Keoladeo National Park, also known as “Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary”, is known for its diverse bird representation and a healthy python population. I originally posted a trip report here based on a trip I took in 2013, but Photobucket withdrew all of those photos. As I was re-uploading the pictures I decided to supplement them with photos from a second trip I took there a couple years later. So these pictures represent two long weekends, not just one!
On to the park.
The central area of Keoladeo is dominated by wetlands like this:
But the dry parts of the park hold a different array of wildlife:
Everything in the park can be reached on foot, though it does help to rent a bicycle.
Bharatpur is famous for its pythons and I made finding one my primary herping goal of the trip. I was not disappointed. On the first day, this young juvenile was hiding in an old log in a wetlands area right next to the main thoroughfare:
Indian Python (Python molurus)
On the morning of the second day, I was riding a bike through a more remote area of the park when I spotted this welcome sight in the distance:
Turned out to be an adolescent of about 3 meters:
Sadly, early morning on the third day turned up half of a DOR of a very small juvenile…method of death uncertain.
On a second trip I took later, I focused on finding basking spots. This was a more sensitive exercise as you do not wish to disturb the pythons in their basking, which is essential to their digestion and other life tasks, and thus you should never approach them too closely while they are basking or disturb the general site.
One enormous python was found inside of its hole, curled up in such a way that some of the sun’s rays still hit it. It appeared to be at least 4 meters in length but was of course impossible to judge well.
There were only a couple other snake species I found (midday in winter isn’t the best time to spot most species), though I uncovered several shed skins that appeared to belong to other species, possibly Indian Rat Snakes and Sand Boas. The primary lives snakes I found were Checkered Keelbacks, which would hide out in various nooks and crannies near the water.
Checkered Keelbacks (Xenochrophis piscator)
There was also one lone Brahminy Blind Snake near a building.
Brahminy Blind Snake (Indotyphlops braminus)
After finding my pythons, my second goal was turtles. Once again I was not disappointed at all.
The most obvious turtle species are the giant Indian Softshells, which can be seen sunning on a small islands out in the marsh or patrolling through the shallow waters. The largest ones are easily over 60cm long.
Indian Softshells (Aspideretes gangeticus)
While riding the bike alongside the marsh, I somehow looked through some brush on the side and managed to spot this turtle on a small log
Indian Roofed Turtle? (Pangshura tecta)
I was quite surprised to see this turtle running over the main road from one side of the marsh to the other. I wasn’t able to get too close before it made it across, but it was by far the largest adult example I’d seen of the common but wonderfully unique flapshell turtle
Indian Flapshell (Lissemys punctata)
Later I found another patrolling in a marsh. By only moving when his head was below the water, I was able to approach quite close to him without being detected.
There were several lizard species in the park, generally utilizing the drier regions.
Brooke’s House Gecko complex (Hemidactylus cf. brookii) – this species has recently been broken up into multiple species, and I believe there is a good chance that what Keoladeo holds are actually Hemidactylus gleadowi.
Oriental Garden Lizard (Calotes versicolor)
Striped Grass Skinks (Mabuya dissimilus)
Common Dotted Garden Skink (Lygosoma punctata)
One lizard species does take advantage of all those wetlands, and that is the huge Bengal Monitor.
Bengal Monitors (Varanus bengalensis)
Despite the unfavorable weather I came across a few common frog species.
Marbled Toad (Duttaphrynus stomaticus)
Cricket Frog (Limnonectus sp.)
Ornate Narrow-mouthed Frog (Microhyla ornata)
Indian Bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus)
Skittering Frog (Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis)
The mammals on the trip were great – I saw dozens of deer, over 20 jackals, and lots of beautiful nilgai. At one moment I may have seen my first Asian otter out of the corner of my eye, but it disappeared before I could be sure that it wasn’t just a very large mongoose lifting its hips too high.
Other mammals included House Mouse, Indian (five-striped) Palm Squirrel, Asian House Shrew, a second much smaller shrew species, Grey Mongoose, Wild Boar, and Hanuman Macaque.
Though the reptiles and mammals are nice, the real reason people go to this place is the birds. I easily saw over 100 species in 4 days despite not focusing on birds and not knowing anything about bird watching.
The wading birds are the most obvious representatives of the park – I don’t know how many places you can see 5 species of heron and 4 species of stork in a single day, not to mention the egrets, ibises, spoonbills, etc.
Painted Stork, Black-necked Stork, Wooly-necked Stork, Asian Openbill Stork, Sarus Crane
Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Striated Heron, Black Bittern
Intermediate Egret, Great Egret, Black-headed Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill
Such expansive wetlands brought many other types of water-loving birds
Little Grebe, Little Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Darter
Bar-headed Geese, Lesser Whistling Duck, Spotbill, Knob-billed Duck, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Teal
White-breasted Waterhen, Eurasian Moorhen, Grey-headed Swamphen, Chinese Coot, Bronze-winged Jacuna
Black-winged Stilt, Red-wattled Lapwing, various sandpipers or greenshanks or whatever (would appreciate help with IDs)
Common Kingfisher, White-breasted Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher
White-breasted Kingfisher Bharatphur Keoladeo National Park
For me a great highlight were the raptors. I have never seen such an incredible array of hawks, eagles, falcons, owls, and vultures in one place. Over 50 species of birds of prey, including 9 species of eagle, have been sighted within the park boundaries.
Laggar Falcon, Shikra, Black-shouldered Kite, Crested Serpent Eagle, Booted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Egyptian Vulture
Unfortunately, most of the raptors were difficult for me to identify, because they were too far away and because of all the variety of brownish eagles, hawks and harriers out there. My camera at the time was very low quality as well. So if anyone can identify any of the following I would greatly appreciate it.
Owls were awesome too, and virtually always in pairs.
Spotted Owlet, Indian Scops Owl, Dusky Eagle Owl
A few other birds that showed up:
Coppersmith Barbet, Paradise Flycatcher, Purple Sunbird, Green Bee-eater, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Bluethroat, Siberian Rubythroat, Ashy Prinia
Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Black Drongo, Hoopoe, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Indian Peafowl, Indian Grey Hornbill, Black-rumped Flameback, Gray Francolin
Rufous Treepie, Indian House Crow, Large-billed Crow, Greater Coucal, Common Hawk Cuckoo, Pied Cuckoo, Indian Roller
White-eared Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Indian Robin, Brahminy Starling, Asian Pied Starling, Common Myna, Bank Myna, Jungle Babbler, Common Babbler
Shrikes are tough…I believe what I have here are mostly Long-tailed Shrikes with a Bay-backed Shrike….anything else?
At first I often ignored what birders call the “drab little birds” and didn’t bother to ID or photograph them. But in the later portion of the trip I began to try to photograph them too. Unfortunately, I struggle a lot to ID them.
Here are a few little Black birds….I think some of them are definitely Pied Bushchats…is there a Common Stonechat in there too? And what else?
A few of the little brown birds were identifiable by me – I believe here we have some Red Avadavats, an Indian Silverbill, House Sparrows, and a Chestnut-shouldered Bush Sparrow.
But mostly the drab little birds eluded me. If you could ID any of these I would very much appreciate it:
That’s 94 species before even getting to the dozens of unidentified or unphotographed ones (at the least birds I didn’t get pictures of included a Brown-headed Barbet, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Rock Dove, Oriental Honey Buzzard, a huge vulture species, and a Wagtail).
Finally, some butterflies for those of you who are into that (I’m sure there are many more species than this there but I was ignoring them most of the time):
And a few other inverts
It’s an incredible place for birding…and then there are the pythons!
Thanks for taking a look.