India
 

TRIP REPORT - Colin and Sue Turvey
8TH - 27TH JANUARY 2007


Early 2006 Sue told me she would like to do something special for my 60th birthday in 2007 and was planning a return trip to Bharatpur [ Keoladeo ] where we last visited in 1996.
Included in the trip was to be a visit to Sultanpur reserve near Delhi, Corbett National park, Bund Barathur, Chambal and Patna.

Unfortunately Bharatpur and Patna were to be dry this year as the monsoons never reached this area of India. We still had our time at Bharatpur, but gave Patna a miss.

We are mainly based in Crete, Greece, so our travels were complicated in obtaining visas. Being foreigners in Greece we could only get visas for three instead of six months, you also have to wait a week for the application to be processed. After a lot of hassle and great expense it would have been cheaper to travel to UK visiting family and obtaining the visa’s there, however visa’s in place we went ahead and booked a three week trip through a tour company in Jaipur, India. they planned an individual package for us that was to be a relaxed visit to numerous sites in North India. We were not out to get as many ticks as possible but went with the intention of enjoying and photographing the wildlife.

ACCOMODATION

Raddison Hotel Delhi 1 night
Camp Forktail Creek, Corbett National Park 3 nights
Lohachor Forest Rest House, Corbett National Park 2 nights
Dikhala Forest tourist centre, Corbett National Park 2 nights
Ashok hotel Bharatpur Keoladeo National Park 4 nights
Chambal Safari Lodge near Agra 4 nights
Oberoi Maidens hotel Delhi 1 night
Night trains to and from Delhi/Ramnagar 2 nights

Indian Moments came up with the package that worked well apart from a small problem with a guide at Bharatpur which was promptly rectified late on a Sunday afternoon. Their costs excluded … flights, tips, lunch and dinners in the Delhi and Bharatpur hotels. We could not fault their planning help and itinerary from the first email and have no hesitation in recommending Indian Moments, all services and everything went as planned.

ITINERARY
January 8th …Arrive Delhi 06.55hrs
9th …Birding at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary
22.45hrs train to Ramnagar
10th …05.00 arrive Ramnagar transfer to Camp Forktail Creek ..Birding surrounding forest.
11th… Safari Bijrani Range birding on the Kosi River
12th/13th…Lohachaur Forest Rest House, two days birding in the Mandal Range
14th….Return to Camp Forktail Creek birding forests/ foothills on the way then Bhakrakot village
Birding camp area
15th/16th….Dhikala Forest Rest House, main tourist centre for birding and game drives.
17th….Late afternoon return to Camp Forktail Creek depart for Ramnagar for 21.40hrs train to Delhi
18th….Arrive Delhi 0410hrs, connect train to Bharatpur 07.50hrs, arrive Bharutpur 10.43. Birding
Keoladeo National Park
19th-22nd ….Birding Keoladeo one day at Bund Barathur
22nd-26th…. Chambal Safari Lodge birding around the lodge , Chambal River, Wetlands an hour away,
and Bateshwar. After lunch 26th transfer to Delhi
27th ….Last morning birding local Delhi park , transfer to Delhi airport for 18.30hrs flight home.

Day 1……. 8th January

Arrived Delhi early Monday morning, eventually we cleared the airport after a hunt for our luggage which had been unloaded from the plane and left in a huge pile in a corner of the reclaim area. We found the representative of Indian Moments without any problem and were soon at the Radisson Hotel. After checking in we headed for Connaught Place with a trusted taxi driver ….Attar Singh from AS Taxi Service { tel:mobile 9899599025 }…. to buy our bird books for the trip before leaving we had only managed to look at an old Collins book….
We obtained several that we wanted but were unable to get Grimmett and Inskipps ‘Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent’ and Salim Ali’s Book of Indian Birds’ we did manage to get them later in the gift shop inside the Bijrani reserve section of Corbett.
We bought books at UK value of £100+ for half that price, it really is a worthwhile saving obtaining your fieldsguides here, the drawback though is nothing to study before leaving and the extra weight going home.

Although not actively birding we saw the following in and around Delhi
Black Kite c.200+, Jungle Babbler, Bank Myna, Cattle Egret, Black–winged Stilt,
Rose–ringed Parakeet, House Crow, Hooded crow.

Day 2 ….9th

We set off at 09.00 and arrived at 10.30 at the Sultanpur reserve. We had to wait whilst a guide was found… this was the only site that one was not arranged for us. Eventually Sanjay Sharma arrived, a local naturalist with a veritable knowledge of the reserve { Tel: 01242015717 & mobile 09812470521 } by this time we had an hour on our own and had wandered into the reserve. Trying to identify many small birds alien to us was a challenge we spent more time with heads in books than actually birding and it was with some relief that Sanjay arrived. We had an exciting day here to kick off our trip with seventy two species seen on a leisurely tour of Sultanpur.
Back to the hotel Shower and pack to get the overnight train to Corbett. Our contact for Indian Moments arrived on time for our journey to Delhi railway station where we caught the Ranikhet Express/5013 at 22.45hrs. We were lucky and found we had a compartment to ourselves in a two tier car, most unusual !

Drongo, Common Flameback, Great Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Greylag,
Goose Bar-headed Goose, Hoopoe, Coot, Moorhen, Barn Swallow, Pintail,
White-throated Kingfisher, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret,
Great White Egret, Koel, Indian Myna, Bank Myna, Rose–ringed Parakeet
Jungle Babbler, Rufus Treepie, Red Avadavat, Grey Francolin, Black-rumped Flameback,
Painted Stork 1, Indian Robin, Plain Prinia, Bay Back Shrike, Black Shouldered Kite
Great Spotted Eagle, Red-wattled Lapwing, Spoonbill, Gadwall, Teal, Spot-billed Duck,
Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Crow Pheasant, Coucal, White-tailed Lapwing,
Wood Sandpiper, Paddy Bird, Darter, Black-necked Stork, Red- vented Bulbul, Pied Bushchat,
Indian Silverbill,, Black Redstart, Redstart, Stonechat, Rufous-tailed Shrike,  Bush lark,
Purple Sunbird, Tawny Pipit, Stone Pipit, Oriental Skylark, Indian Roller, House Crow,
Hooded Crow, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Kestrel, Collared Dove, Oriental Honey Buzzard,
Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Oriental Magpie, Robin, Woodchat Shrike, Rock pigeon,
Spotted Owlet, Coppersmith Barbet, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Lesser Whitethroat
Whitethroat, Common Starling, Purple Swamphen, Mallard,


Yellow-wattled Lapwing - Vanellus marabaricusis, above photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

Mammals:
Striped Squirrel, Neelgai, Chital.

