The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Asia (and its islands)

INDIA’S MONSOON SPECIALITIES – from Lesser Florican, Painted Francolin and Painted Spurfowl to grassbirds and Finn’s Weaver

Sunday 21st July – Tuesday 30th July 2024

Leaders: Hannu Jännes and a top local bird guide

10 Days Group Size Limit 8
Tuesday 21st July – Thursday 30th July 2026

Leaders: Birdquest leader to be announced and a top local bird guide

10 Days Group Size Limit 8


Birdquest’s Indian Moonsoon Specialities birding tours explore areas which are not well-established on the birding map, but which hold a superb selection of regional endemics (or breeding-endemics), including such wanted birds as Broad-tailed and Bristled Grassbirds, Finn’s Weaver and in particular the wonderful Lesser Florican. A rich supporting cast includes Painted Francolin, Painted Spurfowl, Rain Quail and Rock and Jungle Bush Quails. There is also an optional extension for the rare Long-billed Bush Warbler (or Himalayan Grasshopper Warbler).

This unusual tour starts at Mumbai on the coast of western India.

From here it is just a short drive to the ancient city of Pune (or Poona), the seat of the Mahratta dynasty that once ruled much of India. Here at an ancient fortress, we will be looking for Broad-tailed Grassbird, a skulker that usually only shows itself off during the monsoon months. Other good birds include the sought-after Painted Francolin (another one much easier to see during the monsoon), Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Blackbird and Vigor’s Sunbird.

After returning to Mumbai we fly northwards to Jaipur in Rajasthan, from where it is just a few hours drive to the Ajmer region, celebrated for its healthy population of Lesser Floricans. This is a species we rarely see in dry-season tours in western India (and then usually females) but during the monsoon, the males make a wonderful leaping display every few minutes!

Other great birds in the Ajmer region include Rain Quail (another species almost impossible to see in the dry season), Rock Bush Quail, Indian Eagle-Owl and sometimes Painted Sandgrouse.

Moving further north, we come to the rocky hills of the Alwar region. Here we will be seeking out the beautiful and sought-after Painted Spurfowl, surely the most longed-for member of the genus.

The next area we will cover will be the Gangetic Plain in the Delhi region. During this season Bristled Grassbirds are singing from prominent perches, unlike in the dry season when they are so hard to locate. Indian Grassbird can also be seen here.

From Delhi, we will head off to the Haldwani area in the state of Uttarakhand where the ultra-rare Finn’s Weaver still nests. This Indian endemic has always been uncommon but in recent times it has suffered a calamitous decline and it is now proposed to be reclassified as Critically Endangered!

Birdquest has operated birding tours to India since 1982.

Long-billed Bush Warbler Extension Option: If there are group members who would like to do this, we will arrange an extension to travel into the Indian Northwest Himalayas to visit a new site for the endangered Long-billed Bush Warbler (or Himalayan Grasshopper Warbler), a species that has declined catastrophically owing to overgrazing throughout its breeding distribution. Adding to the extension and visiting Indian Kasmir is also possible, for a series of Northwest Himalayan specialities. The cost will depend on the number of participants. Please inform us at the time of booking if you are interested in participating.

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are of good or medium standard. Road transport is by cars and roads are mostly good.

Walking: The walking effort during our Indian Monsoon Specialities tour is mostly easy, occasionally moderate.

Climate: Hot in the lowlands, but cool to warm at higher altitudes. The weather is a mix of sunshine and overcast conditions are not uncommon. Rain is likely and can be heavy.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Indian Monsoon Specialities tour are quite good.


  • Watching Broad-tailed Grassbird at Pune, an almost impossible bird outside the monsoon, plus the much-wanted Painted Francolin
  • Enjoying the extraordinary leaping display of the Lesser Florican
  • Not only finding Rock Bush Quail but also Rain Quail, a really tough bird outside the monsoon.
  • Observing the beautiful and sought-after Painted Spurfowl.
  • Watching Bristled Grassbird in the marshlands of the Delhi region.
  • Seeing Finn's Weaver at the base of the Himalayas, a fast declining species that should surely be reclassified as Critically Endangered!
  • Tracking down the fast-declining Long-billed Bush Warbler at a new site in the Indian Himalayas.


