Himalayan Foothills Trip Report
Travel Date- 11th March – 25th March
Guests Name – Mr. Andrew Warr
11th March – Our birdwatching tour kickstarted in the verdant hills of Uttarakhand and Pangot was the first stopover in this journey. I met the guests in the afternoon at Jungle Lore Birding Lodge where they were scheduled to stay for the next two days. After lunch while doing birding around the lodge we happened to come across some of the amazing Himalayan species including Black-headed Jay, Large-billed Crow, Streaked Laughingthrush, House Sparrow, Barn Swallow, Grey-backed Shrike, Goldenbush robin, Rufous Sibia, Spot Winged Grosbeak, Golden Bush Robin, Red-vented Bulbul, Himalayan Bulbul, Grey-hooded Leaf Warbler and Blue Whistling
12th March – We began our day doing early morning birding at Cheer Point. Situated 15 km away from Pangot, Cheer Point is a fantastic hotspot for sighting the rare pheasants of Himalayas. Koklass was one of the target species in the region that motivated us to explore the precinct early in the morning. However, after spending more than two hours with no result we started moving 8 km to Kumja Kharak where we got the opportunity to sight two female and one male Koklass. In our quest to find Cheer Pheasant- the second target species in the journey we trailed back to Cheer Point. Although we couldn’t get the traces of Cheer Pheasant we chanced upon Sighting Upland Pipit, Altai Accentor, Himalayan Griffon, Himalayan Woodpecker & Mountain Hawk Eagle. At 2 PM we headed towards Bagar and spotted Grey-breasted Prinia, Striated Prinia, Grey-crowned Prinia, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Black-throated Tit, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Hume’s Leaf Warbler, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Brown-fronted Woodpecker
13th March – With an aim to tick off the elusive Cheer Pheasant, We drove towards Cheer Pheasant once again. As we were about to enter the region we spotted four Cheer Pheasants crossing the road at close proximity. We also came across Coal Tit, Green-backed Tit, Black-lored Tit, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Lesser Yellow-naped Woodpecker, Eurasian Jay, Black-throated Accentor, Russet Sparrow, Green Shrike-Babbler, Goldcrest, and Eurasian Crag Martin. After lunch, we continued our birding trail to Guggu Khan- a small village near Pangot carrying a wide variety of bird species. We had the opportunity to sight birds like Whiskered Yuhina, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Great Barbet, Green-tailed Sunbird, Plain mountain finch, Red-fronted Serin, Common Stonechat, Pink-browed Rosefinch, Chestnut Thrush are Chestnut-headed Bee-eater
14th March – Today we did full day birding in the dense thickets of Nainital and also managed to spot several Himalayan birds on our way back to Pangot. Buff-barred Warbler, Ashy-throated Warbler, Black Bulbul, Himalayan Bluetail, Blue-fronted Redstart, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Grey BushChat, Blue-capped Redstart, Spotted Forktail, White-collared Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Long-billed Thrush, Rufous-bellied Niltava, White-tailed Nuthatch, Bar-tailed Treecreeper, Scaly-bellied Woodpecker, Asian Barred Owlet and Brown Wood Owl were the highlights of the day.
15th March- We explored the bird hide area of Jungle Lore Birding Lodge and managed to spot Black Francolin, Grey Treepie, Rusty-cheeked scimitar babbler and Khalij Pheasant. After Breakfast, we proceeded towards Jageshwar, en route we spotted Common Kingfisher, Steppe Eagle, Red-rumped Swallow, Grey-throated Martin, Alpine Swift, and Little Swift. By evening we reached Jageshwar. After completing the check-in formalities at Van Serai we headed towards Jageshwar Dham with a purpose to see Crested Kingfisher and Brown Dipper. Although we couldn’t spot Crested Kingfisher, we managed to get a fleeting sight of Brown Dipper.
16th March- We continued our birding journey in Jageshwar. Surrounded by the mixed forest of Deodar, pine and Rhododendron trees, Jageshwar is an excellent place for birdwatching. During the birding trail, we came across myriads of Himalayan birds including Common Wood Pigeon, Northern Goshawk, Long-tailed Minivet, Grey Wagtail, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Oriental White-eye, Brown Dipper, Indian Robin, Small Niltava, Asian Verditer Flycatcher, Rufous-georgette Flycatcher, Plumbeous Water Redstart, White-capped Water Redstart, Grey-winged Blackbird, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Crested Kingfisher, White-throated Fantail, Fairy-fantail (Yellow-bellied Fantail) and Spotted forktail
17th March- Today we headed for Sattal- another great birding destination peacefully settled in the Himalayan Hills. After arriving at Sattal we resumed birding in the Chaffi region. We came across a plethora of Himalayan birds including Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Slaty-backed Forktail, White-tailed Rubythroat, Jungle Myna, White-throated Laughing-thrush, Black-chinned Babbler, Jungle Babbler, Aberrant Bush Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Common Tailorbird, and Cinereous.