Day 3…….. 10th
The train arrived two hours late [ 07.00 ] due to the usual North India fog, we were met by Davish from Camp Forktail Creek and were given large army surplus blankets. We settled into the back of one of their safari ‘Gypsy’s’, This was going to be a cold journey ! our arrival timed well, with the coldest nights experienced in India for 5 years !!!!! we birded along the route as daylight dawned and were fairly chilled on our arrival an hour later at camp, where we were greeted by the owner Ritish with a nice welcoming hot cup of Chai or coffee with spiced biscuits heated over charcoal before being shown to our tent. Whilst having chai we watched the numerous birds that live in and around the camp.
There is no rush here at Forktail and the hospitality is fantastic, all the staff make you feel like long standing friends on arrival and nothing is too much trouble.
Sue felt unwell here and we had to return to Ramnagar to see a doctor. That was an experience in itself… a full waiting room, us ushered in without waiting, Davish interpreting, Sue’s consultation took place in front of several other patients ! problem discussed, tests done, prescription made out all in an hour and very little cost. Her urine infection was the talk of Ramnagar.
Again Forktail could not have done more and Ritish’s wife Minakshi was wonderful support to Sue. We did little birding on our first day here and rested up for Sue, a night of little sleep on the train then four hours in a Gypsy had taken its toll on her. Later that day Minakshi moved us to a cottage style mud hut as they expected the night to be even colder and it would be better for Sue.
So relaxing around camp we watched and listened to the sounds of the jungle with a days count of twenty six species.
Sightings for the day.

Blue Whistling Thrush, Large Billed Crow, Forktail, Red-vented Bulbul, Himalayan Bulbul,
White-throated Kingfisher, White-capped Water Redstart, Plumbeous Water Redstart,
Blue Throated Barbet, Lineated Barbet, White Eye, Crested Kingfisher, Grey Bushchat,
Black Kite, Rufous Treepie, Egyptian Vulture, Large Grey Babbler, Jungle Babbler,
Rufous-bellied Niltaver, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Long Tailed Shrike, Hoopoe,
Crag Martin Fantail, Black Redstart, Red-wattled Lapwing.

Mammal:
Fieldmouse

Day 4……. 11th
A safari trip to Bijrani range inside the Corbett reserve was organised, this would entail two hours looking at wildlife and with a chance of seeing Tiger.
We were woken at some unearthly hour, still pitch dark but raring to go, we had coffee and hot biscuits warmed over a small charcoal burner and set off to be at the gates due to open at 06.30. Sue felt a rather groggy but did not want to miss out on her birding.
We had forgotten to take our passports and the official at the gate wanted to check that all was in order with our bookings. Thankfully due to filling in immigration forms at the airport I remembered our passport numbers. As these details had been forwarded to Indian Moments prior to our trip the guards’ already had the numbers so all that was required was a confirmation and thankfully we were duly waved through…. Govind Singh our guide and Balamda Singh our driver for our stay with Camp Forktail Creek set off watching tracks on the road and sighting birds that we had difficulty seeing, they call Govind, ‘Eagle Eye’, he pointed out birds we would never hope to see in the cover.
We had a wonderful morning here, with a picnic breakfast. We also managed to get the bird books that were unavailable in Delhi also a book on flowers of India in a small shop within the range near the Safari Elephant quarters.
Although this was meant to be a two hour game drive we never saw Tiger, missing one by a few minutes. We found pugmarks on our tyre tracks minutes after returning along the same track we had just passed over.
Stood alongside the gypsy 4x4 having breakfast was a bit nerve wracking at first as there were tiger pugmarks all round but we honestly felt safe with our guide and driver.
As we were exiting the park we found a dead Rhesus Macaque monkey that had just fallen from a tree onto the road.
After Bijrani we Birded the escarpment over the Kosi River and a small village ……along with the route back to Camp Forktail .
An Indian Bucket shower, dinner, a chat around the campfire completed our first real full day in this fantastic area of India. Thirty seven species today.

We saw.
Stork-billed Kingfisher, White Browed Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Blue Whistling Thrush,
White Wagtail, Golden Oriole [heard], Red Jungle Fowl, Paddy Bird, Changeable Hawk Eagle,
Dark Grey Bushchat, Oriental Magpie, Robin, White Rumped Vulture [Nest & pair],
White-throated Fantail, Tailerbird [heard], Flycatcher, House Swift, Swallow,
Crested Serpent Eagle, Jungle Owlet, Spotted Owlet, White-rumped Munia, Red-wattled Lapwing, Black Kite, Plumbeous Water Redstart, White-throated Kingfisher, Grey Treepie 5,
Gold-fronted Leaf bird, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Spotted Forktail, Green-tailed Sunbird,
White-capped Water Redstart, Brown Dipper, River Lapwing, Brown Rock-chat,
Little Forktail Wallcreeper, Streak-throated Woodpecker



MAMMALS:
Rhesus Macaque, Langur,
Barking Deer [heard], Sambar,
Chital,
Tiger pug marks & Scat Leopard tracks
Jackal 2


Langur Monkey - Presbytis entelus, above photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

Day 5………12th
Another early start with birding around camp before breakfast, followed by birding along the riverbed and road near the camp then on to Lohachaur Forest Rest House in the Mandal Range of Corbett Park where we were to spend the next two nights . Our cook and two helpers set off before us and with Govind and Balamda again at the helm we departed for the long trip into this quiet area of the jungle. A slow drive along very rough roads, lunch at a river watching a Grey–headed Fish Eagle watching us from a dead tree opposite was amazing. We had seen no other human presence for miles we later arrived at the rest house an old forest bungalow where we were to spend our two nights. The Rest house has a moat to keep the elephant out, unfortunately this stops at the road and a wooden bar is placed across !
We met the forest workers who live in this camp area then went off for a walk with our guide. A bit disconcerting as we were not armed and Elephant, Leopard, Tiger and Bear are in this area. ….on our walk, forever stopping to look to the rear with the dread, or excitement, of seeing any of the four above mentioned animals we proceeded on our way to about a mile from the rest house before returning on a slightly different route. We never saw any mammals [we heard Sambar alarm calls from the forest! ] but the birding was good and we arrived back in camp just as darkness fell .
A fantastic candle lit dinner for two was followed by coffee on the veranda listening to the night sounds.
We suddenly realised at 8pm that we were on our own, it was pitch black, no moon….. where was everyone ? suddenly we felt very exposed out there …..read, a Jim Corbett book on man-eaters before you go… it will strike fear into you if your out there in the dark on your lonesome. We entered the rest house comprising our bedroom a lounge and a small back room. Looking into the back room there were five, white shrouded, immobile bodies on tables !!! with a single lit candle ….it looked like a morgue …it was in fact our team and, at 8.15pm all tucked up and asleep. Oh well this looked the norm so we set to and locked up securely and retired to our room. There is no hot water or heating here and it was bloody freezing, we slept fully clothed …….

