A trip worthwhile...
I visited Keoladeo National Park last year (2021) on Christmas. On the day we landed in Bharatpur, instead of heading to the Keoladeo National Park, we visited Jodhpur Jhal in Uttar Prades, which is about an hour from Bharatpur. En route to Jodhpur Jhal is the historic Fatehpur Sikri - yet another place that you can't miss for non-birding reasons. However, as we had been there before, many years ago, we decided to head straight to our feathered friends. Rather than taking the buttery smooth national highway 2 (Agra bypass), we chose an off route that transverses through the villages. While the road was very narrow and bumpy, it turned out to be the best decision as we saw several interesting bird species, including a pair of Sarus cranes.
Sarus crane (Antigone antigone)
Sarus crane, the tallest flying bird, is the state bird of Uttar Pradesh, and is also found in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. These enigmatic and beautiful birds pair for life, and research has shown that they exhibit a gamut of emotions, including love, sorrow, pain and anxiety.
Sarus cranes are nearly always found in pairs, which is why they are always depicted in folklore paintings in pairs. Interestingly, we saw a group of three Sarus cranes. One of them (the drab coloured bird in the photograph below) was a juvenile, which, unlike most human kids in the 22nd centuary, seems to be still living with its parents as a teenager.
While off-roading, we also saw plenty of other interesting birds, including the Indian black ibis or the red-naped ibis, bar-headed geese, grey heron, bank myna (quite common in these regions), white-breasted/throated kingfisher and pied bushchat.
After reaching Jodhpur Jhal, we realised that it wasn't probably the best time of the day to visit this place. After all, the afternoon sun was beating down on us. There were a few species of ducks and common waders in the water, but most of these birds were really far away. Couldn't even get a better look at them, let alone capture good photographs. However, just the visit to this place was really nice. If you plan to visit Jodphur Jhal, do carry lots of water and food. You won't find any restaurants near by and it would be difficult to even find bottled water. We were fortunate to find some 'aloo tikia' and ginger tea from a street-side vendor - just the thing you need after a very long day of driving, birding and photography. We ate to our heart's content! Well, that was Jodhpur Jhal. A very short but memorable trip :)
PS: I also learnt that petrol is a lot cheaper in UP than Rajasthan
Here are some selected photographs from the off-roading trip to Jodhpur Jhal.
Indian Black Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa)
Pond heron (Ardeola grayii)
Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
Pied-bushchat (Saxicola caprata)
White-throated kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis)
Cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis)