Keoladeo National Park
Keoladeo National Park in Bharatput is a pilgrimage for the bird lovers and is a paradise for those interested in the avian world. During the British raj also it was renowned as the best duck shooting reserve. However, in 1956 it was declared a reserve for birds and later graded as the national park of India. It has been listed as the World Heritage site by UNESCO. It is located at an ideal geographical location on the main avian route of North-South India. This national park is quite is quite small in size spread across 29 km but it boasts of housing more than 375 species of gorgeous birds, out of which more than 132 of them breed inside the National Park adding new ones to the list each year.
This sanctuary attracts birds from all over the world including China, Siberia, Europe and Tibet along with those found in India. The resident bird activity starts before the monsoons on the Kadamb and Babool trees of the park. The Ajan Bandh water fills the ponds and lakes of the park for these birds to nest around it.
Various herons, hundreds of them in all sizes are assured of food and water. Little cormorant, grey heron, purple heron, different species of egret, open-billed, painted, black necked and white necked stork, spoonbill, white ibis, night heron and different birds are busy in mating and courting each other. The trees are laden with hundreds of nest and one can easily observe a tree full of nearly 50-60 nests belonging to various species of birds taking care of their loving young ones.these nests give an impression of pearl necklace on the tree. The tallest flight birds, Gracious Saras cranes have their nests in open and exposed areas. Hatching duty is equally shared by both the partners and incubates them together by raising shrill-trumpeted calls and raising their necks. They also fan their feathers jointly while giving the calls.
The newborn are only 10cm in size but grow up to 1 metre tall within a year’s time. Birds from all over the country start flocking down to the sanctuary with the arrival of the monsoons. Migratory birds or the Keoladeo Siberian cranes form an integral part of the park along with other migratory waterfowls. These waterfowls visit the park in October and rosy starlings mark the arrival of these migratory birds. The Grey leg geese and bar headed are the most noticeable waterfowls coming to the park.
Shoveled, mallard, common teal, Gadwall, pintail, red crested pochard, ruddy shelduck, and widgeon, common shell duck are some of the commonly spotted ducks here. Tawny eagee, imperial eagle, steppe, spotted eagle, laggar falcon, marsh terrier are some of the common predatory birds found in the park that complete the avian food chain of the eco-system. Lesser spotted eagle, short-toed eagle and shikra are some of the permanent residents of the park.
Out of 29 sq. km area, 11 sq. km is covered with water and the rest is laden with rich variety of birds including white and red vented cheeked bulbuls, kingfisher, quails, babblers, sunbirds, partridges, sparrows, orioles and parakeets that dwell in burrows or bushes. The park is ornithologists delight and a pilgrimage for bird lovers with its year rounds activity of birds. Although birds are the predominant dwellers of the park, nevertheless, the animal populace also graces the beauty of the sanctuary. You can easily spot the antelopes, nilgais and the spotted deer here. You can even see pythons sometimes that bask in the sun.
In order to enjoy the beauty of the park, it is best to travel on foot or on bicycle. However, you can also engage Electra van of the forest department but the vehicles are permitted only up to Shanti Kutir. You can also hire cycle-rickshaws.