Our late-January to mid-February 2023 North India tour was unusual for the positively mild (even warm) weather, and Nainital in the Himalayan foothills had seen no snow at all throughout the winter. This of course meant some of the altitudinal migrants were simply not around this year, but other species filled the gap, with just some of the birding highlights being Kalij Pheasant, Sarus Crane, Indian Vulture, Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl, Great Hornbill, Scaly-breasted Cupwing, Chestnut-headed Tesia, and Wallcreeper. Tiger, of course was the mammal of the trip, first with one about 200 meters away at Ranthambhore, and then one right next to our vehicle at Corbett!
As usual we began our tour in Delhi with a visit to the nearby Okhla Bird Sanctuary. Here Indian Spot-billed Duck, Great Coucal, White-tailed Lapwing, Black-headed Ibis, Indian Gray Hornbill, Brown-headed Barbet, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Indian White-eye and Citrine Wagtail all showed well before we headed to the railway station and a four-and-a-half hour journey to Ranthambhore.
We spent three nights at Ranthambhore, where our main target was to find the elusive Tiger. It took until our fourth and final drive before we eventually got to see one -– a glorious moment, as we then spent almost an hour watching her drink from a pool, hide in tall grass, and then reappear showing her full glory. Other mammals here included Common Mongoose, Wild Boar, Sambar, Indian Gazelle, and several hundred Spotted Deer. Ranthambhore was also fabulous for birds, with just a few of the highlights being numerous Indian Peafowl, a trio of "Painted's" (Spurfowl, Sandgrouse, and Greater Painted-snipe), Great Thick-knee, Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Asian Openbill, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Indian Roller, Plum-headed Parakeet, super-tame Rufous Treepies, and Purple Sunbird.
After a second train journey we then spent two days in the Bharatpur area -- visiting both the world famous wetland and the Bayana Cliffs where critically endangered Indian Vultures occur, with instant success as seven of these rare birds appeared within three minutes of our arrival. Our two visits to the wetlands were more leisurely affairs, as we slowly walked or took bicycle-rickshaws while watching and photographing Bar-headed and Graylag geese, ten species of duck including a rare visitor to this reserve (a very confiding drake Falcated Duck), Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed jacanas, Painted and Black-necked storks, Oriental Darter, Indian Cormorant, eight species of herons and egrets, and a roosting pair of Dusky Eagle-Owls.
Leaving Bharatpur we then took a short drive to the palaces of Akbar the Great at Fatehpur Sikri. Everyone enjoyed these, and then we continued on to Agra and followed up with a day birding on and around the Chambal River. Due to the high water levels the skimmers were not around this year, but we still enjoyed Lesser Whistling-Duck, River Lapwing, Black-bellied and River terns, Red-naped Ibis, Long-legged Buzzard, Indian Scops-Owl, Eurasian Hoopoe, Coppersmith Barbet, and Tickell's Thrush. Gharials (giant fish-eating crocodiles) were a real treat too.
We followed this up with another cultural visit, this time to the magnificent Taj Mahal, where the rising sun and early morning light really did justice to this outstanding piece of architecture -– and a pretty good love story to go with it, too! We then headed back to Delhi (only 4 hours on the new expressway) and spent a night there before beginning the northern part of our tour with four nights (at two different lodges) in the Kumeria-Corbett area. As always we enjoyed many great birds and mammals here, with a super close Tiger being the major highlight, and two groups of Indian Elephants not far behind. Birds included our first Kalij Pheasant, Red Junglefowl, Crested Treeswift, Asian Woolly-necked Stork, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Pallas's and Lesser fish-eagles, Tawny Fish-Owl, Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl, Great Hornbill, Crested Kingfisher, Lineated Barbet, Himalayan Flameback, Great Yellownape, Collared Falconet, Alexandrine Parakeet, Black-hooded Oriole, White-throated Fantail, Yellow-bellied Fairy-Fantail, Himalayan Bulbul, Buff-barred, Yellow-rumped, Whistler's and Gray-hooded warblers, White-crested Laughingthrush, Wallcreeper, Brown Dipper, Long-billed Thrush, Blue Whistling Thrush, Spotted Forktail, Plumbeous and Red-capped redstarts, and Black-throated Sunbird.
Driving further into the Himalayan foothills we reached the old hill station town of Nainital. The amazingly out-of-season warm weather did not produce some the of usual bird species that we see here, but we did of course have a great time as we walked in nearby woodland and also made day trips to two of the lower areas like Sat Tal and the Mongoli Trail. Birding highlights included Himalayan Griffon, Great Barbet, Slaty-headed Parakeet, Black-headed Jay, Gray Treepie, Green-backed Tit, Himalayan Prinia, Nepal House-Martin, Scaly-breasted Cupwing (now in a new family), Mountain Bulbul, Chestnut-headed Tesia (a gorgeous super skulker), Black-throated Tit, Striated, Streaked, Chestnut-crowned, Rufous-chinned and White-throated laughingthrushes, White-tailed and Velvet-fronted nuthatches, Bar-tailed Treecreeper, Gray-winged Blackbird, Slaty-backed Forktail, Blue-fronted and Blue-capped redstarts, Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush, Green-tailed Sunbird, Rufous-breasted Accentor, and Yellow-breasted Greenfinch.
