Northwest India, February 1-10, 2013

Published by Charles Harper (MisterMicawber AT

Participants: Charles Harper, Sunil Kumar


Photos with this report (click to enlarge)

Stork-billed Kingfisher
Stork-billed Kingfisher

I did considerable pre-planning for this trip, basing my timing around a private package designed by guide Sunil Kumar ( for the Himalayan foothills area February 1–10 (US$ 2500). I found Sunil on the Birdingpal Guides page and asked him if he could arrange a private 10-day trip for me through the Ramnagar–Pangot–Sattal area, which he readily agreed to, and we soon had dates, itinerary and cost worked out via email—which we followed without a hitch. Sunil is a very reliable organizer as well as an excellent birder and an extremely resourceful, hardworking advisor. Everything happened in its time and how it was supposed to, from my being picked up at my Delhi hotel to my return there ten days later. I am a rather indefatigable hiker, used to long days in the field, but Sunil led our expedition right to the end and was never ready to give up until I did.

My own scheduling concerns and flight booking possibilities then gave me January 30th & 31st free in Delhi beforehand, and also February 11th & 12th free in Delhi afterward. I planned to bird a site or sites in metropolitan Delhi on the afternoon of January 30th after arrival. On the 31st I would go slightly farther afield to the wetland area of Sultanpur, southwest of the city. And then for February 11–12, I booked a 2-day package ($200) to drive 150 km south to Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur and to see the Taj Mahal in nearby Agra.

Some months before, I had bought Birds of Northern India(Grimmett & Inskipp) and A FG to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (Kazmierczak), and I spent the intervening time reading them account by account, in the process downloading some 300 songs from xeno-canto and some 600 photographs from the Oriental Bird Club and other sites as a part of my familiarization strategy. The songs and photos were then loaded onto both my iTouch and my Nexus 7, which would travel with me.

Both books are good, but the second revised edition of Grimmett & Inskipp's full Birds of India (January 2012) may have been a better choice, as the Kazmierczek illustrations are very small. In any case, I chose to leave Kazmierczek, a much heavier book, at home and carry only Birds of Northern India, lighter and more specific to the region I was going to. I experimented with a carrying technique I once saw another birder using: I drilled a 5-mm hole through the lower left corner of the book, inserted a key ring, and attached that to a shoulder strap, so that the volume hung at my left hip. This proved to be an extremely convenient way of carrying the book: no pockets needed and instantly available. However, a single 2-week trip left its page edges and corners seriously frayed, so it is probably not a good method for repeatedly carrying the field guide to your home territory unless you really don't care what condition it assumes. I also scanned the Kazmierczek book and loaded it onto the Nexus 7 just in case.

Return airfare Tokyo–Delhi was US$ 965 with 4-hour transits at Bangkok in both directions. Getting an Indian tourist visa was a lengthy process and expensive (in part because my nationality and residency are different): it took a month and cost $135.

Internet search provided a wealth of possible Delhi hotels, but the cheapest-while-still-seeming-sanitary one ($15 per night) that I first chose was irregular in answering my emails, so I leveled up to the Hotel Ajanta (one suggested by Sunil) at $40 per night and booked my four Delhi nights there.

I could also estimate city traveling expenses by using , a useful website.

In reading through some 20 previous birdwatching trip reports for the area, I found that birders had two recurrent difficulties: they all got stomach sickness somewhere along the way, and they didn't bring enough warm clothing. Therefore, I packed a couple of sets of thermal underwear, and also both a laxative and an antidiarrheal. I did not want to carry a heavy winter coat, but layered clothing (thermal underwear, cotton shirt & jeans, wool sweater, and light lined windbreaker) worked excellently, as the temperature ranged from about 2 C at dawn to 20 C at midday.

All packed, I was carrying my 10-kg Army surplus backpack, my trusty daypack (bought at a Salvation Army recycle shop in the 1980s for 50 cents and still looking brand-new), and my spotting telescope in its case.

I arrived at Haneda Airport, Tokyo at 10 PM Tuesday, 1/29, and departed via Japan Airlines on schedule at 24:15, arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok at 5 AM (local time) Wednesday (1/30). Free internet in the transit area allowed me to check my email. My pre-arranged guide for the Sultanpur side trip had earlier had to cancel because of business, so I had planned on going it alone, but he had now found me a substitute, and so we arranged meeting time, etc. I departed Bangkok at 9:20 AM via Indian Jet Airways and arrived in Delhi at noon.

