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NORTHERN INDIA 2005, January 12th - 30th

...with Chris Bradshaw

Despite the ongoing problems with water at Bharatpur, our most recent visit to Northern India was one of the most enjoyable of my trips to this wonderful country. We encountered pleasant weather conditions at Bharatpur, but rain at Corbett meant snowfall at Nainital and the heaviest snowfall recorded at this hill station for 15 or 20 years. This caused us a few logistical problems, but nevertheless we enjoyed some fabulous birds with 369 species recorded during the trip. We all enjoyed the contrasting birds of Bund Baretha and the Bharatpur area, the superb forests of Corbett and Kumeria and the hill areas around Nainital which included birding with views across to the distant snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. There were a great many highlights, but those most vivid in my mind are of flocks of Indian Coursers at Bharatpur, Sarus Cranes standing majestically in agricultural fields near Bharatpur, Brown and Tawny Fish Owls at Kumeria and Corbett, Marshall's Iora at Bharatpur, Spotted Forktails creeping along forest streams, a Wallcreeper foraging for food on the dam at Ramnagar, Nepal and Scaly-breasted Wren Babblers and a prolonged top class showing at close range by a Chestnut-headed Tesia. We certainly didn’t ignore the other wildlife either. We were lucky to see a Tiger at Corbett, whilst Indian Smooth Otters were also a joy to see. We also enjoyed a variety of deer, squirrels and Indian Rock Python, Water Snake and Monitor Lizard.

All in all this tour was a superb sample of some of the finest birding that India has to offer. I can’t wait to go back and I hope this report brings back some wonderful and happy memories.

January 12th/13th : Journey to New Delhi - Okhla.

Weather: Chilly start then warm sunshine.

Our tour began in London with a flight to Delhi via Frankfurt. Despite a slightly delayed arrival in Frankfurt our connection to Delhi was caught in good time and our arrival in Delhi was in the early hours of January 13th. On arrival we made the short journey to the Centaur Hotel.

After a leisurely breakfast our first port of call was the River Yamuna on the eastern side of the city. Traffic was heavy and progress slow. However before too long we were enjoying our first Indian birds. We found good numbers of Citrine Wagtails, Rose-ringed Parakeets, White-throated Kingfishers, Bank and Common Mynas and Red-vented Bulbuls. Herons featured with Indian Pond and Purple, whilst egrets included Cattle and Great. Painted, Woolly-necked and White Storks were all sighted, whilst shorebirds included Temminck's Stint, Wood Sandpiper and Black-winged Stilt. In the bushes we found Bluethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Isabelline and Long-tailed Shrike and Pied Bushchat. Later we moved around to the Noida side of the river. Here huge rafts of ducks included Pochard, Tufted, Pintail and Wigeon. Of greater interest perhaps were Spotbill and Ruddy Shelduck. Gulls featured Black and Brown-headed whilst a Common Hawk Cuckoo was a nice find. A brief foray to Tughlakabad proved unbearable due to the unwanted attentions of local children, so we headed to the Yamuna again where at the Temple Bund we located Black (Red-naped) Ibis, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Scaly-breasted Munia, Striated Babbler and a huge and spectacular gathering of Asian Pied Starlings.

January 14th: Delhi - Bharatpur.

Weather: Chilly start, then sunny.

This morning we journeyed from Delhi to Bharatpur. As we left the environs of the city we passed through an agricultural landscape with occasional ponds and lakes. We saw a number of interesting birds as we travelled. Highlights of the journey included 4 Sarus Cranes, Isabelline Shrike, Oriental Honey Buzzard and Black-shouldered Kite. The supporting cast involved Large Grey Babbler, Plain Martin, Wire-tailed Swallow and Woolly-necked Stork. We arrived at The Bagh hotel at lunchtime and enjoyed the first of many superb meals at this wonderful hotel. Soon however, eager to get our first taste of birding at the world famous Keoladeo National Park we were in the field. Our first stop was a superb roosting Brown Hawk Owl that we observed at leisure. The rest of the afternoon produced Grey Francolin, Tickell's Thrush, Spangled (Hair-crested) Drongo, Indian Scops Owl and a wide selection of other goodies. A superb introduction to this excellent area.

January 15th: Keoladeo National Park.

Weather: Warm and sunny for most of the day.

