The long customs queue eventually snaked its way down to us, passports duly stamped, we stepped out into the airport proper to change money and freshen up after the long flight.  We found our guide Benni for the day, but the luggage didn’t fit in the vehicle and some of it had to be tied on the roof rack with a bit of flimsy looking string borrowed from another taxi!
Rufous treepie

The plan was for a day’s birding at Sultanpur Jeel and we were soon getting our first taste of the chaos that characterises India’s traffic. As the light increased, our lethargy from the flight eased away and in the growing daylight we were soon ticking off the first birds of the trip. Gradually, the sprawl of Delhi was left behind and we began to see some countryside. Cattle egrets and black kites were everywhere and we arrived at Sultanpur after a ninety minute drive.

It was a gorgeous sunny morning; still cool after what must have been quite a chilly night. The first 'on-foot'  birds of the trip such as Oriental magpie robin, taiga flycatcher and greater coucal were seen around the car park. We had an excellent breakfast (curry and puris) from the small cafe at the reserve entrance. We then birded quite a chunk of the reserve which consisted of a lake, muddy margins and scrubby woodland. Later on we moved to a dry area to look for Indian courser (which we dipped) but did see ashy-crowned sparrow lark, tawny pipit and Indian bushlark

Rose ringed parakeet
Benni had been a good guide and by the end of the day we’d seen more than  seventy species. By 4pm we were all whacked and decided it was time to head back to the hotel. The traffic on the way back was even more chaotic than in the morning and we eventually checked into the Hotel Singh Palace in the Karol Bagh district before dark.

We had a bit of a walk into the surrounding streets to look for somewhere to eat, eventually deciding to eat at the hotel where our food was brought up to the room....nice spicy dhal and rice. We were in bed by 9pm....our pick up time for the flight to Guwahati being 3.15am the next morning! The real adventure was about to begin!!

Images from the day are here

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