Wednesday, 30 January

I had arranged with the Hotel Ajanta that the driver for their normal airport pickup service would instead carry me to a birding spot or two first, and then bring me round to the hotel to check in at about dusk. The agreed fee was $28. After baggage retrieval, customs, immigration, and money changing, I met my driver Ravi as arranged and we left the airport at about 1 PM. Indira Gandhi International Airport is on the southwest side of Delhi, and from Milne's World Cities: Where to Watch Birds, I had chosen two locations that seemed reachable and reasonable: in the southeast, Ohkla Bird Park and its wetlands on the Yamuna River (probably the most productive site in the city), and Asola Wildlife Reserve, a dryer habitat en route, whose list included my first chance for a new family, a woodshrike.

But then things began to go awry. First, I was actually very tired after 16 hours of travel (I can't sleep on planes). Second, my driver, though well-intentioned, did not know the details of reaching these rather unusual taxi destinations. Third, the traffic was awful. Delhi is not a city that you want to arrive in for the first time if you are tired and unfocussed. The result was that we did not arrive at Asola until 3 PM. I paid the $6 entrance fee and a park ranger kindly walked me through the area of cow-grazed scrub for about an hour. Very quiet; no woodshrike. In fact, only about 20 species, but I did get my only Rufous-fronted Prinia of the trip here. The biggest excitement was when a large Blue Bull (Nilgai) strode into view and stared us down.

Although it was getting late, and against the advice of the ranger, I thought we would still try to reach the Yamuna River site, but another hour's driving through the chaotic, horn-loud traffic, new roadwork eliminating access from the route I had earlier worked out, the prospect—if we ever reached Ohkla—of having to scope directly into the setting sun, and my own growing exhaustion, all caused me to abandon the effort, and I checked into my hotel at about 6 PM, dead beat after 22 hours on the road.

The Hotel Ajanta was worn but clean and comfortable, the staff were helpful, and the hot water functioned (a key requirement among the few I have). I had my first Indian meal in the hotel restaurant ($4), briefly checked my emails on their free internet, and went to bed.

Thursday, 31 January

My arrangement was to take a taxi at 6 AM down to Gurgaon, a southern suburb, to meet my Birding Pal, Saurobh Verma, who would then take me farther southwest to Sultanpur National Park, a wetlands reserve, arriving there at 7 AM (the first adequate light). I generally do not eat breakfast on birding trips, so I just had a pineapple juice from the fridge, stuffed a packet of biscuits from the hospitality basket into my pocket, and took a fixed-rate taxi ($28 and far too expensive in retrospect) prearranged by the hotel for the half-hour ride. Somehow, amid the predawn cacaphony of tuk-tuks, cows and bicycles, Saurobh found my waiting taxi at the arranged expressway exit in Gurgaon, and I transferred to his car. The morning fog was particularly bad, and by the time we reached Sultanpur, we could barely make out the entrance gate.

Here we met my park guide, Sanjay Sharma ($45 for the day), but for the first two hours, we could only stroll the foggy park trails listening to the sounds overhead or out on the water that Sanjay identified. Only a few passerines ventured near enough to see (a Bluethroat, a Red-breasted Flycatcher, some babblers). Eventually the fog began to dissipate, and by 10 AM a weak sun was showing through. Rafts of Greylag and Bar-headed Geese gradually materialized out on the water, waders in the shallows, raptors in the treetops. By the end of the morning, I had about 90 species listed, my favorites being Great Spotted, Booted and Imperial Eagles, Painted and Black-necked Storks, and a pair of Ferruginous Ducks.

After a quick cup of tea—masala chai, with lots of milk and sugar—Sanjay took us outside the park to a dryer agricultural area called Basai, where he niftily found me a pair of Indian Coursers and a whole flock of Ashy-crowned Sparrow Larks.

We finished at about 4 PM, and Saurobh suggested that I take the Metro back into Delhi instead of a cab. So instead of the $28 I paid to get out to Gurgaon, I paid only 45 cents for the train into Delhi and then 75 cents for a tuk-tuk from the Metro station to my hotel. Another learning experience. I repeated the same evening meal in the hotel restaurant, and then, with a long drive coming up tomorrow, went early to bed.

