Orange-headed Ground Thrush @ Aditya Singh
Profusion of ducks at the park @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
The park after the monsoons @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
Sambar deer @ Aditya Singh
Pelicans and Painted Storks @ Aditya Singh
Dusky Eagle Owl @ Aditya Singh
Keoladeo Ghana National ParkKeoladeo Ghana National Park, India
Keoladeo Ghana or Bharatpur is heralded as one of the finest bird reserves in the world. Owing to its global, ecological, faunal and floral importance, UNESCO has deemed it a ‘World Heritage Site’. With over 400 species of birds in and around Bharatpur, well laid out tracks and a relatively small sanctuary make it one of the top birding destinations in Asia.
Situated at the confluence of the Gambhir and Banganga rivers, the sanctuary was originally a 29 sq km natural depression prone to seasonal flooding by rainwater, which attracted wildfowl. The erstwhile Jat rulers of Bharatpur recognized the area’s potential, diverted water from a nearby irrigation canal and added some bunds (dykes) to develop it as a duck shooting reserve. A list of the hunting exploits of the Maharaja and his royal guests can be seen inside the park.
Later, when hunting was stopped, it was declared a Bird Sanctuary and eventually a National Park, renamed in 1981 as Keoladeo Ghana after the Shiva temple at the park’s core. Located in a semi-arid biotype, the park is the only area with vegetation surrounded by agricultural fields, hence the name ghana or dense. It is this fascinating tapestry of wetlands, woodlands, woodland swamps and dry grasslands that has blessed the park with a rich, biologically diverse birdlife.
Bharatpur is an unraveled breeding site for the Painted Stork, Asian Openbills, Indian & Little Cormorants, Purple & Black Crowned Night Herons, Black headed Ibises & Eurasian Spoonbills. Some of the other notable species here are the Ferruginous and Comb ducks, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Sarus and Common cranes, Great White and Dalmatian Pelicans, Yellow and Black bitterns, Greylag and Bar-headed goose, Red-crested and Common pochards. Other common species include White-breasted Waterhen, Brown Crake, Greater Painted-Snipe (sometimes numbering over 30 birds in a village pool), Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Temminck’ s Stint, Bronze-winged and Pheasant-tailed jacanas, Pied Avocet and Black-winged Stilt.
Woodland species include Yellow-crowned and Indian Pygmy Woodpecker, Indian Scops-Owl, Dusky Eagle-Owl, Marshall’s Iora, Verditer and Ultra marine Flycatcher and Orange-headed Thrush. In the drier areas we may find Yellow-wattled Lapwing, Indian Courser, Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse, Spotted Owlet, Common Wood-Shrike, White-cheeked Bulbul, Indian Bushlark, Ashy-crowned and Rufous-tailed larks, Isabelline and Desert wheatears, Isabelline Shrike, Richard’s and Long-billed Pippits.
The passerine migrants found here are the Red-breasted Flycatcher, Siberian Rubythroat, Bluethroat, Olive-backed Pipit, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, and warblers like Hume’s, Brook’s Leaf and Siberian Chiffchaff. An excellent place to see eagles, some of which are the Greater and Indian Spotted Eagle, Steppe, Imperial, Bolleni’s and Short toed Eagle, smaller raptors include the Western Marsh Harrier, Common Kestrel, Eurasian Sparrow Hawk, Shikra and Black shouldered Kite.
Mammals include the Spotted Deer, Nilgai, Golden Jackal, Jungle Cat and the seldom seen Pangolin.
- State: Rajasthan
- Area: 29 sq km
- Altitude: above mean sea level
- Water resources: