1 female Long-tailed Duck, 2 Horned Grebes, several Black-necked
Grebes, 24 Indian Skimmers, 4 Black-bellied Terns, 1 Mew Gull, about
30 Yellow-eyed Pigeons, 1 White-winged Tern, White-crowned Penduline
Tit, Rufous-vented Prinia, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Moustached
Warbler, Cetti’s Bush Warbler, Hume’s Lesser Whitethroat, Brooks’s
Leaf Warbler, Striated Grassbird and Sind Sparrow.
Anyone visiting this area is bound to have the Birdwatcher’s Guide
to India by Krys Kazmierczak and Raj Singh on which these notes are
I flew to and from Amritsar via Delhi (be prepared for the most
ridiculous security imaginable when leaving) and then a taxi for 300
rps to Amritsar town. This is strange because I was quoted 400 rps
for the taxi to Harike which is much further. After a night at the
Hotel Amritsar International (about 400 rps), I caught the bus to
Harike (bus station is near by).
The Guest House of Mrs Bhandar at Amritsar (mentioned in Lonely
Planet) sounds good but it is a bit out of town (although it is in
the cantonment on the way from the airport). Tel # 222390. Price
about 700 rps.
At Harike I tried to stay at the Wildlife Offices and at the Circuit
House but had no luck. I couldn’t get through to the temple with the
tel. # in Birdwatchers Guide and was trying to stay with anyone who
would put me up. When people realised I was trying to contact Mr.
Madho Singh they became very helpful and gave me the new tel # of
Mr. Singh which is 01682 70213. Even if this # changes again you can
probably just turn up. Mr Singh lives at the temple and is in fact
the resident guru. The temple is quite an experience. You are made
very welcome, treated like royalty and fed and lodged for free. The
temple seems to run on gifts only but money is not accepted, so you
might try to bring something useful, although I am not sure what
they could need as they are very well provided for. The whole
community contributes work and goods to support the place and
obviously there are also donations coming from abroad because it is
very new and rich.
You will be woken up early by the small group of young temple
musicians singing Kirtans. The music is quite beautiful but you
might want to bring some ear plugs to sleep the extra hour or so
before dawn. I had a lot of fun here as the kids are a delight. Mr
Singh arranged a bicycle for me so I could get to the Sutlej to the
east of the lake. The down side of the temple is that in their
eagerness to beautify the place they have bulldozed the areas to the
south of the temple (beside the canal) which must have been good
habitat before. The Forest Department has put a stop on the work but
I overheard the advice of a lawyer who was advising Mr Singh to
ignore the order. The temple wants to build a park and garden area.
When I left I checked whether birdwatchers were still welcome and I
was assured they were. Obviously this would not apply to large
groups who anyway can more easily arrange cheap transport from
Try to be as respectful as possible to their rules as regards
keeping the head covered within the temple grounds and removing
shoes indoors, in the eating area and especially in the temple
Behind temple and to the south of temple.
Sind Sparrow (common), a flock of about 30 Yellow-eyed Pigeons
(on the small penninsular behind the temple in mid afternoon), 1
White-winged Tern (probably the same bird present throughout), a few
White-crowned Penduline Tits (south of the temple), Rufous-vented
Prinia (south of the temple), Yellow-bellied Prinia, Brooks’s Leaf
Warbler, Moustached Warbler, 3 White-rumped Vultures (the only
vultures seen), 1 Greater Spotted Eagle, 4 unidentified aquilas and
a few Black-necked Grebes.
Also Great Crested Grebe (a few), Little Grebe (common), Grey
Francolin (common), Indian Peafowl, Darter (common), Great Cormorant
(common), Indian Cormorant (common), Little Cormorant (common),
large flock of unid. geese in flight, 1 Greylag Goose, Common
Pochard (common), Eurasian Wigeon (common), Ferruginous Pochard (in
small numbers), Mallard (in small numbers), Northern Shoveler
(common), Gadwall, Common Coot (common), Purple Swamphen (common),
Common Moorhen (common), unid. crake/rail sp., Purple Heron, Grey
Heron, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Eurasian Marsh
Harrier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Shikra, unid. accipiter,
Black-shouldered Kite, Yellow-legged Gull, Black-headed Gull
(common), Brown-headed Gull (common), River Tern (common),
White-tailed Lapwing, Alexandrine Parakeet, Rose-ringed Parakeet,
Black-rumped Flameback, Barn Swallow, Black Redstart, Red-throated
Flycatcher, Common Chiffchaff (common), Hume’s Lesser Whitethroat,
Hume’s Warbler, Ashy Prinia, Great Tit, White-browed Wagtail, Jungle
Babbler, Common Babbler, Long-tailed Shrike, Asian Pied Starling and
At night heard Jackals calling.
Behind the temple.
Moustached Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Blyth’s Reed
Warbler, Hume’s Warbler.
In front of the temple.