Friday, 1 February

Departure for the foothills on the first day of my package tour had been set for 7 AM, but my eager driver, Paramjit Singh, arrived 45 minutes early, so I had to scurry to get showered and packed up. My guide Sunil was waiting for me near Jim Corbett National Park, but only I and my driver would be passing over the 250 km of broad terai lowlands before the hills start. There was no need for a bird guide anyway, since the first three hours were again enshrouded in a thick fog that slowed traffic to just over the speed limit and caused a major multiple-vehicle pile-up of some 25 or 30 vehicles in the opposite lane ahead of us, slowing our progress even more, because the cars behind in that lane simply crossed over to our oncoming lane in order to get past the obstruction. As Paramjit put it, Indian drivers need 'good brakes, good luck, and a good heart'.

When the fog finally cleared a bit, I was able to add a few roadside birds in passing, including a pair of Spotted Owlets nestled in the brickwork of a farmhouse. At 3 PM, we finally arrived at Tiger Camp, a very pleasant lodgment of a loose 'white hunter' design (think of wickerware furniture, bamboo gardens, and gin & tonics), where we met up with Sunil Kumar, my main man, and J.P. Khulbe, a local guide. For the next 3 days, I would have a personal staff of three.

With not much birding time left that afternoon, we just went down to the nearby Kosi River in hopes of a quick Ibisbill. Unfortunately, the site is also the location of the popular Garjiya Temple, perched on a steep rock midstream, and the area was disturbed with visitors, so we had to settle for a Wallcreeper (my first new avian family) and pairs of Pied and Crested Kingfishers.

Back at Tiger Camp, I found a very nice male Tickell's Blue Flycatcher and a pair of roosting Collared Scops Owls among the thick bamboos. Dinner was served at 8 PM for just me and a group of Finns (who departed the next morning, leaving me the only guest at Tiger Camp—winter is off-season for tiger watchers). I was impressed with their finnsticks and will try to find or make one for myself soon.

Saturday, 2 February

Up at 5:30 AM and met my 3 staff at 7 AM to try the Kosi River again. At that early hour, there were no temple tourists, and it was easy to spot the three Ibisbills that had been hanging around there: the second new bird family for me, and my 'hit bird' for the trip. What an invigorating way to start the day!

P.J. is a hardworking professional, and we explored several different bhabar (mid-altitude, above 500 m) locations and accumulated over 80 species, including White-rumped Vulture (at the nest), Stork-billed Kingfisher and Brown Fish Owl. During lunch, I even found another Wallcreeper on the river bank at the foot of the Tiger Camp property. Most birders elect to go into Jim Corbett National Park but then become frustrated when too much time is spent looking for tigers or riding an elephant, so we stayed outside the park proper. J.P. knew many alternative sites, and we did quite well without having to enter Corbett (and pay the $20 entrance fee).

Sunday, 3 February

Toast and marsala tea has become my breakfast, as I woke up so early again, with nothing to do for an hour or so except wander down to the riverside. We met again at 7:30 AM and went to some other agricultural parts of the Ramnagar area for Crested Bunting, Citrine Wagtail, Himalayan Griffin, Cinereous Vulture, Gray-backed Shrike, and lots of Steppe Eagles.

Later we birded the periphery of Tumeria Dam, where we found a group of Sarus Cranes, plus Wooly-necked and Black Storks, and Black Ibis. And I got to show off for a change. Out in the middle of the reservoir rested a small mixed flock of gulls which I was able to sort and point out with the help of my awesome Swarovski telescope: 3 Pallas's Gulls, 20 Caspian Gulls, 3 Brown-headed Gulls, and 10 Black-headed Gulls. I hope I gained status with my hill-country guides, who do not encounter many larids, I think. With the birds of his region, though, J.P. is outstandingly good in the field.

Monday, 4 February

This morning before breakfast I again wandered down to the riverside for the pleasure of seeing the birds I now already knew: a covey of Indian Peafowl, a male and his cortege of wives pacing the far bank, the Wallcreeper working the crannies of the breakwall, several immaculate River Lapwings posing among the rocks, and a very tame Hoopoe probing the dry earth beside me.

A pair of jackals scampered across the road as we headed out for Kumeria and Saral. With the road still quiet, we saw Sambar and Axis deer and muntjacs, and after a short distance, a male elephant hiding in the understory.