We concluded the tour taking our final train journey back to Delhi and then had the following morning at Sultanpur Jheel National Park and by a nearby reedbed. It looked like a miniature version of Bharatpur, and we'd seen many of the waterbirds before, yet it was great light and fabulous for the photographers, or to simply remind ourselves of some of the great birds we'd seen earlier. And of course, we added a few species too, ranging from Tufted Duck to Yellow-bellied Prinia, Brooks's Leaf Warbler to Bluethroat, and the localized Sind Sparrow. A scope view of an Eastern Imperial Eagle was a great way to end the tour too!
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
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
LESSER WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna javanica)
At least 180 were on a roadside pool near Chambal Safari Lodge.
BAR-HEADED GOOSE (Anser indicus)
About 60 at Bharatpur, 40 along the Chambal River, and another 40 near the Taj Mahal.
GRAYLAG GOOSE (Anser anser)
Thirty at Okhla, about 80 at Bharatpur, and 6 at Sultanpur Jheel.
KNOB-BILLED DUCK (Sarkidiornis melanotos)
Four at Bharatpur, and 2 behind the Taj Mahal.
RUDDY SHELDUCK (Tadorna ferruginea)
Found at seven widely scattered lakes and rivers; in all we saw about 450.
GARGANEY (Spatula querquedula)
We saw 4 at Bharatpur, and then about a dozen at Sultanpur Jheel (these included several nice looking males).
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)
Common at Okhla, Bharatpur, and Sultanpur Jheel; in all we saw about 1700.
GADWALL (Mareca strepera)
Two at Okhla, 200+ at Bharatpur, and 300+ at Sultanpur Jheel.
FALCATED DUCK (Mareca falcata)
Fantastic close views of a male at Bharatpur where it is a very rare bird.
EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope)
About 60 at Bharatpur, and 200+ at Sultanpur Jheel.
INDIAN SPOT-BILLED DUCK (Anas poecilorhyncha)
We saw these attractive resident ducks at Okhla, Bharatpur and Sultanpur Jheel; with a total of about 200.
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta)
At least 100 were at Okhla, 500 at Bharatpur, 150 at Corbett, and 500+ at Sultanpur Jheel.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (EURASIAN) (Anas crecca crecca)
This nominate race is sometimes considered as a distinct species from the North American race; we saw about 150 at Okhla, 200 at Bharatpur, 80 at Corbett, and 350 at Sultanpur Jheel.
COMMON POCHARD (Aythya ferina)
About 40 at Bharatpur, and 80 at Sultanpur Jheel.
FERRUGINOUS DUCK (Aythya nyroca)
One in the marsh grasses at Bharatpur, and then great looks at 12 at Sultanpur Jheel.
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula)
Five at Sultanpur Jheel.
KALIJ PHEASANT (Lophura leucomelanos)
Great looks at 7 along the main track at Corbett, and then 5, 1, and 3 in the Nainital area.
INDIAN PEAFOWL (Pavo cristatus)
Very common and widespread throughout the tour; with a total of about 420.
PAINTED SPURFOWL (Galloperdix lunulata)
Great looks at a pair at Ranthambhore.
RED JUNGLEFOWL (Gallus gallus)
We saw a total of 8, including 2 striking males at Corbett.
GRAY FRANCOLIN (Ortygornis pondicerianus)
Ten at Okhla, and about 35 at Ranthambhore.
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Two at Ranthambhore, 4 at Bharatpur, 2 at the Chambal River, and 30+ at Sultanpur Jheel.
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)
Common and widespread in towns and villages throughout the tour.
ORIENTAL TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia orientalis)
Six at Corbett, 4 at Nainital, and 1 at Sat Tal.
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)
Widespread in small numbers throughout the tour; with a total of about 80.
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis)
Thirty at Ranthambhore, and 2 at Corbett.
LAUGHING DOVE (Streptopelia senegalensis)
One at Ranthambhore, 10 in the Bund Baretha area, and 8 at Bharatpur.
YELLOW-FOOTED GREEN-PIGEON (Treron phoenicopterus)
Good looks at Ranthambhore and in the Bharatpur area; with a total of 32.
PAINTED SANDGROUSE (Pterocles indicus)
Great looks at 6 near our lodge at Ranthambhore.
GREATER COUCAL (Centropus sinensis)
Small numbers at a variety of areas in the plains; in all we saw about 16.
LITTLE SWIFT (Apus affinis)
About 10 at the Taj Mahal.
CRESTED TREESWIFT (Hemiprocne coronata)
Four at Corbett.
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)
Very common at wetlands throughout the tour; with a total of about 800.
EURASIAN COOT (Fulica atra)
At least 750 were at Bharatpur, and 400+ at Sultanpur Jheel.
GRAY-HEADED SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio poliocephalus)
Twenty at Okhla, 60+ in the Bharatpur-Bund Baretha area, 30 on the way to Ramnagar, and 60 at Sultanpur Jheel.
WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
Widespread in small numbers at a variety of wetlands in the plains; in all we saw about 65.
BROWN CRAKE (Zapornia akool)
Three seen (and a few others heard) at Ranthambhore.
SARUS CRANE (Antigone antigone)
One near Bharatpur town, and 2 others distantly within the reserve. We then had great looks at 2 more adults and a juvenile as we headed north to Ramnagar, and finally another 2 adults in farmland along the same route.
INDIAN THICK-KNEE (Burhinus indicus)
Three at Bharatpur.
GREAT THICK-KNEE (Esacus recurvirostris)
Good close looks at these huge thick-knees at Ranthambhore and along the Chambal River; with a total of 7.
