India (Bharatpur, Corbett and Nainital), 23rd November - 14th December 2000

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Thursday 23rd November

Arrived at Delhi International Airport c.1am, were met by taxi driver sent by Falcon Guest House, Bharatpur. Long drive in thick fog to Falcon Guest House, which would be our base for the next seven nights. We slept till c.2pm (having had little sleep on Plane and Taxi). Started birding from balcony of Guest House, which was a nice introduction to Indian birds: Brahminy Starling, Asian pied Starling, Red vented Bulbul, Indian Robin, Darter, House Crow, Common Myna, White breasted Kingfisher, Purple Sunbird, Oriental magpie Robin and Indian pond Heron. Got our things together and took a rickshaw into Keoladeo Ghana National Park, birding in the park from 3.30pm - 6pm, highlights being: Black Necked Stork, Spot billed Duck, Greater Coucal, Indian Peafowl, Rufous Treepie, Dusky eagle Owl, Collared scops Owl, White breasted Waterhen, Red Wattled Lapwing, Black headed Ibis, Common Woodshrike, Pied Bushchat, White eared Bulbul, Large grey Babbler and Plain Prinia.

Friday 24th November

We took rickshaw into Keoladeo Ghana National Park from 6.30am - 6pm, first full day. Highlights being: Black rumped Flameback, 2 Siberian Cranes, Sarus Cranes, Asian Openbill, Dalmation Pelican, Painted Stork, Barred Button Quail, Cotton pygmy Goose, Lesser whistling Duck, Indian grey Hornbill, White tailed Lapwing, Bronze winged & Pheasant tailed Jacana, Grey bellied Cuckoo, Long tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Red headed Vulture, Shikra, Greater spotted Eagle, Lesser spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Little Cormorant Clamorous reed Warbler and White browed Wagtail.

Saturday 25th November

We took bicycles (hired from Falcon Guest House, 25rupees a day) into Keoladeo Ghana National Park for the full day again. Highlights were: Yellow crowned Woodpecker, Indian Roller, Marshalls Iora, White browed Fantail, Orphean Warbler, Crested serpent Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Black Bittern, White Eyed Buzzard, Paddyield Pipit and Red Avadavat.

Sunday 26th November

We again took bicycles into the Park for a full day, we visited the Nursery area and Nil Tal woods in the morning and the Shantir Cutir trail in the afternoon. Highlights: Grey Francolin, Yellow footed green Pigeon, Olive backed Pipit, Verditer Flycatcher, Coppersmith Barbet, Brown headed Barbet, Oriental White-eye, White bellied Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Oriental honey Buzzard, Common hawk Cuckoo, Long tailed Minivets, Grey Bushchat, Bay backed Shrike, River Tern and a party of 7 Wild Boar.

Monday 27th November

We took bicycles into the Park, and again started off around the Nursery area then took the Shatir Cutir trail late morning before heading through Nil Tal woods towards Jatoli Canal in the early afternoon. We then spent the afternoon along the Sapan Mari trail. Highlights: Tickells Thrush, Asian Koel, Brooks leaf Warbler, Long billed Vulture, Pallid Harrier, Yellow Bittern and Isabelline Shrike.

Tuesday 28th November

First stop was a quick look around the cricket pitch area in Bharatpur before continuing on to "High Bank" on bicycle and birding along the way. In the afternoon we visited the Park and explored the Nursery area again looking for Orange headed Thrush with one of the park naturalists Sujan Singh, he immediately located the bird and we enjoyed excellent views. We then arranged with Sujan for him to accompany us to Bund Baretha the next day. Before spending the late afternoon along the Shantir Cutir trail. Highlights: Short toed Eagle, Tawny Pipit, Crested Lark, Bank Myna and Indian Silverbill.

Wednesday 29th November

Left the Falcon 6.30am with Sujan by taxi and headed for Bund Baretha with several stops along the way. Arrived at Bund Baretha around 9.30am spent time looking from the dam before continuing along the track to the Old Maharaja's Palace, birding along the way and then spending time around the Palace. We left Bund Baretha around 5.30pm. Highlights of the day: Oriental honey Buzzard, Red collared Dove, Wryneck, Southern grey Shrike, Plum headed Parakeet, Great Thick-Knee, Jungle bush Quail, White capped Bunting, Blue rock Thrush, Dusky crag Martin, Brown rock Chat, Kentish Plover. At the end of a very enjoyable day, on the way back we called in at Sujan's relations for tea. Sujan was helpful and very knowledgeable about the local area, he was also realistic with chances of seeing birds.