Moments later, the sharp alarm cry of a deer had J.P. stopping the car and hoping that we would get to see a tiger, too, but none appeared. The morning gave us good forest birding, capped with an excellent view of a Chestnut-headed Tesia, but by lunchtime the weather was deteriorating, and it degenerated into a 'windy, rainy, cloudy, chilly day' (to quote my notebook). In addition, I lost my room key, and when we returned to Tiger Camp in the afternoon, they charged me $11 to make a new one. Later chatting with their restaurant manager, I mentioned this misfortune, and after dinner he came to my room and presented me with my lost key: a kitchen helper had found it down by the riverside that morning (where it had dropped from my pocket the first time I reached for my notebook, I suppose), but he had not bothered to return it to reception. My $11 was refunded.

Tuesday, 5 February

Thunderstorms last night and another rainy day today. We headed off for Pangot in the bahar foothills at an elevation of about 2000 m. During the 3-hour drive, I finally saw a Common Woodshrike (a dozen of them, actually) and thus added my third new bird family. But the weather worsened as we ascended, with rain, wind and fog, until we reached Nainital, when the hail set in. With birding a lost cause, we stopped in town so that I could access an ATM and do a little souvenir shopping, but most of my time there was spent cowering under shop eaves as the hail came down in sheets.

From there we simply went to our digs, the Jungle Lore Birding Lodge, huddled around the fireplace, and dried out for the rest of the day. A sturdy band of White-throated Laughingthrushes swept through, and some bedraggled Black-faced Langurs peered at us mournfully from the shrubbery. Our day list was a miserable 50 species. The rain and sleet continued unabated, the wind whistled through the cracks around the windows and under the door, and then a leopard got one of the dogs.

Sharp barking, a scuffle and howls out in the pitch black. I lent the staff my flashlight, and then they brought the lodge's black pet onto the porch with one injured leg and a deep wound in its chest. The puddle of blood was too much for me, so I turned in early. Later, a staff member came by to bring me a hot water bottle and told me to lock my door.

Wednesday, 6 February

Up at 5:30 AM. Outside, it was calm, at least. Toast and masala tea for breakfast. As everywhere, the staff were shocked that I do not take the proffered omelette, which seems to be the universal breakfast for foreign travellers.

In this area, we are looking for 3 pheasants in the early mornings along the mountain roads—Kalij, Koklass and Cheer—but today we got only a brief glimpse of a female Koklass Pheasant flushed from the roadside. Later, we basked in the warm sunshine on the high open hillsides, where we could sit and watch flocks of Altai Accentors and Yellow-breasted Greenfinches and the occasional Himalayan Griffon wheel about. At this elevation, Himalayan Bluetail (split from Red-flanked Bluetail by some) is abundant, and in the forest we added a number of other new birds to the list: Streaked, Striated and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes; Rufous-naped, Spot-winged, Green-backed and Black-lored Tits.

In the afternoon, a light rain/hail mixture started to fall again. When we arrived back at Jungle Lore at about 6 PM, the power was out and the propane lamps were lit.

Thursday, 7 February

Up at 5:30 AM again after little sleep and troubled dreams. Much of the night was a downpour of rain, sleet and hail on the loud tin roof, with deafening thunder and lightning. Later, I was kept on the edge of sleep by the sudden crash of large ice patches sliding off the roof. Only one phase of the 4-phase electrical system was on (which meant that only the night-light functioned)—so no hot water, of course.

At 6 AM, the remaining electricity phase went down, and I finished my ablutions by candlelight (a stub kindly provided on the bedside table by a prescient management), and this morning we walked up the mountain because the road was too icy for Paramjit to drive us. That was fine with me, actually—it was a pleasant, crisp morning walk through a strange forest—but we didn't reach the Cheer Pheasant habitat (the steep, grassy, treeless sides of higher hills) until too late in the day. Along the way, I accomplished a personal first: mistaking a bird for a mammal. What I initially took for a mouse in the short grass turned out to be a Striated Prinia foraging slowly and quite un-prinia-like.

After the fog and slush of the early morning, the sun came out at 10 AM, Paramajit appeared with our car an hour later, and we had a pleasant day of it thereafter. We returned to the lodge at 6 PM, where the power was back on but my hot water was not. The manager and the staff troubleshooter fiddled with knobs and switches and then assured me that hot water would appear after about 20 minutes; if it did not, I was to push the call button above my bedstead and they would return. You can guess the end of this anecdote, I'm sure: still no hot water after an hour, and pushing the buzzer brought no one. Then I noticed the coffeemaker.