Our first full day at Bharatpur was simply superb. Although the water levels were very low, indeed non-existent through most of the park, we found a wonderful array of good birds. Heading out from Shanti Kutir we enjoyed plenty of Red-breasted Flycatchers, Indian Roller, Brahminy Starling, Common Wood Shrike and a nice flock of Yellow-footed Green Pigeons. Both Spotted Owlet and Bay-backed Shrike also obliged. Soon however all this was eclipsed by a discovery by our local guide, Babalu. A Grey Nightjar was found roosting on an open perch in the morning sunshine. Even more remarkable was the discovery not more than 50metres away by another nightjar, this time an Indian! Simply superb and a wonderful opportunity to compare and contrast these two cryptically coloured species in good light. Delighted with this we continued our walk, but it was not long before we had to stop to enjoy a flock of Indian Coursers! Another stunning bird performing at close range. A Blyth's Pipit was perhaps a somewhat duller side attraction, but a flock of Sociable Lapwings was most certainly not. These endangered shorebirds are regular at Bharatpur, but it was very pleasing to see a small flock. Surely things couldn't get better than this! But they did. Once again we continued our walk and headed towards Sapan Mari. As we wandered along a line of trees we were treated to long-as-you-like views of Barred Buttonquail and then we encountered a wonderful Spotted Creeper that showed well at close range for an extended period. As we headed for the first of several superb picnic lunches we picked up further good birds in the form of White-bellied Drongo, Black-necked Stork and Glossy Ibis.

Indian Nightjar

Indian Nightjar roosting at Bharatpur.

Photo Chris Bradshaw.

After lunch we enjoyed some wetland species, with Purple Swamphen, Bar-headed Goose, Striated Heron, Comb Duck and Bronze-winged Jacana all encountered. Raptors included Steppe, Imperial and Greater Spotted Eagles, Marsh Harrier and Shikra. A Black Bittern skulked in waterside vegetation and the rickshaw ride back to the barrier was enlivened by Dusky Eagle Owl! What a day!

January 16th: Keoladeo National Park.

Weather: Cold start with warm sunshine later, 20c.

After the success of the previous day, it was perhaps inevitable that today would have a slightly slower feel. Nevertheless we still found some great birds, which once again provided extended views. In the company of both Ansar Khan and Babolu we initially visited the nusery where Tickell’s Thrushes were again in evidence. A walk through open woodland was surprisingly quiet, but we enjoyed Ashy Drongo, Orange-headed Thrush and a superb Large-tailed Nightjar roosting on the ground. The walk towards the Temple allowed us to enjoy a wide selection of wetland species, most of whom had their eyes on a marauding Peregrine. A Smoky Warbler skulked in the waterside vegetation, but performed well alongside other phylloscopus warblers such as Greenish, Hume’s and Chiffchaff. Just before our lunch stop we took time to enjoy a pair of Black-necked Storks (remember how to tell the difference between the sexes?) and some obliging Rufous-tailed Larks.

Large-tailed Nightjar

Large-tailed Nightjar roosting at Bharatpur.

Photo Chris Bradshaw.

After lunch we explored the area around Ka Kund and Mrig Tal. Here we were treated to wonderful views of a fine male Pallid Harrier, and a Bharatpur rarity, a Grey-headed Lapwing. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll into some extensive woodland where a Spotted Owlet and some Common Wood Shrikes were obvious. More interesting was the discovery of two Marshall’s (White-tailed) Ioras that were eventually seen by us all, although yours truly had an uncomfortably long wait to add this NW Indian endemic to his life list! Pleased (and not a little relieved) by this success we ambled back to the Temple, enjoying the stunning Indian Coursers and Sociable Lapwings once again. We also found a very obliging Wryneck and a group of Red-rumped Swallows hawked for insects overhead.

January 17th: Keoladeo National Park.

Weather: Pleasantly warm and sunny for most of the day.

Today we were treated to a ride in the parks electric bus as we travelled out to the grasslands around Hans Sarovar and Kalindi Kunj. Our arrival was greeted by some Barred Buttonquail that typically scuttled off into the undergrowth. Our walk passed through light scrub and grasslands. We had enjoyable encounters with Common and Yellow-eyed Babblers and a fine Bluethroat put in a great performance. On the edge of the park Black Francolin could be heard calling and a female was flushed but only briefly seen by some in the group. An Asian Koel was scoped up for some time, whilst 2 Crested Larks were new for our list. Sirkeer Malkoha is an elusive species, so it was entirely typical for one to pop up briefly only to disappear promptly. Before lunch we stopped off at another roosting Large-tailed Nightjar, which could be enjoyed at close range once again.

