Chambal River Blog


With an unexpected half-day in Agra, we decided to take the advice of our good friend Mohit Aggarwal, a birder and the director of Asian Adventures, to take a small boat out on the Chambal River.  The recommendation was made because Mohit knew we still had never seen an Indian Skimmer and the Chambal near the town of Bah, southeast of Agra, was one of the best places to find them in Northern India.  We made the trip with Trigun Vir Singh Pathania, a friend of Mohit’s who lives near the river and had access to a boat with an outboard motor.  The trip from Agra to the Chambal took a little over an hour.

The Chambal River is a 650-mile river flowing from the Vindhya Mountains of north-central India eastward into the Jumna River.  The Jumna, in turn, originates in the Himalayas and empties into the Ganges River.  The Chambal is one of the few places remaining in India with enough unpolluted water that it can support Ganges River Dolphins.  We saw several.  And we were surprised at how clear the water looked affording views of the river bottom even in water as deep as five or six feet. And there was little or no human habitation that we could see along the few miles we had time (about three hours) to explore.



We saw several large Muggers (crocodiles) and over eight very long Gharials, the crocodiles with the long needle-nose snouts.


We saw six of our target skimmers with the bright fire-coloured bills.  Our first two were sitting along a sandbar and later four more made a couple passes around us. We were told that usually there were many more skimmers in the area but had probably temporarily moved to another spot along the river.  But we were also rewarded for all our efforts in seeing our six to eight Great Thick-knees and one Demoiselle Crane standing and flying.  The four Red-naped Ibises, one Asian Openbill Stork, waterfowl, waders and terns were all nice dividends.

Sightings 3-4-00

Little Cormorant
Lesser Whistling-Duck
Ruddy Shelduck
Comb Duck
Spot-billed Duck
Northern Pintail
Lesser Flamingo (2 flying)
Gray Heron
Red-naped Ibis (4)
Asian Openbill (one)
Woolly-necked Stork (one)

Phalacrocorax niger
Dendrocygna javanica
Tadorna ferruginea
Sarkidiornis melanotos
Anas poecilorhyncha
Anas acuta
Phoenicopterus minor
Ardea cinerea
Pseudibis papillosa
Anastomus oscitans
Ciconia episcopus


Osprey (one sitting)
Egyptian Vulture
Sarus Crane (2 adults with an imam.)
F Demoiselle Crane (one)
Common Greenshank
F Great Thick-knee (6-8 v. close)
Black-winged Stilt
Small Pratincole (six v. close
Snowy Plover
River Lapwing
Black-bellied Tern (two)
River Tern (two)
F Indian Skimmer (six)
Painted Sandgrouse (25 flying)
Pied Kingfisher

T.V Singh

Pandion haliaetus
Neophron percnopterus
Grus Antigone
Grus Virgo
Tringa nebularia
Philomachus pugnax
Burhinus recurvirostris
Glareola lactea
Charadrius alexandrinus
Vanellus duvaucelii
Sterna acuticauda
Sterna aurantia
Rynchops albicollis
Pterocles indicus
Ceryle rudis