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)
Very common at wetlands throughout the tour; in all we saw about 1200.
PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)
About 30 in the distance at Sultanpur Jheel.
RIVER LAPWING (Vanellus duvaucelii)
About 30 along the Chambal River, and 40 in the Ramnagar-Kumeria-Corbett area.
YELLOW-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus malabaricus)
Can be difficult, but we were lucky this tour with 6 at Ranthambhore, and another 6 near Bharatpur.
RED-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus indicus)
Very common and widespread at wetlands and farm country throughout the tour.
WHITE-TAILED LAPWING (Vanellus leucurus)
Ten at Okhla, and 6 at Bharatpur.
KENTISH PLOVER (KENTISH) (Charadrius alexandrinus alexandrinus)
Five on the banks of the Chambal River.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius dubius)
Six at Ranthambhore, and 2 on the banks of the Chambal River.
GREATER PAINTED-SNIPE (Rostratula benghalensis)
We saw a male at Ranthambhore, and then a gorgeous female near Chambal Safari Lodge.
PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)
Three at Bharatpur, and 1 at Sultanpur Jheel.
BRONZE-WINGED JACANA (Metopidius indicus)
About 30 at Bharatpur, 7 at Bund Baretha, 5 in the Chambal River area, and 1 near the Ganges.
RUFF (Calidris pugnax)
Two behind the Taj Mahal.
TEMMINCK'S STINT (Calidris temminckii)
Good close looks at 2 along the banks of the Chambal River.
LITTLE STINT (Calidris minuta)
Singles at Okhla and Ranthambhore.
COMMON SNIPE (Gallinago gallinago)
One at Ranthambhore, and 2 at Bharatpur.
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)
Two at Okhla, and singles at Chambal River, the Ganges, Corbett, and near Sultanpur Jheel.
GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus)
Widespread in small numbers; with a total of about 40.
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)
Widespread in small numbers at a variety of wetlands; in all we saw about 12.
MARSH SANDPIPER (Tringa stagnatilis)
Two at Okhla.
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola)
Small numbers at a variety of marshy areas; in all we saw 18.
COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus)
One at Okhla, and 2 at Ranthambhore.
BLACK-HEADED GULL (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
At least 100 at Okhla, and 6 behind the Taj Mahal.
PALLAS'S GULL (Ichthyaetus ichthyaetus)
Four at the Ganges River.
BLACK-BELLIED TERN (Sterna acuticauda)
Nice looks at 3 of these beautiful terns at the Chambal River.
RIVER TERN (Sterna aurantia)
Ten at Ranthambhore, 2 at the Chambal River, and 23 at Dikhala Lodge.
ASIAN OPENBILL (Anastomus oscitans)
One at Ranthambhore, 6 at Bund Baretha, and 1 at the Chambal River.
BLACK STORK (Ciconia nigra)
Nice scope views of up to 10 at Dikhala Lodge.
WOOLLY-NECKED STORK (ASIAN) (Ciconia episcopus episcopus)
Recently split as Asian Woolly-necked Stork, we saw 1 at Ranthambhore, 4 at Corbett, and 1 near Sultanpur Jheel.
BLACK-NECKED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus)
Scope views of a bird in bright sunlight at Bharatpur showed the neck is actually shiny dark blue, and we then saw 2 other singles at Corbett and Sultanpur Jheel.
PAINTED STORK (Mycteria leucocephala)
Two hundred and fifty at Bharatpur were by far the most for a single area, and we saw about 20 others at a variety of scattered wetlands, lastly there was 100 at the breeding colony at Sultanpur Jheel.
ORIENTAL DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster)
About a dozen at Ranthambhore, 4 at Bund Baretha, 30+ at Bharatpur, and 2 at Sultanpur Jheel.
LITTLE CORMORANT (Microcarbo niger)
Common at wetlands throughout the tour; with a total of about 370.
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)
At least 300 at Bharatpur and 250+ on the river at Ramnagar were the largest numbers, but we also saw about another 160 at a variety of scattered wetlands.
INDIAN CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis)
Thirty at Bharatpur, and 1 at Bund Baretha.
GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)
Common and widespread; a total of about 220.
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea)
One at Okhla, 20+ at Bharatpur, and 10 at Sultanpur Jheel.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba)
Another common and widespread heron; in all we saw about 110.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia)
About 40 at Bharatpur, and 8 at Sultanpur Jheel.
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)
Widespread in small numbers; in all we saw about 80.
CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis)
Common throughout the tour away from forested areas.
INDIAN POND-HERON (Ardeola grayii)
Common at wetlands and roadside pools all across the plains; with a total of about 200.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Fifteen at Ranthambhore, and 12 at Bharatpur.
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)
Two at Okhla, 4 at Bharatpur, and 10 at Sultanpur Jheel.
BLACK-HEADED IBIS (Threskiornis melanocephalus)
Widespread away from the Himalayan mountains; with a total of about 220.
RED-NAPED IBIS (Pseudibis papillosa)
Nice looks at 2 during our boat trip on the Chambal River.
EURASIAN SPOONBILL (Platalea leucorodia)
Four at Bharatpur, and 8 at Sultanpur Jheel.
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
One at Ranthambhore, 1 at the Chambal River, and 2 at Corbett.
BLACK-WINGED KITE (Elanus caeruleus)
Widespread in open country; with a total of 13.
