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Field Guides Tour Report
Northern India 2019
Jan 28, 2019 to Feb 14, 2019
Terry Stevenson & Tom Johnson

This stunning male Tiger at Ranthambhore National Park rewarded our patience and persistence. It really is something special to come face to face with this forest emperor. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

Our 2019 tour of Northern India was a kaleidoscope of life, combining an immense wealth of wild animals with the staggering cultural heritage of this nation. Birding was a priority, and we did very well on that front, finding over 340 species of birds - a combination of residents of the Indian subcontinent and migrants from northern Eurasia. We also focused on India's iconic mammals, finding Tiger, Indian Elephant, and Sloth Bear among others. Our wildlife-seeking outings were combined with cultural trips to enjoy and learn about legendary sites like Fatehpur Sikri, the Agra Fort, and of course, the Taj Mahal. Along the way, we enjoyed tasty local food (often in a birder-friendly buffet format!) and traveled by bus, SUV, Gypsy Jeep, Canter truck, bicycle rickshaw, and perhaps most memorably, train.

We met in bustling Delhi and kicked off our birding with a trip to the wetlands and woodland edge of Okhla Bird Sanctuary, encountering Pallas's Gulls, Purple Herons, Marsh Sandpipers, and more. We took a train from Delhi to Ranthambhore, our base for 3 nights. At Ranthambhore, we explored the wild tracks of the famous national park in an open Canter truck. While we saw scores of excellent birds including Plum-headed Parakeets, Painted Spurfowl, Painted Sandgrouse, and Crested Bunting, we focused our efforts on finding some of India's top mammals. On our final afternoon drive at Ranthambhore, we managed close views of a jaw-dropping Tiger, two Sloth Bears, and four Indian Gazelle - quite an impressive visit!

Moving northeast to Bharatpur, we spent a few days exploring the huge wetland complex of Keoladeo National Park (often just referred to as "Bharatpur" in birder parlance). Water levels were high this year, and thousands and thousands of waterbirds took advantage of the local conditions. In addition to walking the park's paths, we were driven around in bicycle rickshaws by local guides who know where to find some tricky species like day-roosting owls. Black Bittern, Dusky Eagle-Owl, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, scores of Bar-headed Geese, Sarus Cranes, many raptors, hundreds of Painted Storks, and many more birds kept us on our toes on our two visits into the park. We also made a day trip to Bund Baretha where we enjoyed roosting Brown Boobook, ground-foraging Orange-headed and Tickell's thrushes, and a big day roost of Indian Flying-foxes. A side trip to a nearby Indian Vulture nesting cliff afforded us excellent views of these big, critically endangered raptors.

Leaving Bharatpur, we took a cultural trip to see the fantastic buildings of Fatehpur Sikri. In 1571, Emperor Akbar created this site as the capital of the Mughal empire, and it is an incredibly impressive place to spend time. From Agra, we also visited the massive Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal, Shah Jahan's epic monument and tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Though our visit to the Taj Mahal started under a veil of super dense fog, as we learned about the structures from our local guide, the fog lifted and we were suddenly overwhelmed by the majesty of the entire tomb and surrounding gardens - absolutely breathtaking! From our base in Agra, we also ventured to the wide and healthy Chambal River for a great boat trip. We saw dozens of the critically endangered Gharial (a fish-eating crocodile), Brown Crake, Black-bellied Tern, Asian Openbill, and Long-legged Buzzard.

With our minds stimulated by a taste of the human history of India, we returned to Delhi and then headed across the Indian Plains to the northeast by bus. We spent four nights in the area in and around Corbett National Park at the foot of the well-forested Himalaya. Indian Elephants were exciting to see during our overnight visit into the national park to Dhikala, and we also found bird highlights in the form of Wallcreepers (one landed right next to us!), Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Red Junglefowl, Cinereous and Red-headed Vultures, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Pin-tailed Pigeon, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Brown Dipper, Brown Fish-Owls, Spotted Forktail, and others. Our birding inside the park was done from within open-topped Gypsy Jeeps (because of the danger inherent in walking around in tiger country), but outside the park we enjoyed stretching our legs with some trail birding on foot. The Greater Yellownapes that banged on the windows of our lodge at The Den (adjacent to Corbett) were surprising, and the flowering silk cotton tree full of barbets, bulbuls, and a Chestnut Thrush was simply incredible.

Next we drove up to Nainital in the Himalaya, a mountain town at just over 2000 meters. In the chilly mountain air, we watched flocks of laughingthrushes, scores of eagles and griffons, a cute and skulky Scaly-breasted Cupwing, an unexpected Dark-sided Thrush, and quite a few lunch-stealing Rhesus Macaques (don't turn your back on them if there's a banana in sight!).

On our way back to Delhi, we spent a night in Ramnagar and took an evening drive into nearby forest, finding White-crested Laughingthrushes and a stunning Common Green Magpie. A long train ride gave us time to organize our thoughts from the magical Himalaya (or time to take a nap for others). For our final day of birding, we ventured west of Delhi to Sultanpur National Park. Dodging some morning rain showers, we put together a great day of birding, finding Greater Flamingo, Tufted Ducks, Common Hawk-Cuckoo, nesting Sind Sparrows, Long-billed Pipit, and Variable Wheatear. After one final fabulous Indian buffet at our Delhi hotel, we parted ways and headed to the airport for our flights home.

Terry and I had an enjoyable time traveling with all of you and experiencing a rich cross-section of India - thanks for coming with us. We'd also like to offer our gratitude to our local guide Rakesh and the entire team at A&K for providing excellent ground service and logistical support for us along the way.

Until next time, good birding!


One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
LESSER WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna javanica) – We saw these lanky ducks several times, including at Bharatpur and at the Chambal River.
BAR-HEADED GOOSE (Anser indicus) – Close views of these beautiful, high-flying migrants at Bharatpur and the Chambal River.
GRAYLAG GOOSE (Anser anser) – Our best looks were at Bharatpur and Okhla Bird Sanctuary.
KNOB-BILLED DUCK (Sarkidiornis melanotos) – Seen several times, with the closest views at Sultanpur on our final day.
RUDDY SHELDUCK (Tadorna ferruginea) – We saw these stout, colorful ducks repeatedly; over 180 were along the river at Ramnagar.
COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus coromandelianus) – These small, odd waterfowl were at Bharatpur and Bund Baretha.

