The sprawling Karnala Bird Sanctuary and Nature Park in Panvel is home to over 222 species of birds. If you are a nature lover – this place is paradise! It’s a different feeling altogether watching the birds in their natural habitats calling out to each other, amidst a variety of trees and shrubs that we city dwellers rarely see.
There are two ways of approaching the Karnala Bird Sanctuary experience. If you are a nature lover, stay on ground and follow the three demarcated nature trails that the sanctuary recommends. You can easily spend three-four hours observing the birds, admiring the flora, and avoiding the monkeys at a leisurely pace.
There are eight species that are endemic to the Western Ghats which are the Nilgiri Woodpigeon, Grey-fronted Green Pigeon, Malabar Parakeet, Malabar Grey Hornbill, White-cheeked Barbet, Malabar Lark, Small Sunbird and the Vigor’s Sunbird. Other elusive species found in the sanctuary include the Malabar Trogan, Three-toed Kingfisher, Ashy Minivet, Rofous Bellied Eagle, Slaty Legged Crake. The migratory birds that make the sanctuary their home during the winters are the Blackbird, Bluethroat, Blue-headed Rock Thrush, Ashy Minivet, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Black-headed Cuckoo and more. Around 114 species of butterflies are also found here.
If you are an adventure junkie, start ascending the mountain towards the Karnala Fort – roughly a two-hour trek one way. The trek is fairly easy, but requires some basic fitness ability. The now dilapidated fort was built roughly in the 1400s and was used as an observatory by Shivaji’s troops. At this height, you can spot eagles and falcons, especially during nesting season.
Try and stay on the demarcated trails that the sanctuary recommends, in order to avoid getting lost. There are two food and beverage stalls inside the park, but those are best avoided unless you want to attract the overhead monkeys. Tons of water, dry snacks, and sunscreen are your BFFs during the trek. If you plan to stay on the bird trails then ensure you have binoculars with you – it’ll just make the entire process of spotting birds a whole lot easier.