EGYPTIAN VULTURE (Neophron percnopterus)
Small numbers at Bund Baretha, Fatehpur Sikri, Chambal River, the Taj Mahal, and Corbett; with a total of 11.
RED-HEADED VULTURE (Sarcogyps calvus)
One at Ranthambhore.
INDIAN VULTURE (Gyps indicus)
At least 7 of these critically endangered vultures were at the Bayana cliffs.
HIMALAYAN GRIFFON (Gyps himalayensis)
One in the Kumeria, and 25+ in the Nainital area.
CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (Spilornis cheela)
One at Ranthambhore, 1 at Kumeria, and 2 at Corbett.
CHANGEABLE HAWK-EAGLE (CHANGEABLE) (Nisaetus cirrhatus limnaeetus)
Four at Corbett.
GREATER SPOTTED EAGLE (Clanga clanga)
Four at Bharatpur, and 1 at Sultanpur Jheel.
BOOTED EAGLE (Hieraaetus pennatus)
We saw a single dark morphs at Bharatpur and Sultanpur Jheel.
TAWNY EAGLE (Aquila rapax)
One at Bharatpur,
STEPPE EAGLE (Aquila nipalensis)
Seventeen in the Nainital area.
IMPERIAL EAGLE (Aquila heliaca)
One in flight at Bharatpur, and a nice perched bird in the scope at Sultanpur Jheel.
EURASIAN MARSH-HARRIER (Circus aeruginosus)
One at Sultanpur Jheel.
SHIKRA (Accipiter badius)
Singles at Ranthambhore, Bund Baretha, and Ramnagar.
EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK (Accipiter nisus)
One at Sat Tal.
BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans)
Common and widespread across the plains, and 2000-3000 around Delhi.
PALLAS'S FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucoryphus)
Four at Corbett.
LESSER FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus humilis)
Three at Corbett.
GRAY-HEADED FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus ichthyaetus)
We saw 1 in flight at Bharatpur, where it is a rare bird.
HIMALAYAN BUZZARD (Buteo refectus)
One in flight and then scoped on top of a rock below Nainital.
LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD (Buteo rufinus)
One, perched in a tree and then in flight at the Chambal River.
INDIAN SCOPS-OWL (Otus bakkamoena)
Poor views of a pair at Bharatpur, and then good looks at another pair at Chambal Safari Lodge.
SPOT-BELLIED EAGLE-OWL (Bubo nipalensis)
Great views of a pair of these magnificent owls at Corbett.
DUSKY EAGLE-OWL (Bubo coromandus)
Fabulous scope views of 2 in full sunlight at Bharatpur.
TAWNY FISH-OWL (Ketupa flavipes)
Thanks to our local guide we had nice views of 1 on the banks of the Kosi River, and then 2 at Chapi.
ASIAN BARRED OWLET (Glaucidium cuculoides)
One at Dhikala Lodge, Corbett.
SPOTTED OWLET (Athene brama)
Six at Ranthambhore, 2 at Bharatpur, 4 at Chambal Safari Lodge, 2 near Ramnagar, and 3 at Sultanpur Jheel.
EURASIAN HOOPOE (Upupa epops)
Two singles near the Chambal River.
GREAT HORNBILL (Buceros bicornis)
Fabulous scope views of 1 perched and then in flight at Ramnagar.
INDIAN GRAY HORNBILL (Ocyceros birostris)
Small numbers, especially around Bharatpur and Chambal Safari Lodge; in all we saw about 28.
COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis)
A total of 8 were seen at a variety of widely scattered sites.
WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHER (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Very common and widespread across the plains.
CRESTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle lugubris)
A total of 30 were seen between Kumeria and Corbett, and in the Nainital-Chapi area.
PIED KINGFISHER (Ceryle rudis)
Five at Ranthambhore, 6 at Bharatpur, and 6 at the Chambal River.
GREEN BEE-EATER (Merops orientalis)
Formerly the nominate race, this is now split as Asian Green Bee-Beater. We had drive-by views of 4 on some roadside wires in Delhi, and then good looks at 8 near Sultanpur Jheel.
INDIAN ROLLER (Coracias benghalensis)
Three at Ranthambhore, 5 in the Bharatpur to Bund Baretha area, and 1 near Agra.
COPPERSMITH BARBET (Psilopogon haemacephalus)
One seen and others heard at Chambal Safari Lodge, and then heard again at Corbett.
GREAT BARBET (Psilopogon virens)
Several heard in the Nainital area, and then great scope views of 1 at Chapi.
LINEATED BARBET (Psilopogon lineatus)
Twelve seen and many others heard in the Kumeria-Corbett area.
BROWN-HEADED BARBET (Psilopogon zeylanicus)
Two at the Okhla, 1 at Bund Baretha, and 1 at Chambal Safari Lodge,
BROWN-CAPPED PYGMY WOODPECKER (Yungipicus nanus)
One at Ranthambhore.
BROWN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocoptes auriceps)
Three in the Nainital area.
FULVOUS-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos macei)
Two singles in the Corbett area.
HIMALAYAN FLAMEBACK (Dinopium shorii)
Singles at Kumeria and Corbett.
BLACK-RUMPED FLAMEBACK (Dinopium benghalense)
Two at Ranthambhore, and singles at Bharatpur and Kaladhungi.
STREAK-THROATED WOODPECKER (Picus xanthopygaeus)
One on the way to Kumeria, and 1 at Corbett.
