Bird watching at Sunderbans

Sunderbans National Park is the largest estuarine mangrove forest in the ...

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Bird Watching in Dandeli

Dandeli is a renowned adventure getaway and visited for White water ...

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Bird watching in Little rann of Kutchh

Little Rann of Kutch is renowned for its population of Wild Asses and ...

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Bird watching in Nalsarovar

The Nalsarovar bird sanctuary comprises a lake of  about  100  sq kms at ...

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Bird Watching in Pangot

At Pangot one can see a variety of Himalayan species along the way such ...

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Bird Watching In Thattekad

Thattekad is home to Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary that encompasses 25 sq. km ...

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bird watcher @ Nivalink

Introduction

India has about 1200+ bird species (Resident as well as migratory) and many birding circuits, standalone destinations and areas where many exotic (common as well as rarely sighted birds can be found). 


Nivalink organises birding / bird photography trips across India to 50+ destinations and is continuously exploring more areas on an ongoing basis.


Overview

India has a large set of bird watchers who visit these areas as a standalone getaway or a short break. International travellers look to spend 1 or 2 weeks.

Nivalink directors have physically verified many of these areas and therefore are able to offer authenticated expert insights alongwith overall planning (Route / Access), logistics (Transportation, Accommodation, birding guides) and expertise / insights (Seasonality, bird to target, what to expect).

We have handled anywhere for a simple 2 night bird watching getaway to 3 week multi-sector birding itineraries.


Painted Storks at Dharasana (Gujarat) (Feb 2015)

Birding Season

Winter (Oct- March) is generally considered bird watching season in India. This is the time when migratory birds arrive. However every destination has its best season as under:


Himalayas

  • Ladakh - June - Sept
  • Uttarakhand (Kumaon) - Oct-Nov, March-May
  • Uttarakhand (Garhwal) - Oct-April
  • Himachal Pradesh - Oct-Nov, March-May


North India 

  • Ranthambhore, Chambal - Nov - March
  • Rajasthan (Bharatpur, Tal Chapper) - Sept - April 


Western India

  • Goa (Mollem), Dandeli (Karnataka) - Nov - Feb
  • Dandeli (Karnataka) - Oct - March 
  • Greater Rann of Kutch - Nov - Feb 
  • Little Rann of Kutch, Nalsarovar -  Nov - March


South India

  • Coorg, Kabini, Bandipur, Mudumalai (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu) - Nov - March


East India

  • North East (Assam, Arunachal) - Nov - April
  • North Bengal - Oct - May
  • Orissa - Nov - March


Central India
 

  • Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra - Nov - Feb


Above are best season from overall experience perspectove but not necessary only season to travel. We have travelled to Bandhavgarh in peak Summer and still got 40+ bird species in 2 days (e.g. Some of the Summer migrant birds are spotted only in Summer).


Long Billed Vulture in Bandhavgarh (June 2014)

Understanding Migration

Migration simply put is a phenomenon where bird species travel from one region to another following a particular route. This happens year after year and season after season. 

Migration is of two types. Internal migration (where bird travels within the same country or same region) and External (where birds travel from one country to another, often one continent from another).

Winter Migrant start to arrive as early as end August / September and depart as late as May. Bird migration has been an area of intrigue and intense research for many decades and has a direct relation to development and climate change.

India represents a unique bird watching experience where one can find wide range of birds both migratory and resident that comprise big birds, raptors, waterbirds, desert birds, Sea birds and Himalayan birds etc. Bird watching every year different based on rainfall that year, migration arrivals, development etc. 


Bar headed Geese (Feb 2015) - A prime winter migrant in West, North and East India

Birding Destinations - Standalone

Standalone birding destinations are ones that are popular for getaways and visited on a standalone basis. Destinations like Bharatpur (Rajasthan), Nakhatrana (Kutch), Thattekad (Kerala), Mudumalai (Tamil Nadu) are some of the most popular standalone bird watching getaways. 


Nivalink organises bird watching getaways on an ongoing basis based on access, time on hand, Season and birder sophistication (If any Target bird list) etc.