After lunch we again walked around the wetland areas enjoying further views of Imperial Eagle, Bronze-winged Jacana, many dabbling ducks and Purple Swamphen. Overhead we enjoyed Wire-tailed Swallows, Plain Martin and an all to brief Streak-throated Swallow. In the mid afternoon we relocated to the Canal near The Bagh hotel. We hoped to find Pheasant-tailed Jacana here, and it was not long before we had located our quarry. A selection of commoner shorebirds included a fine Jack Snipe, a new bird for our local guide Ansar Khan.

January 18th: Agra – Taj Mahal & Red Fort.

Weather: Cool start then warm and sunny.

Most of the day was spent enjoying the wonders of the Taj Mahal and the nearby Red Fort. The impact of the Taj Mahal never dims for this leader, and an enjoyable visit was had by all. Of course, we did not ignore the birds and Purple Sunbird and Brown-headed Barbets were new at the Taj, whilst the guided tour of the Red Fort was rudely interrupted by a Booted Eagle circling overhead. At the end of the day we returned to The Bagh for some local birding which produced a fine Sparrowhawk and a number of Short-toed Larks.

January 19th: Bund Baretha & Bayana.

Weather: Warm and sunny.

Today we had an excursion to Bund Baretha a large lake about 90 minutes drive from Bharatpur. We departed after a 7.00am breakfast and roadside stops were soon producing interesting sightings. A sharp halt for a pair of Red-headed Buntings was to be the catalyst for what so often happens on such occasions, when further good birds are discovered. Here we also added some superb Plum-headed Parakeets and 2 Black-breasted Weavers to our list. Rather less obliging were some Chestnut-shouldered Petronias, but we were to enjoy much better views of these later in the day. Moving on we paused at a small pond where a Brown Crake was in residence and Wire-tailed Swallows put on their best show of the trip so far. A stop at a mature garden provided us with views of a few Small Minivets, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Oriental White-eye, Brown-headed Barbet and a Grey Wagtail. Indian Flying Foxes were also good to see hear.

We eventually arrived at Bund Baretha, where we found large numbers of water birds. Large rafts of ducks included plenty of the usual suspects (Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall, Pintail) but also good numbers of Red-crested Pochard, some Cotton Teal, Great Crested Grebe and Asian Openbill were also noted. Whiskered and River Terns floated up and down searching for a meal. At the small dam, Purple Sunbirds were in evidence, whilst White-capped Bunting was rather more difficult to get to grips with. Several Brown Crakes darted for cover in the damp vegetation. By the road on our way to the old palace we discovered a superb male Crested Bunting, whilst the walk to the palace produced Baya Weaver and Bronze-winged Jacana.

From the magnificent vantage point that the old palace provides, we enjoyed our picnic lunch while continuing to search for interesting species. Lesser Whistling Duck were new, whilst the sharp-eyed Lorna achieved something that no group visiting Bund Baretha this winter had previously managed, when she located a couple of Indian Skimmers. A walk through some thorny scrub failed to produce the hoped for Jungle Bush Quail, but we did find numerous Bluethroats and obliging Hoopoes.

Our final destination of the day was to a vulture colony near Bayana. On arrival we were soon enjoying good views of IndianVultures (a split of Long-billed Vulture). Happily after long term declines, the most recent breeding season has seen a small increase in the number of birds breeding here. Also at this site were Blue Rock Thrush, some showy Indian Robins and during a private moment for Bill, the discovery of a flock of obliging and showy Jungle Bush Quails which concluded a superb day and concluded our stay in the Bharatpur area.

January 20th: Bharatpur – Ganges Barrage - Ramnagar - Kumeria.

Weather: Sunny although cooler at higher altitudes.

An early start found us on the road by 7.00am and beginning our long journey to Kumeria. Passing pools and rivers we saw a variety of wetland species with notable species including Black-necked Stork, White Pelican and a variety of shorebirds. A Red Collared Dove prompted a sharp stop and close views of 3 of this delightful dove. Also noted was Yellow-crowned Woodpecker. By lunchtime we had reached the Ganges. In pools we noted Ferruginous Ducks amongst the Red-crested Pochards. In the riverside vegetation we found the hoped for White-tailed Stonechat, whilst Yellow-bellied Prinia was also coaxed into view. 3 Dunlin were amongst the small selection of shorebirds present. The rest of the day was spent pressing on to the Quality Inn at Kumeria, which was reached soon after 7.00pm, a long and tiring day, but with the prospect of lots of new birds tomorrow.