SCALY-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Picus squamatus)
Good looks at 1 along the Lands End Trail near Nainital.
GRAY-HEADED WOODPECKER (Picus canus)
Four in the Kumeria and Corbett area, and 1 at Sat Tal.
GREATER YELLOWNAPE (Chrysophlegma flavinucha)
Four at Kumeria, and 2 at Sat Tal.
GREAT SLATY WOODPECKER (Mulleripicus pulverulentus)
We saw a group of 4 of these huge woodpeckers in the Corbett area.
COLLARED FALCONET (Microhierax caerulescens)
Nice scope views of 1 at Dhikala Lodge.
EURASIAN KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus)
One at Ranthambhore, 3 in the Bharatpur to Bund Baretha area, and 2 at Corbett.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus)
One on the rocky mountains above Nainital.
ALEXANDRINE PARAKEET (Psittacula eupatria)
Nice looks at 3 near Corbett, and 2 briefly at Sultanpur Jheel.
ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET (Psittacula krameri)
Very common in the plains; with a total of about 1100.
SLATY-HEADED PARAKEET (Psittacula himalayana)
About 30 were seen well at Sat Tal where many others were calling from high trees or moving in fast flying flocks; we also had about a dozen along the Mongoli Trail.
PLUM-HEADED PARAKEET (Psittacula cyanocephala)
We saw these gorgeous parakeets at Ranthambhore, Kumeria, Corbett, and Sat Tal.
RED-BREASTED PARAKEET (Psittacula alexandri)
About 220 in the Kumeria and Corbett area.
LONG-TAILED MINIVET (Pericrocotus ethologus)
At least 30 (in a single flock) at Corbett, plus a few others there too, and then 1 at Sat Tal.
BLACK-HOODED ORIOLE (Oriolus xanthornus)
One at Corbett.
COMMON WOODSHRIKE (Tephrodornis pondicerianus)
Two at Ranthambhore, and 1 at Corbett.
BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus picatus)
Twenty at Kumeria, and 6 at Corbett.
WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL (Rhipidura albicollis)
Nine in the Kumeria to Corbett area, 1 at Kaladhungi, and 1 at Chapi.
WHITE-BROWED FANTAIL (Rhipidura aureola)
Five at Ranthambhore.
BLACK DRONGO (Dicrurus macrocercus)
Very common in farmland across the plains; in all we saw about 250.
ASHY DRONGO (Dicrurus leucophaeus)
One at Kaladhungi.
WHITE-BELLIED DRONGO (Dicrurus caerulescens)
Four at Ranthambhore.
BRONZED DRONGO (Dicrurus aeneus)
One at Sat Tal.
HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO (Dicrurus hottentottus)
At least 30 in the Kumeria to Corbett area, and 7 at Kaladhungi.
BAY-BACKED SHRIKE (Lanius vittatus)
One at Ranthambhore, and 2 at Bharatpur.
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach)
Widespread in small numbers, with a total of about 20.
GREAT GRAY SHRIKE (INDIAN) (Lanius excubitor lahtora)
One at the edge of farmlands near Bharatpur; formerly split and know as Indian or Southern Gray Shrike.
BLACK-HEADED JAY (Garrulus lanceolatus)
Five on the way up to Nainital, and 2 in the same area as we returned to Ramnagar 4 days later.
RED-BILLED BLUE-MAGPIE (Urocissa erythroryncha)
Five at Sat Tal, and 1 near the top of the Mongoli Trail.
RUFOUS TREEPIE (Dendrocitta vagabunda)
Common in woodland areas away from the Himalayan mountains; in all we saw about 80.
GRAY TREEPIE (Dendrocitta formosae)
Two at Chapi.
HOUSE CROW (Corvus splendens)
Very common and widespread in towns and villages across the plains.
LARGE-BILLED CROW (LARGE-BILLED) (Corvus macrorhynchos japonensis)
Forty around Nainital.
LARGE-BILLED CROW (INDIAN JUNGLE) (Corvus macrorhynchos culminatus)
Very common across the plains.
YELLOW-BELLIED FAIRY-FANTAIL (Chelidorhynx hypoxanthus)
Two singles at Kumeria.
GRAY-HEADED CANARY-FLYCATCHER (Culicicapa ceylonensis)
One at the Forestry Department offices at Bund Baretha, 1 at Kumeria, 2 at Kaladhungi, and 1 at Sat Tal.
COAL TIT (BLACK-CRESTED) (Periparus ater melanolophus)
Formerly known as Black-crested or Spot-winged Tit they are now considered conspecific with Coal Tit; we saw about 15 in the Nainital area.
GREEN-BACKED TIT (Parus monticolus)
About 30 in the Nainital area.
CINEREOUS TIT (Parus cinereus)
About a dozen at Ranthambhore, and 3 in the Kumeria to Corbett area.
HIMALAYAN BLACK-LORED TIT (Machlolophus xanthogenys)
Good looks at 1 along the road to Sat Tal.
ASHY-CROWNED SPARROW-LARK (Eremopterix griseus)
Thirteen at Ranthambhore, and about 50 in the Bharatpur area.
GREATER SHORT-TOED LARK (Calandrella brachydactyla)
A flock of about 30 were in a dry field near Bharatpur.
CRESTED LARK (Galerida cristata)
One at the Chambal River.
COMMON TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus sutorius)
One at Ranthambhore, and 2 at Sultanpur Jheel.
HIMALAYAN PRINIA (Prinia crinigera)
One on the rocky slopes above Nainital.
