Keoladeo Ghana National Park, popularly known as Bharatpur is India's best known bird sanctuary. This 28.7 square kilometre mixed wetland, woodland, grass and scrub is home to 400 plus species of birds. Only 175 kms from New Delhi, Bharatpur is on the Agra - Jaipur road and a pleasant 3 hour drive from the capital. Keoladeo is both a Ramsar and World Heritage site.
If you are new to birding or you are visiting India for birding, Bharatpur should certainly be at the heart of your plans. With its paved walkways, trained cycle-rickshaw pulling guides, cycling-tracks and, best of all, an abundance of easy to approach birds ~ Bharatpur is geared for birding like few places in the world. A day's birding can throw up 150 + species and I had 152 species on a very crowded day in January 2004.
Keoladeo has been famous for the wintering western race of the Siberian Crane. Unfortunately, the last pair visited the park in 2002-3 and it is likely that this species is now extinct in India.
But, the sanctuary is not only about Siberian Cranes. Any 1st time visitor is bound to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of waterfowl and waders which congregate on the shallow marshy lakes of Bharatpur. Winter (Nov - Mar) is the best time to visit the sanctuary when Palearctic migrants join the residents. An average day can still throw up many rare and threatened species like the Sociable Lapwing, Indian Courser, Imperial, White-tailed, Greater and Indian Spotted Eagles, Darters, Black-necked, Painted and Asian Openbill Storks, Common, Sarus and Demoiselle Cranes, Dalmatian Pelicans, Black Bittern, Greater Painted Snipe, Large-tailed, Indian and Grey Nightjars, Dusky Eagle Owls, Marshall's Iora, Siberian Rubythroat and Brook's Leaf Warblers. The 20 species of ducks, innumerable waders and raptors, water-seeking birds and approachable passerines all add to make Keoladeo a true birder's paradise.