Standalone Birding Destinations in Western India

Western India is part of Western Ghats (Western Ghats extend from South Gujarat all the way upto Kerala), which are home to many exotic species, both migratory as well as resident bird species. Travellers from Mumbai and Pune popularly visit destinations in and around Western Ghats as standalone getaways. Some of the destinations are

Pawna Dam around Lonavala (120 kms from Mumbai, 80 kms from Pune) - Visited for migratory Waterbirds as well as birds of the Western Ghat

Bhigwan lake (100 kms from Pune) - Visited for migratory Waterbirds

Chiplun (250 kms from Mumbai, 300 kms from Pune) - Visited for birds of the Western Ghat especially Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

Mollem (55 kms from Panjim Goa) - Visited for common birds of the Western Ghat and rare species like Ceylon Frogmouth. This is recommended for advanced bird watchers looking for exclusive bird watching experience.

Dandeli (100 kms from Panjim Goa and 80 kms from Belgaum). Visited for its hornbill population (Great Hornbill, Pied Hornbill and Grey Hornbill), Woodpeckers, raptors and wide ranging exotic birds. This is recommended for advanced bird watchers looking for exclusive bird watching experience.


Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary
(near Panjim Goa) - Visited for its wide ranging water birds and common western Ghat species


Gujarat
- State of Gujarat in Western India is home to many bird watching destinations that are also visited as part of birding circuits (As documented separately under birding circuits). Nalsarovar (55 kms from Ahmedabad), Thol (30 kms from Ahmedabad), Little Rann of Kutch (90 kms from Ahmedabad) are areas that are teeming with wide ranging bird life offering bird watchers exclusive bird watching experience. These are the areas where one sees large population of big birds (like Flamingos (Lesser and Greater), Pelicans, Storks, Cranes), Waterbirds and raptors etc..

Velavadar (160 kms from Ahmedabad) is a tropical grassland where one finds Indian Courser besides many other migratory birds in Winter. Sasan Gir is a renowned wildlife getaway (for its Asiatic Lion Population), however farms around Sasan Gir receives large flocks of bird migration and therefore are excellent for bird watchers in Winter.

Porbandar and Jamnagar are lesser known areas that offer most exclusive bird watching. Narara Island, Khijadiya Lake and many areas in and around Jamnagar offer exclusive bird watching experience with some rare birds being regularly sighted.  Porbandar area is renowned for its large Flamingo population and lakes around Porbandar are teeming with bird life that is a photographer's delight.

Desert areas, Lakes and Banni Grassland areas near Nakhatrana (50 kms from Bhuj) offer one of the most exclusive bird watching experiences in Greater Rann of Kutch area. In 3 days one is able to sight as many as 150-200 species, some of them rare and exclusive (such as Grey Hypocolius)


email to birding@nivalink.co.in for a detailed perspective of bird watching in Western India alongwith recommendations


Pied Bushchat - Female (Jan - 2015) near Pawna Dam

Standalone Birding Destinations in South India

Western Ghats of South India offer excellent bird watching experience for travellers as a standalone destination as well as travellers on a birding circuit.


Plantation Highlands
- Plantation highland areas (Tea, Coffee, Spice and Cardamon) of Coorg (120 kms from Mysore), Munnar (130 kms from Cochin), Valparai (100 kms from Coimbatore), Meghamalai (140 kms from Madurai), Sakleshpur (200 kms from Bangalore), Thekkady (85 kms from Meghamalai, Wayanad Area (North Kerala - 80 kms from Calicut) and 110 kms from Munnar) are renowned for their bird watching. Plantation walks with bird watching are popular. These destinations also combine well with other destinations to form a bird watching circuit.


Birding in Wildlife Destinations -
Nagarhole (Kabini) (80 kms from Mysore) and Bandipur (80 kms from Mysore) are wildlife destinations that double up as Bird watching destinations. Standalone wildlife getaways like Topslip (70 kms from Coimbatore), BR Hills (180 kms from Bangalore, 86 kms from Mysore), Bhadra Reservoir (300 kms from Bangalore), Daroji (near Hampi), Vilaspur Lake (18 kms from Bidar) also offer excellent bird watching for travellers.