January 21st: Kumeria Forest, Koshi River and Ramnagar.

Weather: Cold start, then warm and sunny. Cloudy later.

The rush of new birds as a result of our arrival in the forested foothills of the Himalayas began at first light as a pre-breakfast walk provided us with Plumbeous and White-capped Water Redstarts, Himalayan Bulbuls, Blue Whistling Thrushes, Grey-hooded Warblers, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Yellow-bellied Fantail. Spotted and Little Forktails performed for us, whilst Brown Dipper and Crested Kingfisher were among the highlights of this early morning sesion. Over breakfast taken in the Quality Inn gardens a flowering tree in the hotel grounds attracted Orange-bellied Leafbird whilst a superb male Crimson Sunbird was also enjoyed by all.

After breakfast we visited a series of local stake-outs. First stop was a Tawny Fish Owl at its usual location, where we also enjoyed Lesser Yellownape. Next stop were Pallas’s Fish Eagles at their traditional nest site and then finally a site for Brown Fish Owl produced the goods along with a feeding flock that included amongst other species Great and Linated Barbet, Scarlet Minivet and Grey Treepie. We then birded the road alongside a stream. As we got out of the bus we located a wren-babbler, that clearly didn’t realise that it was supposed to be an elusive skulker and performed well for us and allowing us to soak up the subtle features of Nepal Wren-Babbler, a species described only quite recently and at one of the few known sites outside of Nepal. Other good birds here included Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Ashy Bulbul and Jungle Owlet. Returning to the bus we added Blue-throated Barbet, Whistler’s Warbler and some fast moving Black-chinned Babblers. After lunch we headed for some new areas. After a quiet start a feeding flock kept us amused, with an hour of birding producing Bronzed Drongo, Long-tailed Minivet, White-tailed and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Black-throated and Black-lored Tits, Golden-fronted Leafbird and Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker. A quiet stroll along the road in the hope of Kalij Pheasant revealed that small dog is a potential confusion species for the pheasant, especially when sat in a low tree! An amusing end to a wonderful day

January 22nd: Kumeria - Danghari Gate - Ramganga River – Khinanauli

Weather: Cloudy with intermittent rain for most of day.

The new day dawned with grey skies and rain. Despite this, by the time we got into the jeeps it was dry enough to travel with open tops. Close to Quality Inn we paused for some Red-breasted Parakeets, with a little further down the road a Grey Bushchat and a Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher. Bird activity was good and a feeding flock containing Grey-hooded and Lemon-rumped Warblers, Black-chinned Babblers, Grey-breasted Prinias and a White-rumped Shama provided some excellent entertainment. Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, 3 species of Nuthatch and Oriental Pied Hornbill put in an appearance and at the Dhangari Gate Red Junglefowl showed for most and Taiga Flycatcher also obliged. Scarlet Minivets were also much in evidence here. The slow drive through the park became increasingly cold and wet, but avian highlights included Spotted Forktail, Tawny Fish Owl, Maroon Oriole, White-throated Laughingthrush, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo and a very depressed looking Great Hornbill. Good numbers of Chital and Barking Deer also enlivened the journey. As Dhikala was fully booked we had been moved into the VIP quarters at Khinanauli. A real result (and credit to our excellent ground agent), with nicer rooms than Dhikala and a staff dedicated to just our needs. We also had more flexibility, not being subject to some of the Dhikala restrictions.

A roaring fire and some hot tea soon warmed us up and in the afternoon most of the group headed off on the elephant in search of a Tiger. Bill and myself were denied this wonderful opportunity (!), and there was a great deal of relief when a Tiger was sighted and both parts of the split group saw this charismatic but elusive beast chasing down a Wild Boar. After four visits to Corbett, this was my first Tiger encounter in this National Park.

January 23rd: Corbett National Park

Weather: Wet start, cloudy with sunny intervals later. Cool.

