Birdwatching with Kids at Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary
I think first time I went to Sultanpur bird sanctuary was before I was 10. I don’t remember seeing any birds at that time but we had great fun playing in the open. After that I have been to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary outside Gurgaon many times. Every now and then I take kids also for bird watching to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. Though I am not sure how long the Sanctuary and the birds there will be able to withstand the steady growth of concrete jungle and mobile towers around it. So I try to make the most of it and last weekend we visited the Birds of Sultantpur once again with kids from our neighborhood.
One of the things today’s kids have no idea about is our flora and fauna, I think they know only 2 birds in best case scenario – First is our national Bird – Butter Chicken and second is our official National Bird The Indian Peacock, (Pavo cristatus ) . I am not so sure about the Peacock.
Let me enlighten you here a bit. When you go bird watching with kids your real aim is not to click or watch birds, you actually want the kids to discover the joys of outdoor, see birds other than Butter chicken and the parakeets they have seen in cages. Any picture that you get is a bonus. So please do not expect beautiful bird pictures in this post, but do expect a few tips on how to go bird watching with kids.
Some simple tips that most parents follow
- Make sure kids sleep early the previous night, for a sleepy kid never watched a quick Koel.
- Pack some snacks- now since we normally go bird watching at the crack of dawn your choices are either to make them the night before or pack ready snacks that we desi Travelers are so famous for – like Thepla, Khakra or you can pack some biscuits, chips etc.
- Remember that all items edible or not in point number 2 ( Thepla, Khakra, biscuit, chips) are meant for human consumption, under no circumstances they should be given to birds or fish in the Sanctuary.
- Carry good amount of water and some tetra pack juices.
- Make sure everything you carry is exactly same brand same size, same color, same shape same same everything. Because the moment you take out two different kind of biscuits or two different flavors of juice, you will witness a Mini Mahabharata in a Bird Sanctuary.
- Never leave the designated path as you never know what lies in the undergrowth. Kids love to pick up things that move, crawl, and BITE or STING. So better keep them in front of your eyes. ( Which should be open as you too were suppose to sleep early with kids the night before )
- Carry some first aid kit with Dettol, band-aid etc. Under no circumstances you should inform kids that you have Band-aid in your bag. As the information that dad has band-aid is a great motivation for the kids to fall and the get Band-aided and flaunt the Band-aid as if it is a trophy.
Okay enough of Baby Gyan, let us go bird watching in Sultanpur. Our Carvan of 5 cars reached the gates of Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary around 6 :50, about 10 minutes ahead of the official opening time. There are huge gates that prevent you from entering the sanctuary and there is also a small entrance fee of Rs 5 that you need to pay. It turned out that the timings for the Sanctuary has changed to 7 am onwards from the earlier 6 am. The youngest member in our group was only a few months old and am sure one day will tell the stories about this visit to Bird Sanctuary, while the oldest was as always Pankaj G, (Yes the same Pankaj G whose mom makes the best Nagori Subzi and Halwa in the world)
As this was my first visit in this Birding season, I was not expecting many migratory birds but we still saw some local birds and the kids were excited to see some of the birds that they have only seen in books earlier.
The first one to greet us right at the entrance was Hoopoe ( Upupa epops ) and the kids were happy to see its crown. As we entered the sanctuary we saw a group of Purple Moorhen along with some spot billed ducks enjoying the safety and security of the bird sanctuary.
But the kids got excited on seeing the birds and the birds got excited on seeing the kids, a noise making competition followed and the birds won for a change. We walked towards the major spot that we had in our mind. That is the nesting tree of Painted Storks.
But on the way we saw coppersmith barbet, Rose ringed parakeets and our official National Bird.
But the day was made by spotting this Nilgai Family ( BTW – Nilgai has no relation with Cow Hamaree Mata hai walee Gai,) Nilgai is actually the largest Asian Antelope and is found in most parts of Indian subcontinent. But common or rare the sight of fawns sucking milk was enough to excite the kids and the photographer in me, who finally took out his Nikon D7000 and 55-300 mm lens to click some pictures.
As we moved towards the Painted Stork nesting ground we also spotted a Shikra and heard sounds of Kingfisher. The nesting area is a group of Acacia trees separated from the main path by water , hence the birds know that humans cannot come to them. It was here we had most fun. Mostly on account of watching birds but also as we watched a photographer uncle and his group, with big lens and bigger hat, trying very hard to act like a photographer. We were suitably impressed with the photographer uncle with a big lens and a bigger hat and even bigger desire to teach photography to everybody around.
To be honest I am exaggerating things a bit ( photographers are actually very nice people, trust me I pretend to be one 🙂 ), the photographer group we met were actually very nice folks too, and they tolerated all the noise our baccha party and their parents party made. I am sure they must have given a sigh of relief once we announced that we are leaving the area.
There were some fun moments in the Bird Sanctuary, some photos were clicked and some were refused because the kiddo found a line of ants more interesting than to pose for the pictures. The yellow acacias were in full bloom and so were Datura flowers, that are used on Shivratri to pray to Lord Shiva as he is the only one who can be please even by offerings of the poisonous flowers.
As the birding season has started for this year, if you are in Delhi or Gurgaon area, plan a visit to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary with your kids, and I am sure you will come back with some good pictures and even better memories.
Here is a list of the birds that we spotted in the Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary ( not all were photographed, but you can trust us on this )
- Purple Moorhen
- Spot Billed ducks
- Grey Francolin
- Rose Ringed Parakeet
- Common Hoopoe
- Painted Stork
- Little Egret
- Cattle Egret
- Pond Heron
- Little Cormorant
- Black Headed Ibis
- Coppersmith Barbet
- Red Wattled Lapwing
- Spotted Owlet
- Indian Pea Fowl
- Weaver Bird
- Common Crow
- House Sparrow
- Eurasian Coot
In mammals we saw Nilgai and some Bullocks who have made the sanctuary their home and kids loved spotting dragonflies
Entry Fee to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary:
Rs 5 per person for Indians – above age 5
40 per person for foreigners
10 per person for camera ( no charges for Cell phone Camera )
500 per person for video
Trained naturalists are available to accompany you on paying additional fee.
Important tip: The park is closed on every Tuesday.
How to Reach Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary: Sulantupr is about 25 K from Gurgaon and you can easily drive in less than hour in morning. The easiest and non confusing way is to take the Basai road that connects Farrukh Nagar to Gurgaon. Here is a Google map that you can follow to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary from Gurgaon:
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