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INDIA - Bharatpur Feb - 2004

226  Bird Species recorded

Leaders   Steve Bird, Nick Bray, Viv Stratton, Dilip Saini & Avijit Sarkhel

Photo: Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal

Day 1   Friday 13th February

We all met at London's Heathrow Airport on time for the morning flight to Delhi, India via a short stop at Kuwait.

Day 2   Saturday 14th February

Our arrival in Delhi was very early in the morning, and when our coach eventually arrived with our guide and good friend Dilip, we were whisked away to a nearby hotel where a delicious breakfast was enjoyed by all. We may have been tired but the little courtyard within this hotel soon played host to several avian distractions. We were pleased to see a confiding Rufous Treepie and comparisons of Common and Bank Myna, plus a pair of Brown Rock Chats. Then we boarded the coach and headed towards our hotel and base for the next 6 nights, the Laxmi Vilas Palace. During the journey a variety of species were seen as we passed through cluttered streets and small villages. Black Kites were common, HouseSwifts circled around, six Green Bee-eaters were seen and amazingly we counted up to 34 SarusCranes, usually in pairs or family groups. After arriving at our hotel, which was a former palace we were greeted by Deep Raj the owner who then showed us to our rooms before we had a sit down lunch.In the afternoon the coach took us to the nearby famous Keoladeo National Park, better known as Bharatpur! Before going into the park we made a short visit to a nearby tree nursery where Dilip showed us a superb Brown Hawk Owl that was roosting in a small tree. After enjoying this excellent bird we made our way into the park proper and set off on a leisurely walk. Dilip gave us an introductory talk about the reserve which he knows more about than any other birder, having watched here for over 50 years. Among the first species to be spotted were White-eared Bulbul and GreaterCoucal. Slowly following one of the trails we eventually came into an open area of scattered bushes and dry scrub. The sound of Grey Francolins could be heard all around and several Hume's Warblers were found calling and flitting around the tree tops. On a dead tree we found an Indian Roller and nearby a Yellow-footed GreenPigeon was spotted, as well as Long-tailed Shrike, a group of Plain Prinias and an excellent Tickell's Leaf Warbler. Moving on, the area became wetter until we were looking at open pools on both sides of the track. There were countless birds to be seen included thousands of wildfowl which mainly consisted of Gadwall, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, and Common Teal, with lesser numbers of Spot-billed Ducks, Ferruginous and Red-crested Pochards, 7 Comb Ducks, 40 Lesser Whistling Ducks and over 30 Bar-headed Geese. A Water Rail was seen creeping through the undergrowth and beside us both Blyth'sReed and Clamorous Reed Warblers showed well. Within the huge expanse of water there were scattered trees and bushes, each supporting a different set of species. Painted Storks, Black-headed Ibis, Purple Herons, Indian Pond Herons and Little Cormorants all posed nicely while a little more searching produced one Striated Heron, several Oriental Darters, Asian Openbills, 2 Woolly-necked Storks, and a huge and very majestic Black-necked Stork.

Black-necked Stork
Black-necked Stork

There were just so many birds wherever you looked! A fantastic Black Bittern then came out of the middle of a bush and gave us all a wonderful show! Moving on at a snails pace we soon found tree tops full of Asian Pied and Brahminy Starlings, and then a Black-rumped Flameback followed by Indian Grey Hornbill and several White-throatedKingfishers. In the skies above were Black-eared Kites, Western Marsh Harriers and the occasional Great Spotted Eagle, and a flock of Eurasian Spoonbills flew over. A search of the bigger dead trees then produced a superb Lesser Fishing Eagle which we walked around to get better views. As the sun started to set we were engulfed by the simple beauty of this reserve - a photographer's dream. A small muddy area added waders to our list and included Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Redshank, Ruff, Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and two Temminck's Stints, as well as Red-wattled and White-tailed Lapwings. We slowly made our way back towards the coach, adding White-browed and Citrine Wagtail to our list, alongside Taiga and Red-breasted Flycatchers, and finally a confiding Spotted Owlet. What a day!    