Forty two species today:
Oriental Pied Hornbill, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Hoopoe, White Throated Fantail,
Grey Bushchat, Stonechat, Red-vented Bulbul, Babbler, Red-wattled Lapwing,
Red-throated Flycatcher, Red-rumped Swallow, Crested Bulbul, Grey Treepie,
White-tailed Rubythroat, Rufous -bellied Niltava, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Long-tailed Minivet,
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Black-hooded Oriole, White-throated kingfisher, Spotted Forktail,
Plumbious Water Redstart, White-capped Water Redstart, Long-billed Thrush, Small Niltava,
Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Barred Owlet, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker,
White-throated Laughing Thrush, Kalij Pheasant, Red-billed Leothrix, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Whiskered Yuhina, Common Green Magpie, Lesser Fish Eagle, Drongo, Grey Wagtail,
Brown Dipper, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Rock Pigeon, Cetti’s Warbler.

Mammals:
Rhesus Macaque, Langur

DAY 6 …….. 13th
After our early night ! we awoke at 3am after a good six hours sleep raring to go. However no one else was awake so we lay huddled in the cold of the night until we heard the forest come to life before we emerged ourselves.
We were off into the forest on foot again this time with the gypsy driven by Balamda following, mammals Sambar and monkeys, lots of tracks of bear and Tiger….. we followed the sound of alarm calls across the river as a possible tiger made its way upstream … plenty of wonderful birds and a picnic lunch filled our day , followed by another great meal and now full of knowledge on the ways of forest folk we retired to bed at 8pm !!

We saw
Little Heron, Long-tailed Shrike,
White-browed Wagtail, Crested Kingfisher,
Stork-billed Kingfisher, Blue-throated Barbet,
Ashy Bulbul, Grey Wagtail,
Scarlet Minivet, Grey Bushchat,
Little Heron, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker,
Changeable Hawk Eagle, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike,
Brown Dipper, Spotted Forktail,
Little Forktail, Plain Martin,
Lineated Barbet, Himalayan Bulbul,
Black Bulbul, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch,
Whiskered Yuhina, Green-tailed Sunbird ,
White-tailed Nuthatch, Kalij Pheasant,
Red-billed Leothrix Tickells, Leaf Warbler,
Rufous-bellied Niltava, Slaty-headed Parakeet,
Chiffchaff, Goldcrest,
Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Bar-tailed Treecreeper,
Black Drongo, Brown Fish Owl,
Wallcreeper, Red- billed Blue Magpie, Emerald Dove, Blue-winged Minla,
Grey capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler,
White-tailed Nuthatch, White-browed Wagtail,
Silver-eared Mesia,

Mammals
Sloth Bear tracks, Tiger tracks, Porcupine tracks, Rhesus Macaque, Langur, Sambar

DAY 7 ………14th
After breakfast it was time to make our long way back through the forest to Camp Forktail Creek where we were looking forward to the promise of hot water. We took a slight detour into the hills after leaving this area of the Corbett reserve in the hope of seeing the Himalayan mountain range but visibility was very poor and we were to be denied this pleasure. We did get to see a mixed group of Vulture soaring over the valleys and had another outdoor lunch surveying the camp and villages from the hills. We observed small groups of women and girls carrying loads of animal feed on their heads that they had harvested from the forests seemingly miles from anywhere, we were told some walked a round ten miles from their villages on this daily task.
Back in camp after dinner a chat to the others staying there relating our days in the forest and hopes for the rest of Corbett.

We saw twenty two species ……
Grey Capped Woodpecker, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Red-breasted Parakeet,
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Black chinned Babblers, Rock pigeon, Blue-winged Milna,
White-throated Fantail, Long-tailed Shrike, Scarlet Minivet 5, Stork-billed kingfisher,
2 Grey Bushchat, Blue Whistling Thrush, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Himalayan Bulbul, Plain Prinia,
Changeable Hawk Eagle, Blue Throated Barbett, Slaty-headed Parakeet, White- browed Wagtail,
Grey Wagtail, White-capped Water Redstart, Plumbious Redstart, Red-billed Leothrix,
Rufous-bellied Niltava, Long-tailed Minivet, Striated Laughingthrush,
White-crested Laughingthrush, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Steppe Eagle, Tawny Eagle,
Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Swift, Plain Martin, Emerald Dove, Ashy Bulbul,
Lesser Fish Eagle, Black-lored Tit, Lesser Rackett-tailed Drongo, Blue Rock Thrush,
Red breasted Woodpecker, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Cinereous Vulture, Jungle Crow.


Cinereous Vulture - Aegypius monachus, above photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

Mammal:
Rhesus Macaque Langur

DAY 8 …………15th
Up again before dawn ready for the first awakenings of the forest, the gentle knock on the door and Indian voice “six o’clock saar.. maam” We were already dressed and ready to go, so down to the tea area and a walk to Bharkrakot village, for a spot of birding with Ritish and Govind before breakfast.
Today we were to head for Dhikala for two nights looking for Tiger, Elephant and the fantastic birding there.
Dhikala is the main tourist area of Corbett and there are lots of restrictions, with walking permitted only in designated areas. Accommodation and food here is basic and the maximum stay allowed is two nights.
This would entail an all day trip into the forest again, we stopped for lunch overlooking the crocodile pools, viewed elephant herds in the grassland area and finished the afternoon watching a pair of Tiger mating. We had to move away from our view point of this experience as a small group of female elephant and a very junior male wanted to go across the river towards the far off forest for the night, we were in their way.. as soon as they had passed by we relocated ourselves at our viewpoint and another car joined us as we watched the male tiger head in the direction of the elephant that by now were crossing the river … the tigress was somewhere behind her mate in the long grass and we were sure the tiger was going to attack the young male as it left the safety of the herd and slowly headed towards it …he was by this time crouched ready to attack but the little tusker decided against any brave move and as the tiger emitted a low growl he tore off to the safety of the herd. The tigress then slowly emerged from behind the male and they provided us with some brilliant shots of the pair sat together along with some previous distant blurred mating pictures. By this time it was getting dark and we had to race to the Dhikala complex before we were in serious trouble. The gates to the compound are locked at dark and the electric fences turned on …any guide or driver is in danger of losing his licence if not back in time …………so leaving this pair of tiger sitting just across the river we regretfully headed back. An awesome experience, we were so very lucky, some tourists had also been out all day and never saw any mammals apart from Chital deer and monkey.