Just outside of Corbett National Park, we found this handsome Spotted Forktail foraging in a small, rocky stream. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

GARGANEY (Spatula querquedula) – Five of these distinctive teal were at Okhla Bird Sanctuary on our first day together.
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata) – We saw hundreds of these widespread ducks at Bharatpur, Okhla Bird Sanctuary, and Sultanpur.
GADWALL (Mareca strepera) – Hundreds at Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Bharatpur, and Sultanpur.
EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope) – Several pairs at Bharatpur and Sultanpur.
INDIAN SPOT-BILLED DUCK (Anas poecilorhyncha) – Common and widespread.
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos) – We saw very few - 6 at Bharatpur and 2 at Corbett NP.
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta) – These beauties were widespread - basically wherever we saw waterfowl.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Anas crecca) – Common and widespread.
RED-CRESTED POCHARD (Netta rufina) – Two singles - one at the Chambal River and another in Ramnagar.
COMMON POCHARD (Aythya ferina) – Our first was at Taj Mahal; later we found 65 at Sultanpur.
FERRUGINOUS DUCK (Aythya nyroca) – We saw a few dozen of these richly colored ducks between Bharatpur and Sultanpur.
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula) – We saw about 20 at Sultanpur on our final day.
COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser) – Seven were on the river near The Den at Corbett.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
INDIAN PEAFOWL (Pavo cristatus) – These huge, iconic birds were widespread during our travels.
PAINTED SPURFOWL (Galloperdix lunulata) – We saw three at Ranthambhore including an extremely showy pair.
JUNGLE BUSH-QUAIL (Perdicula asiatica) – About 20 scurried through the grass along a track through Ranthambhore.
BLACK FRANCOLIN (Francolinus francolinus) – We heard a few calling near Sattal, but weren't able to see them. [*]
GRAY FRANCOLIN (Francolinus pondicerianus) – Fairly common in open areas.

This Striated Laughingthrush perched up beautifully for group member George Sims, who took this fine photo.

RED JUNGLEFOWL (Gallus gallus) – This extremely familiar bird (the progenitor of our domestic chicken) was exciting to see in a wild, native context in the forest edge at Corbett NP.
KALIJ PHEASANT (Lophura leucomelanos) – These forest pheasants showed repeatedly along roadsides between Corbett NP and Nainital.
Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos)
GREATER FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus roseus) – A small flock was in the distance at Sultanpur.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis) – Scattered sightings of this small, widespread grebe.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Common and widespread; in towns and cities as well as on natural rock cliffs.
ORIENTAL TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia orientalis) – These big doves showed nicely at Snow View in Nainital.
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto) – Fairly common and widespread.
RED COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia tranquebarica) – These striking doves were with Eurasian Collared Doves at the Chambal Safari Lodge and at Sultanpur.
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis) – We had just a handful of sightings of these spot-necked doves, mostly at Ranthambhore and Corbett.
LAUGHING DOVE (Streptopelia senegalensis) – Common and widespread.
ASIAN EMERALD DOVE (Chalcophaps indica) – A few were quick flybys in the forest edge at Corbett NP.
YELLOW-FOOTED PIGEON (Treron phoenicopterus) – Plenty of these large, colorful pigeons were around the Ranthambhore and Bharatpur areas.
PIN-TAILED PIGEON (Treron apicauda) – A flock perched up in a treetop over a track through the forest at Corbett NP, giving us some great views.
Pteroclidae (Sandgrouse)
PAINTED SANDGROUSE (Pterocles indicus) – Wow - five strolled around on an open hillside outside Ranthambhore.
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
GREATER COUCAL (Centropus sinensis) – These huge cuckoos were seen repeatedly, often flying awkwardly along field and forest edges.
COMMON HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx varius) – Two were along the paths at Sultanpur on our final day - it's almost uncanny how similar to Accipiter hawks these cuckoos can appear.
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-RUMPED NEEDLETAIL (Zoonavena sylvatica) – We saw several dozen of these swifts over the forests at Corbett NP.
HIMALAYAN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus brevirostris) – These slim swifts were seen repeatedly in the Himalayan foothills, with particularly close views at Snow View.

The ornate plumage of this male Painted Sandgrouse certainly helps him blend in with this open landscape just outside of Ranthambhore National Park. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

ALPINE SWIFT (Apus melba) – Small numbers of these big, contrasty swifts were overhead at Corbett and Ramnagar.
BLYTH'S SWIFT (Apus leuconyx) – This is the local representative of the Fork-tailed Swift complex; we saw several of them at Corbett NP and over our hotel in Ramnagar.
LITTLE SWIFT (Apus affinis) – A few circled overhead at the huge stone gate in Ranthambhore NP.
Hemiprocnidae (Treeswifts)
CRESTED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne coronata) – These were scarcer than normal around Corbett NP, though we did see them cruising overhead a few times.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus) – Quite common and widespread in wetlands.
EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra) – Hundreds covered many of the reservoirs and wetlands that we visited.
GRAY-HEADED SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio poliocephalus) – Dozens of these massive rails were spread between Okhla, Bharatpur, and Sultanpur.
WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus) – Common, especially near shaded edges of wetlands.
BROWN CRAKE (Zapornia akool) – One scrambled along the edge of the Chambal River and posed briefly in the open during our boat trip.
Gruidae (Cranes)
SARUS CRANE (Antigone antigone) – Fantastic views of a family group at close range at Bharatpur. This is widely known as the world's tallest flying bird!
Burhinidae (Thick-knees)
INDIAN THICK-KNEE (Burhinus indicus) – Three of these big-eyed shorebirds were standing around in the open field behind the Chambal Safari Lodge.
GREAT THICK-KNEE (Esacus recurvirostris) – Repeated, excellent views - the best were the birds on the islands in the Chambal River during our boat trip.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus) – These skinny waders were fairly common and widespread.
PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta) – Two were along the edge of the Chambal River.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
RIVER LAPWING (Vanellus duvaucelii) – These beautiful plovers showed very well along the Chambal River and again in numbers between Corbett NP and Ramnagar.
YELLOW-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus malabaricus) – We found small numbers at Ranthambhore, the Chambal Safari Lodge, and Sultanpur.
RED-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus indicus) – Very common and widespread.
WHITE-TAILED LAPWING (Vanellus leucurus) – These elegant plovers were in wetlands at Bharatpur and Sultanpur.

Our lodge outside of Corbett National Park had a nice flowering tree on the grounds that attracted this lovely Orange-bellied Leafbird. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

KENTISH PLOVER (KENTISH) (Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus) – Just a few were along the bank of the Chambal River during our boat trip.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius dubius) – Two were along the bank of the Chambal River.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA (Hydrophasianus chirurgus) – At the eleventh hour, we saw two of these strange shorebirds striding through the marsh at Bharatpur.
BRONZE-WINGED JACANA (Metopidius indicus) – Especially close sightings at Bharatpur.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
RUFF (Calidris pugnax) – Just a few - at Okhla, the Taj Mahal, and Sultanpur.
TEMMINCK'S STINT (Calidris temminckii) – A few of these small sandpipers were on the mudflats at Okhla and along the Chambal River.
COMMON SNIPE (Gallinago gallinago) – A few were hiding at Ranthambhore and Bharatpur.
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos) – These common shorebirds were bobbing along the edge of the water at many wetland sites.
GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus) – A common wintering shorebird along our route.
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia) – Widespread as a wintering species here.
MARSH SANDPIPER (Tringa stagnatilis) – A flock of 9 fed in shallow water at Okhla on our first day together.
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola) – Small numbers except for plenty in the wetlands at Bharatpur.
COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus) – We saw small numbers of these shorebirds in wetlands, mostly in areas with other Tringa.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BLACK-HEADED GULL (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) – Just a few of these widespread small gulls were at Okhla and again at the Taj Mahal.
PALLAS'S GULL (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus) – Several flybys of these large gulls at Okhla and on the Chambal River.
CASPIAN GULL (Larus cachinnans) – A few were in the Delhi area.

