The Keoladeo Ghana National Park (commonly referred to as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary), is a delight for bird watchers. The 28 sq. km. lake and wetland was artificially created by the Maharaja of Bharatpur in the 19th century. By building small dykes and dams and diverting water from an irrigation canal, he converted this low lying area into a fine wild fowl shooting preserve. In a few years, the new wetland surrounded by marginal forests was able to support thousands of water-birds.
Over 300 species of birds are found here and raised paths, camouflaged by babul trees and undergrowth make viewing easy. A quite ride by boat or cycle rickshaw in the early hours of the morning is also an unforgettable experience. There are mixes heronries on the half submerged babul trees and the cacophony is unbelievable as painted storks, open bills, spoon bills, egrets, comorants, white ibis and multitudes of other end their young. Jacanas with their iridescent colors and elegant tail feathers and purple moorhen can be seen delicately treading over the floating vegetation. While harriers and fishing eagles circle overhead in search of prey, the pied kingfisher hovers dramatically over the water in flurry of wings. There are varieties of storks and cranes and the local sarus crane is elegant in a livery of grey and red.
Every year Bharatpur waits with bated breath for the arrival of the Siberian cranes. There are only two wintering places for this rare species – one in Iran and the other Bharatpur and these beautiful birds with their distinctive red beaks and facial patches, fly over 6400 km from their summer retreats in Siberia, to get to them.
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