Birding North India
The five thousand plus sq. km river stretches across three states before submerging at Prachnanada in Uttar Pradesh. The origin of the river is in Madhya Pradesh at Mhow Township near Indore City. The river intersects Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The sanctuary lies in between the three states and encapsulates an area of 960 sq. km. The sanctuary is a hub of biodiversity and conserves the rare and endangered Gharial a reptile earlier found in the Ganges, Indus and Brahmaputra River systems in India and Nepal. This area is also the habitat for Ganges river dolphin and marsh crocodile. A number of fresh water turtle species make this river their habitat besides innumerable number of fish species.
Devoid of pollution, rampant industrialization on its shores and high population density, it is the cleanest river in North India. The river is also well known for its sandy dunes which earlier offered shelter to a number of dacoits.
Another constituent of this amazing bio-diversity are the avian species. Tourists arrive here on birding tours and also enjoy the sighting of the dolphin, marsh crocodile, smooth coated otters and the gharial. A boat ride on the river offers sighting of wetland and shore species in impressive numbers. The most coveted species is the skimmer, which also breed on the sandy dunes amidst the flowing river. Bird watching expeditions cover the shores on foot as well as the river while boating. This offers the best chance to see the magnificent winged creature while enjoying the landscape and the reptiles.
Some of the species seen here are the laggar falcon, Bonelli’s eagle, chestnut bellied sandgrouse, black bellied tern, Pallas’s Gull, sarus crane, sand lark, wooly necked stork, Indian eagle owl, brown fish owl, bar, headed geese, ruddy shelduck, Osprey, Northern pintail, shoveler, knob duck and many more. On shore birding is exciting too and one can see coucal, red headed bunting, black headed bunting, orange headed thrush, brown crake, long legged buzzard, brown hawk owl, plain prinia, jungle prinia, tailorbird, Brook’s leaf warbler, Hume’s warbler and many more.
The best place to proceed for Chambal river boating area is through Bah a township in UP at a distance of seventy km from Agra. There is a lodge for night stay and it organizes boat trips on the river. Another good location is a Dholepur fifty km from Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. The boat trip is organized by Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and is considerably cheaper. A days visit is enough for this exciting bird tour but one can stay overnight at the lodge and rest.
Uday conducts bird tours in North India hence the article He organizes and conducts the expeditions as a guide and tour leader. He is affiliated to Indiafootprints Company.