Our India birding and wildlife tour takes in Ranthambore National Park, where we search for the mythical Bengal Tiger, undoubtedly one of the greatest tiger tours in India and greatest wildlife experiences on earth! Other game abounds and we stand reasonable chances of observing Leopard, Sloth Bear and Dhole (Asian Wild Dog). The rich woods, chaurs and dry thickets of this scenically stunning park also offer excellent birding and species we will look for include Red Junglefowl and the resplendent Indian Peafowl, the uncommon White-naped Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback, Indian Scops Owl, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Crested Serpent-Eagle, migratory Long-tailed Shrike, Common Iora, White-bellied Drongo, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher that can often be located by its sweet song given from dense bamboo patches, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Small Minivet, the active White-browed Fantail, both Pale-billed and Thick-billed Flowerpeckers, Grey-breasted Prinia, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, and the endemic Painted Sandgrouse.
We visit the world-famous waterbird sanctuary of Bharatpur. From our fabulously luxurious hotel, we walk around the jam-packed wetlands that teem with waterfowl, pelicans, herons, storks, cranes, raptors, waders and migrant passerines. Some of the species we will look for include Sarus Crane (the world’s tallest flying bird), Red-crested Pochard, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Painted and Black-necked Storks, Asian Openbill, Black Bittern, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas and migratory White-tailed Lapwing. The marshy edges also attract migrant passerines such as Bluethroat, Blyth’s and Clamorous Reed Warblers, and Western Yellow, Citrine, Pied and White-browed Wagtails. Raptors are especially well represented at Bharatpur and include Eastern Imperial, Greater Spotted, Steppe and occasionally Golden and Indian Spotted Eagles, Egyptian Vulture, Western Marsh Harrier and Laggar Falcon. We will also search the park’s arid Acacia dominated woodland and dry grasslands for Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Indian Grey Hornbill, Greater Coucal, Oriental Skylark, Brahminy Starling, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Indian Silverbill, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Siberian Rubythroat, to name but a few. Nightbirds may include Dusky Eagle-Owl, Spotted Owlet and Large-tailed and Indian Nightjars.
The fabulous Taj Mahal allows us to marvel at the elegance of its design and the immense numbers of intricately carved and inlaid semi-precious stones that adorn its walls. We also visit the fabled Agra Red Fort that serves as a monumental reminder of the region’s fascinating history. A boat trip down the Chambal River, one of the last strongholds of the strange Gangetic Dolphin and Indian Skimmer. Other river specialists here include Black-bellied and River Terns, Dalmatian Pelican, Small Pratincole, River Lapwing and the bizarre Gharial. During our times in the Himalayan foothills, we explore the riches of Corbett Tiger Reserve. This scenically spectacular area affords some thrilling birding with excellent chances for Tawny and Brown Fish Owl, Pallas’s and Lesser Fish Eagles, Crested Honey Buzzard, Red Junglefowl, Slaty-headed Parakeet, Himalayan Swiftlet, White-rumped Spinetail, Crested Treeswift, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Lineated and Brown-headed Barbets, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Rufous and Grey Treepies, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, beautiful White-crested Laughingthrush, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, stunning Rufous-bellied Niltava, Long-tailed Minivet, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Wallcreeper, 3 species of elegant forktails, skulking wren-babblers and bird flocks often containing over 30 species!
Having ascended to the welcoming hill station of Nainital in the lofty Himalayas, we bird amidst endless forested vistas and towering snowcaps. Here we will seek pine forest specialities that include Kalij and Koklass Pheasants, Black-headed Jay, no less than five species of exciting Zoothera thrushes, the lovely Golden Bush Robin, Nepal Wren-Babbler, Chestnut-headed Tesia and much, much more. In Delhi we explore the surroundings of Okhla Island and the Yamuna River where we will enjoy the host of ducks, geese, gulls and waders on offer, in addition to new species such as Striated Grassbird, Red Avadavat and the localised White-tailed Stonechat.
This fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable birding and wildlife tour of Northern India is taken at a leisurely pace and its multi-faceted birding, wildlife and cultural focus means it can be enjoyed by both birders and non-birders alike.