Well we've been having a very relaxing time in Bharatpur, staying with the friendly Mrs Singh. She makes fresh curds (yoghurt) at home every day which we've been having for breakfast with honey and bananas, and a big pot of Indian-style spiced chai (tea). She also makes amazing home-cooked curries for supper - yum! I've spent a lot of time sitting on our quiet balcony devouring novels and watching out for the red-vented bulbul which often
comes to sit in the tree next to us. (For those of you who don't know this about me, I am a closet bird-watcher. Only in places like India where there are exciting birds worth seeing, though - England only seems to have what my Mum used to call SBBs - Small Brown Birds.)
Yesterday we went to the nearby Keoladeo bird sanctuary. Mrs Singh made us a packed lunch, we hired bicycles and binoculars and went off for a few hours cycling through the wetlands and looking out for wildlife. It was thirsty work, boiling hot sun, but I really enjoyed it. I felt as though I was following in the footsteps of my Mum and Penny (I'm not sure if they went to Keoladeo, but they certainly did a lot of birdwatching in India), especially since the emblem of the park is a pair of Sarus Cranes (which my mum wrote a book on)! We saw: hundreds of egrets (several species), comorants, parakeets, roller birds, pea-hens, ibis, kingfishers, doves, treepies, monkeys, sambar (a kind of large deer), monitor lizards, rabbits, an otter and a turtle.
There were also huge clouds of bright yellow butterflies everywhere, which would rush up all around us as we cycled past. The best thing we saw were loads of enormous Painted Storks nesting and flying about looking like light aircraft. The one less pleasant experience was being followed around by a gang of teenage boys who kept taking pictures of us - what a pain! They wouldn't leave us alone despite us asking nicely and then more firmly, so eventually we got really annoyed and they only left when we threatened to call the police. Apart from that it was a really lovely day, though.
Here are some pics:
Some classic words of warning about protecting endangered birds:
Our next stop will be another wildlife reserve: Ranthambore, which is apparently the most likely place in India to see tigers in the wild. The park doesn't open until 1st October, though, so we're killing time here in Bharatpur for a few more days. It's actually been really nice to have some time to rest and re-group, so we're just settling in here, and enjoying the sunny balcony and delicious home-cooking.