These scrapping Indian Gazelle were a sweet preamble to our Sloth Bear and Tiger sightings (all within the same hour!). Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida) – A few were foraging along rivers in Delhi and in Corbett NP.
BLACK-BELLIED TERN (Sterna acuticauda) – The boat trip along the Chambal River was good for getting fantastic views of these rare terns.
RIVER TERN (Sterna aurantia) – Fairly common on larger bodies of water that we visited.
Ciconiidae (Storks)
ASIAN OPENBILL (Anastomus oscitans) – The best view was during our boat trip on the Chambal River.
BLACK STORK (Ciconia nigra) – Widespread sightings of singles, including at Ranthambhore and Corbett.
WOOLLY-NECKED STORK (Ciconia episcopus) – We found these handsome storks at Ranthambhore, Corbett, and Bharatpur.
BLACK-NECKED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) – Singles of this massive species were at Bharatpur and Corbett NP.
PAINTED STORK (Mycteria leucocephala) – Quite common, especially in the wetlands at Bharatpur where they were nesting in large numbers.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ORIENTAL DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster) – This Anhinga-relative was at several of the larger freshwater lakes and wetlands that we visited.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LITTLE CORMORANT (Microcarbo niger) – This was the small, stub-billed cormorant that was quite common.
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo) – Plenty; seen on most days of the tour.
INDIAN CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) – About 5 of these local specialties were in the wetlands close to the paths at Bharatpur.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
GREAT WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus onocrotalus) – Very common at Bharatpur.
DALMATIAN PELICAN (Pelecanus crispus) – At Bharatpur, we practiced picking out these scarce pelicans from the more common Great Whites.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BITTERN (Botaurus stellaris) – We were able to use a group of elephants as a landmark to help lock on to this unexpected surprise at Corbett NP.
BLACK BITTERN (Ixobrychus flavicollis) – One was skulking under a waterside hedge at Bharatpur.
GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea) – This was the common large heron found at many wetland sites.
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea) – These slim, colorful herons were seen regularly in wetlands.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Common.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia) – Small numbers were scattered throughout our journey - they remind me of lanky Cattle Egrets.
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta) – A regular bird of many wetlands.

Our walk at Snow View in Nainital led us to a stunning view of the high Himalaya, but also helped us find a big flock of over 50 Black-headed Jays. Photo by group member George Sims.

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Commonly seen during our drives and train trips.
INDIAN POND-HERON (Ardeola grayii) – Almost everywhere there's water - we even saw many right in the middle of towns.
STRIATED HERON (Butorides striata) – Just a couple - we saw these small herons at Bharatpur and Corbett NP.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – Most of ours were roosting in trees at Bharatpur.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – We saw these widespread ibis at Okhla, Bharatpur, and Sultanpur.
BLACK-HEADED IBIS (Threskiornis melanocephalus) – These ibis were at most wetland sites that we visited.
RED-NAPED IBIS (Pseudibis papillosa) – Our first sighting was of 3 birds soaring with Egyptian Vultures over our hotel at Bharatpur; later, we had close views during our boat trip on the Chambal River.
EURASIAN SPOONBILL (Platalea leucorodia) – Quite common at Bharatpur during our walks there.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – A few were soaring over water at Ranthambhore and along the Chambal River.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-WINGED KITE (Elanus caeruleus) – This is similar to the White-tailed Kite of the Americas; we saw them occasionally foraging along roadsides and brushy fields. The one that hunted over our hotel at Bharatpur was particularly showy.
EGYPTIAN VULTURE (Neophron percnopterus) – These large, slim-headed vultures were fairly common around Bharatpur.
ORIENTAL HONEY-BUZZARD (Pernis ptilorhynchus) – One circled over our hotel in Bharatpur, and we saw another two soaring in Ramnagar.
RED-HEADED VULTURE (Sarcogyps calvus) – Two were near Dhikala at Corbett NP.
CINEREOUS VULTURE (Aegypius monachus) – These big vultures soared overhead at Corbett NP and at Ramnagar.
INDIAN VULTURE (Gyps indicus) – A few soared over at Ranthambhore, and we had some close views of nesting birds on the cliffs at Bayana. This species suffered a >97% decline due to incidental poisoning from the veterinary drug diclofenac (which had been given as an anti-inflammatory to cattle and other animals), and is now listed as critically endangered.
HIMALAYAN GRIFFON (Gyps himalayensis) – These massive raptors cruised overhead at many sites in the Himalayan foothills.

At Sattal, we found a close group of 3 Blue-throated Barbets feeding in bushes low to the ground. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (Spilornis cheela) – This big raptor is especially impressive in flight due to its boldly striped wing feathers. We saw them regularly in protected areas near water, including Ranthambhore, Bharatpur, and Corbett.
CHANGEABLE HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus limnaeetus) – A few called incessantly and offered nice views along the forest edge at Corbett NP.
MOUNTAIN HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus nipalensis) – Our first chased some Blue-throated Barbets at Sattal and then responded to playback; another perched in the distance at Mongoli Valley.
BLACK EAGLE (Ictinaetus malaiensis) – This uncommon species soared past at great distance above Snow View at Nainital.
INDIAN SPOTTED EAGLE (Clanga hastata) – We studied one in the fog at Bharatpur, and got to compare it to nearby Greater Spotted Eagles.
GREATER SPOTTED EAGLE (Clanga clanga) – These large, broad-winged eagles were most common around the Bharatpur wetlands.
BOOTED EAGLE (Hieraaetus pennatus) – One perched in a treetop at Bharatpur, and another rode the thermals above Fatehpur Sikri.
STEPPE EAGLE (Aquila nipalensis) – These were downright common in the Himalayan foothills, especially around Mongoli Valley.
IMPERIAL EAGLE (Aquila heliaca) – One circled at great height above Bund Baretha, and another was perched at Sultanpur on our final day.
BONELLI'S EAGLE (Aquila fasciata) – One soared over us at Bharatpur, allowing a comparison with Greater Spotted Eagles.
WHITE-EYED BUZZARD (Butastur teesa) – Just after our tiger sighting at Ranthambhore, one of these raptors flew past, but it didn't stick around long.
EURASIAN MARSH-HARRIER (Circus aeruginosus) – Ours were at Okhla and Bharatpur.
SHIKRA (Accipiter badius) – This was the Accipiter that we saw almost daily while on the Plains, with great views at Ranthambhore.
EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter nisus) – One circled over near the Three Gods Statue below Nainital.
BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans) – Incredibly common, particularly on the east side of Delhi where thousands are attracted to a large landfill.
PALLAS'S FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) – Ours were perched or flying along the rivers of Corbett NP and surrounding foothill areas.