The morning began with yet more rain that altered our plans a little. That said we still enjoyed excellent birding. Heading across the river we enjoyed a fly past by several Black Storks and as we were enjoying these we discovered a party of Indian Smooth Otters as they swam in the shallows and then came ashore. The raptors were not enjoying the wet conditions, but we were able to see Red-headed, Cinereous and Eurasian Griffon Vultures at close range. Our first Spotted Doves were seen in the forest and a group of Grey-breasted Prinias slipped through the undergrowth. Slowly the rain eased and then stopped. Viewing the grasslands and reservoir opposite Dhikala we found Great Thicknee, Pallid Harrier, a distant Pied Harrier, Osprey and obliging Red-rumped Swallows. En-route back for breakfast we had superb views of a Short-toed Eagle and Streak-throated Woodpecker. After our late breakfast we visited the area around Dhikala. Large Cuckoo-shrike. Greater Flameback and 2 Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babblers all obliged. A walk to the watchtower at Dhikala allowed us to find Jungle Myna, Crested Treeswift, Alpine Swift and a Lesser Coucal. The grasslands near Dhikala always offer some good experiences, and a party of Elephants performed for us, whilst Golden Jackals howled near our vehicles. Black Francolins put on an excellent show whilst Hen Harrier, Bright-headed and Zitting Cisticolas, Siberian Stonechats and a female Hodgson’s Bushchat were the avian highlights.

January 24th: Corbett - Ramnagar – Nainital

Weather: Cool and cloudy start. Warmer later. Snow on ground at Nainital.

The morning began with a walk down to the Khinanauli watchtower. We hoped to find Aberrant Bush Warbler and White-tailed (Himalayan) Rubythroat. Within 45 minutes we had enjoyed stunning views of both our targets. An exploration by jeep in search of a Tiger that had wandered very close to the camp just before dawn proved unsuccessful but 2 Long-billed Pipits showed well at close range. After a late breakfast the journey out of the park provided us with encounters with Tawny Fish Owl, White-throated Laughingthrush, Ashy Bulbul and Taiga Flycatcher. The river near Ramnagar provided an opportunity to see Goosander, while at the barrage it was not long before we were enjoying superb views of a Wallcreeper.

After saying our goodbyes to our local ground crew, we headed for Nainital. However, we soon discovered that the rain that had fallen at Corbett, had fallen as snow at Nainital and the road from Ramnagar to Nainital was blocked by snow. This necessitated a detour via Haldwani and we arrived at Nainital in time for a 5.00pm lunch!

January 25th: Sat Tal.

Weather: Cold start. Warmer through middle of day with sun. Cloudy and cool late afternoon.

With snow around Nainital we opted to drop down to the lower elevations of Sat Tal. We had to get a jeep for the trip, as we were worried about potential further snowfall. As we travelled to Sat Tal, we stopped for a few roadside birds just outside Bhowali and a busy few minutes produced Streaked Laughingthrush, Buff-barred Warbler, Green-tailed Sunbird, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Black-headed Jay, Red-flanked Bluetail and Russet Sparrow. The best discovery was 2 Upland Pipits, a species I have not previously encountered on this itinerary. Continuing towards Sat Tal our exploration of some fields was enlivened by excellent encounters with Rufous-breasted and Black-throated Accentors, White-capped Bunting and best of all Grey-winged Blackbird and Chestnut Thrush. A Northern Goshawk soared overhead as did several Steppe Eagles.

A walk through some woodland was a little quieter than usual, but Brown-fronted Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape, Grey-faced Woodpecker and a selection of commoner warblers were all enjoyed. After a lunch stop we enjoyed an afternoon walk along a stream. A Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler was noted briefly, but more co-operative were flocks of Red-billed Leiothrix, Striated Laughingthrush and Eurasian Jay. A couple of Yellow-throated Martens had killed two Grey Langurs. A calling Collared Owlet remained unseen and a Green-tailed Sunbird delighted us all. Returning to the bus further feeding flocks enlivened the gloomy conditions with Blue-winged Minla, Spotted Forktail, Rufous-bellied Niltava and a brief flyby by a party of Dusky Crag Martins concluding another excellent day.

January 26th: Nainital High Fields and Mongoli Valley.

Weather: Cold, but sunny and warmer at Mongoli.

