Thursday, 18 February 2016

4th February – Bharatpur to Agra and the Taj Mahal

This morning we made another attempt for Painted Snipe, after last nights experience we were hoping for a more pleasing venue. Firstly though we visited farmland that lay to the east of Bharatpur. Part of it had been planned out for housing with the layout of the roads already set out. When in conversation we expressed our doubts about the loss of habitat, Lokesh who was a resident of Bharatpur said that he had a plot for his house on the site!

Large Grey Babbler
The birding was good, different to what we had been used to and we saw a few familiar species including Tawny Pipit, Crested Lark plus a few Stonechats. As we made our way towards the road we came across a large house with a high wall around it, it looked a cracking house and garden, we were rather surprised when Lokesh announced that it was his house and he then invited us to tea/coffee and to meet his family. We met his wife, mother and grandmother plus his daughter “Cuckoo” a young child of about four years old.

We then took a short drive to the local village to search again for Painted Snipe, it was like going back in time four centuries with the population living at close quarters with their animals. There was rubbish everywhere which was a real shame and the waste products poured down drains emptying into what was once a village pond. This is what Painted Snipe like apparently – it wasn’t as bad as last night and we did see several Painted Snipe!

Yellow-wattled Lapwing
We returned to the hotel for lunch, then drove to Agra which is home to the Taj Mahal. Now if the Taj Mahal was impressive the same cannot be said for Agra, if God was going the give the earth an Enema this is where the tube would go. We left the coach and ran the gauntlet of the street traders who where all over us. But heads down we forged ahead, and entered the complex that contained the Taj Mahal. I won’t explain the layout (check on the internet) but the entrance gate and accompanying courtyard was impressive enough, but walking through the gate to view the Taj itself was something else.

Our group not quite dressed for the occasion
Joy and I on the Princess Diana seat!

Cameras were working overtime and we all took our turn on the “Princess Diana” seat to have our photograph taken. Two hours later we were running the gauntlet again of the traders, I was impressive, managing to give them a body swerve to the right, but this left Joy and June in the thick of it and I was left with a feeling of guilt for abandoning them, yeh right!

Then we visited a shop that the guide recommended, now I’m not one for shopping and I would say the rest of the group were of similar ilk. It was a little embarrassing as no one intended to buy anything, they offered us drinks and assured us that we were under no obligation to buy anything, they were really friendly and I felt a little guilty, I thought we were about to leave when they announced that they had some live music for us and three more rooms to visit!!!!!

The music was good, Sitar and drums, it was a largish room and we were all sat on the back row, the Sitar player who was accomplish, asked if anyone want to have a go on the Sitar “Nope” came the reply, “Anyone want to sing” said the Sitar man, “Nope” came a unified response. We all got up to go and he quickly announced that he was going to sing a Bollywood love song! We all sat down just as quickly, when that was finished he didn’t get a chance for an encore we were on our way. I didn’t feel too bad as Joy and June had bought some presents. I can only apologise for my behaviour I was there to bird after all, it was a concession as far as I was concerned visiting the Taj Mahal!

The Taj Mahal

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