Day 3   Sunday 15th February

Everyone met on time this morning for a delicious buffet breakfast, well everyone except the leaders as our alarm failed to go off, so we rushed down a cup of coffee and took an omelette between two pieces of toast out to the coach. In the nearby trees a Shikra showed well and then we set off on the short drive to the National Park. Walking towards the old nursery, an area of small woodland, here we had excellent views of Ring-necked Parakeets while the soon to be familiar sound of a Grey Francolin came from the dense cover. Several Olive-backed Pipits then showed well as did a very smart male Black Redstart, Oriental Magpie Robin,Chestnut-shoulderedPetronia and a Greenish Warbler. A Brown-headed Barbet was a little more difficult to spot, but a Black-rumped Flameback posed very well for all of us. Dilip then took half the group at a time into a section of wood where he had skillfully located a female Large-tailed Nightjar sat out in the open. It was incredibly well camouflaged amongst the leaf litter. We then had a look at a small group of False Vampire Bats asleep under a palm frond. Over a nearby short wall a Hoopoe preened and there were the first of many Red-wattled Lapwings. Moving out into a more open area an Oriental Honey Buzzard was watched for a short while feeding on a bees' nest, whilst Brahminy Starlings showed well and a couple of CommonWoodshrikes were seen by all.On a tiny pond we watched Spotted and Laughing Dove coming down to drink while Green Sandpiper and a very smart White Wagtail of the race (personata) were seen. An Ashy Drongo was then spotted as well as a female Grey Bushchat and a Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker. The thin high pitched call of a Tickell's Thrush was then heard and once tracked down we enjoyed views of up to six of these skulky birds feeding on the ground. As we walked back the way we came a Long-tailed Shrike posed on a bush, as did a few more Brahminy Starlings. Back out by the main track we saw a small group of very confiding Oriental White-eyes, several of our group also saw a Common Tailorbird and as we walked towards the park entrance a group of Indian Peafowl were spotted. We then started a slow walk along the main road that leads into the park. A group of four Crested Serpent Eagles showed very well circling in the air together. Golden Jackal and WildBoar were also seen but a real disappointment and a rather sad event was the sighting of an IndianPython that had only just died. Continuing on there was Ashy and Plain Prinias together in the same tree, while nearby we found Large Grey,Common and the ever present Jungle Babblers. Another Crested Serpent Eagle then appeared and gave exceptional good views while a few other raptors included Great Spotted and Steppe Eagle. A Red-breasted Flycatcher was then spotted before we were met by our convoy of rickshaws. After a relaxing ride we suddenly offloaded and were soon looking at a Collared Scops Owl roosting on a tree overhanging the road. A short walk along the road produced a good selection of wetland birds. There was a pair of very close Sarus Cranes, amongst hundreds of egrets, Painted Storks, a Woolly-necked Stork, Black-neckedStork, Black-tailed Godwit, Wood Sandpipers, Ruddy Shelduck, and a superb Black Bittern. Further on there were Cotton Pygmy Geese, many other ducks, Bar-headed Geese and then a barrage of raptors. Four Steppe Eagles were watched perched on the ground before they took off and flew low overhead. We then saw Eastern Imperial Eagles,Great Spotted Eagles, EgyptianVultures, a fantastic Bonelli's Eagle and a Montagu's Harrier - just superb! Back in the rickshaws we continued on, eventually getting out and walking the last stretch to the temple where we had our picnic lunch. A very confiding Bluethroat was seen along the way as was a Moustached Warbler. While Brahminy Starlings sat in the bushes beside us, a Hoopoe fed on the grass and while we were eating, Paul Holt of 'Sunbird' found a Brook's Leaf Warbler which we all ventured across to have a look at. After lunch we started a slow walk which began with a Striated Heron, and the Brook's Leaf Warbler again. Lesser Whitethroats were also present, both Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas showed well, a pale (fulvescens) form of GreatSpotted Eagle was interesting, and on a carcass we watched both Long-billed and Red-headedVulture feeding together. Many superb White-tailed Lapwings fed amongst the wet grasslands while in open dry grassy areas we saw up to twelve Yellow-wattled Lapwings, a tree full of Eurasian and Red Collard Doves, lots of Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Larks, a Common HawkCuckoo, beautiful Indian Rollers, Paddyfield and Tawny Pipits and several Grey Francolins. We then walked back to the temple, past our waiting rickshaws and on to a small patch of bushes where Nick B had found, and everyone got great views of, a fantastic male Siberian Rubythroat just 10 feet away. With another Black Bittern seen on our ride back to the coach we had ended an absolutely wonderful day.