The snow continued to present logistical problems that our ever-capable ground agent was more than a match for. Despite a delayed start we were soon beginning our walk from the High Fields down towards Mongoli Valley. A great start came in the form of some superb Pink-browed Rosefinches feeding amongst seed heads. Generally however it was a little quieter than usual. A Rufous Sibia showed very well, whilst Blue-capped and Blue-fronted Redstarts were also enjoyed. Overhead Steppe Eagle and a superb Lammergeier were major highlights. Down in Mongoli we found a party of Nepal House Martins, which were accompanied by Alpine Swift and Eurasian Crag Martins. A female Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush was seen by most by the roadside. As we entered the main valley we found it to be rather quiet. However Speckled Wood Pigeons were something of a surprise, perhaps forced away from their more usual haunts by the snow, whilst a Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler put on an excellent show. Great Barbet also showed well for us, whilst a search for Golden Bush Robin proved unsuccessful.

January 27th: Snow View, Mongoli Valley

Weather: Sunny but cold.

Our first port of call this morning was the ridge path to Snow View. The snow and ice made for difficult walking, but despite the slow birding, the views across to the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas were awesome. We did enjoy some very obliging White-throated Laughingthrushes, whilst a Kalij Pheasant was seen briefly. 4 Black-throated Thrushes were in the tree tops and Goldcrest was new for the trip. A slow walk back to our hotel for lunch was enlivened by some superb White-browed Shrike Babblers that afforded prolonged views at close range as they worked along the trunks and branches. A Himalayan Woodpecker did likewise giving prolonged scope-filling views as it worked away at a tree trunk.

Views of the Himalayas from Snow View at Nainital.

Photo Chris Bradshaw.

After lunch we opted for a return visit to Mongoli Valley. It was again generally quiet, but Speckled Wood Pigeons again showed very well. By the stream we had the most stunning views for several minutes of a Chestnut-headed Tesia – a rare chance indeed to enjoy this skulker for so long. A group of Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes were enjoyed by all, but a small party of Whiskered Yuhinas were on show for an all too brief period.

January 28th: Sat Tal

Weather: Sunny but cool, 14c.

Reports of 6-12 feet snow drifts along the Kilbury road meant that our planned walk along that road had to be abandoned. Instead we decided on a return visit to Sat Tal and the birds as usual did not disappoint. We enjoyed more views of many species which we had now become familiar with. Notable amongst the species we saw were our first White-collared Blackbirds and a leader only Speckled Piculet. Small Niltava, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Grey-winged Blackbird were amongst the other myriad of birds feeding in the woodlands here. Visiting the local chai stalls we encountered a most obliging Golden Bush Robin, which was feeding out in the open for as long as we wanted! Another species that seemed to have forgotten it was a skulker. Tickell’s Thrush and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler were among it’s companions.

Our final post lunch walk through some open woodland afforded us with yet more views of commoner species of this area, with the usual selection of warblers, Black-throated Tit and Black-lored Tit among the gathering. Best of all though was good views of the hoped for Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, completing the set of 6 laughingthrushes that are possible on this itinerary. Further views of Green-tailed Sunbird rounded off the day nicely, whilst several Greater Flamebacks provided a test of whether the leaders commentary had sunk in with his group (thankfully it had!). So just how do we identify the Flamebacks then? And so ended another fabulous day of birding in Northern India.

January 29th: Nainital - Delhi via Ramnagar and Ganges River Crossing
Final species total 369
Weather: Sunny and warm, 19c.

More snow overnight made for a slow departure from the hotel. However it was not long before we were down in the lowlands having noted Black Bulbul, Blue Magpie, Kalij Pheasant and Blue Whistling Thrush on the way. The journey passed slowly and detours for crashed vehicles and tax payments in Moradabad did not help matters, although the latter did yield a Richard’s Pipit new for the list! Our lunch stop at the Ganges was at 3pm and was curtailed in order to reach Delhi at a reasonable time. However we did find Great Black-headed (Pallas’s) Gull and enjoyed close views of Pied Kingfisher. With heavy traffic in Delhi we eventually arrived at the Centaur at 7.15pm, some 2 hours later than our expected arrival. A fine meal concluded the tour with most of the group heading for the airport around midnight and Bill and myself staying behind to head for NE India. All in all this was yet another superb journey in Northern India. A classic birding tour which never fails to produce superb birding. My thanks to all those on the ground – Vinod, Ansar, Babalu, Ramani, Karan, Brij and the rest of the support team – and especially to all the group for providing such wonderful company during the trip.

For details of the full species list or to request further information about the next time we will be offering this trip. Contact us at enquiries@birdwatchingbreaks.com.

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