few hours on the Frontier Mail train from Delhi and you would be
in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, one of the world's finest birding destinations.
The short five-kilometre journey form the station to the swamps
of Keoladeo Ghana is best made on a horse-drawn tonga which clip-clops
its way through the dusty town.
can prepare you for the contrast as you enter the confines of the
verdant preserve created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur at the turn
of the century to attract migratory birds, which he and his guests
proceeded to shoot in thousands.
at Bharatpur is great for both beginners and professional ornithologists.
Cycles and cycle rickshaws provide a noiseless, fun way to move
about the sancturary. Birdwatchers confirm having seen more birds
here in one day than they have in a year of serious birdwatching
in most other areas. Curiousity, a decent pair of binoculars and
patience are all you really need. Depending on the season, the areas
around the lakes are teeming with water-birds - Black-tailed Godwits,
Greylag Geese, herons, sand pipers, snipes, coots, grebes and teals,
all busy with the never-ending task of feeding themselves and their
young. Large Egrets ride serenely on the backs of half-submerged
sambar cooling off in the water, thir antlers festooned with ribbons
of weeds. Cormorants skulk about scanning the ponds fro a meal or
else occupy the upper branches of trees, wings outspread like gigantic
bats. Siberian Cranes used to be regular winter visitors and a star
attraction at Bharatpur. Now, however, when even a couple of birds
turn up it is cause for celebration!
recent days, a most interesting development has taken place. Scientists
from the BNHS reported that they say a tiger in the swamps! The
Director of the park, Ms. Shruti Sharma, confirmed the sighting
and said that the cat had probably been around since December 1999.
According to official records, the last tiger was spotted ( and
hunted) in Bharatpur in 1962.