Standalone Birding Getaways
- Thattekad (40 kms from Cochin Airport) is an area surrounding Rubber plantations and is considered one of the top 3 birding getaways in India, especially for Western Ghat bird varieties.

Standalone Resorts such as Anantya Resort (50 kms from Trivandrum) and Wild Woods Spa and Resort (130 kms from Mangalore in Coastal Karnataka) offer excellent Western Ghat bird watching opportunities for travellers.


Eastern Ghats
- Areas in Tamil Nadu such as Yercaud, Koli Hiills are part of what is generally termed as Eastern Ghats and form popular ex-Bangalore getaways (200-300 kms) for bird watchers. Bird watching here is not as organised as some of the other areas.


Other
- There are many areas like Pulicat Lake (50 kms of Chennai), Vallam Reserve Forest (50 kms from Chennai) that are excellent for local bird watchers of the area.

 


Malabar Parakeet in Thattekad (Sept 2014) - A sought after birding destination

Standalone Birding Destinations in North India

South - Western Rajasthan - State ofRajasthan besides its forts and palaces has many renowned bird watching areas to explore in Winter.  Kheechan (170 kms from Jaisalmer - renowned for Demoiselle Cranes), Desert National Park around Jaisalmer (50 kms), Jawai Bandh (150 kms from Udaipur).


Some of the heritage getaways that were earlier popular stopover retreats for Inbound traveller groups now double up as standalone Bird watching and experiential getaways. Some of them area Deogarh Mahal, Kesar Bagh, Chhatra Sagar, Shahpura Bagh, Udai Bilas Palace, Bhainsrorgarh Fort


North - Eastern Rajasthan -
Wildlife destinations / getaways of Ranthambhore and Sariska double up as birding getaways. Lakeside areas near Ranthambhore (Surwal Lake), Sariska (Silserh Lake) and Chambal river areas near Ranthambhore (Savti - 35 kms), Dhoplur (50 kms South of Agra) and Bah (70 kms South of Agra) offer exclusive bird watching getaways around Chambal Sanctuary (area is especially renowned for its Indian Skimmer sighting besides offering premium birding experience).


Areas like Tal Chapper are grasslands 180-200 kms from Jaipur, specially renowned for their Raptor population and therefore popular with experienced bird watchers.


Around Delhi
- Sultanpur, Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Bhardwaj Lake, Najafgarh etc (within 50 kms radius) are good day visit options for travellers to Delhi.


Himalayas -
Both Garhwal and Kumaon regions of Uttarakhand is visited as part of Bird watching circuits (documented as part of Birding circuits). Areas like Corbett, Pangot, Binsar and Sattal are renowned bird watching areas in Kumaon.


Dehradun
area has excellent walks, treks offering excellent bird watching for standalone getaway. Lansdowne, Rajaji National Park, Upper Garhwal areas (Chopta Valley) are popular with advanced bird watchers looking for bird watching experience.


Great Himalayan National Park
area (around Tirthan Valley - 200+ kms from Chandigarh) are renowned as bird watching getaway for travellers looking to combine Himalayan walking, trekking with bird watching. One can find here sightings of specialities of the region such as Pheasants and Tragopans.


Others
- Pong Dam area near Pathankot (50 kms) is renowned for its waterbirds and wide ranging migratory arrivals in Winter. 

 


Chambal River Safari near Bah (70 kms from Agra) (Jan - 2010)

Standalone Birding Destinations in Central India

Tiger Parks as birding destinations - Tiger centrlc National Parks of Pench, Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna and Tadoba are excellent getaways for bird watching where one can sight wide ranging bird life. These parks have excellent safari infrastructure and hotel accommodations, however as entry is restricted entry permits remain a bottleneck and therefore needs advance planning.