We saw fifty seven bird species …………
Sparrowhawk, Green Magpie, Grey Treepie, Great Tit, Long- tailed Minivet,
Velvet–fronted Nuthatch, Blue Laughingthrush, Rock pigeon, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo,
Red-vented Bulbul, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Common Buzzard, River Lapwing, Crested Kingfisher,
Eurasian Crag Martin?, Grey Bushchat, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Scarlett Minivet m& f,
Nepal Wren, Babbler, Crested Serpent Eagle, Wallcreeper, Blue-winged Minla,
White-tailed Rubythroat, Black Stork 3, White-tailed Eagle, Grey Wagtail, Peacock,
Mountain Hawk Eagle, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul,
Pallas’s Fish Eagle [on nest], Black- shouldered Kite, Red Headed Vulture, Peregrine Falcon.
White-capped Water Redstart, Grey-headed Fish Eagle imm, River Lapwing,
White-browed Wagtail, Great White Egret, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Black-hooded Oriole,
Long-tailed Shrike, Pied Kingfisher, Jungle Crow, Pied Bushchat, Brown Shrike,
Grey-breasted Prinia, Striated Prinia, Hen Harrier f, Spotted Dove, Black Francolin,
Long-billed Pipit, Red Avadavat, Red-rumped Swallow, Bluethroat, Black-necked Stork 2,
Cattle Egret.


Red-whiskered Bulbul - Pycnonotus melanicterus, above photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


White-tailed Rubythroat - Luscinia pectoralis, photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey
 
Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Wild Boar, Jackal 2,
Mugger Crocodile, Garial Crocodile,
Mahseer Catfish,
Stone Carp, Sambar,
Rhesus Macaque, Langur,
Barking deer, Hog Deer,
Wild Elephant 2 herds [30+ ], Chital,
Tiger a pair mating then stalking young male elephant.


Sambar Deer - Cervus unicolor , above photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


Pair of tigers - Panthera tigris, above photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


DAY 9 ……………..16th
After another cold night [slept fully clothed again] we were woken at 05.45hrs with a pot of chai to be ready for the Dikhala compound gate opening at 06.30….still dark…..very foggy…..very very cold and frosty…. We headed into the grasslands area before returning for breakfast, watching the sunrise through the fog and frost was amazing, we never spotted Tiger but added Jungle Cat and Mongoose to our list.
After breakfast we again headed out in the gypsy, no time to rest here, so much to see and do in such a short time We headed into the forest area instead of the grasslands in the hopes of some different birds species, we saw many tiger pug marks but as before breakfast, no tiger, lots of deer and birds feeding in the Sal forest area.
So back to the compound for lunch, a nice hot vegetable curry…. followed by an elephant safari trip across the river.
We have ridden elephants in India before and the experience can be daunting as there is not much to hold onto or rest your feet on, the howdah’s are very basic. The first 15 minutes were as usual a bit scary as we tried to find a way to hang on, look through the binoculars and point the cameras. We also had to go down some steep slopes and cross the river. After a while we got used to the motion again and got back to viewing the wildlife.
We shared the elephant with two middle aged Indian ladies who spent most of the time talking, the mahout forever telling them to be quiet, after a while they also started belching and farting!! elephant motion is very good for trapped wind…and so with silent chuckles, we continued, the sound of the elephant pulling and thrashing the grass as he ate on the move, the creaking of the howdah, venting of wind , which by now was emitting from the elephant as well, will live with us for a very long while.
Again, along came lady luck, as the mahout told us in a whisper ….Tiger… and as we looked in the direction of his pointed finger there was a big male just visible 4-5 metres away, laying low in the tall grass with teeth barred and emitting a very low growl he slowly rose and walked past us, coming as close as three metres. We followed slowly for some minutes and had some leisurely time to view and take photos of him; our mahout thought he saw another tiger off to the right but only a fleeting glimpse, maybe our pair from the day before.
Our mahout by now had stayed out too long, as the other two elephants that had come along with us had already left to return to the compound, we were told to hang on as the elephant was made to go at a fast pace, almost a run back before he got into serious trouble……our two hour safari was two and a half and it was dark as we arrived back As we entered the compound our mahout was telling all in earshot very loudly that we had seen tiger and everyone crowded around wanting to see any photos and share the experience, we were again virtually the only people to have seen tiger on this day also. We were told we were blessed and lots of Indians came up to touch us with the hope of luck brushing off to them also. A day that will not be forgotten.
Our guide Govind was really pleased for us and we believe he had a hand in the extra half hour elephant safari. It has not gone unnoticed the respect that all the other guides have shown towards him and we were privileged to have had his skills provided for us.
An invite from the two ladies and their husbands, we would be most welcome to visit them in Poona and Lucknow when we revisit India.. and would we send them some photos of the tiger, how could we not. Later we would duly sent prints and a disc of Corbett pictures.
We were lucky with the quality of our photos here as we had on the big 200-500 Tamron lens. Sat on an elephant with no stable base all photos had to be taken handheld, next time a smaller zoom or prime lens will definitely be fitted instead.


Our Elephant and Mahout, above photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

We saw thirty eight species of bird
Changeable Hawk Eagle, White- throated Laughingthrush
Indian Peafowl, Weaver bird nests 40+ no birds,
Kalij pheasant m, Hen Harrier f
Great Cormorant, Cattle Egret,
Pair of Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Common Sandpiper,
Greenshank, River Lapwing,
Grey Heron, Great White Heron,
River Tern, Pied Kingfisher,
Black-shouldered Kite, Red-rumped Swallow,
Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Cinereous Vulture,
Woolly-necked Stork, Red-headed Vulture 12,
Black-winged Stilt, Little-ringed Plover,
Little Bittern, Citrine Wagtail,
Common Ringed Plover, Osprey,
Pond Heron, Redshank,
Stone Curlew, 2 Ruddy Shelduck,
Common Teal, Crested Lark,
Olive-backed Pipit, Kestrel,
Collared Falconett, Bulbul 100’s coming to roost in Elephant grass.


Osprey - Pandion haliaetus, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


Cinereous Vulture - Aegypius monachus, above photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


Pallas's Fish Eagle - Haliaeetus leucoryphus, above photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


Pallas's Fish Eagle - Haliaeetus leucoryphus, above photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Sambar, Chittal,
Jungle Cat, Mongoose,
Hog Deer, Tiger,
Garial Crocodile, Mugger crocodile,
Chital, Sambar,
Rhesus Macaque, Langur.


