Our Highlights of India tour takes in Ranthambore National Park, where we search for the mythical Tiger, undoubtedly one of the greatest wildlife experiences on earth! Other game abounds and we stand reasonable chances of observing Leopard, Sloth Bear and Dhole (Asian Wild Dog). The rich woods, chaurs and dry thickets of this scenically stunning park also offer excellent birding, and species we will look for include Red Junglefowl and the resplendent Indian Peafowl, the uncommon White-naped Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback, Indian Scops Owl, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Crested Serpent Eagle, migratory Long-tailed Shrike, Common Iora, White-bellied Drongo, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher that can often be located by its sweet song given from dense bamboo patches, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Small Minivet, the active White-browed Fantail, both Pale-billed and Thick-billed Flowerpeckers, Grey-breasted Prinia, Chestnut-shouldered Petronia, and the endemic Painted Sandgrouse.
We then head for the world-famous waterbird sanctuary of Bharatpur. From our fabulously hotel we walk around the jam-packed wetlands that teem with waterfowl, pelicans, herons, storks, cranes, raptors, waders and migrant passerines. Some of the species we will look for include Sarus Crane (the world’s tallest flying bird), Red-crested Pochard, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Painted and Black-necked Storks, Asian Openbill, Black Bittern, Black-headed Ibis, Eurasian Spoonbill, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas and migratory White-tailed Lapwing. The marshy edges also attract migrant passerines such as Bluethroat, Blyth’s and Clamorous Reed Warblers, and Western Yellow, Citrine, Pied and White-browed Wagtails. Raptors are especially well represented at Bharatpur and include Eastern Imperial, Greater Spotted, Steppe and occasionally Golden and Indian Spotted Eagles, Egyptian Vulture, Western Marsh Harrier and Laggar Falcon.
We will also search the parks arid Acacia dominated woodland and dry grasslands for Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Indian Grey Hornbill, Greater Coucal, Oriental Skylark, Brahminy Starling, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Indian Silverbill, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Siberian Rubythroat, to name but a few. Night birds may include Dusky Eagle-Owl, Spotted Owlet and Large-tailed and Indian Nightjars. Next we visit some of India’s most culturally significant attractions. We shall marvel at the elegance of design and the immense numbers of intricately carved and inlaid semi-precious stones that adorn the walls the Taj Mahal, as well as visiting the fascinating and equally intricately constructed Fatehpur Sikri and Red Fort near the town of Agra.
Relocating to the Himalayan foothills, we explore the riches of the Kosi River. This scenically spectacular area affords some thrilling birding with excellent chances for Tawny and Brown Fish Owl, Crested Honey Buzzard, Red Junglefowl, Slaty-headed Parakeet, Himalayan Swiftlet, White-rumped Spinetail, Crested Treeswift, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Lineated and Brown-headed Barbets, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Rufous and Grey Treepies, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, beautiful White-crested Laughingthrush, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, stunning Rufous-bellied Niltava, Long-tailed Minivet, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Wallcreeper, 3 species of elegant forktails, skulking wren-babblers and bird flocks often containing over 30 species!
We then ascend to the welcoming hill station of Nainital in the lofty Himalayas. Amidst endless forested vistas and towering snowcaps we will seek pine forest specialties that include Kalij and Koklass Pheasants, Black-headed Jay, no less than five species of exciting Zoothera thrushes, the lovely Golden Bush Robin, Nepal Wren-Babbler, Chestnut-headed Tesia and much much more. This fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable birding and wildlife tour of Northern India is taken at a leisurely pace and its multi-faceted birding, wildlife and cultural focus means it can be enjoyed by both birders and non-birders alike.
This tour is perfectly complemented by our short extension to Western India, showcasing the much underrated, semi-desert environs of the Great Rann of Kutch, putting us into prime Grey Hypocolius habitat. With a supporting cast that includes Cinereous and Griffon Vultures, Laggar, Red-necked and Saker Falcons as well as the odd looking Crab-plover, this short tour makes for an excellent finale to our Highlights of India tour.
Sarus Crane, Koklass Pheasant, Ibisbill, Wallcreeper, Long-billed Thrush, Little Forktail, Painted Sandgrouse, Black Bittern, Chestnut-headed Tesia, White-throated Bushchat, Painted Spurfowl, White-naped Woodpecker, Sirkeer Malkoha, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher, Indian Vulture, Bluethroat, Laggar Falcon, Marshall’s Iora, River Lapwing, White-crested Laughingthrush, Red-billed Leiothrix, Rufous-Breasted Accentor, Long-billed Thrush, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Grey Treepie, Red-breasted Parakeet, Kalij Pheasant, Hill Partridge, Koklass Pheasant, Altai Accentor, Rufous Sibia, Himalayan Bluetail, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Pink-browed Rosefinch, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Greater Flameback, Golden Bush Robin, Crimson Sunbird
Tiger, Leopard, Hog Deer, Gangetic Dolphin, Dhole, Sloth Bear, Jungle Cat
wetlands, teak woodlands, rivers, sal (oak & rhododendron) forests, dry acacia woodlands
cool to mild in lowlands, cold in Himalayan foothills with a chance of snowfall
Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort, Himalayan scenery, Kosi River, Ranthambhore Fort