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Hyderabad, AP, India
I used to be a bit of a drifter, still am partly, but life is getting more and more organized recently due to a special someone. I love playing and watching cricket, I have recently realised that I have a very big interest in wildlife and birding. I work for a blue chip company. I am well and truly blessed! No complaints there :)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Birding in Bharatpur

Bharatpur, this quaint laidback city of Rajasthan I hear was once impregnable and well-fortified. Though on my way back I checked Google maps to see the formidable walls around the city, it’s not the fort that took me there. I reached Bharatpur one February night only to make my way to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park at the crack of dawn next day.

History: The marshes of Keoladeo, more popularly known as Bharatpur, was the private hunting reserve of the Maharajas of Bharatpur. It was developed in the late 19th century by creating small dams and bunds in an area of natural depression to collect rainwater and by feeding it with an irrigation canal. Over the years, the lakes attracted great numbers of waterfowl and the Maharajas held grand shoots with family, friends and visiting dignitaries. Two-thirds of the park lies under water, the extent and volume depending on the intensity of the rains. The remaining one-third of the park is covered in dry deciduous forests (with Acacia, Ber, Kadam and Khajur trees) and extensive grasslands. On the raised ground outlining the wetlands grow a profusion of Acacia trees, where the resident water birds nest, often in large mixed colonies, a spectacular sight during the monsoon.

The city has an extremely unique system in place. You get on to a cycle rickshaw and you are at the pullers mercy :). He’s your sole guide/companion within the park. He has excellent understanding of the history, flora and fauna of the reserve and keeps you pleasantly occupied through your birding experience. It’s the safest, environment friendly, cheap and personalized trip I have had. Here’s what it looks like:

From Bharatpur

The park attracts ornithologists and photographers from all over and the crowd is more family oriented than boisterous. I got many decent shots, as you can see below. The following are shots solely of the common mynah...

These are some other favourite pictures from the truckloads I shot at the park:

...and these are of my 170-500 mm Sigma covering birds in flight. Let me know if you like any?

I also had a friendly conversation with the forest guard who told me more about the current ecological threat to the park. This is due to the reduced water supply from the Government. It has caused the marshlands to turn dry and inhospitable causing most birds to fly off to alternative destinations. I wish things got better…

From Bharatpur

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