Jungle Cat - Felis chaus, above photo  by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

DAY 10……………17th
Another very cold night and as yesterday we were up at 05.45 to go to the area east of the compound with a visit to the watchtower situated a short walk away from the main compound , we however took the Gypsy.
A very unnerving climb up past the marauding monkeys who sense the people with food and literally tear it out of their hands. Up at the top we surveyed the grass area where the day before we had our tiger experience. Lots of noise up here from chattering Indian tourists who were busy trying to beat off the monkey attacks with large sticks. Govind came quietly up to us and pointed upriver….there was our third sighting in three days… a large tiger sat in the river towards the opposite bank about 300 metres away, we watched as he crossed to our side, then Govind rushed us down and into the Gypsy, tearing down the track we came to near where he thought the tiger would emerge, however we were not to see him from the road but heard him call in the forest to our right, we had just missed him. The roars told us there were two tigers in there and it was probably the same male we had seen with his mate. A quick drive to the road parallel to the one we were on with the hope they would emerge for us. We stayed absolutely still on the Gypsy for over half an hour listening and waiting. Two Jackal came rushing out of the forest going past us with a look of wonderment that we would be right in the way of the tigers, but although we could hear them we never had the close up from the vehicle. To hear their roars was enough though, the sound echoed around us and that experience alone was fantastic in itself, we did not need to see them .
A return to the compound for breakfast and to pick up our luggage before we headed on the long track back to Camp Forktail Creek birding on the way. We sighted lots of new bird species on route back and spent the evening around the camp fire with others that had been to different areas of Corbett, re-telling our stories before departing for Ramnagar station and our night train The Corbett Park Link Express /5014A for Delhi arriving at 04.10 and our onward train to Bharutpur.
Corbett National Park and Camp Forktail Creek have been fantastic, the people, the culture and hospitality in this area has given us some of our best experiences of India. We were truly sad to leave and could have spent the whole of our trip here. We will return, with Pangot and other birding areas to be included. If you are reading this Ritish, Minakshi, Govind, Balum and all concerned at Camp Forktail Creek, a big thanks for the experience ….watch out we are coming back.


Dhikala compound Corbett NP, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

We saw only fifteen species of bird today
Crested Serpent Eagle, Red-breasted Parakeet 50+ flock, Black Francolin, Pallas’s Fish Eagle,
Steppe Eagle Juv, Lesser Fish Eagle, River Lapwing, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Kalij Pheasant 3f 1 m, Black-shouldered Kite, Nepal Wren Babbler, Himalayan Flameback, Fulvus-breasted Woodpecker, Black-throated Tit, Spotted Forktail.


Lesser Fish Eagle - Ichthyophaga humilus, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


Kalij Pheasant - Lophura leucomelanos, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


Black Francolin - Francolinus francolinus, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey
 
Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Wild Boar, Sambar,
Tiger 1 plus lots of alarm calls and Tiger X 2 heard,
Jackal 2,
Rhesus Macaque, Langur,
Chittal.


DAY 11………………….18th
New Delhi - Bharutpur

We said our goodbyes to a couple we met at Camp Forktail who were on the Delhi train with us and were duly met by a representative of Indian Moments who took us from Delhi Station to New Delhi Station for our train The Golden Temple Mail/ 2904 to Bharutpur at 07.50hrs. We were shown to our platform where the rep. offered to stay with us until our train, an offer we declined, we settled ourselves to the two and half hours wait, with the crowds increasing we became part of the station life for a short while. We love the Indian rail system and people watching at the stations, is almost as good as birding, the sights sounds and smells are terrific. This station had something else though and the crush and pushing seemed somehow sort of threatening, New Delhi station is not one of our favourites.
Whilst waiting we watched the Black Kites soaring above and we noticed they did not try taking any of the many rats on the rail lines, what did amaze though was the House Crow Corvus splendens one of which swooped down grabbed a large rat taking it struggling to the platform roof opposite, where we watched it kill and devour it , not once did a Black Kite [ and there were many] come and try to take it. Proving that these are truly scavengers. Should House Crows be classed as raptors ?
We took in the sights on our three hour trip before we were met at Bharutpur station by what turned out to be our guide for Bharutpur….Baney Singh and who turned out to be a real pain.
On the way from the station we stopped to change currency and find a pharmacy to obtain some antibiotics for Sue and then onto the Ashok Hotel, better known as the Forest lodge inside the Keoladeo National Park.
Stopping at this place was a big mistake, there are better hotels and guest houses outside the park area. The staff did their best under difficult conditions here, but the hotel is really showing its age .
We had a short nap before taking off for a couple of hours in the reserve.
We knew there was a lack of water, but after our visit in 1996 when the place was teaming with birds the place looked desolate, however we were determined to make the most of this terrific “wetland” site that we headed off into the undergrowth that is usually flooded and we still managed to see 36 species.

Birds
Black Kite, House Crow, Hooded Crow, Bank Myna, Pond Heron, Black-winged Stilt,
Cattle Egret, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Black Drongo,  Black stork, Great White Heron,
Booted Eagle, Sarus Crane, 4 Rose-ringed Parakeet, Egyptian Vulture, Greater Coucal,
Greater Spotted Eagle, Red-rumped swallow, Oriental Magpie, Robin, Jungle Babbler,
Peafowl, Brown Hawk Owl, Grey Francolin, Spotted Owlet, Collared Scops Owl,
2 White-breasted Waterhen, Red-wattled Lapwing, Indian Roller, Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank,
Eurasian Collared Dove, Common Crane, Spot-billed Duck, Sarus Crane 2,
Bar-headed Goose, 7 Red-rumped Swallow.

Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Bats, Jackal.


DAY 12 ……………………….19th
After a night of awakenings ….Jackals howling outside [wonderful] the staff clumping about all night chasing the monkeys away [not so].
After breakfast at 07.30 we headed off again into the reserve with our guide Baney Singh who was proving to be a burden rather than a help. Constantly talking loudly on his mobile phone, wandering off and unable to even identify a common Kestrel. We walked until 14.30 before a lunch break back at the hotel…No lunch was ready as a coach party was running late.
It turned out we had to contend with a large party of American students on a cultural tour of India who behaved like the place was their campus back home shouting and playing ball inside and out, mealtimes were also arranged around them, causing problems with arranged trips, because breakfast was laid on an hour later than posted !.
Not impressed we had a sandwich and coffee and got out.
Back in the reserve we went in search of Nightjar, here our guide got really frustrating as he searched the area in vain ….no problem for us if they could not be found, but a problem to Baney , who with another guide proceeded to beat the bushes and leaf litter with sticks to find the elusive birds. We left this area by rickshaw and headed for a small area that had a pump extracting water from a borehole. The last time we where in this area the place was alive with birds, trees covered with Painted Stork …this visit was a sad sight with only 15 species of water bird. Lots of Indian tourists about, some playing transistor radios. More like Alton Towers than a World Heritage Nature Reserve….oh well back to the hotel and the noisy students.