This Blyth's Swift circled over our hotel in Ramnagar at the base of the Himalaya. This taxon was formerly considered part of "Fork-tailed Swift" before that species was split. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

LESSER FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus humilis) – These were perched along water in the area of Corbett NP. [*]
HIMALAYAN BUZZARD (Buteo refectus) – A recent split from Common Buzzard - a few of us saw one perched up in the distance near our Ramnagar hotel.
LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD (Buteo rufinus) – A few circled overhead nicely along the banks of the Chambal River.
Strigidae (Owls)
INDIAN SCOPS-OWL (Otus bakkamoena) – Our rickshaw drivers knew just where to spot a few day-roosting birds during our excursions at Bharatpur.
DUSKY EAGLE-OWL (Bubo coromandus) – Wow - it's impossible to forget the intense orange eyes of this big owl that we saw on a day roost at Bharatpur.
BROWN FISH-OWL (Ketupa zeylonensis) – Quite common - we saw at least 6 of these big, sleepy-looking owls, always near water.
ASIAN BARRED OWLET (Glaucidium cuculoides) – One was in the Dhikala compound at Corbett NP; another flew across the road in front of us near Snow View at Nainital. Perhaps the most memorable was the bird being mobbed by Jungle Babblers at Mongoli Valley.
JUNGLE OWLET (Glaucidium radiatum) – Our first was seen by just a few during a jeep ride through Corbett NP; however, we spotted a few more near our Ramnagar hotel. Individuals of this species are more finely barred than Asian Barred Owlets.
SPOTTED OWLET (Athene brama) – A fairly conspicuous day-rooster! We saw singles or pairs on five days of our tour.
BROWN BOOBOOK (Ninox scutulata) – We saw day-roosting birds at Bund Baretha and again at the Chambal Safari Lodge.
Upupidae (Hoopoes)
EURASIAN HOOPOE (Upupa epops) – Fairly common, with repeated close views of these amazing birds.
Bucerotidae (Hornbills)
INDIAN GRAY HORNBILL (Ocyceros birostris) – We found these small hornbills at many sites throughout our travels. Perhaps most memorable were the ones just outside our rooms at the Banyan Retreat in Ramnagar.
ORIENTAL PIED-HORNBILL (Anthracoceros albirostris) – Three flew over us during a rainstorm at Corbett NP, and then part of the group saw another one nicely as we headed to the train station at Ramnagar.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis) – This was the, well, common (!) small kingfisher that we saw along the edges of lakes and rivers.
STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Pelargopsis capensis) – This impressive kingfisher was hanging around a mixed flock in the forest edge at Corbett NP.

A pair of Greater Yellownapes were noisily banging on the windows of our lodge at The Den near Corbett National Park. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHER (Halcyon smyrnensis) – This was the abundant kingfisher that we saw just about everywhere during our travels - even in the middle of large cities!
CRESTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle lugubris) – These large, black-and-white kingfishers were along rocky rivers near Corbett NP.
PIED KINGFISHER (Ceryle rudis) – This was the smaller black-and-white kingfisher that we often spotted as it hovered over water.
Meropidae (Bee-eaters)
GREEN BEE-EATER (Merops orientalis) – Two were near the entrance to Bharatpur on our first visit there.
Coraciidae (Rollers)
INDIAN ROLLER (Coracias benghalensis) – These big, chunky birds are adorned with beautiful pastel colors, and we saw them fairly commonly as they perched on roadside wires.
Megalaimidae (Asian Barbets)
COPPERSMITH BARBET (Psilopogon haemacephalus) – We heard more than we saw, but we did have some nice views at Bharatpur.
GREAT BARBET (Psilopogon virens) – Several good sightings in the Himalayan foothills, with our best views at the silk cotton tree near The Den and also at Nainital.
LINEATED BARBET (Psilopogon lineatus) – This was the barbet that we saw in the Himalayas that reminded us of the Brown-headed Barbet from the Plains.
BROWN-HEADED BARBET (Psilopogon zeylanicus) – Several sightings in the Plains, including right in the middle of Delhi.
BLUE-THROATED BARBET (Psilopogon asiaticus) – Wow - the three beauties that we saw during our walk at Sattal were downright confiding as they fed in low shrubs.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
EURASIAN WRYNECK (Jynx torquilla) – We crossed paths with at least 5 of these strange, small woodpeckers.
GRAY-CAPPED WOODPECKER (Yungipicus canicapillus) – These small woodpeckers entertained us on several occasions around Corbett NP.
YELLOW-CROWNED WOODPECKER (Leiopicus mahrattensis) – One was seen briefly in a treetop at Bharatpur.

The narrow jaws of this critically endangered Gharial make it a formidable fish-catching reptile. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

BROWN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocoptes auriceps) – Ours were in the general Nainital area.
FULVOUS-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos macei) – This was one of the common woodpeckers that we encountered in the lower Himalayan foothills.
HIMALAYAN WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos himalayensis) – We studied one carefully in the scope during our walk at the Mongoli Valley trail.
GREATER FLAMEBACK (Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus) – Three carried on loudly and showed in the forest subcanopy at Corbett NP just before dusk one evening.
HIMALAYAN FLAMEBACK (Dinopium shorii) – A few sightings around the Corbett NP area.
BLACK-RUMPED FLAMEBACK (Dinopium benghalense) – This was the flameback that we encountered most often, including in small patches of forest on the Plains.
LESSER YELLOWNAPE (Picus chlorolophus) – The nicest sighting was of one bird near our Dark-sided Thrush at Sattal.
STREAK-THROATED WOODPECKER (Picus xanthopygaeus) – These handsome woodpeckers appeared during one of our jeep safaris at Corbett NP.
GRAY-HEADED WOODPECKER (Picus canus) – Several sightings in the Himalayan foothills, including at Corbett NP.
GREATER YELLOWNAPE (Chrysophlegma flavinucha) – Wow - we had such amazing views of the pair that were banging on the windows of the restaurant at The Den, near Corbett NP. It was shocking when one of the birds flew into the window and dropped like a stone next to us, but he recovered and was back at his window-demolition within a few hours.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
COLLARED FALCONET (Microhierax caerulescens) – One perched in a treetop near the flowering silk cotton tree near The Den.
EURASIAN KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus) – We saw most of ours during transit, but also had some good scope views near Ranthambhore and Bayana.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – It was pretty striking to watch a Peregrine circling over the top of the Taj Mahal!
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
ALEXANDRINE PARAKEET (Psittacula eupatria) – Three flew past quickly near Ramnagar as we stretched our legs.
ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET (Psittacula krameri) – Very common and widespread.

Along the bank of the Chambal River, this Desert Wheatear accompanied a pair of Crested Larks. Photo by group member George Sims.

