, Brahminy Terrapin, Common Rat Snake, Plain Tiger, Red Helen,