  • Day 1 : Morning tour start at Mumbai. Drive to Pune.
  • Day 2: Pune, then return to Mumbai. Fly to Jaipur.
  • Day 3: Drive to Ajmer. Ajmer region.
  • Days 4-5: Ajmer region.
  • Day 6: Drive to Alwar.
  • Day 7: Alwar region, then drive to Delhi.
  • Day 8: Bristled Grassbird, then drive to Haldwani area.
  • Day 9: Finn's Weaver area. Overnight Haldwani area.
  • Day 10: Return to Delhi for evening tour end.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include this flight: Mumbai-Jaipur.

Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)

2024: confirmed £2330, $2990, €2720, AUD4510. Mumbai/Delhi.
2026: provisional £2480, $3190, €2900, AUD4810. Mumbai/Delhi.

Single Supplement: 2024: £280, $360, €320, AUD540.
Single Supplement: 2026: £280, $370, €330, AUD550.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour:  Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.


Indian Monsoon Specialities: Day 1  Our tour begins this morning at Mumbai in western India. From there we will take the expressway to Pune, a small city at the northern end of the Western Ghats where we will spend the night.

This afternoon we will commence our exploration of the Pune area, including the grounds of an ancient fortress of the Mahratta kingdom.

Indian Monsoon Specialities: Day 2  Broad-tailed Grassbird is definitely an Indian ‘monsoon speciality’. Active and relatively easy to see at this time of year, it is a silent, hellishly difficult skulker during the dry season and very hard to see during South India tours.

As well as the grassbird, we can also expect to see Painted Francolin, another sought-after species that is difficult outside the pre-monsoon and monsoon periods. We also have a good chance for the attractive Vigors’s Sunbird, a Western Ghats endemic that does not reach the parts of South India explored during birding tours to the region.

Other birds of the area include several endemics including both Sykes’s and Malabar Larks, Malabar Whistling Thrush and Indian Blackbird. Jungle Bush Quail is also likely.

This afternoon we will return to Mumbai airport and catch an evening flight to the famous city of Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan for an overnight stay.

Indian Monsoon Specialities: Day 3  Before leaving Jaipur we will pay a short visit to the famous Palace of the Winds, a world-famous ‘facade’ from where members of the royal court could observe processions through this storied city. Just something every visitor should see.

Afterwards, we will drive southwestwards to Ajmer for a three nights stay. This afternoon we will explore the Ajmer area and no doubt have our first encounter with the superb Lesser Florican!

Indian Monsoon Specialities: Days 4-5  The Ajmer region has become famous among birders for its population of Lesser Florican, an endangered species of bustard known in Hindi as ‘Likh’. For sure it will be our number one priority, but fortunately, the population is actually increasing as local farmers move over to crops requiring less pesticide and herbicide use. As a result, we will soon be watching these fabulous birds leaping up out of the crop fields every few minutes!

Lesser Florican is of course the ‘mega-star’ of the Indian Monsoon specialites so we have allowed plenty of time in the area so we can enjoy their antics and get wonderful experiences with this splendid creature!

Another really key bird here, and a species that is so hard to see outside the monsoon, is Rain Quail and we have a very high chance of seeing some during our explorations. The endemic Rock Bush Quail is also quite common in this area.

Many other interesting species occur in the area including Indian Courser, Chestnut-bellied (and sometimes Painted) Sandgrouse, Indian (or Rock) Eagle-Owl,  the pretty Red-necked Falcon, White-bellied Minivet, Marshall’s Iora, Rufous-fronted Prinia and White-naped Tit. Rosy Starlings are also likely to be back on their wintering grounds, the earliest migrant passerine to reappear in the northwest Indian plains.