Madhai Range of
Satpura National Park (150 kms from Bhopal) is a bird watching destination set around a reservoir offering top experience for experienced bird watchers and remains one of the sought after bird watching getaways of Central India.


Some of the Parks around
Nagpur such as Melghat, Bor, Nagzira, while have some Tiger population, are excellent local bird watching getaways.


Areas in Chhattisgarh such as Barnawapara (100 kms from Raipur) and Achanakmar (near Bilaspur) are lesser known but are known to have good birdlife and therefore can be considered as bird watching getaways for offbeat travellers.


Indian Pitta in Nagzira (June 2013)

Standalone Birding Destinations in East India

North Bengal - Siliguri (Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary),Kalimpong (Lava and Loleygaon), Gorumara and West Sikkim are standalone birding getaways in and around North Bengal accessible via New Jalpaiguri (Railhead) / Bagdogra (Airport). These destination also form part of a bird watching circuit of the area.

North East - Kaziranga, Nameri, Manas and Pabitora in Assam form a bird watching quadrangle and is visited as a standalone getaway or as part of a circuit.

Eaglenest Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh is considered one of the most exclusive bird watching experiences in India and recommended for experienced International bird watchers.

Orissa - Chilika Lake near Bhubaneshwar / Puri (100 kms) is one of the largest lakes in India offering a bird watching experience.  Bhitarkanika (100 kms from Bhubaneshwar) is set around Mangroves offering excellent birding.

Simlipal National Park (250 kms from Bhubaneshwar is better known for its Tiger Population but offers good birding. These three are more popularly visited as part of standalone birding getaways but also can be visited as part of a circuit.

Birding Circuits In India

Destinations in India that are popularly visited as part of a circuit. There are number of circuits in North, West, South and Eastern India and are preferred by experienced bird watchers and Inbound bird watchers.  Gujart circuit and Kumaon circuit are two most popular circuits in India that are visited by bird watchers in Winter.


Birding Circuits in North India

Circuits in North India that are popularly visited by Bird watchers


Kumaon Circuit
 (Uttarakhand) - Corbett - Pangot - Sattal (7-8 days) - (Ex-Delhi / Kathgodam) - Click here for details


Garhwal Circuit (Uttarakhand)
- Rajaji National Park - Doon Valley (5 days) - (Ex-Delhi / Dehradun) - Click here for Details


North East Rajasthan
- Ranthambhore - Bharatpur - Chambal (7-8 days) - (Ex-Delhi / Jaipur) - Click here for details


For further customisation you can write to birding@nivalink.co.in for expert insights / inputs and cost estimates.


Rufus Sibia in Pangot (March - 2015)

Birding Circuits in Western India

Gujarat Circuit in Western India is most popular for bird watchers.

The longest bird watching circuit is as under

Gujarat - Velavadar - Sasan Gir - Jamnagar - Nakhatrana - Little Rann of Lutch - (Ex-Ahmedabad) - Click here for details

 

For customisation email to birding@nivalink.co.in for expert insight / recommendations and cost estimates.


Crab Plover in Narara Lake near Jamnagar (Dec 2014)

Birding Circuits in South India

Circuits in South India that are populary visited by Bird Watcheres

Karnataka - Nilgiris - Coorg - Kabini - Mudumalai (6-7 days) (ex-Bangalore)

Malabar Circuit - Coorg - Kabini - Wayanad (6-7 days) (ex-Bangalore / Calicut)

Nilgiris - Coonoor / Kotagiri - Mudumalai (5-6 days) (ex-Coimbatore)

Annamalais with Kerala - Valparai - Athirapally - Thattekad (5-6 days) (ex-Coimbatore / Cochin)

Kerala - Thattekad - Munnar (4-5 days) (ex-Cochin)

 

Do write to birding@nivalink.co.in for further insights / recommendations / route planning help and cost estimates.


