Sultanpur and its environs – Sheila Chhabra
What started of as a regular Sunday morning of birding ended as a Mini Big Bird Day! 7:30am had a large group of birders congregating at the Sultanpur National Park and we decided to take a quick look inside. It was a lovely morning, not hot and not cold with a cool breeze and the park is now looking at its best. Pathways are clean and evenly paved and there is a flotilla of battery operated carts awaiting customers. As we entered, the Orange-headed ground Thrush was at its usual spot, as were a pair of sleepy Spotted Owlets. Cormorants and a Darter posed on a bare tree and a Pied Kingfisher joined them. The waters are full of migratory waterfowl. Ferruginous Pochards presented white bums in contrast to the black ones of the numerous Gadwalls. Pintails, Shovellors, Widgeons, Teals, pink billed Greylags, Coots, Morehens, Swamphens, Black-headed and Glossy Ibis, many egrets and lone Painted Stork were all found as we turned the first corner. A Shikra perched on a tree, a Booted Eagle flew around while a Greater Spotted quietly surveyed the scene. A pair of Sarus delighted by flying in and then displaying for an enthralled audience. We could have spent the whole day at the park but the called of the cranes invited us to move towards Chandu Budhera. After first refuelling ourselves with the scrumptious and varied delhibird breakfast, we walked on the bunds, flushing a pair of Jack snipes, towards a large group of Bar-headed Geese and shiny white and black Avocets. Common, Green and Wood Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts waded amongst them. In the distance we could see large groups of Flamingos, Black-headed Ibis and Egrets, pools of white against the green background. It was surprising to see so many venerable female Marsh Harriers – at least 8- in a small area, one of them even appeared to be carrying some twigs. The Common Cranes called and as we searched for them, they obliged by flying past – 2 adults and a juvenile. 8 more Sarus were spotted as well as another congregation of around 30 Common Cranes. Rosy Pipits, Blythes and Tawny all hopped around and some fields were full of Wagtails. We now drove by the water tanks and found a flock of Common Pochards in one. Next stop was the flats behind Sultanpur to greet the returning Short-eared owls, we saw one flying with the lazy grace that only owls display. Shrikes, Crested Larks, Hoopoes, Stonechats, and an Isabelline Wheatear all marked their presence.

A beautiful morning of birding ended in early afternoon like a mini big bird day, inviting us all to take advantage of the as yet fogless period and explore more.
Happy Birding