I discovered bird sanctuary quite by chance. I was gloating over a picture I had taken of gorgeous green bee-eaters from my trip to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in front of my house-help, when she quipped, ‘yeh chiriya toh hamaare gaon ke paas bhi aati hai – jhund ke jhund’. Not convinced by what she said – how can flocks of these gorgeous birds even venture near the polluted environs of Delhi – I decided to drag myself to Sultanpur one weekend.
As I did pre-planning for the trip (I can never go to a place without knowing the place mentally), I was thrilled to note that despite technically located in Haryana, Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is just about 15-20 km from Gurgaon.
I left home before the crack of dawn – about 3:30 am on Saturday morning in early October, armed with my binoculars, camera and lenses. (Early mornings are always preferred if you want to increase the number of species you spot, as most migratory birds leave their nests before sunrise and return in the evenings after sunset).
Occupying an area of only about two kilometres, it may be small in expanse, but provides one of the best feeding grounds for almost a 100 species of migratory birds – right from October through February. Of course, you will spot a lot of nilgai and some jackal, but the area behind the sanctuary is a great place to spot wading birds all year around. Lapwings are a common sight, but so are the Indian Courser and Thicknee.
Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary is a popular weekend getaway from New Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad & Noida – located at 40 km distance from Dhaula Kuan in Delhi and 15 km from Gurgaon on the Gurgaon-Farukh Nagar Road. This Bird Sanctuary, ideal for birding and bird watchers, is best visited in winters when a large number of migratory birds come here. While it is fuzzy if it is a declared National Park, it does have a lot to offer in terms of the various varieties of birds that can be seen here.
Almost 250 species of Birds are found at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. Some of them are resident, while others come from distant regions like Siberia, Europe and Afghanistan. Some of the resident birds are: Common Hoopoe, Paddyfield Pipit, Purple Sunbird, Little Cormorant, Eurasian Thick-knee, Gray Francolin, Black Francolin, Indian Roller, White-throated Kingfisher, Spot billed Duck, Painted Stork, White Ibis, Black headed Ibis, Little Egret, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, India Crested Lark, Red vented Bulbul, Rose ringed Parakeet, Red wattled Lapwing, Shikra, Eurasian collared Dove, Red collared Dove, Laughing Dove, Spotted Owlet, Rock Pigeon, Magpie Robin, Greater Coucal, Weaver Bird, Bank Mynah, Common Mynah and Green Bee Eater.
Every year more than 100 migratory bird species arrive at Sultanpur in search of feeding grounds and to pass the winter. In winter, the sanctuary provides a picturesque panorama of migratory birds and even in summer, some species of migratory birds come here.
In winter Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary provides a picturesque panorama of migratory birds such as Siberian Cranes, Greater Flamingo, Ruff, Black-winged Stilt, Common Teal, Common Greenshank, Northern Pintail, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Northern Shoveler, Rosy Pelican, Gadwall, Wood Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Eurasian Wigeon, Black-tailed Godwit, Spotted Redshank, Starling, Bluethroat and Long-billed Pipit. Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary has birds in summer too , About 11 species of migratory birds such as Asian Koel, Black-crowned Night Heron, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Comb duck, Blue-cheeked Bee Eater, Blue-tailed Bee-Eater and Cuckoos come here.
It takes just about 2-3 hours to cover the 2 square kilometre expanse of the park. During your trip, you can also spot nilgai, jackals and blackbuck. The Government of Haryana has carried out considerable development work at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary – construction of mounds, and widening of paths, and so on. Efforts are being made to improve vegetation in the area by planting more trees, which are popular with the birds. The four watchtowers or machans made at different locations make bird-spotting easier.
The Educational Interpretation Center has been established here to offer proper guidance to the tourist visiting the place. The Tourist Complex built in the Park has decent rooms in case you want to come the previous evening and go bird watching early morning. The restaurant offers the best paneer pakodas and alu paranthas – that I sampled for breakfast on my visit here., a restaurant and a bar.
Sultanpur National Park is essentially a bird watcher’s paradise with few trees obscuring the visitor’s view of the lake. And it makes for an excellent way to spend a weekend! Try it.
– Aarti Kapur Singh