10 Birding Destinations in India you did not know about

Tadoba, Bandhavgarh, Ranthambhore etc. are some of the parks that are renowned for Tiger sightings and are spoken about everywhere in gatherings, social media etc. However there are number of birding destinations that offer awesome experience but are seldom spoken about and are generally not very well known as destinations. Let’s talk about some of the lesser known birding destinations that offer an amazing experience.

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Bah (70 kms from Agra, Uttar Pradesh)

Bah is set around 70 kms South of Agra on the border of National Chambal Sanctuary (5400 sq km), a protected area in North India for the protection of the Critically Endangered Gharial (Alligator), the red-crowned roof turtle and the Endangered Ganges river dolphin. The area is renowned for the sighting of wide ranging exclusive birds such as Indian Skimmer, Pallas’s fish eagle, Indian courser, Sarus Crane, black-bellied terns, red-crested pochard, ferruginous pochard and bar-headed goose alongwith 200+ other species. The boat safari in the Chambal river offers exclusive bird watching as there are hardly any tourists coming here.

Open – Oct – March

Dasada (100 kms from Ahmedabad, Gujarat)

Dasada in Little Rann of Kutch (LRK) area is a set of shallow lake and desert like area at 100 kms from Ahmedabad (2 hours), renowned for being the only habitat of Wild Ass in the world. However what makes LRK an experience is its birding. It is believed to be home to about 75000+ bird nests and 200+ species of birds. It is renowned for its large flocks of Flamingos, Pelicans, Storks and also one of the few places in India to travel to for its raptor population (Eagles, Kestrels, Kites, Buzzards, Harriers etc.) and Owls.

Open – All through the year (Best visited – Oct – March)

Nakhatrana (50 kms from Bhuj, Gujarat)

Nakhatrana is a set around Bani Grasslands and shallow lakes of Greater Rann of Kutch at about 50 kms from Bhuj. The area is renowned for wide ranging migratory birds that includes White Naped Tit, Marshall’s Iora, Black Necked Stork, Chestnut Bellied Sandgrouse, Striated Bunting, Greater Flamingos, Common Crane, Gray Hypocolius, Steppe Eagle etc.. It is a kind of destination to arrive for bird watchers. 3 days spent grasslands, shallow lakes, countryside and coastal areas can yield anywhere from 120-150 species during prime Season. Lala Bustard Sanctuary is also one of the few areas in India where it is possible to sight Great Indian Bustard (rarely sighted).

Best visited – Nov – Feb

Pangot (15 kms from Nainital, Uttarakhand)

Pangot (7000 ft asl) is a Himalayan hamlet at 15 kms from hill station of Nainital in Uttarakhand. Pangot offers a laidback character and Himalayan views and is a prime bird watching destination with 250+ species found here. Pangot is where you arrive for Pheasants (Khalij Pheasant, Cheer Pheasant and Koklas Pheasant) and wide ranging high altitude birds. Black headed Jay, Himalayan Bulbul, Streaked Laughing Thrush, Striated Laughing Thrush, White Cheeked Laughing Thrush, Rufus Sibia, Green Backed Tit, Blackbird etc. are Commonly seen. There are view points from where you can see Vultures at a close range.

Access : Delhi – 320 kms, Kathgodam – 50 kms

Open – All through the year (Best visited – Mar – June, Oct – Nov)

Sattal (23 kms from Nainital, Uttarakhand)

Sattal (3500 ft asl) is a lakeside hamlet at 23 kms from hill station of Nainital in Uttarakhand. Sattal offers an laidback character and is a birders haven. Homestays here have birding “Studio” i.e. camouflaged area for birds where photographers can just sit and keep taking photos. A walk around Sattal lake is where you’d find many species. A 2 night stay is sure to get you at least 100-120 unique species. You may arrive for Common Green Magpie, Himalayan Bulbul, Mountain Bulbul, Red billed Leothrix, Rufus bellied Niltava, Rufus Sibia, Rusty Cheeked Schimitar Babbler, Streaked Laughing Thrush, Cinnerous Tit, Siva, Green Tailed Sunbird etc.

