It is that time of the year again to visit Bharatpur to watch the winged wonders. They fly thousands of miles to escape the harsh winters in Outer Mangolia, Siberia and other such frozen places.
Bird watching is an addiction. The variety on offer is mind-boggling and the patience and skill required for spotting some of them is special – plus you need an encyclopedic memory to identify the birds and to differentiate one species from another.
The park has about 250 species of birds all year round and from October onwards about 150 more species wing their way in till March. India is a major bird watching destination with the country accounting for 12 per cent of all bird species in the world.
BIRDING IS THE NEW YOGA
Birding gives a unique calmness. This joy is difficult to describe and quite out of the ordinary. Try it once – it will get you hooked. Your every day worries, that nine to five routine with two more hours of commuting is tranquilised – as you watch a bar headed goose (bar headed geese can fly over 26,000 ft) relax in the white lily filled marsh. The fragility of a tiny warbler, the power of a steppe eagle or the beauty of a green-footed pigeon – these birds will leave you with a sense of awe as to how far beyond these creatures have adopted from the ultimate evolutionary leap of flight!
The wetland wonder of Bharatpur with its marshes, bogs, quicksand, pythons and cobras is sadly one of the last few left in northern India. There was a time when Delhi itself had 670 water bodies. A recent study showed that about 275 have dried up and 200 are dependent only on rains.
The best way to explore Bharatpur is by walking the ten odd kilometers. At every turn you see birds nesting, feeding and killing. We saw a chilling sight that reminded us that this is a wild place. A shikra swooped down picked up a large frog and even the poor creature shirked as it was eaten alive.
A lot of cycling enthusiasts come here from all over India. The ten kilometers round trip to the central water body is also excellent for cycling and if you do not feel up to it you can hire a cycle rickshaw.
This year do make the trip and experience a separate peace among the beautiful birds of Bharatpur.
Written By: Ninad D Sheth