Monday, 23 February 2009

Northern India and the Himalayan Foothills Day Three

Sunday 18th January 2009

Back to Ranthambhore this morning, this time to zone 2 and our first birds were oriental honey buzzard, two collared scops owls and this stunning black-shouldered kite.

Further along our drive we had more raptors including shikra, common kestrel and two crested-serpent eagles which are always photogenic!

A fantastic spectacle was coming across a group of long-billed vultures at a sambar deer carcass - a tiger kill? A gruesome but interesting sight.....and smell!
We stopped at drinking hole where we were allowed to get off the vehicle, the water had attracted a number of species including the plum-headed parakeets, ring-necked parakeets and red-vented bulbuls.

While we watched the watering hole, a gang of jungle babblers took the opportunity to clean our vehicle of biscuit crumbs.
Other interesting species in the park included two wooly-necked storks, a long-legged buzzard, yellow-footed green pigeons and two purple sunbirds.

At 10am, we left the park (it already felt like lunchtime), to explore the desert area around the hotel, looking for Indian courser amongst others. There were greater short-toed larks, tawny pipits and ashy-crowned sparrow larks along the track, with siberian stonechats, indian rollers, bay-backed, southern grey and long-tailed shrikes perched up. We didn't see Indian courser but a sirkeer malkoha was an unexpected bonus as it flew off the track.

We left the hotel at 1130 for the 7 hour drive to Bharatpur. We stopped to bird occasionally along the way but there were no surprises. Like in Africa, no matter were you stop in rural India, no matter how isolated and deserted it looks, kids appear from nowhere to investigate the contents of the 'tourist bus' looking to get sweets, pens or cash, they're not pushy though and were rewarded as Tony Stewart had come prepared with a big bag of bullets.

market photo and jungle babbler photo: Tony Crilley

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