SLATY-HEADED PARAKEET (Psittacula himalayana) – These attractive parakeets showed up in the forests of the Himalayan foothills on several occasions.
PLUM-HEADED PARAKEET (Psittacula cyanocephala) – Great views at Ranthambhore and at the Bayana cliffs, where they were investigating cavities in the stone.
RED-BREASTED PARAKEET (Psittacula alexandri) – We encountered several large flocks of these parakeets near the foot of the Himalaya at Ramnagar and Corbett.
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)
COMMON WOODSHRIKE (Tephrodornis pondicerianus) – Several sightings of these odd birds in open forest habitats at Bharatpur, Corbett, and Sultanpur.
BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus picatus) – These small relatives of the vangas were seen frequently in mixed flocks in the Corbett NP area.
Aegithinidae (Ioras)
COMMON IORA (Aegithina tiphia) – Terry pointed one out in that excited mixed flock that we encountered just downslope from The Den.
Campephagidae (Cuckooshrikes)
SMALL MINIVET (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus) – A pair showed near a stream crossing at Ranthambhore.
LONG-TAILED MINIVET (Pericrocotus ethologus) – Several small flocks at Corbett and Sultanpur.
SCARLET MINIVET (Pericrocotus speciosus) – We saw several of these striking birds in the garden at The Den near Corbett.
Laniidae (Shrikes)
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach) – This handsome shrike was a common sight in open habitats in the Plains.
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
INDIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE (Oriolus kundoo) – One moved through dense brush at Bharatpur, never showing particularly well.
MAROON ORIOLE (Oriolus traillii) – We pieced together this ID from a suboptimal view near Snow View at Nainital.
Dicruridae (Drongos)
BLACK DRONGO (Dicrurus macrocercus) – This was a common bird of open and edge habitat in the Plains.
ASHY DRONGO (Dicrurus leucophaeus) – We saw one at The Den on a few occasions.

This huge bat was one of hundreds we saw roosting in the trees at Bund Baretha - it's an Indian Flying-fox. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

WHITE-BELLIED DRONGO (Dicrurus caerulescens) – They were easy to identify on their treetop perches at Ranthambhore and Ramnagar.
BRONZED DRONGO (Dicrurus aeneus) – Compact and shiny, these drongos were in the forest midstory at several sites we visited in the Himalayan foothills.
LESSER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus remifer) – This spectacular bird perched up at a distance in the forest at Corbett NP, showing off its dangling tail rackets.
HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO (Dicrurus hottentottus) – These strange drongos have curled tail flanges and wispy plumes on their heads; our nicest views were in the big silk cotton tree near The Den.
Rhipiduridae (Fantails)
WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL (Rhipidura albicollis) – These fantails danced around the edges of forest in the Himalayan foothills - plenty of sightings at Corbett NP and Sattal.
WHITE-BROWED FANTAIL (Rhipidura aureola) – We had a few sightings during our outings at Ranthambhore NP.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
EURASIAN JAY (Garrulus glandarius) – Though they were dramatically outnumbered by Black-headed Jays at Nainital, we did enjoy some good views at the bottom of the Mongoli Valley trail.
BLACK-HEADED JAY (Garrulus lanceolatus) – We saw over 60 of these lovely jays between Nainital and Mongoli Valley. They were just everywhere during our walk at Snow View.
RED-BILLED BLUE-MAGPIE (Urocissa erythroryncha) – Several good sightings of this unbelievable bird in the Himalayan foothills.
COMMON GREEN-MAGPIE (Cissa chinensis) – On our final evening jeep outing near Ramnagar, we heard and then spotted one of these dramatic corvids at the forest edge. Holy smokes, this is one good-looking bird!
RUFOUS TREEPIE (Dendrocitta vagabunda) – Ubiquitous on the Plains - particularly close views of habituated individuals at Ranthambhore NP.
GRAY TREEPIE (Dendrocitta formosae) – Our first was in the silk cotton tree at The Den; later, we saw another at the bottom of the Mongoli Valley trail.

The tits of the Himalaya are wildly varied in appearance. This Himalayan Black-lored Tit is a particularly attractive member of the group. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

HOUSE CROW (Corvus splendens) – Common in the Plains.
LARGE-BILLED CROW (LARGE-BILLED) (Corvus macrorhynchos japonensis) – We saw these raven-like crows in the mountains.
LARGE-BILLED CROW (INDIAN JUNGLE) (Corvus macrorhynchos culminatus) – This was the all-black crow that we saw frequently in the Plains.
Alaudidae (Larks)
ASHY-CROWNED SPARROW-LARK (Eremopterix griseus) – These lovely larks were singing and flight-displaying at Ranthambhore.
INDIAN BUSHLARK (Mirafra erythroptera) – A few nice views at Sultanpur on our final day.
GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK (Calandrella brachydactyla) – Flocks were in the barren fields at Sultanpur.
SAND LARK (Alaudala raytal) – We spotted one along the bank of the Chambal River during our boat trip.
ORIENTAL SKYLARK (Alauda gulgula) – Two were near the boat dock on the Chambal River.
CRESTED LARK (Galerida cristata) – These big, distinctive larks were near the Chambal River and also at Sultanpur.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
GRAY-THROATED MARTIN (Riparia chinensis) – These were the small, brownish swallows that looked like dingy Bank Swallows; we enjoyed a nice colony along the river near Ramnagar.
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia) – These were at Bharatpur and also at the Chambal River.
EURASIAN CRAG-MARTIN (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) – About ten were circling above the town at Mongoli Valley.
DUSKY CRAG-MARTIN (Ptyonoprogne concolor) – These stone-loving swallows were at Ranthambhore and also at the Bayana cliffs.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – Common and widespread.
WIRE-TAILED SWALLOW (Hirundo smithii) – We enjoyed these lovely swallows at close range over the wetlands at Bharatpur. Some had broken tail wires, but others were in perfect plumage.

Indian Vultures teetered on the brink of extinction due to incidental poisoning from an anti-inflammatory drug given to livestock. Now they exist in only a fraction of their former multitudes. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

RED-RUMPED SWALLOW (Cecropis daurica) – These stout swallows were at Ranthambhore, Ramnagar, and Sattal.
STREAK-THROATED SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fluvicola) – You need a close view to see the streaks, but fortunately we had the chance to enjoy several circling at point-blank range at Bharatpur.
NEPAL HOUSE-MARTIN (Delichon nipalense) – These small swallows swirled overhead at The Den and also above Mongoli Valley.
Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)
YELLOW-BELLIED FAIRY-FANTAIL (Chelidorhynx hypoxanthus) – These elegant little songbirds were fairly common in the area around Corbett NP.
GRAY-HEADED CANARY-FLYCATCHER (Culicicapa ceylonensis) – Fairly common in forested habitats, especially in the Himalayan foothills.
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
YELLOW-BROWED TIT (Sylviparus modestus) – These drab-colored tits showed off very nicely on several occasions around Nainital.
COAL TIT (BLACK-CRESTED) (Periparus ater melanolophus) – These are really different from Coal Tits in other parts of the range - we saw them beautifully on several occasions near Nainital.
GREEN-BACKED TIT (Parus monticolus) – This was a common (and colorful!) member of mixed flocks around Nainital.
CINEREOUS TIT (Parus cinereus) – We saw these on quite a few occasions on our journey, from Ranthambhore to Corbett.
HIMALAYAN BLACK-LORED TIT (Machlolophus xanthogenys) – Stunning! The combination of yellow and black is quite lovely on this small bird. We saw them several times around Nainital and Sattal.
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
BLACK-THROATED TIT (Aegithalos concinnus) – These small tits never stopped moving - we saw these frenetic birds a few times in the Himalayan foothills.
Sittidae (Nuthatches)
CHESTNUT-BELLIED NUTHATCH (Sitta cinnamoventris) – Fairly common in the Corbett area, with plenty at Sattal too.