Day 4 Monday 16th February

Our first stop this morning was along the approach road, where Dilip led us along a maze of trails which eventually ended below a large tree. About half way up was an enormous nest, where a young Dusky Eagle Owl chick was peering over the edge. As it was still rather chilly this morning we returned to the coach and headed up to the parking area, seeing a nice Indian Robin on the way.

The rickshaws took us along the main road into the park, with a few Golden Jackals seen on the way. Wanting to reach our destination promptly, we drove past multitudes of birds feeding in the water near the road, including Painted Storks,Sarus Cranes, Eurasian Spoonbills and various egrets. Criminal!!!!  Our drivers stopped at the entrance to a path which would take us to the dry zone of the park. One of the first birds we saw was a Red-naped (Black) Ibis. The path was full of birds with Indian Silverbills, a large flock of Yellow-footed GreenPigeons glowing like light bulbs in a tree, Bay-backed and Long-tailed Shrikes, Pied Bushchats, and several GreyFrancolins. A brief Stone Curlew was well received, and the common Chestnut-shoulderedPetronias were a constant distraction. Moving on, we eventually came to a huge grassy field, where a Brown Shrike was perched on a dead tree. Scanning with the telescope produced the amazing sight of a fantastic Indian Courser. Although a little distant, this was still a mega-bird and one of the top birds of the trip.

Indian Courser
Indian Courser

Once everyone had seen it in the scope, we all walked out into the field, keeping cover behind a line of trees. The views just kept getting better and better, and we counted up to an incredible 10 individuals. What a sight! Not only that, but there were also 5 SociableLapwings as well. Wow!!!  It was absolutely wonderful to spend time watching these exquisite birds, and we just couldn't get enough. To complement the whole scene, a male Pallid Harrier drifted along the horizon, whilst distant Eastern Imperial,Steppe and Greater Spotted Eagles all tested our identification skills.

Moving on, a dense group of trees surrounding the old summerhouse of the Maharajah of Bharatpur, complete with a dry moat, was our next destination. At the edge of the wood, a Brook'sLeaf Warbler showed well, whilst inside the canopy a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher proved frustratingly elusive. However, a Black-rumped Flameback and Hume's Warbler provided a little compensation. Continuing our walk around the edge of the same group of fields, the first of several Orphean Warblers put in an appearance, although this first one was very elusive to begin with before it showed really well. The walk back to the Temple area for lunch produced many waterside birds, 2 Woolly-necked Storks,White-tailed Lapwings, many ducks, close SteppeEagle, Black-necked Stork, Red-necked (Black) Ibis, Citrine Wagtails, and Small Minivets. A nice Water Snake then provided a small distraction from all the birds! At the picnic ground a Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker seemed to be nesting in the dead tree in the middle of the lawn and gave incredibly close views, along with Common Tailorbird. After lunch, a flock of Common Cranes were found across the road. Climbing back on the rickshaws, our `chariots' took us to an area where we saw 2 Indian Rock Pythons. From there it was just a short ride to the nursery, where we saw Brown-headed Barbet, and a female Long-tailed Minivet. We hit the proverbial `purple patch' a short while later. First of all, we found 5 or 6 Tickell's Thrushes feeding at the edge of the woodland, and whilst watching them an Orange-headed Thrush flew in and stayed motionless on a tree stump for ages, and a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher showed to all. Dilip had disappeared, and on his return with a beaming smile beckoned us brave souls into a dense pocket of forest, where a female Slaty-blue Flycatcher performed for everyone. Leaving here we drove to an area outside the park and followed a dirt road for a few kilometres, only stopping when a few birds were seen flying in front of the bus. A fine Southern Grey Shrike was seen briefly and our first Long-billed Pipit was very obliging. Walking towards the boundary of the national park, we waited for dusk at a known harrier roost. A pair of Black Francolins was quite showy, perched on the boundary wall before the first Western Marsh Harriers appeared. Eventually a ghostly-white male Pallid Harrier came into view, and later we counted up to six individuals present here.

