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Keoladeo Ghana National Park



Formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, the Keoladeo National Park is recognised as one of the world’s most important bird breeding and feeding grounds. It originated in as a royal hunting reserve during the 1850s and was a game reserve for Maharajas and the British. In fact, Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy of India from 1936 to 1943, shot over thousands of ducks with his hunting party in a single day! In 1982, Keoladeo was declared a national park and then later listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985. The park is home to over 370 species of birds and animals such as the basking python, painted storks, deer, nilgai and more. Noted Indian ornithologist and naturalist Salim Ali used his influence to garner government support to create Keoladeo National Park. It was also known as the breeding ground for the rare and elusive to spot Siberian crane. Keoladeo National Park offers well-defined treks which can be covered on either foot, or cycle or rickshaws. In fact, the park management has trained the rickshaw pullers in bird watching and they make for extremely knowledgeable guides.

Situated at the confluence of the Gambhir and Banganga rivers in the Bharatpur district of Rajasthan, the sanctuary was originally a natural depression prone to seasonal flooding. Over a period of time it developed into a lush, thriving system of freshwater marshes that attracted a large and diverse population of migratory birds. The Maharajas of Bharatpur added some bunds (dykes) and developed it as a duck shooting reserve. You can see the list of their exploits inside the park.

A short straight road from the main gate takes you past the barrier, from where the core area begins, to the centre of the park. Apart from the conventional method of exploring the park on foot, we can also arrange a bicycle though the most preferred mode is a cycle rickshaw tour. Our handpicked rickshaw guides double up as excellent naturalists. Since they have been going to the park almost every day for years, they are the ones who have the most recent updates about good breeding areas and where to find particular birds.

The annual monsoon brings with it bird life from all over the country to Keoladeo National Park the world heritage site here in Bharatpur, Rajasthan. This season the Park is looking stunning. It is lush green and the lakes are full of water. Hundreds of exotic birds have started to breed, their nesting homes are the Babool and Kadam trees of the Park. For the first time in 10-12 years water is pushing through the Ajan Bandh and filling the entire Keoladeo wetland right up to the Park entrance.

In the event of a good monsoon, you also have the option of taking a leisurely boat ride. (subject to the water level in the park) Boating gives you close access to nesting sites and is extremely rewarding for photography. Each gives a unique dimension to the Keoladeo experience. To explore the birdlife at nearby Ajan Bund reservoir and Bund Baretha, a taxi can be arranged.

With the assurance of enough food and water, hundreds of Cormorants (three species), Darters, Purple and Grey Herons, Egret, Storks Painted, Open-Billed, White and Black Necked as well as a plethora of other birds are busy courting and mating. The trees are currently overflowing with nests that resemble a pearl necklace, with some housing up to 60-70 nests each belonging to different species of birds looking after their young chicks.

I am also pleased to report that we have three pairs of the tallest flight bird - the gracious Sarus Cranes, nesting this season in the Park.


After Feredunkenar in Iran, Bharatpur was once the last known wintering ground for the highly endangered central population of the Siberian Crane. Wintergrants include Bar-headed Geese from Tibet & China and the Grey-lag Geese from Siberia. The park is an excellent breeding site for the Painted Stork, Purple Heron, White Ibis and Eurasian Spoonbill. If you are lucky, you can witness the marvelous courtship dance of the Sarus Crane, the world's tallest bird in flight. 

This checklist has been compiled from various sources.

