Friday, March 28, 2014

Birds in their little nests (dis) agree

“Behavior of these birds is similar to humans – steal twigs from each others nest, fight with each other for food, show their dominance and caring for their own children”.

“ This jungle intoxicated me. Once smitten by this intoxication, it's difficult to get  out of it, same like alcohol.”

Chatting with Babulal
Babulal is an illiterate cowherd, working in Keoladeo National Park from last 25-30 years as a guide. He frankly admitted that he was an 'anghuta chaap' (illiterate) but his knowledge about birds and plants landed him for a job in University once. Talking with him for a brief period was quite enjoyable as well as educational. He is not alone though, like Babulal there are various guides who take the pleasure of this enjoyable duty to teach and show people the life of birds. Babulal in my eyes was a bit different. He has a special individuality, sported an unadulterated smartness, with his small telescope he was roaming around with a French family when his image caught my attention.

indian darter at keoladeo national park
Lone Indian Darter resting on a tree top
The best time to visit the park is in early morning and late afternoon, though I was not in any of these times. I also feel if you go to some place, you need to spend at least 2-4 days to absorb the beauty of the place. There is a single resort inside the park but quite expensive. Although there were plenty of hotels outside the park, I preferred to keep my excursion for one day only. The first call I heard in the park was a strident voice of a peacock, welcoming me to the park. As I entered this birds' paradise, some eerie chirping of some unknown aves compelled me to realize how much ignorant I was, entering into a haven without knowing anything about it.

Read more about Indian wildlife

Over-friendly unusual & Unknown birds
The biggest attraction to me till that time was to ride bicycle inside the park, but after entering the park I realized there were much more to enjoy beyond the usual riding. I booked a bicycle and bought a book on Keoladao National Park flora and fauna. The heat inside the park was soothing, but sun was already blazing guns. The sound of gusty winds was pleasant, and suddenly to my surprise, I heard a huge flapping wings, a blue heron seemed to watching me from a distance.

Earlier in my jungle expeditions, I learnt a valuable lesson: you never know what's going to happen, so keep your eyes open. I was riding my bike slowly and just watched a python was basking under the sun.

Large Cormorant group keoladeo national park
Large Cormorant group
While winters are the best time to watch birds here, the monsoon season is the ideal to observe breeding and mating of resident birds. While riding I stopped to see a girl was watching quite meditatively somewhere. I edged closer towards her, she was not aware a guy stood beside her and then I witnessed the most beautiful thing so far. Scored of Painted Strokes on a single tree on their nests. There were at least tens of colonies and sometimes when they flapped their wings, it was clearly evident that this part of the earth was theirs. For the first time, I felt a sense of respect for this beautiful creatures. After standing for almost half an hour, I moved to discover something more.

Information on Keoladeo Ghana National Park (Bharatpur)

Keoladeo National Park, previously known as Bharatpur National Park, or Ghana Bird Sanctuary, is home to almost 400 bird species. The park is one of the best earth's bird-breeding lands, with extremely rich flora. The park attracts lots of foreign tourists as well as students/researchers.

How to reach there

keoladeo national park map guide

It is recommended the park in the early morning or late afternoon. In both cases you have to stay in Bharatpur, so plan accordingly your transportation. If you come by rented car, from Delhi it will take less than 6 hours to reach there (including buffer time for breakfast, small breaks etc.). There are also buses plying from Jaipur, Agra and Deeg to Bharatpur depot. From there you need to take auto rickshaw to rich the national park. There is also a railway head, but very limited train from outside, including one from Delhi.

Seasons in Bharatpur

Summer: Bharatpur is very hot and sultry in summers started from March and lasted end of June. The lakes turns into puddles and finally as soda crack, soft-back turtles start leaving lakes or sink deep for hibernation. In the month of May and June ‘loo’ (hot winds) are common. The day temperature touches around 48 degree Celsius.

keoladeo national park rare birds

Monsoon: The welcome arrival of monsoons brings a significant change in the rhythm of life in the park. The healthy fragrance of the monsoon wins thrills all forms of life. With the very first shower, biological activities start in the park. With the onset of monsoons, bird starts their search for nesting on the trees. The life line of birds’ activity is the water from the Ajan Dam, an earthen dam on the eastern boundary of the park. It is fed by seasonal rivers, Gambhir and Banganga, which drain water into Ajan Dam. This water governs the activities of the birds all the yearlong.

Winter:  As winter approaches, the day become shorter and nights get longer. By now nesting activities get over and almost all the nesting birds start abandoning their nests having used them for pro-creation during the monsoons. Now onwards, the migratory birds start arriving from the Northern hemisphere and European countries. The swarms of various kind of birds flying, fighting, honking and having fun – create a breathtaking enchanting sight, particularly during the morning and evening.

General Tips
  • Visit the park in winters (November to early February)
  • If you stay in hotel outside of the park, ask the manager for a bike because rented bikes in Bharatpur is too pathetic.
  • Wear light color clothes.
  • Carry good camera and a binocular.
  • There are many unrestricted places inside the park, try to explore those.

Keoladeo National Park Ethics
  • Guides are available at the entrance of the park. A guide knows the park well and can answer your countless queries. Carry home a memorable experience by engaging the services of a registered guide.
  • Most animals have a keen sense of hearing and alien sounds startle them. Do not talk loudly. Control children. Small groups are ideal.
  • Animals can locate their own natural food. Do not feed them yours.
  • A forest has its own particular sounds. When in forest then why listen to any other? Do not play music and talk unnecessary with others.
  • While on excursions, avoid smoking. This wetland is vulnerable to fire, especially during spring and summer months.
  • Litter bins are provided along the roads. Do not throw litter around the park.
  • Always carry a small notebook to note down the flora and fauna you have watched. It will make things more interesting. Travel light.
  • Maintain a distance from the animals. Respect their privacy.
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  • juliana juan says:
    July 8, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    It’s nice trip report blog about the Keoladeo National Park. I enjoyed a lot to read this blog after a long time period. I also visited this park before tours from new york bus tours to niagara. It was my first trip to India when I visited the Keoladeo National Park. The best thing of this park is variety of birds you can see and captured in your camera if you have. This park has also got the certificate of excellence in this year. So don’t miss to visit there during the trip of India.

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