Forty four species ticked today
Ruddy Shelduck, Spot-billed Duck, Shoveler, White-tailed Lapwing, Indian Courser, Kestrel,
Black Drongo, Indian Roller, Paddyfield Pipit, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Skylark, Barn Swallow,
House Swift, Red-headed Vulture, White-breastedWaterhen, Spotted Owlet,
Dusky Eagle Owl, 2 Booted Eagle, Asian Pied Starling, Common Tailorbird,
Greater Spotted eagle, White-eared Bulbul, Greenshank, Redshank,
Black- winged Stilt, Common Snipe, Bluethroat, Bay-backed shrike, Grey Heron, Little Grebe,
Moorhen, Glossy Ibis 3, Chiffchaff, Imperial Eagle, Pied Bushchat, Steppe Eagle,
Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Rock Pigeon, Spotted Dove, Purple Sunbird,
Black-necked Stork, Greater Coucal, Spoonbill, Grey Francolin.


White-eared Bulbul - Pycnonotus leucotis, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Jackal, Indian Python 2.


DAY 13……………………………20th
After a noisy night ….this time domestic cats fighting … we set of for breakfast at 07.30 only to be told again it was being served at 08.00 for the students. If only someone had thought to tell other guests. As we were due to leave at 08.00 we badgered the staff to knock something up for us and we headed off into the reserve again
By 11.30 we had had enough of our guide and his skills or lack of them and headed off to the hotel where we told Mr Singh that he could have the afternoon free.
Lunch out of the way [the food was really not too bad here] and we headed off to have a look at the Salim Ali Centre and walk on our own… what an experience. If we return again to visit we definitely do it without a guide, we saw more birds whilst on our own. We were still in the middle of the reserve as night fell and started on the long straight road back, we met an Indian with a recorder and Bat detector, listened to Spotted Owlet creating a din as several did their thing in a nearby tree. Tonight we saw our first Nightjar species unknown as it flew crisscrossing the road in front.

Forty nine bird species
Brown-headed Barbet, Plain Prinia, Black Redstart, Rufous Treepie, Grey Treepie,
Red-wattled Lapwing, Carrion Crow, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Black-rumped Flameback,
Black Drongo, Jungle Babbler, Long–tailed Shrike, Grey Francolin, Spotted Owlet 2 + 4,
Greater Coucal, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon 38, Oriental Magpie, Robin, Pied Bushchat,
Rose-ringed Parakeet, Ashy Prinia, Red-vented Bulbul, Greater Spotted Eagle,
Large Grey Babbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Bay-backed Shrike, White-fronted Kingfisher,
Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-winged Stilt, Ruddy Shelduck, Spot-billed Duck, Shoveler,
Great White Egret, Small Minivet, Brown Shrike, Spotted Creeper, Brooks’s Leaf Warbler,
Black-necked Stork, Indian Roller, Red-rumped Swallow, House Swift, Eurasian Collared Dove,
Asian Pied Starling, Sarus Crane 4, Laughing Dove,
Spotted Owlet [mating and calling as dusk fell ],
Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Nightjar [unknown, flew in front in the dark].


Black-rumped Flameback - Dinopium benghalense, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


Yellow-footed Green Pigeon - Treron phoenicoptera, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Bats ? Wild Boar
Jackal Neelgai
Palm Squirrel

DAY 14………………………………...21st
Breakfast and a packed lunch saw us waiting outside for our guide, as we were off to Bund Barathur a site an hours drive away that had water. Bund Barathur is a must to visit anyway, even if there is water at Keoladeo. It’s a nice trip with plenty of birding on the way; we also had arranged a detour on the way back to see Slender-billed Vulture.
Oh dear, there is definitely a personality clash here, our guide still tells us he is to accompany us to Chambal and then onto Delhi ….and although we told him no way, he was adamant…..and so the day was to get worse whilst in his presence. We should have telephoned Indian moments that Sunday morning when he wanted to take his nephew along with us but refusing to include his family in the trip made him more awkward and his manner was really getting us down, disturbing the birds and not at all interested in his job, having no bird field guide, never once looking through his binoculars! And always calling us to tell of birds we were already looking at !! We will definitely not be recommending Baney Singh.
On our arrival back in Bharutpur we put in a call to Indian Moments where they told us no problem and arranged for a driver in the morning to take us to Chambal Safari Lodge. Our guide would not be going and it was never intended that he should apparently!! Well done Indian Moments for the very prompt action.


Bund Buratha and another 48 species
Black Drongo, Moorhen, White-fronted Kingfisher, Coot, Black-winged Stilt, Peafowl,
Oriental Magpie Robin Rose-ringed Parakeet, Pond Heron, White Wagtail, Redshank,
Jungle Babbler, Ashy Prinia, Cattle Egret, Plum-headed Parakeet, Black Ibis,
Northern Pintail, Hoopoe, Red-wattled Lapwing, Red Crested Pochard, Tufted Duck,
Bar-tailed Godwit, Cotton, Pygmy-goose, Shoveler, Comb Duck, Great Cormorant,
Indian Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Bronze-winged Jacana, Purple Moorhen,
Spoonbill, Plain Martin, Common Snipe, Eurasion Wigeon, Common Pochard, Eurasian Curlew, Greylag Goose, Black-tailed Godwit, Marsh Harrier, Intermediate Heron, Whiskered Tern,
Asian Openbill Stork, Purple Sunbird, Slender-billed Vulture, Bay-backed Shrike,
Yellow-eyed Babbler.


Black Ibis - Pseudibis papillosa, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Fruitbat.