18th March- Today we did full day birding in Sattal region. The unspoilt landscape of Sattal has become a humble abode for many rare and endangered bird species. While trailing in the area we amazing sight of Tree Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Whistler’s Leaf Warbler Greenish Leaf Warbler, Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Tickell’s Thrush, Black-throated Thrush, Grey Nightjar, Long-tailed Nightjar, Brown Bullfinch, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Purple Sunbird, Hair-crested Drongo (Spangled Drongo), Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Scarlet Minivet, Plum-headed Parakeet and Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker.
19th March- We left for early morning birding in Shyamkhet- a small Kumaoni village near Bhowali. While trailing in the area we managed to spot Bonelli’s Eagle, Shikra, Blue-throated Barbet, Common Kestrel, Bronzed Drongo, Black-throated Sunbird, Crimson Sunbird, Russet Sparrow, Common Rosefinch, European Goldfinch, Rock Bunting, and Dusky Warbler. In pursuit of sighting Red-throated thrush we moved towards Ramgarh Village. Although we couldn’t sight the Red-throated thrush we caught hold of Grey-sided bush warbler and Mountain Bulbul.
20th March- The entire day exploring the rich birdlife of Sattal Studio. We spotted Chestnut-headed Tesia, Black-faced Warbler, Brown-flanked Bush Warbler, Red-breasted Parakeet, Greater Yellow-naped Woodpecker, Speckled Piculet, Himalayan Buzzard, Black-winged Kite, Long-tailed Shrike, and Dark-sided Thrush
21st March- Today was Holi – an auspicious Hindu festival celebrated on a grand scale in Kumaon region. To avoid the crowd we went for early morning birding in Sattal Bird Hide opposite to Christian Ashram. The day culminated with an amazing sighting of Emerald Dove, White-crested Laughing-thrush, Rufous-chinned Laughing-thrush, Great Barbet, Great Treepie, Great Headed Woodpecker, and Blue-winged Minla
22nd March – This morning we once again headed towards Ramgarh, trying our luck in finding the rare Red-throated thrush and Voila we chanced upon sighting her feeding right in front. We chased her for sometime before retiring back to our hotel in Sattal . After lunch, we checked out from the hotel and drove to Kathgodham to catch the evening train for Delhi. At 9 pm we reached Delhi station and by 10 PM we checked in at the Shanti Palace
23rd March- We spent the whole day birding in Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary. Located near Gurugram- Jhajhar Highway, the place is a hotspot for migratory species. While crisscrossing the region we got spectacular sightings of Red-breasted Flycatcher, Black Redstart, Pied Bush Chat, Brown Rock Chat, Asian Pied Starling, Common Myna, Bank Myna, Oriental Magpie Robin, Lesser Whitethroat, Large Grey Babbler, Striated Babbler, Ashy Prinia
Plain Prinia, Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark, Indian Bush Lark, Greater Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Zitting Cisticola, Citrine Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Tawny Pipit, Indian Silverbill, Sind Sparrow, Great Grey Shrike, Rufous Treepie, House Crow, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Common Woodshrike, Black Drongo, Indian Roller, Common Hoopoe, Booted Eagle, Indian Courser, Barred Buttonquail, Common Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, Common Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Red Collared Dove, Greylag Goose, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Tufted Duck, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Indian Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Comb Duck, Indian Peafowl, Grey Francolin, Yellow-wattled Lapwing Pheasant-tailed Jacana
24th March – The entire day was spent in the vast wetland of Okhla Bird Sanctuary. We stumbled upon sighting an array of migratory birds including Bar-headed Goose Ruddy Shelduck, Greater Flamingo, Little Grebe, Rock Dove, Eurasian Collared Dove, Spotted Dove, Laughing Dove, Yellow-footed Green Pigeon, Greater Coucal, Asian Koel, White-breasted Waterhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Common Coot, Painted Stork, Asian Openbill, Woolly-necked Stork, Black-necked Stork, Cinnamon Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Indian Pond Heron, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Black-headed Ibis, Indian Black Ibis (Red-napped Ibis), Glossy Ibis, Little Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Oriental Darter, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Red-wattled Lapwing, White-tailed Lapwing, Bronze-winged Jacana, Black-tailed Godwit Ruff, Temminck’s Stint, Little Stint, Whiskered Tern, Egyptian Vulture, Spotted Owlet, Indian Grey Hornbill, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Western Marsh Harrier, Brown-headed Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Green Bee-eater, White-throated Kingfisher, Indian Paradise-flycatcher, Rosy Pipit, Paddyfield Pipit, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Red-whiskered Bulbul
25th March – The trip came to an end with a half-day birding in the wetland of Surajpur where we got nice sighting of Sarus Crane, Pied Avocet, Greater Spotted Eagle, Northern Wryneck, Black-rumped Woodpecker