Water (and birds!) at Bharatpur

Bharatpur: After the recent drought, the jheels are now full of water. (Photo: Mike Prince) Bharatpur: The mass of birds at Bharatpur can be a spectacle to match any in the world. (Photo: Mike Prince)

Further to Dave Dunford's article from last winter High and Dry in Bharatpur I thought it would be helpful to provide an update on the situation for the forthcoming winter. The good news is that, after four years of drought in this part of India, the summer's monsoon has been excellent. Rainfall has been above average, with torrential rain falling on many days, including up to 10cm on a single day.

Common Cranes: (Photo: Mike Prince) Intermediate Egret: (Photo: Mike Prince)

Thankfully, the scenes from last winter of what are normally bird-rich, well-vegetated jheels being completely dry, cattle-grazed fields are no more. Instead, these are lush green once again and are proving an excellent feeding ground for hundreds of waders and wildfowl, as well as the likes of Purple Swamphens and both Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas.

Bar-headed Geese: Some of the few waterbirds present in the dry winter of 2002/2003. (Photo: Mike Prince) Painted Stork: (Photo: Mike Prince)

Consequently the breeding season for hundreds of pairs of Painted Storks and Asian Openbills, plus Darters, Spoonbills and the various herons, egrets and cormorants is in full swing.

With autumn migration in full flow the numbers and variety of birds at Bharatpur will continue to rise. So, the outlook is good for an excellent winter's birding. What would round it off perfectly would be if any Siberian Cranes return after a blank year. Local birders will be looking out expectantly over the next few weeks!

Large-tailed Nightjar: (Photo: Mike Prince) Spotted Owlet: (Photo: Mike Prince)

For more information about birds and birding in India, including occasional reports from Bharatpur, check out the Northern India Bird Network and the Delhi Bird Club at Delhibird and Mike's own web page http://www.bubo.org/.

Stop Press: Recent reports at Bharatpur include three new species for the park: Plain-backed Thrush, Blue-capped Rock Thrush and Lesser Fish Eagle, plus the first Black-capped Kingfisher since 1996.

Written by: Mike Prince, Delhi