Friday, 8 February

Up half an hour early (5 AM) to boil enough water with the coffeemaker to bathe in. It didn't take long, actually. At 6:45, we set out up the hill for one more try for the pheasants. Going up in the predawn, we soon caught a magnificent male Kalij Pheasant in the headlights, and he did a little strut for us on the guardrail. We also came across a Eurasian Woodcock, which was new even for Sunil's area list. Later on the way back down, we got a good look at a male Koklass Pheasant as well, but we couldn't turn the hat trick: no Cheer Pheasant appeared for all our scanning of the hillsides.

We packed up and left Pangot at 10 AM, headed now for a slightly lower and slightly different area, Sattal, an hour or so away. It was a beautiful, crisp morning, Paramjit was wearing his pink turban, and we had breathtaking views of the distant Himalayas along the route, including Nanda Devi (7816 m), the tallest mountain within India.

En route to Sattal, we stopped in Nainital, Sunil's hometown, and found Hill Partridges, Grey-winged Blackbirds, and a Tawny Eagle virtually in his backyard. We arrived at Sattal Birding Camp at 2 PM. This is a local effort at eco-tourism: several large tents erected on a wooded hillside less intrusively than building construction would be. As with all my previous accommodations, this one boasted an abundantly pillowed king-sized bed as its centerpiece (I can only suppose that Indian tourists must be lusty folk) but little else. The shower stall had but one faucet, a clear warning.

We spent the rest of the afternoon walking through a different, more humid woodland than at Pangot and added some different birds to our list—Blue-throated Barbet, Black-chinned Babbler, both Golden-spectacled and Whistler's Warblers, Ashy Bulbul—as well as a pair of Yellow-throated Himalayan Martens, a very large member of that family.

Back at the Camp at 5:30 PM, I received instruction in how to re-light the propane heater, but the better part of valour had me just leave it on. And they would bring me a bucket of hot water at 6 AM tomorrow, they assured me.

Saturday, 9 February

At 3:30 AM, I was awakened by the pleasant bell-like double notes of a Mountain Scops Owl nearby, but I went back to sleep instead of searching him out. At 6 AM, I got my bucket of hot water, and at 6:45 AM, we started the day with a simple stroll down the road from the Camp, where we found brilliant male Green-backed and Crimson Sunbirds, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrushes, and another male Kalij Pheasant. Then at 8:30 AM we drove farther afield to forest around a small lake, where we added Blue-winged Minla, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, and late in the afternoon, pairs of both Grey-winged and White-collared Blackbirds. It is difficult to describe the great pleasure of strolling through an unknown forest whose denizens are all new discoveries—a surprise at every corner makes the days very exciting and very short.

Sunday, 10 February

Today I had to say farewell to Sunil and return to Delhi with Paramjit. We had seen some 200 species of birds during our time in the highlands, which was actually a very low count. I enjoyed the adventure immensely, but Sunil apologized for the lack of birds, whom he thought had probably moved to lower elevations because of the unseasonable hailstorms and cold. The original itinerary had us remaining in this area for one more morning and then heading for Delhi at mid-morning, but since the birding seemed slow, I suggested that I leave early and have Paramjit take me instead for a couple of hours to Ohkla Bird Park, the Delhi spot I had been unable to reach on my first day in India.

So this morning, we slept in a bit, then started for Delhi at 8 AM. An Asian Barred Owlet perched at the Camp entrance saw us off. With little chance of new species across this stretch, we had a more leisurely drive back.

We reached the turn-off to Ohkla on the outskirts of Delhi at 4 PM, but the bridge leading to it was closed, so Paramjit had to find his way round to the east side of the park, where I paid the $9 entrance fee. This fee, we soon found, applied only to the east side; there was a second (and currently inaccessible) entrance on the west side which required another fee. This was very irritating, since that is where I was trying to get to in the first place (late afternoon viewing is decent only from the west bank of a river, as you can imagine). Nevertheless, I managed to walk out onto a narrow embankment at the south edge of the park and find the birds I was seeking: 25 gorgeous Greater Flamingos, my fourth new bird family for the trip—oh, frabjous day!