Day 5  Tuesday 17th February

An early morning start was needed today, as our destination was Bund Baretha, a huge reservoir some distance from the hotel. Several roadside stops were made along the way, the first of which was for a Black-shouldered Kite that Bill spotted as we drove along. Another stop was made by a small pond and stream, where our first Brown Crake appeared feeding right out in the open. A short distance on, another roadside pond and small reed-bed produced yet another Brown Crake, as well as an obliging Wryneck which perched for ages in a bare tree. Nearby a flock of BayaWeavers were sat on top of a large tree, whilst a pair of Spotted Owlets was a nice find. Steve walked along the small stream and a Black Bittern was seen to fly into dense cover, whilst overhead several Plum-headed Parakeets flew by and landed near the coach. Other birds of interest noted from the coach included Red Collared Doves and a brief male Blue Rock Thrush.  Near to a village a series of shallow ponds were searched thoroughly, and eventually a pair of confiding Greater Painted Snipes were found. The female in particular was a stunning bird, and was well appreciated by the group. Eventually, we were to make it to the reservoir, but not before a couple more stops were made. The first was at a small woodland nursery area where there is a huge roost of Fruit Bats. Whilst looking at these a Brown-headed Barbet began calling, and was eventually located high up in the trees. At the same time we also heard a Coppersmith Barbet, and after a good deal of searching found this little stunner perched low down amongst the foliage. Everyone enjoyed crippling views in the scope, when suddenly a Common Hawk Cuckoo appeared and perched nearby. Searching the surrounding bushes produced a fine Orange-headedThrush and a Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, but the star bird was the Dusky Warbler that performed right in front of the whole group. It was whilst here that disaster struck for Jackie has her bag was stolen from the bus. The ever increasing crowd of young children from the local school who had been watching our antics with fascination were cumulatively blamed. So reports were made to the local police and school headmaster, and within the hour the bag had been returned. It just goes to show how `one bad apple' (and a grown up at that) had coloured our distrust of the sea of smiling faces. Anyway, the nearby lakes were deemed worthy of a quick look and what a good decision that turned out to be as a Baillon's Crake was discovered feeding along the edge of a small reed-bed. Unfortunately it soon moved deeper in and disappeared from view before everyone could get on it. So we walked the short distance up onto the dam and scanned the reservoir. A couple River Terns were the highlights here, as they gracefully flew back and forth, and we also saw White-browed Wagtail, Asian Openbill, Osprey, and large numbers of all the commoner wildfowl. Moving on, the coach drove us as far as it could along a dirt track before stopping.

Lunch was taken in the shade of a huge tree where a couple inquisitive Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks were seen. From here we walked up to the dilapidated former residence of the maharajah, seeing a perched Steppe Eagle on the way. From the top of the hill a couple Indian Skimmers were found.  Although distant the views through the scope were pretty good and after several minutes one took flight. The shout of "skimmer skimming" surprisingly did not rouse anyone from the group to come out of their shady resting place, even though a couple hours previously someone was heard to say "I would love to see a skimmer skimming"!! A few of us decided to have a game of cricket with the men that had made us a pot of fresh tea while others in the group just relaxed a while as it was pretty hot. Overhead a couple of Streak-throated Swallows were spotted and most got reasonable views as they made sporadic appearances. Also overhead a White-rumped Vulture and a Long-billed Vulture circled around together before slowly drifting away. When everyone was ready we took a walk around the back of the palace. Almost immediately a Sulphur-belliedWarbler was spotted and then promptly gave us the run around. Eventually it was seen very well by just about everyone and while following this superb little warbler around we also found a stunning pair of White-capped Buntings and a very close Spotted Owlet. Continuing our walk behind the palace we came across some very smart looking Plum-headed Parakeets that beckoned everyone to take photos. Making our way back towards the coach the day finished with some excellent views of a small group of Yellow-eyed Babblers.

