Bird-watching at Karnala Bird Sanctuary

The rains are still awaited in Pune, so it was yet another opportunity to go on a birding trip.. We decided to head to Karnala Bird Sanctuary this time.. I had heard mixed reviews about Karnala, still decided to give it a go.. We started early morning from Pune at 5:45 AM and reached Karnala bird sanctuary at 7:30 AM. Note that there has been a recent update in prices at Karnala, especially the fact that they have started charging 100 Rs for still camera (DSLR or Point-shoot) and 250 Rs for a video camera. I hope that will eventually result in making Karnala a better place for the flora and fauna.

Couple of my birding friends had told me to take the Hariyal trail (Take right immediately once you enter the gate); so I started off with the Hariyal trail. We could here chirps of Bulbul and could see few sunbirds.. Walking for around 200 mtrs, we saw a watch tower. Immediately I noticed a Gold fronted Leafbird on a tree near the tower. I utilised the tower to a good effect to get some good pics of this bright green bird!.

We walked further down the trail and I saw a pair of Racket tailed Drongos! Was a lifer for me, but couldn’t click it as it quickly disappeared in the woods.. Then came a point where we took the peacock trails but it did not yield anything. However, all this time we could hear a very melodious voice. We came back and joined the Hariyal trail and immediately I noticed the Black headed Oriole!.. Another lifer and a lovely sight indeed! Another couple of beautiful birds flew right across, and we quickly identified them.. that was a pair of White rumped Shama.. Now we realised where the melodious voice was coming from.. When I was busy clicking the Oriole, Shraddha noticed the lovely Asian Paradise Flycatcher but couldn’t get a sight of it again!

There is one really good practice followed at the Sanctuary. If you buy bottled water, you need to keep 100 Rs deposit and you can take it back once you are through with the trail. Also, the route to Karnala fort trek is through the bird sanctuary; hence you may very well be wanting to take the bottled water. Even if you get bottled water from outside, you will have to keep  the 100 Rs deposit. And the results are clearly visible. The entire sanctuary was green and clean 🙂 .

There is arrangement for food at the sanctuary and is not over priced.. pretty much value for money.. We quickly had some light snacks and we continued onto another nature trail.. and this yielded in one of the best lifer for me! Indian Pitta it was. True to its local name “Navrang”, this bird is very colourful! Personally, this was a very good trip for me yielding 5 lifers! The Indian Pitta, Gold fronted Leafbird, Vigor Sunbird, Common Tailor bird and Black headed Oriole. Here are some of the birds we managed to see during the trip.. I would be definitely visiting again post rains, hoping for more lifers, as well get better clicks.

Indian Pitta


Common Iora


White rumped Shama


Black headed Oriole


Gold fronted leafbird


Orange headed ground Thrush

However if anyone is planning a trip to Karnala Bird Sanctuary, I would suggest to wait for some rain.. All the streams have dried up.. no water whatsoever! Only respite is that due to some rain, its all green and dense.. Oh and yes,  I forgot to mention a very important point.. Once we came out of the sanctuary, at the Parking area.. there was a small stall which was serving food as well. We had a lovely dish made up of dry prawns!.. Super delicious indeed. We headed back via the old Mumbai-Pune highway.. I do prefer it over the Mumbai-Pune Expressway as it is much more picturesque and has greenery all along.

Crab time 😀


Hariyal Trail


Dense jungle


View from Khandala


2 thoughts on “Bird-watching at Karnala Bird Sanctuary

  • February 12, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    Realistic reviews, even I enjoyed the birding over there, did you come across any track other than Hariyal (also other than common trekking trail)?

    • February 17, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks Murali. We have visited Karnala just twice and have only explored the Hariyal trail.


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