I said goodbye to Paramjit (with a $40 tip for his ten days of enthusiastic service) back at the Hotel Ajanta at 7 PM. I caught up on my email, had the same dinner but with an illegal Kingfisher this time in the rooftop restaurant (where only about three stars are visible above the night glow of Delhi), and turned in. Tomorrow at 7 AM, I would leave for Bharatpur and Agra on my 2-day Taj Mahal package.

Monday, 11 February

Some confusion, but after a couple of phone calls to the agency manager, my driver Ratesh picked me up over an hour late (at 8:15 AM). I was up and checking out at 6:30, during which process I managed to input my PIN for Visa payment three times incorrectly, and my credit card access was cancelled. Oh dear. I had thought my cash expenditures were almost over for this trip, so I had only about 3000 rupees left...2500 of which I now had to use to pay my hotel tab. Ratesh was a typically helpful driver, however, and he soon found me a roadside money changer whose rates were not too off the mark, and I changed another 10,000 yen into rupees at 2 for 1.

Not much in the way of birding excitement on the 4-hour drive down to Bharatpur, but I was looking forward to Keoladeo National Park, a famous wetland whose recovery from drought over the past couple of years has been quite miraculous, it had been reported. Ravesh needed to stop briefly for paperwork at the state border between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, and he warned me to keep the windows closed: a deluge of vendors descended upon the car—snacks, brochures, souvenirs, and leashed rhesus monkeys doing tricks.

We arrived at Keoladeo in the early afternoon, which gave me about three hours to explore some of the park before we needed to continue on to Agra; I was planning then to return here tomorrow morning on the way back from Agra to Delhi, as the park was very large. Many birders remain for days in the park lodge, but I simply did not have the time, so I just wanted a quick look.
I paid the $7 entrance fee and then in the spirit of efficiency took on a park guide at $3 per hour. He was as much a frustration as a help, however. After I managed to stifle his boilerplate spiel, he spent most of the rest of our walk hinting about his gratuity and was little help in identification (once calling a Common Myna an Indian Cuckoo). He did take me to the established Dusky Eagle Owl nest, though, which I would have been unable to find on my own. There was little else to see at this time of day.

Our drive on to Agra was uneventful, and the Hotel Amar, a 3-star hotel, was much the best I had stayed in. The staff were uniformed and rather stuffy. Irrespective, I follow my usual sere routine: curry dinner in the hotel restaurant ($9!), email check, and to bed.

Tuesday, 12 February

Ratesh picked me up at 8 AM for the short drive to the Taj Mahal. The parking lot was almost one kilometer from the Taj, so I had to run the gauntlet (since I didn't want to hire a rickshaw) of importunate vendors again, and here worse than elsewhere. The entrance fee was $14. Inside the gates, it was calm and quiet, and the Taj Mahal and its grounds were truly magnificent. I am not a great one for visiting manmade artifacts, but I am very glad I did not pass the Taj by. It was breath-taking.

The next morning I had to leave India, and I decided that I just did not have the impetus to detour via Bharatpur again, so I told Ratesh we would simply return directly to Delhi from here, giving us a leisurely drive back. A few kilometers north of Agra, I noticed a sign for 'Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary', which I had neither heard of nor planned for, but we had time to stop off here, so I paid the fees ($6.50 for me, $.50 for Ratesh, $1.85 for the car). It comprised a pleasant lake surrounded by woodland, and although we saw only Black-bellied Terns new to the trip list, there were some good birds here—Black and Black-headed Ibis, Bar-headed Geese, Painted Storks, Great White Pelicans—and we took time to have our morning masala tea (13 cents) at the park shop.

Back in Delhi at 4:30 PM, I checked into the more basic Hotel Surya ($28), ordered fried rice and tea from room service, and spent the rest of the evening watching Indian TV and polishing off my trip notes.

Wednesday, 13 February

Nine o'clock taxi to IGI Airport driven by a wannabe Bollywood star who played loud Indian pop music on the radio and sang along with it all the way. Oh, well—a good a way as any to say goodbye to Incredible India!

