Himalayan Birds

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As we move from Makku to Deoria Taal on a road that has seen the first vehicle in the past 12 hours, flocks of Kalij Pheasants busily chewing on juicy insects and grains cross our path, the air is chilly with temperatures dropping to below 0 degrees at night. Earlier in the morning we were greeted by the melodious morning call of the Blue Whistling Thrush, followed later by House Sparrows, Russets Sparrows, flocks of Spotted Doves, a lone Grey Treepie and a friendly Grey Bushchat very near to our stay.

Grey Bushchat in its Himalayan Habitat, Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath

Grey Bhushchat in its Himalayan Habitat

I get down 4 kms before Deoria Taal and take a trek,the trek is a very pleasing, relaxing and a refreshing one amidst the high altitude Pine and Deodar Trees. Until they are disturbed by my presence, a pair of spotted forktails are busy, foraging for food in a small stream that flows very close to the roadside. Oblivious to my presence some Green backed Tits sing their beautiful songs hopping from tree to tree and Warblers are busy eating flying insects at a speed that is blindingly fast. Further down, a Himalayan Buzzard is flying very close to the road, above barren fields, searching for its next prey.

A Grey-Backed Shrike, Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath

A Grey-Backed Shrike

One of the Late evening light on Chandrashila, Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath

One of the Late evening light on Chandrashila

After a good lunch and some rest, it is time to explore a different area. Taking cue from some local villagers and hoping to get a clean shot of the Himalaya Buzzard seen earlier, I trek amidst some barren fields and see the Buzzard flying on a distant patch of land (well disappointment), I trek further and suddenly a group of birds fly away and perch to a tree, carefully approaching the tree I see a number of Russets Sparrow, Stone chats, Rock Buntings (Male and female), a Chestnut bellied Rockthrush and some birds which I could neither shoot nor ID. The next few hours pass in carefully stalking and approaching the tree (which was not very fruitful :)!)

It’s a stark contrast Day and Night have in the remote Himalayas of Uttarakhand, while the day is filled with melodious calls of beautiful song birds, the constant babbling of babblers, the different alarm calls of Pheasants, the very sweet and constant calls of the Barbets, the only call which one might hear in the night is an occasional and a very high pitched alarm call of a Barking deer or a Sambhar

Last light on Chaumhamba, Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath

Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath

Its morning and I begin my trek towards Deoria taal, can hear (and later see) Brown fronted Woodpeckers, Himalayan Woodpeckers, busily pecking along the tree trunks looking for Insects. Black-throated bushtits, lots of Rufous breasted accentors, small groups of Blue-capped redstarts flying very erratically over the landscape, very beautiful and extremely shy Chestnut-crowned Laughing thrush which will not give you a clean shot, no matter how much one waits.

Rufous breasted accentor first morning light, Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath

Rufous breasted accentor first morning light

Variegated Laughing-thrushes hop very discreetly in dense branches of small shrubs and trees, large groups of White-throated laughing-thrushes very nosily forage the dead leaves for food, some Chestnut-Bellied Nuthatches hop vertically along the tree trunks foraging for Insects. Black headed Jays and the Elusive and Shy Eurasian Jays hop along the path. Amidst all these rambling and babbling, a lone Lemmergier and some Himalayan Vultures, fly very gracefully and silently in the sky looking for some dead meat. Deoria taal has already had some snow fall and after shooting the sunset and resting for the night, exploring the area for one more day with the local villagers, the third day I move towards Chopta and adjoining area.

Himalayan Vulture in its Himalayan Habitat, Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath

Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath

Makku Bend is a very famous birding stop, and I stay here for the next 2 nights, hoping to get some different birds and good shots. I am rewarded handsomely in that I see a number birds that I have never seen before, and get a lot of Lifers. There was snowfall some days back in Chopta and roads are since closed (or only some skilled drivers can drive through), I have the whole region for myself and I am handsomely rewarded in that fact that I get to see a lot of , and capture some of Lifers. Flocks of Grey winged Blackbirds, Rufous bellied Woodpecker, Coal tits, Grey crested tits, Snow Pigeons, Orioles, White collared Blackbirds, Grey Headed Woodpeckers, Black Bulbuls, Yellownapes, Laughing thrushes, Greenfinches ,Yuhinas and a lot more birds adorn the Jungles of Chopta and the regions around. Calls of Himalayan Monals can be heard in abundance and though I do get a fleeting glimpse of them on two occasions, I could not shoot them.

We will be capturing a lot of these and many more beautiful birds in our week long Himalayan Birding camp of Chopta, Deoriya and Makkumath in the Month of Jan 2016. You can check the expedition details here.

Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath Himalayan Birds of Chopta, Deoriya, Makkumath

The next 2 days pass by in a flash, I don’t want to go back from there, but i have to, and with an extremely heavy heart and some beautiful memories, I bid goodbye to this small piece of birding heaven (which the Himalayas fortunately have lots of them) promising to come back again.

Below is the check list of the birds which I could record during my trip here.

  1. Streaked Laughing-thrush
  2. Variegated Laughing-thrush
  3. Chestnut crowned Laughing-thrush
  4. Red Billed Blue Magpie
  5. Yellow Billed Blue Magpie
  6. Great Tit
  7. Green Backed Tit
  8. White-throated Laughing-thrush
  9. Himalayan Bluetail
  10. Rufous Breasted Accentor
  11. Rock Bunting
  12. Himalayan Monal
  13. Jungle Crow
  14. Common Myna
  15. Grey Treepie
  16. Blue Capped Redstart
  17. Himalayan Bulbul
  18. Red Vented Bulbul
  19. Kalij Pheasants
  20. Grey-Backed Shrike
  21. Blue whistling Thrush
  22. Rufous Sibia
  23. Grey Bushchat
  24. Spotted Forktail
  25. Black throated Tits
  26. Common Stonechat
  27. Hodgson’s Stonechat
  28. Russet Sparrow
  29. House Sparrow
  30. Spotted Dove
  31. Black-Chinned Babblers
  32. Himalayan Vulture
  33. Bearded Vulture
  34. Warblers
  35. Great Barbet
  36. Scimitar Babblers
  37. Slaty Headed Parakeets
  38. Rock Pigeons
  39. Verditer Flycatcher
  40. Black headed Jay
  41. Eurasian Jay
  42. Whiskered Yuhina
  43. Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch
  44. White collared Blackbird
  45. Grey Winged Blackbird
  46. Straited Laughinghthrush
  47. Stripe throated Yuhina
  48. Yellow breasted Greenfinch
  49. Bar-throated Siva
  50. Greater Yellownape
  51. Himalayan woodpecker
  52. Black Bulbuls
  53. Rufous bellied Woodpecker
  54. Coal Tit
  55. Bar tailed tree creepers
  56. Grey Crested Tits
  57. Brown fronted Woodpeckers
  58. Snow Pigeons
  59. Oriole (Maroon)
  60. Himalayan Buzzard
  61. Chestnut bellied rockthrush
  62. Grey headed canary flycatcher
  63. Blue fronted Redstart
  64. Common Kestrel
  65. Grey headed woodpecker
  66. Martins
  67. Finches

There were a lot of birds which i could hear and sadly, not identify and lots which I could see but got no shots and hence cannot ID it. I will keep updating this list as and when I am able to add more birds.

Posted with: Wildlife Destinations, Birding Destinations, Landscape Destinations

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