A stonking Orange-headed Thrush was one of the final songbirds that we enjoyed together on our last day of birding at Sultanpur National Park. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

WHITE-TAILED NUTHATCH (Sitta himalayensis) – These were the confiding nuthatches we found at Snow View.
VELVET-FRONTED NUTHATCH (Sitta frontalis) – Gorgeous! We found these jewels at The Den and elsewhere in the Corbett area.
Tichodromidae (Wallcreeper)
WALLCREEPER (Tichodroma muraria) – Our first one was a long-distance view from High Bank in Corbett NP; later, however, we had smashing, close looks at multiple individuals on the rocks at the Kosi Barrage (dam) at Ramnagar.
Certhiidae (Treecreepers)
BAR-TAILED TREECREEPER (Certhia himalayana) – A common member of mixed flocks in the Himalayan foothills.
Cinclidae (Dippers)
BROWN DIPPER (Cinclus pallasii) – We found an active nest on mossy rocks on the river below The Den near Corbett. The adults made frequent feeding trips to provision the unseen nestlings.
Pycnonotidae (Bulbuls)
RED-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus cafer) – Common and widespread; seen almost every day.
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL (Pycnonotus jocosus) – We only saw this striking species a few times, all within the boundaries of Corbett NP.
WHITE-EARED BULBUL (Pycnonotus leucotis) – We saw a handful of these well-marked bulbuls at Bharatpur.
HIMALAYAN BULBUL (Pycnonotus leucogenys) – Very common in the Himalayan foothills.

The rooftop of our hotel in Ramnagar was quite good for seeing Plum-headed Parakeets flying past in the morning. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

BLACK BULBUL (PSAROIDES GROUP) (Hypsipetes leucocephalus psaroides) – These lovely, slim bulbuls were at Corbett NP and Mongoli Valley.
ASHY BULBUL (Hemixos flavala) – About 5 were along the edge of the lake at Sattal.
MOUNTAIN BULBUL (Ixos mcclellandii) – One was just upslope from our Blue-throated Barbets at Sattal.
Pnoepygidae (Cupwings)
SCALY-BREASTED CUPWING (Pnoepyga albiventer) – Not once, but twice! We saw this little skulker at Sattal and then had another view at Mongoli Valley - along a small stream on both occasions.
Scotocercidae (Bush Warblers and Allies)
GRAY-SIDED BUSH WARBLER (Cettia brunnifrons) – At least five skulked in the streamside bushes at Sattal.
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
BUFF-BARRED WARBLER (Phylloscopus pulcher) – This small warbler with the distinctive wing markings made several appearances around Nainital.
HUME'S WARBLER (Phylloscopus humei) – Very common in the Plains.
PALE-RUMPED WARBLER (Phylloscopus chloronotus) – We saw these leaf warblers frequently in mixed flocks in the Himalayan foothills.
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (Phylloscopus collybita) – Common in the Plains, and often in good-sized flocks. We found about 20 at Okhla and another 20 at Sultanpur, with scattered sightings elsewhere.
WHISTLER'S WARBLER (Phylloscopus whistleri) – These handsome warblers moved through understory flocks in the Himalayan foothills.
GREENISH WARBLER (Phylloscopus trochiloides) – One was high overhead in a tall tree at Bharatpur.
GRAY-HOODED WARBLER (Phylloscopus xanthoschistos) – Common in the Himalayan foothills.
Acrocephalidae (Reed Warblers and Allies)
MOUSTACHED WARBLER (Acrocephalus melanopogon) – We heard and saw one at Bharatpur, and heard another one "tik"-ing in the reeds at Sultanpur.
BLYTH'S REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus dumetorum) – These warblers were in waterside bushes and hedges at Bharatpur.
CLAMOROUS REED WARBLER (BROWN) (Acrocephalus stentoreus brunnescens) – This was the large brown warbler that skulked through the waterside vegetation at Bharatpur, scarcely allowing the briefest of views.
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
COMMON TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus sutorius) – Fairly common in the Plains, including right outside our hotel at Ranthambhore.
STRIATED PRINIA (Prinia crinigera) – At least two skulked through a boulder field during one of our walks at Nainital.

This Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo was perched inconspicuously in the forest at Corbett National Park. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

GRAY-BREASTED PRINIA (Prinia hodgsonii) – A few small groups were at Ranthambhore and again at Corbett.
YELLOW-BELLIED PRINIA (Prinia flaviventris) – Terry got us on to one of these in the wetland vegetation at Okhla on our first day.
ASHY PRINIA (Prinia socialis) – Fairly common in the Plains.
PLAIN PRINIA (Prinia inornata) – Small numbers were at many locations in the Plains.
Sylviidae (Sylviid Warblers)
LESSER WHITETHROAT (Sylvia curruca) – We saw wintering birds frequently mixed in with other small songbirds during our time in the Plains.
Paradoxornithidae (Parrotbills, Wrentit, and Allies)
YELLOW-EYED BABBLER (Chrysomma sinense) – A few parties of these wildly responsive babblers were in the scrub around Bund Baretha.
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
ORIENTAL WHITE-EYE (Zosterops palpebrosus) – Common and widespread.
Timaliidae (Tree-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers, and Allies)
BLACK-CHINNED BABBLER (Cyanoderma pyrrhops) – We had a few good looks at this odd babbler at Corbett, Sattal, and Mongoli Valley.
RUSTY-CHEEKED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Megapomatorhinus erythrogenys) – Great views on several occasions near Nainital.
Pellorneidae (Ground Babblers and Allies)
PUFF-THROATED BABBLER (Pellorneum ruficeps) – The pair that we found foraging on the ground on the hillside near The Den offered remarkably good views.
Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
STRIATED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Grammatoptila striata) – Our first ones were near the boulder field at Nainital, but our best view came as two birds joined a big flock of White-throated Laughingthrushes to bathe in the stream at Mongoli Valley.
COMMON BABBLER (Turdoides caudata) – A few were outside of the Dev Vilas hotel near Ranthambhore.
LARGE GRAY BABBLER (Turdoides malcolmi) – Far less common than Jungle Babbler, but we still saw many in the Plains.

A jewel-feathered Indian Roller made a close foraging sally past our group near the Chambal Safari Lodge. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

JUNGLE BABBLER (Turdoides striata) – Abundant and widespread; seen almost every day.
WHITE-CRESTED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax leucolophus) – A quickly moving flock stopped briefly to pose for us near Ramnagar.
RUFOUS-CHINNED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla rufogularis) – This scarce laughingthrush was a nice find at Sattal and Mongoli Valley.
WHITE-THROATED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla albogularis) – A big flock moved through the forest understory at Sattal, and we saw more bathing in a stream in the Mongoli Valley.
STREAKED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron lineatum) – Very common in the Himalayan foothills.
CHESTNUT-CROWNED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron erythrocephalum) – One group of 4 moved along a stream gully in the Mongoli Valley.
RUFOUS SIBIA (Heterophasia capistrata) – These striking songbirds showed well around Nainital and Sattal.
RED-BILLED LEIOTHRIX (Leiothrix lutea) – Gorgeous! Plenty were around Sattal.
BLUE-WINGED MINLA (Actinodura cyanouroptera) – These lovely songbirds were in roving understory flocks at Sattal.
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
INDIAN ROBIN (Copsychus fulicatus) – Common in gardens and towns in the Plains.
ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (Copsychus saularis) – Common in wooded areas and towns in the Plains.
WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (Copsychus malabaricus) – Two skulked with a feeding flock of songbirds near Ramnagar as we watched from our jeeps.
SMALL NILTAVA (Niltava macgrigoriae) – One perched up briefly during a jeep safari through Corbett NP.

