Nagarhole national park flourishes with teak and rosewood forests in the south, dry deciduous forest in east, and swamp forest is many areas. This diverse floral landscape allows bird population to flourish here. The park has more than 270 species of birds like Nilgiri wood-pigeon, lesser adjutant, greater spotted eagle, Oriental white-backed vulture, Oriental white ibis, blue-winged parakeet, Malabar grey hornbill, red-headed vulture, and others. Here are some of the areas and trails to cover to enjoy birdwatching.
1. Closer to Kabini River
If you are planning to spot numerous birds, the best place to cover is the banks of River Kabini. This is the best place to spot grey headed fish eagle, spot-billed duck, stork-billed kingfisher, ashy wood-swallow, Indian swiftlet and Malabar pied Hornbill. If you are visiting by dusk, you can spot Jerdon's nightjar, brown hawk owl, and collared scops owl. Focus on dead or submerged trees closer or on the river to spot more birds.
2. East Nagarhole Park Sector
The east part of the park is filled with dry deciduous forests. This is the right place to spot white-cheeked barbet, Malabar parakeet, grey jungle fowl, Indian rufous babbler, changeable hawk eagle, white-napped woodpecker, Malabar lark, and others.
3. Birds to Spot during Early Morning Coracle Ride
The coracle will take you through some of the deep regions of the park, which allows you to cover dense woodlands. You can find some colorful bird species here like greater racket-tailed drongo, black-hooded orioles, white-bellied drongo, purple-rumped sunbird, southern hill myna, black-headed cuckoo-shrikes, common Iora, small minivet, and others.
If you are choosing any accommodations closer to the Kabini River, take a stroll through the regions around the resort, and you can spot most of these birds. However, you need to cover the region early in the morning to spot most of these bird species.
4. Birdwatching during Safari from Kutta Zone
This is one of the worst routes to cover for birdwatching. You cannot find many bird species in this region as the route will be very dry and patched. You can spot numerous mammals and occasionally tigers or leopards. If you are visiting during peak winter, peacocks are common in this region.
5. Birdwatching during Morning Jeep Safari
Jeep safaris are more focused on driving deep into the forest to spot predatory animals and large mammals. However, you could spot a few birds like scarlet minivet, yellow-crowned woodpeckers, blue-faced malkoha, and others.
6. Birding in Plantations
Nagarhole is not just famous for the national park. You can find coffee plantations closer to the park. These plantations are also good spots for birding. Top birds to spot in these plantations are Malabar Trogon, dark-throated munia, white-bellied blue flycatcher, and others. These birds can be spotted only when there is silence. They are easily startled.
7. Birdwatching during Night Trails
Some of the lodges allow night trails in the routes closer to the Nagarhole National Park
. This activity is best for spotting some nocturnal birds like Ceylon bay owl, Jerdon'sbaza, pin-tail snipe, brown wood owl, green imperial pigeon, Ceylon frogmouth, rufous-bellied eagle, and others.
Best Time for Birdwatching in Nagarhole
Nagarhole is lush and beautiful throughout the year. However, spotting birds is not common throughout the year. There are more than 300 species and if you wish to cover at least a handful, you ought to visit during the peak tourism season October to March. Summers and monsoons are the worst seasons to visit to spot birds. During winter, the place will be filled with bird songs.
Within a day, the morning safaris are best for spotting colorful birds, but you can only spot a few species and only during the initial minutes of your safari. As the sun goes up, the chances of spotting these birds reduce. By sunset, you can watch numerous birds flying around. You can spot numerous owl species after sunset.
Tips for Birding in Nagarhole National Park
- Visit during prime tourism season to spot birds with ease.
- Birds get startled even by the slightest noise. If you wish to spot exotic and endangered birds, you ought to take the walking trails or coracle ride. Jeep safaris have the disadvantage of startling most of the birds.
- Stick to the riverbanks and focus on dead trees and decaying logs to spot birds.
- Your guide can lead you through the right path based on the sound of the bird song. Thus, hiring a guide is very crucial for a successful birdwatching.
- There are 300 species of birds in the park. Sometimes, you can spot birds while you are waiting in the entrance for tickets or booking vehicles. Sometimes, you might not see even one bird. Professional birdwatchers take back-to-back trails and safaris to spot birds.
- If you are planning to take birdwatching trails, wear shoes with good traction. Wear clothing that would cover your body, and apply mosquito repellent and insect repellent.
- If you are choosing to cover birdwatching trails in the early winter, leech repellent would be very beneficial.