|Painted Stork with Large Egret - a peaceful co existance|
When I proposed a birding trip to Bharatpur (Kealodeo National Park) during Christmas holidays to Murli, Prasad and Kesan they readily agreed as they knew well that birding is different ! I was excited b'cas I am on this trip almost after a decade and my curiosity was abundant. Though we started from Delhi at 8.00 am, I wished I were at the park gate at 9.00 am. But by the time we reached Bharatpur, it was noon.
|Cycle Rickshaw wallahs are trained Bird guides|
After lunch, we ventured into park but alas !...there was a huge tourist crowd and we couldn't get the licensed Cycle rickshaw-wale. We had to settle down with two private rickshaws, who charged Rs 100 per hour, though we learnt that trained rickshaw wallahs also charged the same fare. Prasad, the seasoned photographer, accompanied me in one rickshaw to 'capture' the birds as I identified the species. The unruly tourist crowd was hell bent clicking selfies everywhere. We had to literally shove ahead to spot a place of solitude, to have a undisturbed watching .
|Cycling in the park is interesting|
Though this year, monsoon brought scanty rains, there was no dearth of migratory birds. Painted storks (breeding) were in plenty. Besides, we could spot, spoonbill, cormorand, darter, pintail, shoveller and spotbill. After about 3 hours of viewing we retired to our room.
As Prasad was looking for Rajasthani delicacies for dinner we had a late evening stroll in search of good Rajasthani food and finally succeeded though to a certain extent only.
|Plastic wrappers thrown in park by tourists|
We had also decided to hire a bicycle during our next day morning session and were again ready by 7.30 am next morning to reach the park. Saying goes....early bird catches its prey and we too were not disappointed. A lot of activities was going on and we had the glimpse of white cheeked Bulbul in plenty near the Mandhir. Grey patridges, peafouls, sun nirds, babblers, robins, sunbirds and what not.
|Vast territory provides Birding opportunities|
When we reached the core water area, we were welcome by Ruddy Shelduck, darters, large Cormorants, pintails, spotbills, coots and gadwals. The painted storks were hovering around a lot. We had glimpse of Comb ducks, black headed Ibis and glossy Ibis also. When we reached the watch tower at the end of the main track, we had a wonderful darshan of Bar headed Geese in abundance.
So... it was time to have the tea. The tea shop and a few forest dept offices were getting power supply from solar panel, a good initiative indeed. While the rickshaw- wallahs and even tea shopkeeper was conscious about the importance of protecting environment, the unfortunate sight in the park was that lots of plastic covers were thrown here and there by tourists, unmindful of conservation.
We learnt from one rickshaw wallah that as soon as the christmas crowd dwindles, the forest department will get rid of plastic from the park.
In any case, we feel that the glory of the park will be lost if the tourism is curtailed in the sensitive areas like this. This is a global site with rich vegetation and bird population. Preserving this of paramount task than encouraging tourism. Eco tourism policies need to be revisited and stringent measures taken, if we want the posterity to have this rich natural heritage. Will the environmental ministry consider our views?
|Traditional transportation is still in park|
|Birding gives me mental peace and relaxation!!!|
|Rose ringed parakeet|
|White Throated Kingfisher|
|White Throated Kingfisher|
|Black Winged Stilt|
|Black headed Ibis|
|White eared Bulbul|
|Common Kingfisher (Small Blue)|