Friday, March 6, 2009

Birding at Bandhavgarh National Park

Bandhavgarh National Park is famous for tiger safaris. But little is known about the birding potential that the park offers. The tiger has been the focus of attention here, but many interested tourists and wild lifers have had a keen eye for the birds in the past.

Bandhavgarh has many interesting species such as Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Eurasian Golden Oriole and Black Hooded Oriole, Racket Tailed Drongo, Malabar Pied Hornbill, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Crested Serpent Eagle, Crested Hawk Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Bonelli's Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Verditor Flycatcher, Black-rumped Flameback, Streaked Woodpecker, Rufous> Woodpecker, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Sirkeer Malkoha Alexanderine Parakeet, Brown Fish Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Sarus Crane, Hen Harrier and Pied Harrier. The now rare White-rumped Vulture and Indian Vulture can be seen at Bandhavhgarh. The steep cliffs accord perfect nesting site for Indian Vulture. The wetlands inside the park are not extensive and I have barely seen some Northern Pintails, Comb Duck, Lesser Whistling Teal, Painted Stork, Cotton Pygmy Goose and Ruddy Shelduck. A recce at Bamera Dam and other such places should result in good species of migratory ducks and waders.

With luck Eurasian Hobby, Peregrine Falcon and Common Kestrel can be sighted. There have been more then two hundred fifty bird species including migrants seen in the park. Many species can be seen near Bandhavgarh Lodges that offer hotel accommodation for tiger safaris in the park.

Most of the hotels in the tiger reserve have trained naturalists with good knowledge of birds. This helps in tourists on wildlife safaris in the park. Trained bird specialists help professional birders from various regions understand the avi-fauna of the reserve.

Bandhavgarh has a great potential as a birding destination, and professional birding groups will have a successful trip. The best time for bird tours would be winters when the migrants augment the number of bird species. But as the foliage is thick birding can be difficult but nevertheless the findings could be very exciting for the bird lovers.

Forest birding is always exciting and full of surprises. Though Bandhavgarh does not have as many species as Corbett National Park, birding here is interesting especially to sight birds of Central India. Bandhavgarh and Kanha will be interesting additions to birding trips in India.