This was one of two Sloth Bears that we watched rummaging around in the duff at Ranthambhore National Park. This species focuses on seeking termites and ants for food. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

RUFOUS-BELLIED NILTAVA (Niltava sundara) – Wow - two were near the edge of the woods at The Den.
VERDITER FLYCATCHER (Eumyias thalassinus) – One of these blue-green gems was in the forest at Bund Baretha.
BLUETHROAT (Luscinia svecica) – We found several wintering individuals - one that hopped out on the trail at Bharatpur gave us a splendid show.
BLUE WHISTLING-THRUSH (Myophonus caeruleus) – Very common in the Himalayan foothills.
SPOTTED FORKTAIL (Enicurus maculatus) – We found a pair in a small stream near The Den; a few folks saw another one while we were investigating the Dark-sided Thrush at Sattal. It's hard to believe that this bird is related to the other members of this group.
HIMALAYAN RUBYTHROAT (Calliope pectoralis) – One of these posed nicely alongside a jeep track at Corbett.
HIMALAYAN BLUETAIL (Tarsiger rufilatus) – This is a split from Red-flanked Bluetail. We saw several around Nainital and Sattal.
GOLDEN BUSH-ROBIN (Tarsiger chrysaeus) – One skulked in the bushes below the big boulder field at Nainital.
SLATY-BLUE FLYCATCHER (Ficedula tricolor) – At least five individuals between Corbett NP and Nainital.
RUFOUS-GORGETED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula strophiata) – This little stunner was at the Mongoli Valley and Sattal.
LITTLE PIED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula westermanni) – One danced around in a tree overhead at Corbett NP during a rainstorm.
TAIGA FLYCATCHER (Ficedula albicilla) – One perched long enough at Ranthambhore that we could separate it from the similar Red-breasted Flycatcher.
RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula parva) – Fairly common as a wintering bird in the Plains.

Dark-sided Thrush was an unexpected treat (and a fun ID challenge) in the forest at Sattal. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

BLUE-FRONTED REDSTART (Phoenicurus frontalis) – Two were above Nainital.
PLUMBEOUS REDSTART (Phoenicurus fuliginosus) – This "water redstart" was very common along rocky rivers.
WHITE-CAPPED REDSTART (Phoenicurus leucocephalus) – This is the other "water redstart" that we saw in the Himalayan foothills.
BLUE-CAPPED REDSTART (Phoenicurus coeruleocephala) – Fairly common around Nainital.
BLACK REDSTART (Phoenicurus ochruros) – Scattered sightings in the Plains.
CHESTNUT-BELLIED ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola rufiventris) – This was the outrageous-looking blue and rust bird that we saw a few times at Corbett NP, including inside the Dhikala compound.
BLUE ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola solitarius) – One was at the Bayana cliffs; another was in the river at The Den near Corbett.
SIBERIAN STONECHAT (Saxicola maurus) – Fairly common in open areas near the Himalayan foothills.
PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata) – These were easy to see at Bharatpur and Sultanpur.
GRAY BUSHCHAT (Saxicola ferreus) – Fairly common in the Himalayan foothills.
INDIAN CHAT (Cercomela fusca) – These were regular sightings on rocky outcroppings and large buildings (and stone ruins).
VARIABLE WHEATEAR (Oenanthe picata) – One popped up onto a rock wall at Sultanpur on our final day. This one was almost all black.
DESERT WHEATEAR (Oenanthe deserti) – A very handsome individual was along the bank of the Chambal River with our first Crested Larks.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
DARK-SIDED THRUSH (Zoothera marginata) – This was a real surprise for us in the streamside forest at Sattal. We were able to study it to rule out the similar Long-billed Thrush, and managed some good photos and audio recordings too.
ORANGE-HEADED THRUSH (Geokichla citrina) – We had fantastic views of two individuals: one at Bund Baretha and another at Sultanpur.

At almost any time during our stay at Dhikala at Corbett NP, we were able to enjoy the sight of wild Indian Elephants frolicking near the edge of the river. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

GRAY-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Turdus boulboul) – A male was at Jim Corbett's house and a female was along the trail at Snow View.
TICKELL'S THRUSH (Turdus unicolor) – One accompanied an Orange-headed Thrush in the woods at Bund Baretha.
WHITE-COLLARED BLACKBIRD (Turdus albocinctus) – One was flushed up into a tree near a compost pile at Snow View.
CHESTNUT THRUSH (Turdus rubrocanus) – This was a true surprise, and a lifer for both guides. It was feeding with many other birds on the magical silk cotton tree near The Den at Corbett.
Sturnidae (Starlings)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) – Most of ours were on the final day in the Sultanpur area.
ROSY STARLING (Pastor roseus) – Over 50 were in a tight flock near the entrance to Bharatpur.
ASIAN PIED STARLING (Gracupica contra) – Reasonably common in the Plains.
BRAHMINY STARLING (Sturnia pagodarum) – Scattered sightings around Bharatpur and Ramnagar.
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis) – Very common and widespread.
BANK MYNA (Acridotheres ginginianus) – These handsome mynas were very common in towns, especially near railway stations and in gutters.
JUNGLE MYNA (Acridotheres fuscus) – A few were attending the same group of Wild Boar (presumably picking off insects to eat?) on consecutive days at Corbett.
Chloropseidae (Leafbirds)
GOLDEN-FRONTED LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis aurifrons) – Three were feeding in the big silk cotton tree near The Den at Corbett.
ORANGE-BELLIED LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis hardwickii) – A pair of these fabulous songbirds showed off at close range in the garden at The Den at Corbett.
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
PURPLE-RUMPED SUNBIRD (Leptocoma zeylonica) – This was a bit puzzling - one of the first birds we looked at after checking in to our hotel at Bharatpur was a female Purple-rumped Sunbird, about 200 km out of range. The species is quite common in southern India, but not from the area around Bharatpur. We all ended up having nice looks at this great surprise from our hotel balcony (and took some photos to document the record).

