Keoladeo National Park, popularly known as Bharatpur Bird Park, in northern India is one stop on the colorful journey through Rajasthan to the Pushkar Camel Fair that we make each November. Once the private duck hunting grounds for the Maharaja of Bharatpur, the wetlands were designated a bird sanctuary in the mid-70s and have since become a bird watcher’s paradise and a spot that I always look forward to visiting.
Breeding colonies of Painted Storks, Spoon Bills, Egrets, Herons and Ibises can be found in large numbers here. The adult storks, with their long legs and knobby knees, have a little flourish of pink on their tertial feathers and stand at the edge of their nest of twigs feeding their downy chicks with a long yellow beak. From November to February, wintering flocks of ducks, geese, and waders fill the marshy wetlands and rise up, from time to time, like a winged cloud into the skies above. Of course, birds are not the only residents of this sanctuary, where animals like the Blue Bull, Sambar Deer and Jackal are readily observed. Even those who aren’t ‘birders’ leave this afternoon’s stop in wonder for all they’ve seen!