Access : Delhi – 320 kms, Kathgodam – 20 kms

Open – All through the year (Best visited – Mar – June, Oct – Nov)

Mollem (50 kms from Panjim, Goa)

Mollem or Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary lies on the eastern border of Goa with Karnataka. Mollem is set around Western Ghat forests and is a prime bird watching site (250+ species sighted here). Mollem is where you arrive to sight prized Kingfisher varieties of Goa (such as Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher and Blue Eared Kingfisher) and prized Western Ghat varieties such as Malabar Trogon and hornbills. Mollem alongwith neighboring Bondla Sanctuary combine to offer travellers a complete birding experience where one does a bit of walking, trekking and undertakes boat safaris in mangroves in Zuari river for some exclusive bird photography of Kingfishers and raptors.

Access : Goa Airport – 60 kms, Panjim – 50 kms

Open – All through the year (Best visited – Oct – March)

Ganeshgudi – Dandeli (80 kms from Belgaum, Karnataka)

Dandeli National Park on other side of Mollem that is otherwise renowned for its White Water Rafting and adventure activities in Kali River. Ganeshgudi area in Dandeli is a prime bird watching site and can be considered the Hornbill Capital of India with Grey Hornbill, Pied Hornbill and Great Hornbill found in great abundance. Ganeshgudi is also a destination to arrive for some most exclusive birding of some very colorful bird species such as Emerald Dove, Lesser Yellow Naped Woodpecker, White bellied Blue flycatcher, Black naped monarch, Yellow Throated Bulbul, Flame Throated Bulbul, Oriental White Eye etc.

Access : Belgaum – 80 kms, Londa – 30 kms

Open – All through the year (Best visited – Oct – March)

Thattekad (40 kms from Cochin Airport, Kerala)

Thattekad or Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary is spread over a small area of 25 sq km and is a prime bird watching site with 300+ birds sighted in and around the area. Thattekad is where you arrive for Malabar Trogon and Ceylon Frogmouth alongwith wide range of species such as Malabar Parakeet, Large billed Leaf warbler, Grey fronted green pigeon, Collared Scops Owl etc. Thattekad is where one walks and treks across a reserve forest that is unbelievably rich in birdlife for a full day of birding. 

Access : Cochin – 40 kms,

Open – All through the year (Best visited – Nov – Feb)

Bhitarkanika (130 kms from Bhubaneshwar, Orissa)

Bhitarkanika is a mangrove forest spread over 672 sq km of area by the Bay of Bengal. Bhitarkanika is one of the best places to sight 8 different varieties of Kingfishers (including Brown Winged Kingfisher), 6 different varieties of Woodpeckers and wide ranging exotic bird species.  Forest Rest House (FRH) in Bhitarkanika is one of the best birding lodges in India where in Winter more than 100 species can be sighted inside the FRH over 2 days.

Access : Bhubaneshwar – 130 kms,

Open – Aug-May (Best visited – Nov – Feb)

Manglajodi (65 kms from Bhubaneshwar, Orissa)

Manglajodi is a swampland on the edge of Chilika Lake, 65 kms from Manglajodi. Manglajodi is a waterbirds paradise having 300,000 birds during peak season. The local community here have reformed themselves from a village of poachers to a village of bird protectors. You undertake a slow country boat safari in the swamp area where you are able to photograph birds from a very close range, closer than any other birding destination elsewhere in India. This makes Manglajodi special for bird photographers who are able to capture some of the most exotic pictures.  

Access : Bhubaneshwar – 65 kms,

Open – August-May (Best visited – Sept – Feb)

We @Nivalink have visited them all over last 5 years and experienced these destinations first hand. We would be happy to assist bird watchers and photographers in organising a birding trip. email us on birding@nivalink.co.in to get started.

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