Common name (Scientific name)
1. Black francolin (Francolinus francolinus) Resident, Breeds
2. Grey francolin (Francolinus pondicerianus) Resident, Breeds, very common
3. Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix) M, C
4. Rain qual (Coturnix coromandelica) Local Migrant Occasional
5. Jungle Bush-Quail (Perdicula asiatica) Resident Uncommon
6. Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) Resident Common
7. Lesser Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna javanica) Resident Common
8. White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) No recent sighting
9. Marbled Teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris) Migratory, uncommon
10. Greater white-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) Migratory, Occasional ?
11. Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus) Migratory, One record of a single straggler
12. Greylag Goose (Anser anser) Migratory, very common
13. Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) Migratory, very common
14. Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) Local migrant, small numbers
15. Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) Migratory, uncommon
16. Comb Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) Resident, common
17. Cotton Pygmy-goose (Nettapus coromandelianus) Resident, common
18. Gadwall (Anas strepera) Migratory, common
19. Falcated Teal (Anas falcata) Migratory, uncommon
20. Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope) Migratory, common
21. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) Migratory, uncommon
22. Spot-billed Duck (Anas poecilorhyncha) Resident, common
23. Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) Migratory, very common
24. Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) Migratory, very common
25. Garganey (Anas querquedula) Passage migrant
26. Baikal Teal (Anas formosa) Migratory, uncommon
27. Common Teal (Anas crecca) Migratory, common
28. Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) Migratory, common
29. Common Pochard (Aythya ferina) Migratory, common
30. Ferruginous Pochard (Aythya nyroca) Local migrant
31. Baer's Pochard (Aythya baeri) Uncommon migrant
32. Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) migrant, common to uncommon
33. Greater Scaup (Aythya marila) uncommon migrant
34. Smew (Mergellus albellus) single record?
35. Common Marganser (Mergus merganser) single record?
36. Yellow-legged Buttonquail (Turnix tanki) Local migrant, occasional
37. Barred Buttonquail (Turnix suscitator) Resident
38. Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla) Migrant, common
39. Brown-capped Woodpecker (Dendrocopos nanus) Resident
40. Yellow-crowned Woodpecker (Dendrocopos mahrattensis) Resident
41. Back-rumped Flameback (Dinopium benghalense) resident, breeds
42. Brown-headed Barbet (Megalaima zeylanica) now established, Resident
43. White-cheeked Barbet (Megalaima viridis) Evans, by mistake
44. Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) Resident, breeds
45. Indian Grey-Hornbill (Ocyceros birostris) resident, breeds
46. Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops) Resident and migrant
47. European Roller (Coracias garrulus) Local migrant, uncommon
48. Indian Roller (Coracias benghalensis) Resident, common
49. Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) common resident
50. Stork-billed Kingfisher (Pelargopsis capensis) occasional, resident
51. White-thoated Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis) resident, very common
52. Black-capped Kingfisher (Halcyon pileata) LM, U
53. Pied Kingfisher (Ceryle rudis) Resdient common
54. Little Green Bee-eater (Merops orientalis) Resident common
55. Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops persicus) passage migrant
56. Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus) passage migrant
57. Pied Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus) Migrant, breeds, common
58. Common Hawk-Cuckoo (Cuculus varius) R,C
59. Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) M,O
60. Grey-bellied Cuckoo (Cacomantis passerinus) LM,O
61. Asian Koel (Eudynamys scolopacea) R,O
62. Sirkeer Malkoha (Phaenicophaeus leschenaultii) R,O
63. Greater Coucal (Centropus sinensis) R,C
64. Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) R,C
65. Plum-headed Parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) LM,O
66. Asian Palm-Swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) R,U
67. Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis melba) Evans
68. Little Swift (Apus affinis) Resident, common
69. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Migrant occasional
70. Oriental Scops Owl (Otus sunia) R,C
71. Collared Scops Owl (Otus bakkamoena) R,O
72. Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) LM,U
73. Dusky Eagle-Owl (Bubo coromandus) R,C
74. Brown Fish-Owl (Ketupa zeylonensis) LM,U
75. Mottled Wood-Owl (Strix ocellata) R
76. Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) R,C
77. Brown Hawk-Owl (Ninox scutulata) LM,U
78. Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus) M,U
79. Grey Nightjar (Caprimulgus indicus) R,O
80. Syke's Nightjar (Caprimulgus mahrattensis) SM,U
81. Indian Nightjar (Caprimulgu

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