It’s not unusual to escape the European winter for some balmy Indian sun, but what about escaping the European summer to experience the Indian monsoon?! Actually, we should avoid much rain on this tour, focussed on some special birds that are very difficult to see at other times of year. Instead the lush green landscapes are a stark contrast to what you expect from India.
Our key bird is the rare endemic Lesser Florican, seldom seen due to its very secretive behaviour. Monsoon is when it does its spectacular jumping display, which we will look for mainly in agricultural fields near Sonkhaliya. In the same area of Rajasthan, the similarly secretive Rain Quails will be calling and obvious, and this is the best time of year also for seeing Rock Bush Quail, Painted Francolin, Singing Bushlark and Bristled Grassbird.
Our tour will also include a jeep safari at Jhalana in Jaipur, with an excellent chance of seeing Asian Leopard, and a brief visit to Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, because it always has great birding! Finally we can’t really avoid a little bit of non-birding since we are so close to the awe-inspiring Taj Mahal!
Day 1: Arrive in Delhi, afternoon at Surajpur
After your arrival in Delhi we will head to Surajpur wetland on the outskirts of Delhi, a reliable site for the scarce breeding Bristled Grassbird, a bird that is incredibly secretive and difficult to see except for a couple of months when it performs its short song flights.
Day 2: Sultanpur National Park to Jhalana Safari Park, Jaipur
Leaving early this morning we first stop at Sultanpur National Park. This small wetland is another site for Bristled Grassbird, and provides great all-round birding at any time of year. Monsoon is the time for the spectacular displays of Indian Peafowl and we should see several birds here, as well as Asian Openbill, Red-naped Ibis, Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Indian Thick-knee and Pied Cuckoo. Then we continue on our way to Jaipur, arriving in time for an afternoon jeep safari in Jhalana Safari Park. This small park on the edge of the city is remarkable for its relatively large numbers of Asian Leopard, and we have a good chance of seeing one on our drive.
Day 3: Jaipur to Ajmer
We have the option of another game drive at Jhalana this morning before we leave, or alternatively some birding at Nahargarh Biological Park, an area of thorn forest which has good numbers of regular species with breeding Indian Pittas, Bay-backed Shrike, Black-headed Cuckooshrike and a chance of the scarce White-naped Tit. Leaving Jaipur we head southwest towards the prime areas for Lesser Florican, with some exploratory birding en-route.
Days 4 – 5: Sonkhaliya
The arable farmland of Sonkhaliya is the stronghold of the severely declining Lesser Florican. Seldom seen at other times of year because of their secretive nature, from July through to September they perform a remarkable jumping display. Our two full days in the area gives us a very good chance of finding them, as well as other monsoon specialities including Rain Quail, Rock Bush Quail, Painted Francolin, Indian Eagle Owl and Singing Bushlark. Autumn passage migration has started by now also and we may find Rosy Starlings, European Rollers, Sykes’s Warblers and even a Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin.
Day 6: Sonkhaliya to Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur
After some final birding at Sonkhaliya, we will drive to Bharatpur where we will spend the afternoon enjoying this world-famous reserve, which is excellent at any time of year.
Day 7: Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur
Keoladeo National Park, better known as Bharatpur, became a World Heritage Site in 1985. One of the most outstanding wetland reserves in Asia, it attracts large numbers of wildfowl, herons, storks, cranes, waders, owls and raptors, after the monsoon has refilled the shallow ‘jheels’. At this time we are too early for the large numbers of wintering species, but monsoon breeding season will be in full swing, and we should find several different species of passage migrants, including flocks of beautiful Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters.
Day 8: Bharatpur to Delhi via Agra and Taj Mahal
Even though we’re concentrating on the birds, a trip to this part of India would seem incomplete without a visit to one of the most iconic manmade structures in the world, the Taj Mahal, which we shall do on our route back through Delhi.
- Painted Francolin
- Rain Quail
- Rock Bush Quail
- Lesser Florican
- Singing Bush Lark
- Bristled Grassbird
- Near Endemic
As with all Bubo Birding tours, your booking is handled by Asian Adventures. This tour is guided by Mike Prince, plus local birding guides.
Prices quoted are approximate prices per person, assuming an exclusive 2 person tour. Larger group sizes attract a discounted per person price, e.g. at least 25% cheaper for 4 persons. International flights are excluded. The final price and itinerary will be confirmed before booking and depending on your expected arrival and departure plans.
See Asian Adventures for full tour details, including accommodation, what's included, other exclusions, prices for larger groups, single room supplements, and booking details.