We drove to Tal Chhapar during the 2015 Christmas weekend. Key birds spotted during the trip were the White-browed Bushchat, Kashmir Flycatcher, Brooks’s Leaf Warbler, Spotted Creeper, Red-tailed Wheatear among others.
Travel Dates: 24 Dec 2015 – 27 Dec 2015
Location covered: Tal Chhapar and surroundings
Interstate Travel: Self Drive
Noida – Gurgaon – Rewari – Narnaul – Chirawa – Jhunjhunu – Fatehpur – Ratangarh – Tal Chhapar
Notes: As of Dec 2015, Jhunjhunu – Tal Chhapar stretch is in a bad shape.
Toll Charges: INR’ 233
Tal Chhapar – Sikar – Neem ka Thana – Kotputli – Gurgaon (via NH8) – Noida
Notes: Slightly better roads, but joining the NH8 at Kotputli is a pain with non-existent roads.
Toll Charges: INR’ 322
The only reliable option is the Tal Chhapar Forest Rest House. There are in total six rooms; four with air-conditioning, geyser and heating option. The remaining two are without air-conditioning.
Room Rates: INR’ 2,900 per night for air-conditioned rooms and INR’ 2,200 per night for non-air-conditioned rooms.
Meals: INR’ 900 per person per day inclusive of all meals.
Forest Rest House:
01568 – 24 23 51 (Landline)
099 290 72 549 Girdhari (Care taker)
094 144 12 351 Pratap S Rathore (Present Contractor)
There are a few jeep drivers who double up as bird guides. Ramu (078 91 63 9956) is one of them.
Entry Timing: Sunrise to Sunset
Entry Fee: INR’ 50 per person and INR’ 200 vehicle entry fee
1. Mr. Poonia is the Forest Range Officer at Tal Chhapar. No trip to Tal Chhapar is complete without meeting him. Just spending some time with him will give you an in-depth insight on Tal Chhapar.
2. Private vehicles are allowed inside the sanctuary. However, due to the terrain, vehicles with a good ground clearance are only recommended.
3. There is a lot of birding outside the protected area. Go out and explore…
4. A Bolero can be hired. Per day cost is INR’ 3,500.
1. The Sanctuary in itself seems to be well protected. However, water is scarce.
2. Illegal salt mining around the sanctuary is a concern.
3. The prime habitat for the Spotted Creeper is the Khejri tree. Unfortunately this tree species is on a decline across Rajasthan. Excessive cutting of branches during winter months is supposed to be the main reason. The cutting of branches also disturbs the Spotted Creeper and it gets difficult to spot one during the winter months (Dec-Jan). However, during our trip, we learned that expensive labor is dissuading farmers to get the branches chopped off.
4. This small sanctuary has three times the Blackbuck population that it can hold. It is imperative that a new reserve be created to bring down the load on Tal Chhapar.
24 Dec 2015 : Day 1
Left Noida at 0615 Hrs, reaching Tal Chhapar at 1330 Hrs just in time for lunch.
The rest of the day was spent inside the sanctuary. Apart from the Harriers, an Asiatic Wild Cat was sighted.
25 Dec 2015 : Day 2
Early morning was spent at Gaushala in search of the Spotted Creeper. Unfortunately, we could not spot one.
The rest of the morning was spent inside the sanctuary. Post Lunch, we drove to Charwas where Demoiselle Cranes were sighted.
We returned to the Sanctuary in the evening and were lucky to sight a Jungle Cat hunting in the bushes.
26 Dec 2015 : Day 3
The morning half was spent around the sanctuary waterholes. A Kashmir Flycatcher and a Brooks’s Leaf Warbler were some of the birds that were sighted around the waterholes among other birds.
Post Lunch, while exploring the villages, a Stoliczka’s Bushchat was sighted. The Bushchat was busy feeding and did not mind our company and we were lucky enough to witness it puffing and rolling. A Red-tailed Wheatear was also sighted closeby.
Before calling it a day, we tried our luck again to spot the Creeper and reached Gaushala by 1730 Hrs and immediately heard the bird calling.
Unfortunately, by the time we got out of our vehicle and approached the spot on foot, the birds had roosted.
We later met Poonia Ji and informed him that we narrowly missed the Creeper sighting. He suggested that we go back to the same spot tomorrow morning at sunrise. He explained that as the sun rises, the spiders become active and this in turn attracts the Spotted Creeper that feeds on them.
27 Dec 2015 : Day 4
The plan was to leave for Noida early morning; however, based on Poonia Ji’s advice, we decided to give another shot at spotting the Spotted Creeper.
We knew it was our last chance and in anticipation, reached Gaushala even before sunrise. It was a chilly winter morning, blackbucks were still lazing around and there was absolutely no bird activity. Still, we waited patiently under a Khejri tree hoping to spot the creeper.
And then, as the sun rose, the Khejri trees also came back to life….literally.
Anjana spotted something move in the bark and we quickly realized that it was the creeper. Soon, the silence was broken by its calls and another creeper flew by. It was no stopping the creepers after that, they became very active and started moving from one tree to another. The pair remained in the same area for over one hour and gave us enough opportunities to see them up close.
Fully satisfied, we returned to the Forest Rest House, had a quick breakfast, packed our stuff and left for Noida.
For a list of birds and mammals spotted during this trip, please check out our birdlist and mammal list.
Please feel free to ask us any question that you may have on the locations mentioned on this blog.