Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, November 28, 2008

The fog clung to the ground in great murky blankets when I arrived at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary on this Friday morning. At 6 AM, traffic on NH 8 via Mehrauli and Gurgaon had been thin, but my gruff but kindly Sikh cab driver held my gaze for an astonished moment in the rear-view mirror when I said I was going looking for birds. After driving more than 50 km from Delhi in bone-numbing cold and dangerous visibility levels to do this, he must have wondered. But he only said I could have gone to Bharatpur instead. But Sultanpur, so close to Delhi (in Haryana), is a celebrated avian paradise. And winter made it especially so.

A Bluethroat, displaying its gaily banded chest, welcomed me. As the fog lifted, peafowl scuttled, but a covey of Grey Francolins grazed unperturbed on the path ahead of me. A thudding of hooves announced Nilgai. A female followed by three young calves crossed barely a hundred metres in front of me. Sarus cranes were calling, and somewhere among the reeds a Black-necked Stork was planning breakfast. The soft quackering of several migratory ducks, the trilling of Tailorbirds and at least three species of Prinia – Ashy, Plain and Graceful – provided the background music for my morning walk.

The mist lifted gently, and the view became less ghostly. Painted storks and cormorants flew overhead. In a copse to my right, two male Black Redstarts had a mild face-off. A Rufous-tailed Shrike picked a dragonfly out of mid-air and dismembered it slowly on a thorn thicket. Red-throated Flycatchers were everywhere, some males showing off their bright throats.

The water was alive with ducks. Though I was staring right into the sun, I could tell the silhouettes of Northern Shovellers and Spotbills. There were Common Teals, Lesser Whistling Ducks, Common and Crested Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Gadwall and Garganey. But among them all, sailing like frigates in a flotilla of dhows, were the Greylag Geese. Large, beautiful birds with bills of pink, they lorded over the water. Until a Eurasian Marsh Harrier scattered the ducks and extracted a shudder out of the Greylag flock. There were other raptors too – Spotted Eagles, Oriental Honey Buzzards, Black-shouldered Kites, Kestrels…

As winter wears on, these waters will attract more migrants, among them Common Cranes, Bar-headed Geese and a host of warblers and waders. And then, by March, most of them would have returned, but for the Shovellers, who are usually the last to go.

  1. Alexandrine Parakeet
  2. Ashy Prinia
  3. Asian Pied Starling
  4. Bank Myna
  5. Barn Swallow
  6. Black Kite
  7. Black Redstart
  8. Black-shouldered Kite
  9. Bluethroat
  10. Blyth’s Reed Warbler
  11. Booted Warbler
  12. Common Chiffchaff
  13. Common Coot
  14. Common Kestrel
  15. Common Moorhen
  16. Common Myna
  17. Common Peafowl
  18. Common Pochard
  19. Common Stone Chat
  20. Common Tailorbird
  21. Common Teal
  22. Common Woodshrike
  23. Crested Pochard
  24. Eurasian Collared Dove
  25. Gadwall
  26. Garganey
  27. Great Cormorant
  28. Greater Spotted Eagle
  29. Greenish Warbler
  30. Grey Francolin
  31. Grey Heron
  32. Greylag Goose
  33. House Crow
  34. Indian Cormorant
  35. Indian Robin
  36. Indian Silverbill
  37. Large Grey Babbler
  38. Laughing Dove
  39. Lesser Whistling Duck
  40. Lesser Whitethroat
  41. Little Cormorant
  42. Long-tailed Shrike
  43. Northern Shoveller
  44. Oriental Honey Buzzard
  45. Oriental Magpie Robin
  46. Oriental White-eye
  47. Orphean Warbler
  48. Paddyfield Pipit
  49. Painted Stork
  50. Pied Bushchat
  51. Pintail
  52. Plain Prinia
  53. Pond Heron
  54. Purple Heron
  55. Purple Sunbird
  56. Purple Swamphen
  57. Red Avadavat
  58. Red-throated Flycatcher
  59. Red-wattled Lapwing
  60. Rose-ringed Parakeet
  61. Rufous-tailed Shrike
  62. Sarus Crane (H)
  63. Shikra
  64. Spotbill Duck
  65. Spotted Dove
  66. Yellow-eyed Babbler
  67. Zitting Cisticola

Video grab: Spotted Eagle

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5 thoughts on “Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary, November 28, 2008

  1. Hello!
    You can make it there by 7 AM. Park is open then. But the season is trailing off – many of the migrants have already gone back. If you are quiet and carry good binoculars or a scope, you can see some wintering ducks, raptors and maybe the bluethroats…

  2. Thanks..that was a pretty quick response 🙂
    1. early would mean reaching there by when (5 types??)
    2. how good/ bad this season is for bird watching.

    Thanks, Nitin

  3. Hi, we were planning a trip tpo sultanpur…just wanted ur view on how good/ great the place is. Is is worth staying overnight or a day visit (from Delhi) is fine.

    Thanks, Nitin

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