TRIP COSTS—15 days in India:

Indian visa: $135
10-day package tour: $2500
2-day package tour: $200
Other accommodations & meals: $191
Airfare: $958
Other transportation: $64
Entrance fees: $55
Local guides: $65
Tips & gratuities: $163
Gifts & souvenirs: $161
Other expenses (laundry, internet): $10
TOTAL: $4500

Species Lists

Accentor, Altai (Rufous-streaked)
Avadavat, Red
Babbler, Black-chinned
Babbler, Common
Babbler, Jungle
Babbler, Large Grey
Babbler, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-
Babbler, White-browed (Pied) Shrike-
Barbet, Blue-throated
Barbet, Coppersmith
Barbet, Great
Barbet, Lineated
Bittern, Black
Blackbird, Grey-winged
Blackbird, White-collared
Bluetail, Himalayan (split from R-f Bluetail)
Bulbul, Ashy
Bulbul, Black
Bulbul, Himalayan (White-cheeked)
Bulbul, Mountain
Bulbul, Red-vented
Bulbul, Red-whiskered
Bulbul, White-eared
Bunting, Crested
Bunting, Rock
Bunting, White-capped
Bushchat, Grey
Bushchat, Pied
Bushlark, Indian
Buzzard, Common
Chiffchaff, Common
Coot, Common (Eurasian)
Cormorant, Great
Cormorant, Indian
Cormorant, Little
Coucal, Greater
Courser, Indian
Crane, Sarus
Crow, House
Crow, Large-billed (Jungle)
Cuckooshrike, Large
Darter, (Oriental)
Dipper, Brown
Dove, (Common) Emerald
Dove, Eurasian Collared
Dove, Laughing
Dove, Oriental Turtle
Dove, Red Collared (Turtle)
Dove, Spotted (Turtle)
Drongo, Black
Drongo, Bronzed
Drongo, Lesser Racket-tailed
Drongo, Spangled (Hair-crested)
Duck, Comb (Knob-billed)
Duck, Lesser Whistling-
Duck,(Indian) Spot-billed
Duck, Tufted
Eagle, Booted
Eagle, Changeable Hawk-
Eagle, Crested Serpent-
Eagle, Golden
Eagle, Greater Spotted
Eagle, Imperial
Eagle, Steppe
Eagle, Tawny
Egret, (Eastern) Cattle
Egret, Great
Egret, Intermediate
Egret, Little
Falcon, Peregrine
Falconet, Collared
Fantail, White-browed
Fantail, White-throated
Fantail, Yellow-bellied
Flameback, Black-rumped
Flameback, Himalayan
Flamingo, Greater
Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary-
Flycatcher, Red-throated (-breasted)
Flycatcher, Rufous-gorgeted
Flycatcher, Slaty-blue
Flycatcher, Tickell's Blue
Forktail, Spotted
Francolin, Black
Francolin, Grey
Godwit, Black-tailed
Goose, Bar-headed
Goose, Greylag
Grebe, Great Crested
Grebe, Little
Greenfinch, Yellow-breasted (Himalayan)
Greenshank, Common
Griffon, Himalayan
Gull, Black-headed
Gull, Brown-headed (Indian Black-headed)
Gull, Caspian (Yellow-legged)
Gull, Pallas's (Great Black-headed)
Harrier, Eurasian (Western) Marsh
Heron, Grey
Heron, Indian Pond
Heron, Purple
Hoopoe, Common (Eurasian)
Hornbill, Indian Grey
Ibis, Black (Red-naped)
Ibis, Black-headed
Iora, Common
Jacana, Bronze-winged
Jay, Black-headed
Jay, Eurasian
Junglefowl, Red
Kestrel, Common (Eurasian)
Kingfisher, Common
Kingfisher, Crested
Kingfisher, Pied
Kingfisher, Stork-billed
Kingfisher, White-throated (breasted)
Kite, Black & Black-eared
Kite, Black-shouldered (-winged)
Kite, Brahminy
Lapwing, Red-wattled
Lapwing, River
Lapwing, White-tailed
Lapwing, Yellow-wattled
Lark, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-
Lark, Crested
Lark, Greater Short-toed
Laughingthrush, Chestnut-crowned
Laughingthrush, Rufous-chinned
Laughingthrush, Streaked
Laughingthrush, Striated
Laughingthrush, White-crested
Laughingthrush, White-throated
Leafbird, Orange-bellied
