Ten sites in India that should be on every birdwatcher’s list

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is like heaven for birdwatchers
Image courtesy: ©Mukesh Srivastava/Lonely Planet

With the start of winter, it is time you dust your binoculars and the special birding lenses. It is time to head out and spot the gorgeous winged beauties in India. From the dusty deserts to the marshy wetlands and the cool mountains, India has a variety of birds that will enthral any bird lover. Some of these are native to the land while others travel far and wide to spend their winters here.  Here are 10 amazing bird watching spots in India that you must consider.

1) Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, Rajasthan

A traditional hunting ground of the Maharajas, the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary is now a World Heritage Site and one of the topmost bird watching spots of India. Also called the Keoladeo Ghana National Park, this place is home to over 360 species of birds – some of which are migratory. From the rare Siberian Cranes that visit every year to exotic species of geese, ducks, kingfishers, ibis, storks and herons – the winged beauties of this park beckon ornithologists from far and wide. If you are one of those lucky ones, besides the birds, you will also, spot animals like the Golden Jackals, Sambar Deer and Hyenas.

Birds to watch out for: Siberian Cranes, Darters, Brahminy ducks, White-throated Kingfisher, Cotton pygmy geese, Indian Rollers, Sarus Cranes

Also Read: Ten must-see national parks in India

Also Read: Ranthambore National Park in 24 Hours

2) Ranganathithu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

 

The black headed ibis
The black headed ibis
Image courtesy: ©Ami Bhat

A day-trip from Bangalore, en route to Mysore, lies the largest bird sanctuary in Karnataka. With over 170 bird species, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary charms every visitor with its multiple islets of birds. The nesting grounds attract migratory species from Siberia, Latin America and Australia. As you take a boat ride to spot them all, remember to look out for the native Marsh Crocodiles along the banks of these isles.

Birds to watch out for: Black headed Ibis, Painted Storks, Asian Open Bill Stork, Whistling Ducks, River Tern, Spot Billed Pelicans, Wooly neck Stork, Oriental Darters

3) Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh

Set amid the cool Himalayan Valley of Himachal Pradesh, this park is yet another Unesco heritage site. Fluttering amid the misty green hills of the Great Himalayan National Park are over 170 colourful birds like the pheasants, thrushes, kingfishers and more. If you visit in summers, you can expect a few migratory visitors like the Ashy Drongos, Flycatchers and Warblers.

Birds to watch out for: Western Trgopan, Crested Kingfisher, Monals, Little Forktail, Cheer Pheasant, Blue Whistling Thrush

4) Bhagwan Mahveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park, Goa

A barbet in the bush
A barbet in the bush
Image courtesy: ©Ami Bhat

It is not just the birds of the Bhagwan Mahveer Sanctuary and Mollem National Park that will enthrall the visitors. Set in the popular state of Goa, this park is a delight for heritage, adventure and nature lovers with interesting heritage temples and the famous Dudhsagar Falls. The park is also home to butterflies with various species of these pretty insects. As you attempt to spot the best of the birds of Western Ghats, you can also watch out for animals like the Bengal Tiger, Malabar Giant Squirrels and Spotted Deer.

Birds to watch out for: Malabar Hornbills, 3-toed Kingfishers, Paradise Flycatchers, Golden Oriole, Drongos, Fairy bluebirds, Barbets

5) Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary, Gujarat

With salt water marshlands on one side and fresh water on the other, it is not surprising that the Khijadiya Bird Sanctuary near Jamnagar in Gujarat, has one of the best collection of birds. With multiple trails, paddleboats and 3 watchtowers, the sanctuary provides a unique birding experience. Among the 300 species that you can expect to find here, remember to note the Black-necked Storks. These are not difficult to spot here but are quite rare in the rest of India.

Birds to watch out for: Black-necked Storks, Black Ibis, Indian Spotted Eagles, Brahminy Kites, Knob Billed Ducks

6) Sultanpur National Park, Haryana

A Painted Stork
A Painted Stork
Image courtesy: ©Ami Bhat

A stone throw away from the popular city of Gurugram, the Sultanpur National Park is a very popular nesting ground for the migratory birds to India. Over 100 species of these visiting birds have been reported in this sanctuary – including the endangered Siberian Cranes. A well-developed national park with 4 watchtowers and multiple trails, this national park is a beautiful day trip from the national capital of Delhi.

Birds to watch out for: Rose Ringed Parakeets, Purple Sunbirds, Painted Storks, Rosy Pelicans, Little Cormorants, Yellow Wagtails, Siberian Cranes., Black Winged Stilts

7) Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh

Sunbird
Sunbird
Image courtesy: ©Ami Bhat

A different stretch of Himalayas in the northeast India, the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is possibly one of the most pristine birding spots. This is evident from the fact that over 450 exotic species of these birds are found here. Named after the Red Eagle faction of the Indian Army, the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary is also home to over 150 varieties of butterflies. Not to mention, even animals like the Asiatic Black Bear and the Asian Golden Cat.

Birds to watch out for: Sunbirds, Species of Flowerpeckers, Oriental White Eye, Chestnut breasted patridges, Golden Bush Robins

8) Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary, Odisha

Be prepared to see flocks of pretty flamingos and pelicans crowding a large salt water lake. Chilika Wildlife Sanctuary, around the Chilika lake of Odisha, is the largest ground for the winter migratory birds – some travelling from places like Caspian Sea, Russia and Mongolia. While you tour around trying to spot these beauties, you are also treated to some marine beauties like dolphins.

Birds to watch out for: Flamingos, Spot-billed Pelicans, White bellied sea eagles, Brahminy kites, Purple moorhen, Greylag Geese

9) Tal Chhapar Sanctuary, Rajasthan

An Egyptian Vulture
An Egyptian Vulture
Image courtesy: ©Ami Bhat

Quite unlike the green hills and the marshy birding destinations that have been shared so far, the Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is a thorny forest with sparse trees. The unusual landscape, however, is home to pretty birds and unusual raptors . Be prepared to see the rare vultures and eagles as they swoop down for a hunt – maybe of the resident animals like the Blackbucks.

Birds to watch out for: Tawny Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Green bee eaters, Black Ibis, Harriers, Demoiselle Cranes

10) Silent Valley National Park, Kerala

Nestled among the fragrant Nilgiri Hills of Kerala, this Unesco heritage site is known as the home of the endangered Lion Tailed Macaques. The Silent Valley National Park is quite a birding paradise with some of the most colourful and rare species of the Western Ghats. In fact, there are over 200 species to be spotted. A birding trip here is best enjoyed with the local tribal experiences.

Birds to watch out for: Malabar Hornbills, Nilgiri Flycatchers, Nilgiri Blue Robins, Crimson Backed Sunbirds.

AUTHOR'S BIO: Ami Bhat is senior marketing professional, currently on a break to pursue full-time travel blogging. A travel enthusiast, who loves sports, photography and dancing with equal passion. More on: www.thrillingtravel.in