More widespread species include Indian Peafowl, Eurasian Collared, Red Collared and Laughing Doves, Common Hawk-Cuckoo, Pied (or Jacobin) Cuckoo, Red-wattled and Yellow-wattled Lapwings, Red-naped Ibis, Black and Black-winged Kites, Crested (or Oriental) Honey Buzzard, White-rumped Vulture, Shikra, White-eyed Buzzard, Black and Grey Francolins, Spotted Owlet, Savanna Nightjar, Asian Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Common Hoopoe, Indian Grey Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback, Rose-ringed and Plum-headed Parakeets, Small Minivet, Indian Paradise Flycatcher,Indian Golden Oriole, Ashy Woodswallow, Common Woodshrike, Red-vented and White-eared Bulbuls, Bay-backed and Great Grey Shrikes, Rufous Treepie, House and Indian Jungle Crows, Brahminy Starling, Common and Bank Mynas, Cinereous Tit, Indian and Singing Bush Larks, Rufous-tailed Lark, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Dusky Crag Martin, Common, Jungle and Large Grey Babblers, Plain, Ashy and Grey-breasted Prinias, Indian Pied Myna, Pied Bush Chat, Brown Rock Chat, Indian Robin, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Oriental White-eye, Purple Sunbird, Yellow-throated (or Chestnut-shouldered) Sparrow, Baya Weaver, Indian Silverbill and Paddyfield Pipit.

Indian Monsoon Specialities: Day 6  From Ajmer we travel northeastwards to the Alwar region for an overnight stay. In the nearby rocky hill country, our main target will be the beautiful Painted Spurfowl, a species that only rarely features on Indian birding tours.

Indian Monsoon Specialities: Day 7  After some final birding in the Alwar region we will head for Delhi for an overnight stay. We may arrive in time for a first look for Bristled Grassbird.

Indian Monsoon Specialities: Day 8  This morning we will visit an area in the Delhi region that holds a population of the usually skulking Bristled Grassbird. During the monsoon season, however, the grassbirds perch up conspicuously while singing and we can expect to get great views. Indian Grassbird can also be seen in the area.

Other new birds we may encounter in the Delhi region include Lesser Whistling, Knob-billed and Indian Spot-billed Ducks, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Little Grebe, Spotted Dove, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Grey-bellied Cuckoo, Asian Koel, Greater Coucal, White-breasted Waterhen, Grey-headed Swamphen, Sarus Crane, Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-winged Jacanas, Black-winged Stilt, Small Pratincole, Whiskered and River Terns, Little Cormorant, Black-headed and Glossy Ibises, Painted, Woolly-necked and Black-necked Storks, Asian Openbill, Black-crowned Night Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Purple Heron, Great, Intermediate, Little and Eastern Cattle Egrets, Yellow, Cinnamon and Black Bitterns, Little Swift, White-throated, Pied and Common Kingfishers, Brown-headed and Coppersmith Barbets, Common Kingfisher, Alexandrine Parakeet, Long-tailed Shrike, Grey-throated Martin, Zitting and Golden-headed Cisticolas, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Wire-tailed and Streak-throated Swallows, Grey-throated Martin, Streaked and Black-breasted Weavers, Red Avadavat and White-browed Wagtail.

This afternoon we will drive to the Haldwani area, situated in the Terai plain not far from the base of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand state, for an overnight stay.

Indian Monsoon Specialities:  Day 9  Finn’s Weaver, or Finn’s Baya as it was originally known, has always been an uncommon bird. Even in Northeast India, in West Bengal and Assam, it is not often recorded. In recent decades the species has suffered a massive decline, perhaps over 90%, and it is currently proposed that Finn’s Weaver be reclassified as Critically Endangered! It is hoped that last-minute conservation efforts will arrest the extinction of the species, but its habitat is very vulnerable to agricultural clearance or even industrialization or urbanization in fast-developing modern India.

We will be visiting an area where the Indian-endemic Finn’s Weaver still occurs in good numbers and we should be able to watch the brightly coloured males and more sombre females attending their globular nests. An increasingly rare sight in today’s India.

As well as the weaver, the area holds a good number of bird species typical of the north Indian plains and we will have a chance to catch up on anything we missed earlier in the tour.

Likely new species include Indian Cuckoo, Brown Crake, Common Moorhen, Cinnamon Bittern, Striated Heron, Indian Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Chestnut-headed and Blue-tailed Bee-eaters, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Large-billed Crow, Jungle Myna, Striated Grassbird, Yellow-bellied and Himalayan Prinias, Striated and Yellow-eyed Babblers, Bengal Bush Lark, Sand Lark, Oriental Skylark, Scaly-breasted, White-rumped and Tricoloured Munias, and perhaps Greater Painted-snipe.

Indian Monsoon Specialities: Day 10  Today we will return to Delhi where our tour ends this evening.