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Birding in the Western Himalayas: Nov 2016

Updated: Mar 9, 2019


Uttarakhand is one of the best places in India to photograph some of the himalayan birds with nearly 600 species of birds found in the state. And Sattal and Pangot area is well known for that with the natural studio in Sattal. We planned our trip during end November which was the beginning of Winter and we were expecting some winter migrants during our tour. We stayed at Camp Milieu – a birding paradise in Ghatgarh. It was s delightful stay there with lot of birding in the campus itself. They have set up water baths and feeders for the birds and we got some really good images there.

We started off our birding at the campus itself with us being welcomed by the Red-billed Blue Magpies and the Blue Whistling Thrush. As the light improved birds started to come to the feeders. We had Grey-headed Woodpecker, Himalayan Bulbuls, Cinereous Tit, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch all at the same time. Then we headed out to Bajoon trail where we got to see hundreds of Slaty-headed Parakeets and Black Bulbuls. There were good mixed hunting parties of Hume’s Leaf warbler, whistler’s warbler, black-throated Tit, Bronzed Drongos, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher and Black-chinned Babblers. Also got some good images of Lineated Barbet and Blue-throated Barbet. There were also a couple of Grey-sided Bush Warblers which refused to come out. In the evening we went to Nalni area. The clouds blocked the sun and the weather had become really bad for birding, but we still managed to see some Red-billed Leothrix, Whiskered Yuhina, Speckled Piculet, Blue-winged Siva and White-crested Laughinthrush.

The next day morning was spent at Sattal and as usual was very rewarding. On the way itself we got good images of the Mountain Hawk Eagle. We had sightings of Blue-fronted Redstart, Small and Rufous-bellied Niltava, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Greater Yellownape, Brown-fronted Woodpecker, White-throated Laughingthrush, Great Barbet, Eurasian Jay, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Red-billed Leiothrix, Golden Bush Robin, Spotted Forktail, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Grey-sided Bush Warbler and Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler. Another good sighting was that of a Yellow-throated Marten up above a tree. Afternoon was well spent at Chanfi looking for the Crested Kingfisher. We saw 4 individuals but none of them obliged for a photo. Then there were the White-capped and Plumbeous Water Redstart, Streaked Laughingthrush and also the Brown Dipper doind its dipping in the stream. On the way we also saw a bunch of Kalij Pheasents.

The next day we drove all the way to Kunjkharak birding all along the way. For some reason there was less activity but nevertheless we got to see some good birds. Green Shrike-babbler, White-browed Shrike-babbler, Yellow-browed Tit, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Hill Partrige, Grey-winged Blackbird, Large number of Black-throated Thrushes, another bunch of Chestnut thrushes, Rufous Sibias and Yellow-breasted greenfinch were some of the highlights. On the way back we also saw a Blue-capped Redstart. On day 4 we drove down the road to Kaladhungi towards Ranikota and birding started with a sighting of 4 long-tailed Broadbills. Later there were Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Southern Grey Shrike, Black-throated Sunbird, Greater Yellownape and White-throated Fantail. Although we did not have much luck finding the Great Slaty Woodpecker.

On the final day we repeated Nalni area and we had some really good sightings of White-throated Laughingthrush, Black-faced Warbler, Whiskered Yuhina, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Blue-winged Siva, Straited Prinia, Whistler’s Warbler, Ashy Bulbuls and Himalayan Bluetail. We spent the last afternoon in the campus itself trying to get better photos of the birds we had already seen on day 1. Overall we managed to clock 122 specied in 5 days.

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