DELICATE PRINIA (Prinia lepida)
Formerly considered conspecific with Graceful Prinia, we saw 2 in the reedbeds near Sultanpur Jheel.
YELLOW-BELLIED PRINIA (Prinia flaviventris)
Two in the reedbeds near Sultanpur Jheel.
ASHY PRINIA (Prinia socialis)
Singles at Okhla, Ranthambhore and Bund Baretha, and 4 at Sultanpur Jheel.
PLAIN PRINIA (Prinia inornata)
Small numbers at Okhla, Ranthambhore, Bharatpur, Corbett, and Sultanpur Jheel.
ZITTING CISTICOLA (Cisticola juncidis)
One in the Corbett grasslands.
BLYTH'S REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus dumetorum)
One at Bund Baretha.
CLAMOROUS REED WARBLER (BROWN) (Acrocephalus stentoreus brunnescens)
Two in the thick bushes along the shores at Bharatpur.
SCALY-BREASTED CUPWING (Pnoepyga albiventer)
This super skulker was heard at Sat Tal, and then seen really well along the Mongoli Trail. A highlight of the tour, and we even had scope views!
GRAY-THROATED MARTIN (Riparia chinensis)
About 14 at Ranthambhore, 10 at Bund Baretha, 40+ at the Chambal River, and 10 at Sultanpur Jheel.
DUSKY CRAG-MARTIN (Ptyonoprogne concolor)
About a dozen at Ranthambhore.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
Ten at Okhla, 1 at Bharatpur, 10 in the Nainital area, and 20 at Sultanpur Jheel.
WIRE-TAILED SWALLOW (Hirundo smithii)
Four at Bund Baretha, and 1 at Sultanpur Jheel.
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW (Cecropis daurica)
About 14 at the top of the Mongoli Trail.
STREAK-THROATED SWALLOW (Petrochelidon fluvicola)
At least 30 over the Ramnagar barrage.
NEPAL HOUSE-MARTIN (Delichon nipalense)
Ten above the higher part of the Mongoli Trail.
RED-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus cafer)
Very common away from the Himalayan mountains.
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL (Pycnonotus jocosus)
Four at Okhla, about a dozen at Corbett. and 1 near Ramnagar.
WHITE-EARED BULBUL (Pycnonotus leucotis)
Eight at Bharatpur, and 3 at the Chambal Safari Lodge.
HIMALAYAN BULBUL (Pycnonotus leucogenys)
Common in the foothills of the Himalayas – from Kumeria to Nainital; in all we saw about 200.
BLACK BULBUL (PSAROIDES GROUP) (Hypsipetes leucocephalus psaroides)
One in the Kumeria area, 20 at Sat Tal, and a dozen along the Mongoli Trail.
ASHY BULBUL (Hemixos flavala)
Great looks at 1 in Corbett.
MOUNTAIN BULBUL (Ixos mcclellandii)
Two along the road to Sat Tal.
BUFF-BARRED WARBLER (Phylloscopus pulcher)
About 6 in the Nainital area.
HUME'S WARBLER (Phylloscopus humei)
Small numbers at a variety of widely scattered sites in the lowlands; with a total of about 20.
BROOKS'S LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus subviridis)
One by the gate to Sultanpur Jheel.
LEMON-RUMPED WARBLER (Phylloscopus chloronotus)
One at Kumeria, and 2 along the road to Sat Tal.
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (Phylloscopus collybita)
Surprisingly few this year (probably due to the exceptionally warm conditions) with just 2 at Okhla, and 1 at Bund Baretha, and 8 at Sultanpur Jheel.
WHISTLER'S WARBLER (Phylloscopus whistleri)
Three in the Kumeria to Corbett area.
GREENISH WARBLER (Phylloscopus trochiloides)
Three at Chambal Safari Lodge.
GRAY-HOODED WARBLER (Phylloscopus xanthoschistos)
At least 40 in the Kumeria to Nainital area, 15 at Sat Tal, and 40 along the Mongoli Trail.
CHESTNUT-HEADED TESIA (Cettia castaneocoronata)
Fabulous looks at this normally very shy bird at Sat Tal.
BLACK-FACED WARBLER (Abroscopus schisticeps)
We saw 1 of these tiny attractive warblers at Pangoot.
BLACK-THROATED TIT (Aegithalos concinnus)
At least 30 in the Nainital area.
LESSER WHITETHROAT (Curruca curruca)
Singles at Okhla, Ranthambhore, Bharatpur, Bund Baretha, 4 at Sat Tal, and 5 at Sultanpur Jheel.
YELLOW-EYED BABBLER (Chrysomma sinense)
Three in the tall reeds at Bund Baretha.
WHISKERED YUHINA (Yuhina flavicollis)
Great looks at a pair of these very attractive 'genetically strange' birds in the mountainous country above Nainital, and then another pair more distantly on the road down from Nainital.
INDIAN WHITE-EYE (Zosterops palpebrosus)
Small numbers were seen at a variety of widespread sites; in total we saw about 20.
BLACK-CHINNED BABBLER (Cyanoderma pyrrhops)
Three in the scrubby vegetation on the way up to Nainital.
RUSTY-CHEEKED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Erythrogenys erythrogenys) [*]
Heard at Corbett.
STRIATED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Grammatoptila striata)
One at Sat Tal, 2 at Chopi, and 2 along the Mongoli Trail.