Leiothrix, Red-billed
Magpie, Red-billed Blue
Martin, Eurasian Crag
Martin, Nepal House
Martin, Plain (Brown/Grey-throated)
Minivet, Long-tailed
Minivet, Small
Minla, Blue-winged
Moorhen, Common
Munia, Scaly-breasted (Nutmeg Mannikin)
Myna, Bank
Myna, Common
Myna, Jungle
Niltava, Rufous-bellied
Niltava, Small
Nuthatch, Chestnut-bellied
Nuthatch, Velvet-fronted
Nuthatch, White-tailed
Oriole, Black-hooded
Oriole, Maroon
Osprey, (Western)
Owl, Brown Fish
Owl, Collared (Indian) Scops
Owl, Dusky Eagle-
Owl, Mountain Scops
Owlet, Asian Barred
Owlet, Spotted
Parakeet, Alexandrine
Parakeet, Plum-headed
Parakeet, Red-breasted
Parakeet, Rose-ringed
Parakeet, Slaty-headed
Partridge, Hill
Peafowl, Indian
Pelican, Great White
Pheasant, Kalij
Pheasant, Koklass
Pigeon, Pin-tailed Green
Pigeon, Rock
Pigeon, Yellow-footed Green
Pintail, Northern
Pipit, Paddyfield
Pipit, Rosy
Pipit, Tawny
Pipit, Tree
Plover, Little Ringed
Pochard, Common
Pochard, Ferruginous
Pochard, Red-crested
Prinia, Ashy
Prinia, Grey-breasted
Prinia, Plain
Prinia, Rufous-fronted
Prinia, Striated
Prinia, Yellow-bellied
Raven, Common
Redshank, Common
Redstart, Black
Redstart, Blue-capped
Redstart, Blue-fronted
Redstart, Plumbeous Water
Redstart, White-capped Water
Robin, Indian
Robin, Oriental Magpie-
Rockchat, Brown
Roller, Indian
Rosefinch, Common
Rubythroat, Siberian
Sandpiper, Common
Sandpiper, Green
Sandpiper, Wood
Shelduck, Ruddy (Brahminy Duck)
Shoveler, Northern
Shrike, Bar-winged Flycatcher-
Shrike, Bay-backed
Shrike, Grey-backed
Shrike, Long-tailed
Shrike, Rufous-tailed (Isabelline)
Sibia, Rufous
Silverbill, Indian (White-throated Munia)
Snipe, Common
Sparrow, House
Sparrow, Russet
Sparrow, Sind
Sparrowhawk, Eurasian
Spoonbill, Eurasian
Starling, Asian Pied (Pied Myna)
Starling, Brahminy
Starling, Common (Eurasian)
Stilt, Black-winged
Stint, Temminck's
Stonechat, Common (Siberian)
Stork, Asian Open-bill
Stork, Black
Stork, Black-necked
Stork, Painted
Stork, Woolly-necked
Sunbird, Crimson
Sunbird, Green-tailed
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Red-rumped
Swamphen, Purple
Swift, Fork-tailed (Pacific)
Swift, House (Little)
Tailorbird, Common
Teal, Common (Eurasian)
Tern, Black-bellied
Tesia, Chestnut-headed
Thrush, Blue Whistling
Thrush, Chestnut-bellied Rock
Thrush, Long-billed
Thrush, Plain-backed
Tit, (Himalayan) Black-lored
Tit, Black-throated (Bush-)
Tit, Great
Tit, Green-backed
Tit, Rufous-naped
Tit, Spot-winged
Tit, Yellow-browed
Treecreeper, Bar-tailed
Treepie, Grey
Treepie, Rufous
Vulture, Cinereous (Black)
Vulture, Egyptian
Vulture, White-rumped
Wagtail, Citrine
Wagtail, Grey
Wagtail, White
Wagtail, White-browed
Wagtail, (Western) Yellow
Warbler, Black-faced
Warbler, Blyth's Reed
Warbler, Brooks's Leaf
Warbler, Buff-barred
Warbler, Golden-spectacled (Green-crowned)
Warbler, Greenish
Warbler, Grey-hooded
Warbler, Grey-sided Bush
Warbler, Hume's
Warbler, Lemon-rumped
Warbler, Smoky
Warbler, Whistler's
Waterhen, White-breasted
White-eye, Oriental
Whitethroat, Lesser
Wigeon, Eurasian
Woodcock, Eurasian
Woodpecker, Brown-capped Pygmy
Woodpecker, Brown-fronted
Woodpecker, Fulvous-breasted
Woodpecker, Grey-capped Pygmy
Woodpecker, Grey-headed
Woodpecker, Himalayan
Woodpecker, Rufous-bellied
Woodpecker, Yellow-crowned
Woodshrike, Common
Yellownape, Greater
Yellownape, Lesser