Sunday, January 10, 2010

Exciting Birds of Kanha

Kanha National Park earlier known as Kanha Kisli is home to the endangered tiger and hard ground swamp deer. But the tiger overshadows Kanha's popularity over its other famed aspects.

Birding at Kanha Tiger Preserve is highly interesting activity. The bird watching at Kanha is popular among birders who come on tiger safaris in the park. Now many tour operators are planning a full fledged birding tours.

Kanha is a habitat for approximately two hundred and fifty bird species the checklist includes winter visitors. At Kanha wildlife refuge the forest birds are best seen. Since there are no large water bodies, wetland bird watching is not as exciting as Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

Forest birding is very exciting but an arduous task. Long hours of waiting, highly focused vision for spotting birds in canopy and good knowledge of bird calls is a perquisite. This is for both - bird guides and birders. Not forgetting high class pair of binoculars and spotting scope and good bird books.

Most exciting finds (though not rare) are Malabar pied hornbill, Shama, Indian scimitar babbler and Paradise flycatchers. Racket tailed drongo, Spangled Drongo also take the cake. It requires trained eyes and skills to locate these birds since they are mostly hiding in thick foliage. Malabar pied hornbill prefers higher canopy of the tree while the Shama keeps to bushes and low grounds often. Shama is rated as best song bird by Salim Ali. These bird are seen in intact ecosystems of the park, and with difficulty outside in buffer zone.

The common birds are parakeets, orioles, drongos, babblers, bushchats, Indian robin, tree pie, spotted owlet, barred jungle, owlet, orange headed thrush, common gery hornbill and mynas. These birds can easily be seen in and around hotels of Kanha in neighboring forest and gardens. Catch hold of the hotel naturalist to assist you.

Among good finds are chloropsis - blue cheeked and gold mantled. Ultramarine flycatcher and wintering warblers are exciting to see the former with difficulty. Iora, Brown cheeked fulvetta, crimson breasted barbet, grey headed barbet, grey francolin, painted francolin, rain quail, night jars, red spurfowl, Indian scimitar babbler and Shama are more often heard than seen. Some of the birds call consistently in the wildlife preserve. If you develop good ear for bird calls your birding will succeed four fold.

Large owls and raptors are often seen at the wildlife refuge. Brown Hawk Owl can be seen around trees neighboring marshes with luck. Mottled wood owl is often heard in the night, while collared scops owl can be seen often in pairs near the Pakur tree at the Kisli Gate. Among raptors, honey buzzards, pariah kite, and white eyed buzzard along with shikra are often seem. Crested serpent eagle, crested hawk eagle though not rare are exciting to spot. The serpent eagle is a persistent callers in the meadows. One can see Ospreys at the water body before the Kisli Gate in winters. Vultures seen are white backed now rare, King vulture and often Egyptian vulture on the top of the trees.

Water bird can be seen around Sravan Taal, Bishenpura water body and Saundher lake. in winters Northern pintail and common teals arrive in respectable numbers. Lesser whistling teals, Nakta, white necked stork, painted storks, lesser adjutant stork are resident wetland birds.

The list of birds at Kanha is endless. Bird watching is exciting at this park only if you are not involved in a frantic tiger chase. By any tourist an effort should be made to appreciate a more holistic picture of the preserve rather than run after tigers or leopards. The best time for a bird tour is in winters whence the numbers are augmented by migrants.

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