STREAKED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron lineatum)
Common in the Nainital area (60+).
CHESTNUT-CROWNED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron erythrocephalum)
Good looks at 5 along the Mongoli Trail, and then on our second visit another 2 there.
RUFOUS SIBIA (Heterophasia capistrata)
Five near to beginning of the Lands End Trail, above Nainital, 2 at Sat Tal, and 1 on the Mongoli Trail.
LARGE GRAY BABBLER (Argya malcolmi)
Nine at Ranthambhore, and 6 near Bund Baretha.
JUNGLE BABBLER (Argya striata)
Very common across the plains; in all we saw about 800.
COMMON BABBLER (Argya caudata)
About 25 in the Ranthambhore area.
WHITE-CRESTED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax leucolophus)
We saw 4 of these very attractive birds at Forktail Creek, and 8 at Sat Tal.
RUFOUS-CHINNED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla rufogularis)
Good looks at 1 (together with the Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes) on the Mongoli Trail.
WHITE-THROATED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Pterorhinus albogularis)
Great close views of a feeding flock at Sat Tal.
WALLCREEPER (Tichodroma muraria)
Two singles in the rocky riverbed at Ramnagar.
CHESTNUT-BELLIED NUTHATCH (Sitta cinnamoventris)
Two at Kumeria.
WHITE-TAILED NUTHATCH (Sitta himalayensis)
Four at Snow View, and 2 at Pangoot.
VELVET-FRONTED NUTHATCH (Sitta frontalis)
One at Sat Tal.
BAR-TAILED TREECREEPER (Certhia himalayana)
Eight in the Nainital area, and 1 on the Mongoli Trail.
BROWN DIPPER (Cinclus pallasii)
Two adults and a newly fledged juvenile along the Kosi River at Kumeria.
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris)
Six in some garbage with Indian Pied Starlings near Sultanpur Jheel.
ASIAN PIED STARLING (Gracupica contra)
Recently split from birds in south-east Asia and now known as Indian Pied Starling (the scientific name remains the same). Common in the plains, we saw a total of about 200.
BRAHMINY STARLING (Sturnia pagodarum)
Thirty at Ranthambhore, and about 20 in the Bharatpur to Bund Baretha area.
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis)
Very common and widespread throughout the tour.
BANK MYNA (Acridotheres ginginianus)
Widespread in the lowlands where we saw about 400.
LONG-BILLED THRUSH (Zoothera monticola)
Great looks of 1 feeding in the water at Forktail Creek.
ORANGE-HEADED THRUSH (Geokichla citrina)
One at Bund Baretha, 1 at Chambal Safari Lodge, and 2 at Sultanpur Jheel.
GRAY-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Turdus boulboul)
Eight at Sat Tal, and 2 at the bottom of the Mongoli Trail.
TICKELL'S THRUSH (Turdus unicolor)
We saw this shy thrush in the leaf-litter at Chambal Safari Lodge.
BLACK-THROATED THRUSH (Turdus atrogularis)
One at Corbett, and then a flock of about 40 at Sat Tal.
INDIAN ROBIN (Copsychus fulicatus)
Widespread in dry scrub country in the lowlands; in all we saw about 40.
ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (Copsychus saularis)
Widespread away from the high Nainital area; in all we saw about 45.
BLUETHROAT (Luscinia svecica)
Two near Sultanpur Jheel.
BLUE WHISTLING-THRUSH (Myophonus caeruleus)
Common in the Kumeria, Corbett and Nainital areas; in all we saw about 50.
SPOTTED FORKTAIL (Enicurus maculatus)
Great views of 1 at Kumeria, and then 2 on the river at Chapi.
SLATY-BACKED FORKTAIL (Enicurus schistaceus)
Another forktail we saw well; this species was on the river at Chapi together with a Spotted Forktail.
SLATY-BLUE FLYCATCHER (Ficedula tricolor)
One female along the Mongoli Trail.
RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula parva)
A female at Ranthambhore, and 2 at Sultanpur Jheel.
BLUE-FRONTED REDSTART (Phoenicurus frontalis)
We saw a male along the Lands End Trail, and then a female in the Three Gods area below Nainital.
PLUMBEOUS REDSTART (Phoenicurus fuliginosus)
Common along rivers in the high country from Kumeria to Nainital; in all we saw about 45.
WHITE-CAPPED REDSTART (Phoenicurus leucocephalus)
Another 'river redstart', we saw a total of about 30 between Kumeria and the Nainital area.
BLUE-CAPPED REDSTART (Phoenicurus coeruleocephala)
Two in the Three Gods area below Nainital, and then 1 at Sat Tal.
BLACK REDSTART (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Three at Ranthambhore, 1 in the rocky scrublands below Nainital, and 3 at Sultanpur Jheel.
CHESTNUT-BELLIED ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola rufiventris)
Nice looks at a male along the Lands End Trail.
BLUE ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola solitarius)
We saw a female near the temple in the river near Ramnagar.
SIBERIAN STONECHAT (Saxicola maurus)
About 20 at Corbett, 3 along the road to Sat Tal, and 3 in a reedbed near Sultanpur Jheel.
PIED BUSHCHAT (Saxicola caprata)
Two at Ranthambhore, 4 at Bund Baretha, 6 at Chambal River, and 1 at Sultanpur Jheel.
GRAY BUSHCHAT (Saxicola ferreus)
We saw a total of 15 between the Kumeria to Corbett area and in the higher mountains around Nainital.