Day 6  Wednesday 18th February

Back in Keoladeo NP today our first surprise of the morning was a male Baillon's Crake which was creeping around the edge of a small island. Having enjoyed this we then watched a ClamorousReed Warbler so close you could hardly focus on it. All around were the usual hundreds of ducks, geese, storks and raptors which make a visit anywhere in this park so enjoyable. A superb adult EasternImperial Eagle was spotted sat on top of a dead tree while nearby a very impressive Black-neckedStork strolled around in perfect light allowing us all to see the rich iridescent blue/green (not black) of its neck. As Great SpottedEagles and Western Marsh Harriers flew around, all the wildfowl would take flight and swirl around in huge flocks. What a sight this was! Further around the track we found the Lesser Fish Eagle sat in a tree and this time it gave a few short flights for us and the chance to maybe get another digi-shot or two. We then continued around to a dry area of the park and while some of the group enjoyed excellent views of a Stone-curlew and Paddyfield Pipit, Nick B and a few others searched the woods and came up with a Brook'sLeaf Warbler which was flitting around with several Hume's Warblers. We all joined him and once again enjoyed good views of this excellent little warbler before moving on. Spreading out in an area of scattered bushes we searched for a possible Marshall's Iora which may have called only once! It was never found or even heard again, but we did find a female Grey Bushchat, Bluethroat, Yellow-eyed Babblers and a very mobile Tickell's Leaf Warbler. Plodding on, a short stop for two Rock Pythons was followed by wonderful views of a Green Bee-eater, and then on an open path we had a long good look at a Rufous-tailed Lark - just superb! Next came a very obliging immature Black-shouldered Kite and after good views of this we arrived at another wet area. Amongst the usual array of ducks which included Cotton Pygmy Geese, Lesser Whistling and Comb Duck, there was also a whole bunch of waders. Amongst these were a single MarshSandpiper, White-tailed Lapwing, two Spotted Redshanks, Ruff, Greenshank and WoodSandpipers. Nearby a Brown Crake showed very well, and just after we left this bird one of our rickshaw drivers was spotted coming towards us! We were late for our rendezvous again! Our lunch break today was a rather relaxed affair and when everyone was eventually ready at about 3.00pm we set off for a walk into the nursery area. A Spotted Owlet posed nicely from the top of a tall dead tree and a couple of Long-tailedMinivets were seen. A search of the scrubby area just outside found us the female Grey Bushchat, Red-breasted Flycatcher, several Grey-headed CanaryFlycatchers, Long-tailedShrike and some Tickell's Thrushes feeding under an overhanging tree. Beside a small pond we sorted out three races of White Wagtail and a Brook's Leaf Warbler was spotted.It was now cooling down a little so we set off to look at another woodland just a short walk away. Passing by a couple of Golden Jackals we eventually entered the woodland and after stealthy walk we surprised our quarry which flew into a nearby tree. With scopes soon set up we got fantastic views of an adult Dusky Eagle Owl, a bird that was high on the wanted list of most people as we had only previously seen a chick. We enjoyed this immense bird for ages before making our way back, seeing a very showy Grey Francolin along the way.

Day 7  Thursday  19th February

Breakfast was taken early before setting off to the Chambral River Sanctuary. We stopped for a cup of tea along the way, and saw Taiga Flycatcher, Hume's and Greenish Warblers and an OrientalHoney Buzzard amongst the trees. A short time after as we drove over the brow of a hill we found ourselves looking down on the Chambral River. With a beautiful blue sky and calm, `glassy' river the stage was set for a memorable boat trip. Getting onto our two boats required us to stand on a pontoon and be pushed towards a little grassy knoll where the boats were waiting. Once seated comfortably we set off downriver, initially sailing close to the right hand shore, where our first Great Thick-knees and River Lapwings stood unconcerned by our presence. There were several Black Ibis dotted along the riverbank, and their plumage looked quite stunning in the strong sunlight, and some took flight showing their white `shoulder' patches. Overhead, a Crested Serpent Eagle, some Small Pratincoles and lots of Plain Martins were seen. Several Kentish and Little Ringed Plovers were stood at the water's edge, whilst Crested Lark and Desert Wheatear were seen on the banks. There were also close views of several Gharials and MarshMuggers.Suddenly, somebody shouted "dolphin" and with rising excitement the boats slowed and everyone scanned the surrounding water for any sign of our quarry. After several tense minutes the dorsal fin of a Gangetic Dolphin was seen by a couple of the group, but it seemed to have disappeared. Moving further downriver, a Desert Wheatear was spotted and we manoeuvred the boats closer to shore to get a better look. A pair of absolutely stunning Black-bellied Terns flew quickly downriver, and were pretty close to start with. Several more close, but brief encounters ensued with the Gangetic Dolphins, but all too soon we had to return to our coach. The trip upriver was noteable for the very close views of several large rafts of Bar-headed Geese, whilst good numbers of other wildfowl included Comb Duck, Lesser Whistling Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Spot-billed Duck, Garganey, Red-crested Pochards and several other species more familiar to us. Another dolphin sighting punctuated our return journey, and there was also a Long-legged Buzzard and juvenile Bonelli's Eagle overhead. On our return, several Temminck's Stints were seen feeding at the water's edge, before we took shelter under a huge parachute that someone had erected over the tables and chairs. Here we settled down to our picnic lunch, complete with copious amounts of beer and soft drinks. From the comfort of our chairs we could watch some of the commoner birds flying along the river, including a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull. A few restless souls braved the midday heat to walk along the beach, where several Paddyfield Pipits gave superb close views. And then it was time to leave, but not before Nick B spotted a very distant Pallas'sGull upriver, so we all boarded the bus and drove as close as we could before getting out and walking a bit further. It turned out to be a full summer plumaged bird, and whilst here an IndianSkimmer appeared and promptly flew along the river in front of us. Wow! From this delightful area, the journey to Agra passed quite quickly and the `hustle and bustle' of this city was in complete contrast to the surrounding countryside. Parking up, we boarded a local tourist bus for the 5 minute ride to the gates of one of the most famous buildings in the world - the Taj Mahal. Queuing up outside with nationalities from all over the world was a little surreal, but once inside we were all simply over-awed by this majestic piece of architecture. Even those of us not really interested in the so called `touristy -things', couldn't help but be impressed by the sheer beauty of this white marble masterpiece.  Most of the group went inside, whilst some of us walked around to overlook the Yamuna River. Even here there were birds, and we saw several commoner waders, whilst overhead both Black and Black-eared Kites circled. It was soon time to leave and we returned to the coach via a couple shops, eventually reaching the Laxmi Vilas Palace for a late dinner.