Thursday 30th November

Our last day in the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, we spent the early morning birding along the main track, before spending most of the day with Sohan Lal one of the park guides, we had an excellent day mainly looking for some of the species we had missed. Highlights: juv Bonelli's Eagle, Brown capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Dusky Warbler, Eurasian Thick-knee, Black Bittern, White Pelican.

Friday 1st December

Left Falcon at 6.30am and headed to Taj Mahal by taxi. Arrived 9.30am spent a short while taking shots before looking on the River Yamuna behind Taj were we saw our first River Lapwings of the trip. We then drove north heading to Garh Mukteshwar, arriving 4.30pm we spent an hour birding from the bridge over the River Ganges. Highlights: Brown headed Gull, Avocet & Gangetic Dolphin. Stayed overnight at the Highway Motel, Gajrula.

Saturday 2nd December

Left Highway Motel 7.45am drove back to bridge at Garh Mukteshwar were we birded until 9.15, Highlights: Sand Lark & Black bellied Tern, before heading to Ramnagar in the Taxi with one brief stop on the way. Arrived at Ramnagar 1pm, out birding along River Kosi from 1.45 - dusk. Highlights: Plumbeous water Redstart, White capped water Redstart, Tickell's Warbler, Emerald Dove, Wallcreeper, Spotted Dove, Blue whistling Thrush, Crested Kingfisher, Himalayan Swiftlet. Stayed night at Tourist Hotel, Ramnagar.

Sunday 3rd December

Spent early morning birding from road out of Ramnagar to Amdanda entrance gate to Corbett National Park, Highlights: Bar winged flycatcher Shrike, Himalayan Bulbul, Red whiskered Bulbul, Common Iora, Grey hooded Warbler, Yellow bellied Fantail, White throated Fantail, Crested Treeswift, Lineated Barbet, Dark throated Thrush. We then entered Corbett National Park through the Dhangari entrance gate, were we saw our only Rufous bellied Eagle of the trip. We drove on to Dhikala camp with a few stops along the way. Highlights: Lesser fish Eagle, Black Stork, Chestnut eared Bunting, Streak throated Woodpecker, Fulvous breasted Woodpecker, Pallas's Warbler. Stayed overnight at Dhikala Camp.

Monday 4th December

Walked out to Dhikala Watchtower 6.30am were we birded until late morning, before returning to camp for breakfast/dinner, Highlights: Scarlet Minivet, Black-hooded Oriole, Grey capped pygmy Woodpecker, Ashy Bulbul, Black crested Bulbul, Collared Falconet, Slaty headed Parakeet, Blue fronted Redstart, Grey sided bush Warbler, Crimson Sunbird, Crested Bunting, Cinereous Vulture, Zitting Cisticola, Jungle Owlet. We then went out for an afternoon safari drive by jeep returning at dusk, highlights: Stork billed Kingfisher, Pallas's fish Eagle & family group of Smooth coated Otter. Stayed overnight at Dhikala Camp.

Tuesday 5th December

We left the Camp at Dhikala 7.00am and drove out of the park with a few stops along the way, highlights: Velvet fronted Nuthatch, Little pied Flycatcher, Himalayan Flameback, Alexandrine Parakeet, Grey headed Woodpecker, White rumped Needletail and Besra. Arrived at Ramnagar early afternoon, spent the rest of afternoon looking for Ibisbill along River Kosi, highlights: Ibisbill, Great Thick-knee and Blue rock Thrush. Stayed overnight in Tourist Hotel, Ramnagar.

Wednesday 6th December

We spent the early morning birding in Ramnagar and a short walk along the River Kosi till 10.30am, highlights: Golden fronted Leafbird, Grey breasted Prinia, Grey backed Shrike and Sirkheer Malkoha. Returned for breakfast/dinner then got taxi up to Forktail Stream, Kumeria were we spent 1.00-4.30pm birding along the stream. Highlights: Little Forktail, Slaty blue Flycatcher and Kalij Pheasant. Stayed overnight at Quality Inn.