DAY 15 …………………………………22nd
All packed to be on our way we headed out to wait for our driver who arrived at 08.30.
Although it was nice to be on our way, it was a shame that our dream return here was to see the terrible decline in this site…awful. All that can be hoped for, is good rains in the future, we do not believe that pumps will do the job as they will only bring deep water to the surface without nutrients and food for the wildlife and will probably be detrimental to the water table as well.
Our driver to Chambal had no knowledge of birds but spoke good English and his driving skills were brilliant, we were so pleased when he informed us later that he would accompany for the rest of our trip.
From Bharutpur to Chambal we had to drive through Agra where we saw the Taj Mahal in the distance, bringing back memories of our 1996 visit. As our previous trips to India were either beach or cultural we gave the Taj a miss and continued in search of the wildlife.
We arrived at Chambal Safari Lodge at 11.30… after the concrete block at Bharutpur this place is idyllic. We were greeted warmly by Ram Pratap Singh the owner and camp staff and shown to our cottage, these eco friendly cottages are really roomy and comfortable and after a very nice lunch and drink we headed off for a walk in the lodge area with our very enthusiastic new guide Dalveer.
Dalveer hand paints T shirts with birds and the Chambal logo, he can also imitate birdcalls for a wide range of species his knowledge and enthusiasm is inspiring We feel our holiday is back on track after Bharutpur. A small pool produced several wader species and the arable land around the lodge was rich in birdlife with sixty species seen in the afternoon.
On our walk we came across a huge carcass of a bullock in a field nearby with a lot of stray dogs fighting and enjoying a rare meal, not a pleasant sight for the squeamish. All around there were Egyptian Vultures waiting for their chance, they were unbelievably close, not at all worried about human presence and gave us the chance to get some good photos of all ages of this small scavenger.
After a good afternoon birding we sat around the campfire after dinner chatting with the other birders and met a BBC film crew with John Aitchinson doing a documentary about the Ganges [due out in July/August]
A late evening walk looking for Civet Cat we heard them but did not get a sighting and during the night they could be heard scampering over the roof above.

Birds seen today, seventy species
Whitethroat, Oriental Magpie Robin, Black-winged Stilt, Redshank, Cattle Egret,
Grey Heron 30 in a tree on road, Osprey, Black Kite, Red-wattled Lapwing, Black Drongo,
Asian Pied Starling, Peafowl, Rock Pigeon, House Crow, Pond Heron, Indian Spotted Eagle,
Long–tailed Shrike, Rufous Treepie, Black Shouldered Kite, Little Grebe, Indian Roller, Hoopoe,
Bank Myna, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Eygptian Vulture, Collared Dove, Jungle Babbler,
Brown Hawk Owl, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Red-throated Flycatcher,
Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Large-billed Crow, House Crow, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper,
River Lapwing, Shoveler, Pintail, Greenshank, Yellow Wagtail, Green Sandpiper,
Temminck’s Stint, Asian Openbill, Black-headed Ibis, Redshank, Little Cormorant,
White-throated Kingfisher, Indian Silverbill, Honey Buzzard, Spotted Owlet,
Brown-headed Barbet, Indian Grey Hornbill, Red Collared Dove, Olive-backed Pipit,
Large Grey Babbler, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Bank Myna, Common Myna, Asian Pied Starling,
Bramhiny, Starling, Black-shouldered Kite, Long-tailed Shrike, Stonechat,
Southern Grey Shrike, Red-necked Falcon, Bay-backed Shrike, Little Pied Flycatcher,
Plain Prinia, House Sparrow.


Common Myna - Acridotheres tristis, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey

Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Fruit Bat ……resident in camp
Civet Cat … none seen although they ran all over the roof through the night !!

DAY 16 ………………………….23rd
Up at 07.00 for coffee, with a pre breakfast walk again with Dalveer. You have to be prepared for the culture shock as the locals head into the open for their daily ablutions’ you definitely have to watch your footing here ….. nuff said. Beware in this, the most populated state in India… Uttar Pradesh.
Today we would head to the river Chambal, our journey for our boat trip on the river was to last about an hour.
We passed lots of camels heading to and from the river carrying their loads of wood. Brick kilns with small donkeys carrying huge loads of bricks to distant storage areas, many schoolchildren walking miles to school and busy villages teeming with people …wonderful sights and sounds.
The boat trip turned out to be about an hour and a half long, it got very warm this morning after the chill of the night and we shed layers of clothing ….we still dressed as for Corbett….we saw a wide variety of wildlife including the endangered Gharial Crocodile there are few of this species left with ever declining numbers and although we never saw the even rarer Gangetic Dolphin we did get to see the splash of one as disappeared below the water …you have to be facing the right way at the right time to catch even a glimpse of one of these beauties. We were also lucky enough to see Osprey, a single Greater Flamingo and Great Thick- knee
The afternoon was spent lazing around our cottage and the dining area. Since leaving Crete we had virtually been on the go for ten days so a little relaxing birding in the safari Lodge with cups of tea was definitely required, we settled in for the afternoon with Anu Dhillon Singh, Rams wife and spent a pleasant time chatting and birding….. we watched the Fruit bats as they set off in the late afternoon from a tree near to our cottage, Hoopoe dust bathing at our feet and the Jungle Babblers that have gotten into the habit of raiding the sugar bowls and a Bengal Fox as it made its way through the sparse undergrowth,
After dinner that night we again looked for Civet Cat but once again they were not obliging us and we had to be content with their noisy journeys across our roof at night. We never did get to see one.

Todays spots thirty four species
Asian Koel [pair], Brown-headed Barbett, Coppersmith Barbet, 2 Tree Pipit, Black Redstart,
Comb Duck, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail, Shikra, Brown Rock-chat,
Boat trip Chambal: Bar-headed Goose, Black-bellied Tern, Great Crested Grebe, Red-crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Little Cormorant, White-browed Wagtail, Pallas’s Gull 1,
Great Thick-knee, Temminck’s Stint, River Lapwing, Lesser Whistling-duck, Grey Heron,
Greater Flamingo 1, Kentish Plover, Dunlin, Painted Stork 4, Sand Lark 3, Long-legged Buzzard, Osprey 1, Common Sandpiper, Desert Wheatear, Kestrel, Black Kite.

Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Garial Crocodile, Marsh Crocodile,
Turtle… several species, Jackal,
Fruit Bat, Bengal Fox.


