A 4-hour morning trip with Nik Devasar I stayed back for an extra day in Delhi (June 29th 2006) after a business meeting to try and photograph some birds in the Delhi area – something I have never done so far! Expert birder Nik Devasar (of Delhibird fame) very kindly offered to accompany me and selected the Sultanpur wetland amongst the options available for an early morning visit (Okhla bird park and the Delhi Zoo were the other alternatives).
The Sultanpur National Park and Bird Sanctuary is located in Gurgaon district of Haryana, 50 km from Delhi and 15 km from Gurgaon on the Gurgaon – Farukh Nagar Road. This park, ideal for birding and bird photography is termed ‘mini-Bharatpur’ and a large number of migratory birds visit in winter. We made an early start to and reached Sultanpur at 0630 hrs. Though the sun was up early the sky was heavily overcast creating a smog like haze. The saving grace was that it protected us from the scorching sun. We approached the ‘rear’ side of the park which were large pastures used for grazing cattle and sheep. Nik was quick to pick up the two specialties – the Indian Courser and the Yellow-wattled Lapwing. The Indian Coursers were breeding late and hence still around. It was amazing to catch fairly close glimpses at these elegant birds – a lifer for me. We then moved the main part of the sanctuary which had the water bodies and the heronry. The Asian Openbills were still nesting. It seemed like the Oriental Darters had just finished nesting. There were a sizeable poulation (~20) of the interesting looking Comb Ducks (another lifer) in addition to Spot-billed Ducks, Shovellers, Spoonbills, Moorhens and Coots. Of course, Nilgai were all over and it was happy to note that most of the feral dogs that were preying on the Nilgai had been tranquilized and relocated out of the park. It’s great that Delhibird played an active part in influencing the forest department to take swift action. At about 1030 hrs we headed back to Delhi and later that afternoon I returned to Bangalore. Though brief, my trip to Sultanpur was memorable and I could photograph so many birds in so little time – most of them for the first time. Definitely, I will be back for more in winter. Obviously, it wouldn’t have been possible without the expertise of Nik. Thanks a bunch, Nik! Hope you enjoy the images. Cheers, –r@mki Bangalore | July 02, 2006