4 Black-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Northern
Pintail, Common Teal, Cotton Pygmy-goose, Black-crowned Night Heron,
White-throated Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Black-winged Stilt,
Common Snipe, Common Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper,
Little Ringed Plover, Little Stint, Red-wattled Lapwing, Spotted
Owlet, Pallas’s Gull, Rock Pigeon, Plain Martin (common), Citrine
Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail ssp lutea, Grey Wagtail, White Wagtail ssp
dukhunensis, Hoopoe, Bank Myna, Small Minivet, Clamorous Reed
Warbler, Plain Prinia, a possible Desert Lesser Whitethroat and
below the dam superb views of two Smooth Otters.
South of the temple.
One female Long-tailed Duck (description available), 5
Black-necked Grebes and 2 Horned Grebes confirmed by Werner Suter
who writes "Most unexpected were Slavonian Grebes (at least 1,
probably up to 3), on 1 February and 5 on 3 February."
Also 8 Grey Francolin, 13 Red-crested Pochard and Common Greenshank.
On the side of the canal now heavily disturbed by the work of the
Another Red-vented Prinia and Moustached Warbler.
Also an unid. ibis, Black-crowned Night Heron, Spot-billed Duck,
Little Brown Dove, a pair of Yellow-crowned Woodpeckers, Greater
Coucal, Terek Sandpiper, 2 Ruff, White-tailed Lapwing, Black
Redstart, Common Stonechat, Pied Bushchat, Indian Robin, Striated
Grassbird (common), Yellow Wagtail ssp. zaisanensis, Black Drongo
and Red-vented Bulbul.
Middle of the canals and south of the bridge
Grey Francolin, 1 Avocet, Black Kite, Osprey, White-breasted
Waterhen, White Wagtail ssp. leucopsis, White Wagtail ssp.
baicalensis/dukhunensis, Wryneck (common), Common Woodshrike
(common), Bay-backed Shrike, Brown Shrike (scarce here according to
the literature), Common Starling, Common Myna, Bluethroat, Graceful
Prinia and Yellow-eyed Babbler (common).
To the Sykes’s Nightjars site.
Looked under every Tamarisk bush and explored quite far down the
river but found no nightjars. The tamarisk bushes seemed heavily cut
for wind breaks for the spreading marrow? cultivation.
I did see 1 Greater Spotted Eagle, 2 Oriental Honey-buzzards, 3
Long-legged Buzzards, 2 Common Kestrels, 80 Greylag Geese, 12
Northern Lapwings, Green Sandpiper, Little Stint, Sand Lark, Crested
Lark, 4 Common Starlings, Bluethroat, Desert Wheatear, Long-billed
Pipit, Tawny Pipit, Paddyfield Pipit and 2 Desert Warblers. Also a
Small Mongoose, Monitor Lizard and unid. turtle sp.
South of the temple
More Grey Francolins, 2 Black-necked Grebe, 1 Asian Openbill, 12
Black-tailed Godwits, Blyth’s Reed Warbler (un-common), White-browed
Fantail and White Wagtail ssp. dukhunensis. Also another Small
South the temple and to the Sutlej east of the lake.
Many Red-crested Pochard, Common Buzzard, 9 Glossy Ibis,
Graceful Prinia, Moustached Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler,
Striated Grassbird, Common Tailorbird, Oriental White-eye, Slaty
Blue Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail ssp. thunbergii, Yellow Wagtail ssp.
plexa, and 4 Common Starlings.
At the Sutlej river to the east of the lake.
1 Bar-headed Goose, 1 Lesser-spotted Eagle, 24 Indian Skimmers,
4 Black-bellied Terns and 6 Temminck’s Stint, Rufous-tailed Shrike,
and more Striated Grassbirds. There was a flock of pipits in the
cultivation beside the river but too far away for identification .
Back to the Lakeside.
Comb Duck, the only (1) Garganey, Eurasian Marsh Harrier,
Cetti’s Bush Warbler (only one, seen between the 7 and 8 markers to
the north of first buildings south of the temple), White Wagtail ssp.
leucopsis, Bluethroat and Baya Weaver.
Small wood north of the dam and the pond to the north
Shikra, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Rufous Treepie, Blyth’s Reed
Warbler, Brook’s Leaf Warbler, Graceful Prinia, Plain Prinia, 2
White-crowned Penduline Tits (to the west of the pond where Bristled
Grassbird has bred), White-throated Fantail ssp. canescens, Striated
Grassbird, Yellow-eyed Babbler and Red Avadavat. On the peninsular
to the north-east of the dam could see a few terns roosting but
didn’t have the scope with me. It is worth scanning from here.
14 Eurasian Spoonbills, 22 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Pied Avocet,
and another Smooth Otter.
At the temple.
I saw a Mew Gull feeding along with the Brown and Black-headed Gulls
from the chapattis thrown to them (description available).
South of the temple
1 Glossy Ibis, the Long-tailed Duck still present (description
available) and 1 Black-necked Grebe.