DAY 17 …………………………24th
Trip to Wetlands
Today should have been our trip to Patna Bird sanctuary, but as with Bharutpur there was no water, so Ram Pratap arranged for us to go to an area of wetland, we and Dalveer were guinea pigs to see if the birding was any good in this area for future trips…again not much water here but there were canals and some good birding along the way.
Our guide and driver were not too sure of the route so lots of stops as we saw various potential sites which put us behind schedule.
Our first stop was at a bridge over the Chambal River somewhere north of the lodge where we had our only pelican sightings as sixteen flew north along the river, a beautiful sight as they flew through the mist in V formation…. we found twenty two bird species here. We also witnessed a funeral procession and cremation at the riverside here, where we were ushered quietly by.
We stopped at various places on the way as we spotted Sarus Cranes in agricultural fields. At one stop two Sarus Cranes allowed fairly close intrusion as they ritually danced , whilst photographing these a Greater Spotted Eagle landed in the only tree around, right where we were located ..Another great sighting.
Moving on we found a field with c30 Black-headed Ibis and a Wooly-necked Stork.
At the wetlands we again found the surrounding land dry but we managed another sighting of three Darter, Marsh harrier and a pair of Black-necked Stork with a very young barely fledged bird that was being fed by the male as the female sat perhaps one hundred yards away taking an afternoon nap. The large canals here quite empty of birds
Lunch over and it was time to return to camp, we stopped on numerous occasions as we sighted birds. A Painted Stork stood alongside the road and allowed really close up views and some nice photos.
Thereafter it was a dash all the way back to camp, Ram Pratap was phoning wondering/worried were we were. The drive back was not the best of drives, the driver, after a stop at a roadside kiosk to buy something !!! to chew and thereafter seemed to be on a high, drove like a man possessed, our Indian Moments driver was with us and he also turned a whiter shade of pale…
Relief, safely back at camp at 16.15hrs a few coffees, dinner on our own, exhilarated and tired after another brilliant day we crashed into to bed for 22.00hrs. All the other birders had moved on and the BBC were still out filming along the Ganges tributaries.

The days sightings another 48 bird species
Great White Pelican [16 in flight ], Kentish Plover, Little Cormorant, Citrine Wagtail,
Temminck’s Stint, Barn Swallow, Black Kite, Egyptian Vulture, Sand Lark, Wood Sandpiper,
River Lapwing Grey Heron, Ruddy Shelduck, Kingfisher 2, Ruff, Little Ringed Plover,
Rufous–tailed Shrike, White-eared Bulbul, Black Ibis, Peafowl, Grey Wagtail,
Red-headed Bunting, Painted Stork, 8 Bronze-winged Jacana, Sarus Crane 2+ 6+2 +4,
Greater Spotted Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Greater Couca, Black Drongo, Pond Heron,
Woolly–necked Stork, Kestrel, Black-headed Ibis 30+, Paddyfield Pipit,
Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, Hoopoe, Indian Roller, Pied Bushchat, Darter 3, Marsh Harrier m&f,
Bluethroat, Black-necked Stork 1 m+1 f + 1 very young bird being fed by male,
Short-toed Snake Eagle, Crested Lark, Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark,
Painted Stork I sat at roadside, Booted Eagle, Crested Bunting m&f.


Wooly-necked Stork - Ciconia episcopus, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey


River Lapwing - Vanellus duvaucellii, photo by and © Colin & Sue Turvey 

DAY 18………………………………….25th
Another boat trip was planned for today. Up at 07.00 ready for the transfer to the river at 08.30 and a trip downstream this time looking for Indian Skimmer, luckily seeing c30 and getting to see them skimming. Not too many other bird species seen this morning but got to see a nice Pallas’s Gull and a River Tern as they flew low over our heads. Missed out on the Gangetic Dolphin again, lots of Mugger and Garial crocodile on the sand bars and river banks.
After lunch back at camp we were asked if we wanted to take a trip to Bateshwar with its 100 Temples and maybe another boat trip, we accepted hoping to add a few more species to our list. Not too many birds here either, we added Black-bellied Tern and had the amazing sight of 70 Painted Stork circling overhead before descending to the river right in front of us.

Nineteen bird species seen
Sand Lark 35+, River Tern, Pied Kingfisher, Ruddy Shelduck, Pallas’s Gull m, Great Thick-knee 2,
Little-ringed Plover, Red-wattled Lapwing, Spoonbill, Indian Skimmer 30,
Whistling Duck 60+, Black Ibis, Desert Wheatear, Egyptian Vulture, Black-bellied Tern,
Jungle Babbler, Painted Stork c70, Redshank, Greenshank.

Mammals, Reptiles n’ Fish
Garial Crocodile, Mugger Crocodile,
Turtle [several species ].

DAY 19………………………………….26th
Our last day today so we were up early to take advantage of the morning walk around the lodge, we had some good photo opportunities today with some nice close birds and a few new to our list. Unfortunately in the haste to pack and download photos the camera memory card was removed from the laptop before the pictures of the morning had finished downloading and we ended up loosing some very nice pictures of the last seventeen birds listed below. A lesson learned here.
After lunch we departed for the six hour drive to Delhi, a very tiring drive it was too, we arrived at about 18.00 and were really grateful that we had an excellent driver.
There were really some amazing sights on the journey, tractors pulling trailers laden with cauliflower loaded into very tall pyramids with no securing straps or netting, how they ever stayed on as they bumped and twisted their way along remains a mystery. Delhi traffic at night is horrendous, driving has to be seen to be believed and it’s a wonder that any car survives without a dent.
We arrived worn out at the Oberoi Maidens hotel…. bizarrely luxurious after our tents and cottages… for our one night stay in this old colonial hotel. There happened to be wedding celebrations in the grounds so a noisy night seemed on the cards.

Seen at Chambal in the morning thirty one species:
Tree Pipit, Hoopoe, Indian Grey Hornbill, Black Drongo, Indian Robin, Black-shouldered Kite,
Southern Grey Shrike, Ashy Prinia, Plain Prinia, Little–pied Flycatcher, Stonechat, Cattle Egret,
Bramhiny, Starling, Bank Myna, Bay-backed Shrike, Indian Silverbill, Brown-headed Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Red Collared Dove, Grey Francolin, Honey buzzard [pair], Peafowl 2,
Spotted Owlet, Oriental Skylark 2, Black Ibis 6, Indian Bushlark 1, Indian Roller, Pied Bushchat,
Black Kite, Long-tailed Shrike, Asian Koel [pair].


DAY 20 ………………………………….27th
After sorting out our packing ready for our flight we decided a quick walk in the grounds and a local park for some last minute spotting. A nice few hours strolling around, unbelievably not being harassed, before we returned to the hotel to wait for our driver to take us to the airport .

Jackdaw Black Kite…. to many to count, House Crow, Rose-ringed Parakeet,
Red-vented Bulbul, Brown-headed Barbet, Collared Dove, Indian Grey Hornbill, Shikra

At the airport we quickly got our bags security checked then had them shrink wrapped for 150 rupees, a bonus as we were checked in through to Athens with a stop of thirteen hours before our connecting flight, so our bags would be sat somewhere at Bahrain whilst we were checked into an hotel courtesy of Gulf Air due to the long stopover. We even managed a bit of birding on the coach back to the airport as we passed some coastal mudflats. All we managed were some distant waders though….oh and a very large sculptured falcon on a roundabout

A fantastic trip and experience with 296 bird species seen, superb sightings of Tiger and Wild Elephant
THANK YOU INDIA.

Colin & Sue Turvey
 

Back to index