The boat trip we took on the Chambal River led us straight to fabulous views of the endangered Black-bellied Tern. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

PURPLE SUNBIRD (Cinnyris asiaticus) – Common in flowering plants in the Plains.
BLACK-THROATED SUNBIRD (Aethopyga saturata) – A splendid purple-crowned male popped out of the bushes along the river below The Den at Corbett.
GREEN-TAILED SUNBIRD (Aethopyga nipalensis) – We found a few of these slender, active sunbirds at The Den and also at Sattal.
CRIMSON SUNBIRD (Aethopyga siparaja) – We saw a few of these lovely little songbirds in the forest near The Den.
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea) – These long-tailed wagtails were fairly common along flowing rivers.
WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (Motacilla flava) – Just a few around Sultanpur on our final day of birding.
CITRINE WAGTAIL (Motacilla citreola) – Scattered sightings in the Plains, including a great view of a flock at Okhla on our first day together.
WHITE-BROWED WAGTAIL (Motacilla maderaspatensis) – This breeding species showed very nicely at Bund Baretha and around Corbett NP.
WHITE WAGTAIL (Motacilla alba) – Fairly common throughout our journey.
WHITE WAGTAIL (BLACK-BACKED) (Motacilla alba lugens) – At least one male was along the bank of the Chambal River.
PADDYFIELD PIPIT (Anthus rufulus) – Two were near the bank of the Chambal River.
LONG-BILLED PIPIT (Anthus similis) – On our final day at Sultanpur, we studied a confiding individual at fairly close range.
TAWNY PIPIT (Anthus campestris) – A few individuals were at Sultanpur and at the Chambal Safari Lodge.
ROSY PIPIT (Anthus roseatus) – It took a little while to sort these out, but we saw a flock of these well-streaked pipits in the Kosi River near Ramnagar during a light rain.
TREE PIPIT (Anthus trivialis) – Scattered sightings at Ranthambhore, Mongoli Valley, and Ramnagar.
OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT (Anthus hodgsoni) – We had some great views in the forest at Sattal and again at Sultanpur.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
COMMON ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus erythrinus) – A male perched up and called at the Three Gods Statues below Nainital.

We saw a remarkable number of day-roosting owls during this tour, thanks in large part to our wonderful local guides. This Brown Fish-Owl was perched right over our path near Corbett National Park. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

PINK-BROWED ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus rodochroa) – A crisply streaked female approached us closely for good looks and photos at the Three Gods below Nainital.
YELLOW-BREASTED GREENFINCH (Chloris spinoides) – These montane finches appeared before us at Ramnagar and Sattal.
FIRE-FRONTED SERIN (Serinus pusillus) – A flock of about 25 of these small, well-appointed finches swirled around us near the Three Gods Statues.
Emberizidae (Old World Buntings)
CRESTED BUNTING (Emberiza lathami) – Three of these odd buntings flew over and perched in a treetop during a safari ride at Ranthambhore.
ROCK BUNTING (Emberiza cia) – Good views of about five individuals on the rocky slope below the Three Gods.
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) – Patchily common; seen frequently in foothills towns in the Himalayas.
SIND SPARROW (Passer pyrrhonotus) – Persistence paid off as we eventually found a nest-building pair during our visit to Sultanpur on our final day.
RUSSET SPARROW (Passer cinnamomeus) – These crisp sparrows were in small flocks in the mountains below Nainital.
CHESTNUT-SHOULDERED PETRONIA (Gymnornis xanthocollis) – Several dozen were in roving flocks in Ranthambhore NP.
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
RED AVADAVAT (Amandava amandava) – About 20 were foraging on the ground in a clearing at Bund Baretha.
INDIAN SILVERBILL (Euodice malabarica) – A few fed on tall grass stems at Bund Baretha; on our final day, we encountered a large flock of >50 of these small estrildids at Sultanpur.

INDIAN FLYING-FOX (Pteropus giganteus) – These huge bats were roosting at a few locations during our travels - particularly memorable were the hundreds we saw at Bund Baretha.
TOMB BAT SP. (Taphozous sp.) – One was day-roosting in a crack in a rock wall at Fatehpur Sikri.

On our final evening near the Himalaya, this Common Green-Magpie put on an electrifying show along the forest edge near Ramnagar. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

RHESUS MACAQUE (Macaca mulatta) – Common and widespread - clever and always ready to make an attempt on our lunches (they were successful at least twice).
COMMON LANGUR (Presbytis entellus) – These were the large, gray, relatively placid monkeys that we saw in many places around the country.
INDIAN HARE (Lepus nigricollis) – Just a few sightings around Ranthambhore.
PALM SQUIRREL (Funambulus pennanti) – Common and widespread.
GANGES DOLPHIN (Platanista gangetica) – We were fortunate to encounter a few individuals porpoising quickly at the end of our boat trip in the Chambal River.
COMMON JACKAL (Canis aureus) – Several sightings of these wild dogs.
SLOTH BEAR (Ursus ursinus) – Wow - this was a great surprise. Two of these large-snouted bears were foraging at Ranthambhore National Park. We watched them for several minutes at close range before we headed off to look at a tiger - it was quite an exciting afternoon.
TIGER (Panthera tigris) – We spent two full days searching in Ranthambhore National Park before finding a spectacular tiger moving through the fields and woods. This huge cat eventually sprawled out on the ground and allowed us to get a fantastic, close view. Truly a top moment for everyone in the group! These animals have declined significantly in India, but their populations at well-protected national parks like Ranthambhore have been doing fairly well in recent years.
INDIAN ELEPHANT (Elephas maximus) – During our two days inside Corbett NP, we saw two large groups of wild animals (13 and 18). It was fairly magical to see wild elephants going about their business - these groups included several playful youngsters.
WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa) – We saw several individuals and small groups at Ranthambhore and Corbett NP.
MUNTJAC (BARKING DEER) (Muntiacus muntjak) – A few put in brief appearances between Corbett NP and Nainital.
SPOTTED DEER (Axis axis) – This was the common deer we saw in many forested locations including the national parks.
SAMBAR (Cervus unicolor) – These were the large, brown, elk-like deer that we found in many forested habitats - particularly plentiful at Ranthambhore.

A wandering Chestnut Thrush was one of the great prizes from our time watching the flowering silk cotton tree near The Den at Corbett. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.

NILGAI (Boselaphus tragocamelus) – These were the huge antelope that we saw frequently at Ranthambhore - also called "blue bulls."
INDIAN GAZELLE (Gazella bennettii) – Four individuals were in the same part of Ranthambhore where we saw our tiger - we even got to see two males fighting. This animal is also called "Chinkara."
MUGGER CROCODILE (Crocodylus palustris) – These were the non-gharial crocs that we found at many places on the tour, including Ranthambhore, Corbett, and the Chambal River.
BENGAL (LAND) MONITOR (Varanus bengalensis) – One was posed on the riverbank at the Chambal River.
GHARIAL (Gavialis gangeticus) – These very strange crocodilians are very rare (considered critically endangered) overall, but we were fortunate to see dozens of them during our Chambal River boat trip and in the river at Corbett NP as well. A few massive males (perhaps 20' long) were particularly impressive to see.
INDIAN ROCK PYTHON (Python molurus) – Three large individuals were sunning themselves in the open at Bharatpur.
BROWN ROOFED TURTLE (Pangshura smithii) – These mid-sized turtles were in the Chambal River.


Totals for the tour: 347 bird taxa and 17 mammal taxa