Thursday 7th December

We spent the morning birding along the Forktail Stream till 11.45am before returning to the Quality Inn for breakfast/dinner, in the afternoon we had a quick look down the River Kosi before returning to the Forktail stream till dusk. Highlights: White crested laughing Thrush, Golden spectacled Warbler, Brown Shrike, Chestnut headed Tesia, Rufous gorgetted Flycatcher, Rufous bellied Niltava, White rumped Munia, Grey Treepie, Nightingale, Common green Magpie, Black chinned Babbler, Bronzed Drongo, Brown Dipper, Rufous Woodpecker, Greater Flameback, Greater Yellownape and LesserYellownape. This was one of the best days birding we had on the whole trip, the area just around the Quality Inn/ Forktail Stream could easily warrant a whole weeks birding. Stayed overnight at the Govinda Hotel, Ramnagar.

Friday 8th December

We got a taxi from Ramnagar to Nainital with just two brief stops along the way, we arrived at Nainital late morning, checked into the Koli Hotel which would be our base for the next five nights. From early afternoon till dusk we walked up to Snow View Ridge then along the ridge to Chaina Peak. Highlights: Lammergeier, Eurasian griffon Vulture, Black throated Tit, Green backed Tit, Rufous Sibia, Blue capped Redstart, Streaked laughing Thrush, White tailed Nuthatch, Bar tailed Treecreeper, Nepal house Martin, Buff barred Warbler, Spot winged Tit and Scaly bellied Woodpecker.

Saturday 9th December

From 7.00 till 9.30am we spent birding around Nainital Town before having breakfast. Highlights: Oriental turtle Dove, Red flanked Bluetail and Eurasian Sparrowhawk. We then got a taxi to what we thought was the Mangoli Valley, it quickly became apparent that we were in the wrong place, we spent a few hours birding in the area before taking a bus back up to Nainital. Highlights: Rufous breasted Accentor, Rock Bunting, Black lored Tit, Lammergeier and Russet Sparrow.

Sunday 10th December

We got a taxi up to Snow View Ridge for 7am, we spent till 10.30 birding along the ridge before having breakfast, highlights: White throated Laughingthrush, Himalayan Woodpecker, Black headed Jay, Eurasian Jay and better views of Lesser Yellownape. We then headed to the Eureka Forbes factory, Sat Tal. Arriving at 11.30 by taxi we got dropped off by the factory and arranged for the taxi driver to pick us up by the dam. The walk in between produced the following highlights: Yellow breasted Greenfinch, Rufous chinned Laughingthrush, Black Bulbul, Black winged Cuckoo-shrike, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Red billed blue Magpie, Chestnut headed Tesia and Asian barred Owlet.

Monday 11th December

From 8.15am till 2.45pm we birded Snow View Ridge, Highlights: Rufous bellied Woodpecker, Mountain hawk Eagle, Grey winged Balckbird and Brown fronted Woodpecker. A.P.B started to feel ill early afternoon so went back to hotel, A.S.D spent the rest of afternoon birding round town, highlights: Great Barbet and probable Asian barred Owlet. Evening both A.P.B and A.S.D ill, probably as a result of changing restaurants.

Tuesday 12th December

Taxi in morning 6.00am to Eureka Forbes factory, birding from 6.30am around factory and then onto Sat Tal were we met taxi at 5.30pm. Highlights: Black throated Accentor, Siberian Rubythroat, Alpine Swift, Common Buzzard, Himalayan Griffon, Changeable hawk Eagle, Spotted Forktail, Small Niltava, Aberrant bush Warbler, Rufous chinned Laughingthrush and Great Barbet.

Wednesday 13th December

7.00am - 2.45pm We spent birding the real Mangoli Valley, highlights: Ashy throated leaf Warbler, Pink browed Rosefinch, Striated Laughingthrush, Chestnut crowned Laughingthrush, Brownish flanked bush Warbler, Green tailed Sunbird, Scaly breasted wren Babbler and Peregrine. We then returned to Nainital to sort out last minute things before taking a taxi to Kathgodam and boarding the overnight sleeper train to Delhi at 8.40pm.

Thursday 14th December

Arrived Delhi 5.05am, checked in to Hotel Downtown before catching up with some badly needed sleep. We had breakfast around 9.00am before taking a taxi to Oklah, were we took a boat across to the isalnd and spent one hour on the island, highlights: Striated Grassbird, Yellow bellied Prinia, Streaked Weaver, Striated Babbler, Yellow legged Gull, Common Starling and Northern Lapwing. We then spent some time birding along the banks of the river Yamuna, highlights: Rosy Pipit and Little Stint before returning to the hotel to prepare for our flight back to U.K.

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