Best Bird Watching Tours In India
Birdwatching is a type of wildlife observation, where one can observe birds very closely in their natural habitat, either as a recreational activity or as a science. This activity is definitely a work of patience and perseverance but for an avid bird watcher, this is an opportunity to get really close to nature and admire the birds minutely and take some stunning photographs.
India with all its natural beauty and wildlife has some of the best locations for bird tours in all regions. However, the local avifauna in northern India is not only one of the best in the country but also unparalleled in the whole of Asia when it comes to pure numbers of tame and very approachable birds that one can come across here.
Given below are a few famous birdwatching tour sites in India.
Pong Dam, Himachal Pradesh :
Pong Dam, also famous as Maharana Pratap Sagar Dam, is located just 50 kms away from Pathankhot and is very well known for its migratory birds. One can find thousands of birds swarming around the dam area throughout the year and the species are believed to come from as far as Pakistan, China, Siberia, Central Asia and Ladakh. Summer brings in different species of birds like the Terns and Pratincoles and Winter welcomes the bar headed geese. The Pong Lake is one of the best places to find a huge variety of water birds which include ducks, cranes, egrets, gulls and thousands of bar headed geese.
How to reach :
By Air – The domestic airports at Kullu-Manali, Dharamshala and Shimla have regular flights from Himachal to Delhi and Chandigarh. One can fly to the airports in these cities that are closest to your destination.
By Train – Trains run from Pathankhot in Punjab to Himachal Pradesh, where the main railway stations are at Solan and Una.
By Bus – Regular buses are available from Delhi and other close by cities to various cities in Himachal Pradesh. One can take private cabs or local buses further on to your destination.
Nainital and Jim Corbett National Park in this location, are two sought after destinations for bird tours. Besides being famous as a tiger reserve, the Corbett National Park has over 530 birds, with rare species like the Crested and Stork-billed Kingfishers, the exquisite Wall Creeper, the Himalayan Flameback and the Red-billed Blue Magpie. Nainital and its invigorating climate attracts new species of birds every year. The Brown-fronted Woodpeckers, Altai and Black-throated accentors along with the Chestnut thrushes, Blue-capped Redstarts and plenty more are a true bird lovers Paradise.
How to reach :
By air – Nainital does not have an airport. The nearest airport is found at a distance of 65 kms at Pantnagar, which mostly receives private chartered flights. There are no commercial flights to this place. The nearest airport which has good air connectivity with other cities is New Delhi. From here one can hire taxis or take a train. From Nainital, one can take a bus or hire a cab to Jim Corbett National Park.
By train – The nearest railway station is at Kathgodham, at a distance of 34 kms. There are regular trains to Delhi and frequent trains to Lucknow and Howrah too.
By bus – There are plenty of bus options from several cities in the North to Nainital. Taking an overnight bus is one of the most convenient methods of travel to this destination.
Arunachal Pradesh :
The Namdapha National Park, in the picturesque valley of Noa-Dihing within the Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh, extends over an amazingly vast area of about 2000 sq.km. Owing to its very high altitude, the Park is blessed with unique species of flora and fauna, not to be found anywhere else in this country. With an array of 500 species of birds, nature enthusiasts and bird lovers can feast their eyes on some endangered species like the Red Leaded and Ward’s Trogons and Grey Peacock Pheasant, with other species like the Snowy Throated Babbler, Hill Partridges and many others.
How to reach :
By Air – Arunachal Pradesh doe not have it’s own airport. The nearest Airport is at Mohanbari, Dibrugarh, Assam 182 km from Forest Rest House, Deban, within the Namdapha National Park area.
By Train – There is no rail connectivity with Arunachal Pradesh. The nearest long distance railway station is Tinsukia Railway Station, Assam and the nearest passenger railway station is Margherita Railway Station, Assam.
By Bus – Good motorable roads are available uptil Miao which is the entry point of Namdapha National Park.The Assam StateTransport Corporation and Arunachal Pradesh State Transport buses ply daily from Dibrugarh to Miao v ia Tinsukia, Margherita, Ledo, Jagun and Kharsang.
Another, most sought after destination in India, for bird tours is Sikkim, which is known to be home to 30% of all the bird species in the Indian Subcontinent. Amidst breathtaking scenery, these tours are an unforgettable experience for avid nature enthusiasts and bird watchers. With over 500 species of resident birds, one can also spot many transitory and drifter birds in this region. The Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, located to the south of Gangtok, Pelling in West Sikkim, the Khecheopalri Lake close to Pelling, the Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary in West Sikkim and the Khangchendzongpa National Park offer some wonderful bird watching tours in India.
How to reach :
By air – The nearest airport to Sikkim, is Bagdogra Airport in West Bengal, which is about 124 kms away. From here one can hire a taxi, private vehicle or helicopter (depending on availability) to Gangtok.
By train – The nearest railway station to Gangtok is at New Jalpaiguri which is in Siliguri, 148 kms away.
By bus – Tourists from nearby places like Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri and Kokata can drive down to Gangtok or avail of the frequent public and private bus services to Sikkim.
Munnar, Kerala :
Munnar, a beautiful hill station in Kerala, has a state-of-the-art ecosystem, called the shoal-grassland ecosystem. This scenic destination is a birding paradise with many common species like the Grey Headed Bulbul, Broad Tailed Grassbird, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Crimson Backed Sunbird and the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon amongst others. The Eravikulam National Park, located just 30 km from Munnar, has been designed to protect the endangered species of Nilgiri Tahr. Spread over almost a 100 kms, it is home to a variety of birds that fly in here in huge numbers.
How to reach :
By Air – Munnar does not have an airport of it’s own. The nearest airport is the Cochin International Airport which is 110 kms away.
By Train – The railway stations close to Munnar are at Aluva, Ernakulam and Madurai. One can hire a cab or board any of the Private or State-run buses.
By Road – Private, as well as State-run buses ply regularly between various towns and cities of Kerala and Tamil Nadu to Munnar.
Rann Of Kutch, Gujarat :
The Dhrangadhra Wild Ass Wildlife Sanctuary, located in Rann of Kutch is home to Khur, the Indian subspecies of Asiatic wild Ass. The winter season welcomes a wide variety of birds and one can actually see about 300 different species at this time in Rann. Most conspicuous by their sheer numbers, tourists can enjoy the sight of thousands of cranes and flamingos who flock here. Although the destination abounds with a lot of birds throughout the year, like the Waterfowls, the Great Indian and MacQueen’s Bustards and several species of larks, as also rare ones like the Red-Naped Falcon, the Sociable Lapwing etc., this destination is still largely unexplored.
How to reach :
By Air – Kutch does not have its own airport. The nearest airport to Kutch is in Bhuj which is well connected to several major cities across the country by flight.
By Train – The nearest railway station is also in Bhuj and has good rail connectivity with major cities of India.
By Bus – Regular buses, run privately, as well as by the State, ply between Kutch and several major cities in the country.
Picture Credits : Himachal Pradesh – Hillpost.in, Himalayas – Vikasacharya.Wordpress.com, Arunachal Pradesh – Greener Pastures, Sikkim – Guide Sikkim, Munnar – Travel Ka Baap, Rann Of Kutch – Rail Bandhu