Corbett - a haven for bird watchers (With Images)

April 5th, 2009 - 9:59 am ICT by IANS  

By Richa Sharma
Ramnagar (Uttarkhand), April 5 (IANS) The world famous Jim Corbett National Park, home to the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger, is a paradise for birds, with over 600 different species being recorded in the 1,400 sq km preserve. And where birds perch, can bird watchers be far behind?

Migratory birds such as Osprey, Ruddy Shelduck, Mallard and Gadwall, among others, come all the way from Europe and Central Asia to the lush green forests of the Himalayan foothills in this Kumaon region of the state, some 300 km from Delhi.

Many Himalayan birds also take refuge in Corbett during winters to escape the extreme conditions in the higher reaches of the mountain range. These include flycatchers, the Great Barbet and Wallcreeper.

Thousands of bird watchers from India and abroad visit Corbett during the winter to watch this spectacular congregation of birds.

“As few people are able to spot the big cats in the preserve, the birds have become a major attraction among visitors,” says naturalist Ajay Ghale of Leisure Hotels, which runs the Riverview Retreat and Corbett Hideaway hotels in Ramnagar.

“The most sought after bird in Corbett is Ibisbill, a Himalayan bird, which migrate to the forest for three months from November to January. It is a very rare bird, and we only get to see five to six birds around the water bodies. Many people come here to watch this bird,” Ghale told IANS.

“The Corbett National Park is a characteristic of the Himalayan mountain system. It offers a great diversity of habitats due to variation in altitude, relief, and temperature,” says naturalist Sanjay Chimwal of Leisure Hotels.

Some rare birds found in Corbett include Orange-flanked Bush-robin, Blue-fronted Redstart, Brown Rock-Chat, Little Forktail, Orange-headed Thrush and Red-throated Pipit.

“I come here every year to watch the Himalayan birds. You find several species of aquatic and migratory birds in the Sal forests during winter. The most important thing is that as you travel to higher altitude from here (Corbett), you can spot more colourful birds,” said Michael Sanders, a Italian bird watcher.

Realising the interest of visitors in bird watching, almost all the hotels in the area have included amateur ornithology in their tour packages.

“Twenty percent of our guests during a year are typical bird watchers. We host large bird watchers’ groups during the winter,” said Vibhas Prasad, director of Leisure Hotels.

(Richa Sharma can be contacted at richa.s@ians.in)

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