During the Dussehra holiday we went on a Rajasthan trip with dad, starting from Jaipur, to Bharatpur, Ranthambhore and back to Jaipur. Drove ~700 km in dad’s new Spark. What a fabulous car, and so much fun to drive! Before you dismiss this assessment as a shameless plug by a GM employee, go take a test drive and decide for yourself! But I digress. This post is meant to be about a lovely lake in Jaipur called Jalmahal, where we had some fabulous birding back in March when I was briefly in Jaipur en route to Corbett, and again on this trip, though this time it was a bit early and ducks and waders were yet to arrive.
Jalmahal, as the name suggests, is a palace in the middle of a fairly large lake, with Amber fort in the background. The lake was recently restored at great expense, with a view to tourism, of course, but it seems to have brought the birds back as well. On one side of the lake is a forested area called “Kanak Vrindavan”, with a nice walkway all around the lake, leading up to an old fort. Mostly filled with morning/evening walkers, this is a great place for birding, with a good view of the lake and the reed beds surrounding it on one side, and the wooded area on the other.
In March when I was there the lake was literally bursting with thousands of ducks and waders. Garganeys and shovelers jostled for space alongside pied avocets and black-winged stilts. The marshy area at the lake-edges was full of sandpipers, ruffs and other waders. In the morning we walked in “Kanak Vrindavan” along the lake boundary, and got the opportunity to compare various sandpipers, greenshanks and redshanks side-by-side. Flocks of spot-billed ducks and common teals flew about while in the water a family of little grebes floated gracefully.
The reed bed around the lake periphery revealed yellow-eyed babblers, Siberian stonechats, paddyfield and clamorous reed warblers. Ruffs fought over grain scattered near the parking area, while in the reeds wood sandpipers battled fiercely. Grey francolins called incessantly from the wooded area around the lake and peafowl strutted about with gay abandon. A hoopoe pulled out worms from the ground, while at the fort, brown rockchats and Indian robins held court.
This September it was too early for most of the migrants, and the only ducks briefly sighted were a flock of common teals circling the lake, perhaps checking out its suitability as a wintering location. This year the monsoon has been poor, and the water levels in the lake were quite low. There was some (illegal) fishing activity going on in the lake, and cars going in and out of the forested area to access a temple there. Hope this lovely lake will survive and continue to be a magnet for the winter visitors.
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