ISABELLINE WHEATEAR (Oenanthe isabellina)
Three near Bharatpur.
DESERT WHEATEAR (Oenanthe deserti)
Three in the same dry field as the Isabelline Wheatears near Bharatpur.
BROWN ROCK CHAT (Oenanthe fusca)
One at Bund Baretha, and 4 at Fatehpur Sikri.
PURPLE SUNBIRD (Cinnyris asiaticus)
Two at Ranthambhore, about 25 in the Bharatpur to Bund Baretha area, and 10 at Sultanpur Jheel.
BLACK-THROATED SUNBIRD (Aethopyga saturata)
We saw 2 males in the Kumeria area.
GREEN-TAILED SUNBIRD (Aethopyga nipalensis)
Brief, but good looks at a glorious male at Pangoot.
BLACK-BREASTED WEAVER (Ploceus benghalensis)
About a dozen in the tall reeds at Bund Baretha.
INDIAN SILVERBILL (Euodice malabarica)
Two at Bund Baretha, 4 as we headed north along the road from the Ganges to Kumeria, and 1 near Sultanpur Jheel.
RUFOUS-BREASTED ACCENTOR (Prunella strophiata)
Five at Sat Tal.
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)
Widespread in towns and villages throughout the tour.
SIND SPARROW (Passer pyrrhonotus)
Great looks at a pair at a nest at Sultanpur Jheel, and then another male about 5 kms outside the reserve.
RUSSET SPARROW (Passer cinnamomeus)
About a dozen near the Three Gods below Nainital, and 3 at Sat Tal.
YELLOW-THROATED SPARROW (Gymnoris xanthocollis)
Previously known as Chestnut-shouldered Petronia; we saw 1 at Ranthambhore,
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea)
Singles at Ranthambhore and Sat Tal, 2 at Corbett, and 1 at Chapi.
WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (Motacilla flava)
About 40 in the Bharatpur to Bund Baretha area.
CITRINE WAGTAIL (Motacilla citreola)
Thirty at Okhla, and a dozen at Sultanpur Jheel.
WHITE-BROWED WAGTAIL (Motacilla maderaspatensis)
Small numbers at Chambal River, Agra, Corbett, and Sultanpur Jheel.
WHITE WAGTAIL (Motacilla alba)
Small numbers were widespread (especially in marshy fields); with a total of about 40.
WHITE WAGTAIL (MASKED) (Motacilla alba personata)
This black-backed form of White Wagtail is sometimes split at Black-backed or Masked Wagtail, we saw singles at Ranthambhore and along the Chambal River.
PADDYFIELD PIPIT (Anthus rufulus)
One at Ranthambhore, and 2 at Bund Baretha.
TAWNY PIPIT (Anthus campestris)
One near the Chambal River.
TREE PIPIT (Anthus trivialis)
One at Ranthambhore.
COMMON ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus erythrinus)
Three females at Sat Tal.
YELLOW-BREASTED GREENFINCH (Chloris spinoides)
Two at the top of the Lands End Trail, and 1 near the Three Gods site.
INDIAN FLYING-FOX (Pteropus giganteus)
About 250 at Ranthambhore, 150 at Bund Baretha, and 50+ at Chambal Safari Lodge.
RHESUS MACAQUE (Macaca mulatta)
Very common and widespread throughout the tour, and especially in towns and villages.
COMMON LANGUR (Presbytis entellus)
Another very common monkey, this species often occurs in more natural habitats.
PALM SQUIRREL (Funambulus pennanti)
Common in the lowlands; with a total of about 220.
COMMON JACKAL (Canis aureus)
Eight at Bharatpur, 1 along the Chambal River, and 1 at Corbett.
COMMON MONGOOSE (Herpestes smithi)
Two singles at Ranthambhore.
TIGER (Panthera tigris)
Great to see this magnificent creature; we saw 1 about 200 mtrs away at Ranthambhore, and then a super close one at Corbett.
INDIAN ELEPHANT (Elephas maximus)
Thirteen were on the open grasslands below Dikhala Lodge, and we also saw another 5 near there.
WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa)
Four at Ranthambhore, and about a dozen at Corbett.
MUNTJAC (BARKING DEER) (Muntiacus muntjak)
Fourteen in the Kumeria to Corbett area.
SPOTTED DEER (Axis axis)
Very common in all the main parks and reserves where we saw a total of about 700.
HOG DEER (Axis porcinus)
One at Corbett.
SAMBAR (Cervus unicolor)
Forty-five at Ranthambhore, 1 at Corbett, and 3 at Kumeria.
NILGAI (Boselaphus tragocamelus)
One at Okhla, 10 at Ranthambhore, 35 at Bund Baretha, and 20+ at Sultanpur Jheel.
INDIAN GAZELLE (Gazella bennettii)
One at Ranthambhore.
Reptiles seen on the tour included:
Marsh Mugger Crocodile: About 20 at Ranthambhore, 30 on the Chambal River, and 12 at Corbett.
Gharial: At least 45 in the Chambal River included 4 huge males.
Indian Rock Python: 1 at Bharatpur.
Indian Narrow-headed Soft-shelled Turtle: about a dozen of these giant turtles were seen at Bharatpur.
Indian Tented Turtle: 6 along the Chambal River.
Agama sp.: 3 on a rock wall at the top of the Mongoli Trail.
Totals for the tour: 284 bird taxa and 15 mammal taxa