Ceylon Frogmouth in Thattekad (Sept 2014)

Birding Circuits in East India

Circuits in East India that are popular visited by Bird watchers

  • Orissa - Chilika Lake - Bhitarkanika - Simlipal (Ex-Bhubaneshwar) (6-7 days) (ex-Bhubaneshwar)
  • North Bengal with Sikkim - Siliguri (Mahananda) - West Sikkim (Pelling, Ravangala) - Kaimpong (Lava / Loleygaon) - Garumara (Chalsa) (8-9 Days) (Ex-Bagdogra / New Jalpaiguri) 



Do write to birding@nivalink.co.in for recommendations / insights and cost estimates.

 


Brown Headed Fishing Owl in Kaziranga (Feb 2015)

Bird Watching - Case Studies

Some interesting guest combinations and how Nivalink helped them plan a bird watching trip. 


Travellers from UK - Husband Bird watcher and wife experiential traveller

Having a set of travellers with different preferences and having to satisfy them both equally is always a challenge. One such instance was when travellers from UK, husband was interested in bird watching and wife interested in Textile crafts. Areas of Kutch, Greater Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch offered the best mix as it is full of Tribal heritage, craft villages and top quality birds. An ex-Ahmedabad itinerary was executed with some additional days spent at Ahmedabad visiting Textile museum and UNESCO heritage sites of Modhera and Patan.


Common Cranes in Greater Rann of Kutch (Feb - 2014)

Tour Leader Support

To organise a tour is no less than a challenge for anyone who is not all that well versed with India, more so if one is not all that comfortable with English. Therefore a lot of travellers prefer engage services of an experienced tour leader, who is left with a task to plan, organise logistics and accompany them to execute a seamless trip. Nivalink acts as a destination management company (DMC) to help these tour leaders detail their trips well. This task involves estimates of time taken for road travel, organising good quality hotel / transport, booking Air tickets / Train / Safari permits and offering a 24X7 helpline support. 

Wildlife and Bird watching are areas where Nivalink extensively offers support to tour leaders from UK, Germany and France.


email to birding@nivalink.co.in for recommendations / routing assistance / cost estimates.


Eurasian Magpie in Ladakh (July - 2014)

Bird watching family getaway

A family of bird watchers from Delhi where there were three generations of bird watchers involved. Here the challenge was to keep it not too hectic for seniors, keep a certain level of bird watching experience while having a bit of fun aspect for kids. Coorg was the best option here as there were elephant rides for kids, Guided plantation walks with bird watching and good quality stay to keep everyone happy.


Canter Safari in Little Rann of Kutch (Jan 2014)

Expat Bird watchers

Expats look to explore destinations in India during their stay in India. A Japanese expat bird watcher (regular Nivalink customer otherwise) living in Dehradun needed to explore lesser known birding areas of Rajasthan such as Tal Chapper and Desert National Park. Logistics to these areas was as much a challenge (Tal Chapper has limited options) as it was to organise a birding guide in the area.  We sent our regular guide from Bharatpur to accompany guest and ex-Jodhpur plan was made and executed. 

Access and convenience get combined with quality of experience on offer. Following are recommended / popular expat destinations for bird watching / wildlife :

  • Ex-Delhi - Corbett, Bharatpur
  • Ex-Bangalore - BR hills, Kabini, Bandipur, Mudumalai, Coonoor
  • Ex-Ahmedabad - Little Rann of Kutch

 


Corbett is a renowned wildlife and birding getaway for Expats based out of Delhi / NCR

Targetted bird watching

We organised a trip for a solo traveller from Singapore who arrived via Kolkata with an intention to photograph Blue Naped Pitta in Kaziranga. We ensure it happened and he even had his friend do the same very soon.


Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher is target bird of Mollem area (March 2014)

How To Get Started

There are many ways to get started. Most popular being writing an email on birding@nivalink.co.in with what you have in mind and we will get back with our insights and get our recommendations started.

Other option is to visit Nivalink website for Bird watching ideas or Recommendations.


Bird watching is always specific to individuals and therefore bird watching centric queries are always replied by experienced bird watchers / bird photographers.

 


For any further clarity on destination, seasonality, stay options, access etc., you may always connect with our expert on +91-22-61506363 OR email to expert@nivalink.co.in

Bird Watcher