Day 8  Friday 20th February

After breakfast we headed into Keoladeo NP once again, deciding to first check out the nursery again. A Black-rumped Flameback gave some good views, as did a Yellow-crownedWoodpecker, and a fine Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher. The female Grey Bushchat was still present, there were also several Olive-backed Pipits, Grey Treepie, Indian Grey Hornbill and a Red-breasted Flycatcher. So, with nothing really new for us, it was back on the rickshaws and full-steam ahead. Along the edge of the roadside canal a Brown Crake and yet another Black Bittern showed well. Everyone left the rickshaws and started to scan the surrounding bushes and scrub.

Siberian Rubythroat
Siberian Rubythroat

A Siberian Rubythroat began calling deep within some thorn scrub, and with a little encouragement a stunning male bird appeared at the base of a tree. Just then Steve called over the walkie-talkie with the stunning news that he had found a pair of Marshall's Ioras. Just 200 yards away we all grouped together, and after a couple frantic minutes everyone managed to get on them. In fact they hung around for quite a while and we were treated the best views imaginable of these superb birds, which are practically endemic to the Indian state of Rajasthan. Elated with this we followed a trail into the dry area of the park. There were plenty of birds, including IndianSilverbills, Bluethroats, Rufous-tailed Lark, Sarus Cranes, Purple Sunbird, Red CollaredDoves and even a pair of Yellow-eyed Babblers to keep us entertained. The highlight of our little walk was undoubtedly the Sirkeer Malkoha that Dilip found, but unfortunately not everyone in the group managed to see it before the bird somehow disappeared for good, despite extensive searching. So we carried on and found ourselves in the restricted area, and beside a small pool we could see why it was a no-go area - Tiger scats! So we `hightailed it' out of there, passing all the usual birds like Orphean Warbler, Common Woodshrike, Long-tailed Shrikes, Red-breasted Flycatcher, and with Red-headed Vulture and Steppe Eagles passing overhead, making our way back to the hotel for lunch, via our unscrupulous and corrupt rickshaw drivers. Inflation even here - can you believe it! Our final excursion was taken to an area outside of the park, where we walked along a raised embankment surrounded by arable fields. Pied Bushchats were everywhere, and there was also a close Wryneck, as well as Crested Lark and Ashy-crowned Sparrow Lark. Half way along the path a flock of passerines were seen distantly on some small bushes. On closer examination they turned out to be Indian Silverbills and at least 10 Red Avadavats. Continuing on, we decided to hop over the reserve wall and visit the harrier roost once again. A Black Francolin was a good find on the way in. Some of the group decided to walk into the grassland, where they found a close Long-billed Pipit, and were treated to really great views of a couple male Pallid Harriers, as well as a Hen and several Western Marsh Harriers. In the distance a DuskyEagle Owl began calling and we managed to get distant views through the telescope to round off another incredible day's birding. After our final evening meal at the wonderful Laxmi Vilas Palace we set off on the journey back to New Delhi, arriving at the airport in the early hours of Saturday morning. And after an uneventful flight back to London, we all said our goodbyes and headed home through the wintry British weather.



birdseekers photos