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Posts Tagged ‘Black-rumped Flameback’

Himalayan Mountains

View of Himalaya Mountains on the road between Nainital and Pangot

We left New Delhi at 5:00 AM on November 5 and headed towards Sattal in the Himalayan foothills. The higher altitude brought a different composition of avian species with new birds even before we reached Sattal. But these were mostly forest-dwelling birds which were more difficult for me to see than the generally larger open country birds we had earlier in the trip.  My vision difficulties frustrated me especially here, but thanks to the patience and helpfulness of Leio and Lokesh, I saw most of the birds.  And, I loved the beautiful mountains.

One of the first new birds we saw was a Spotted Forktail.  Later, we also saw Little Forktail and Slaty-backed Forktail.  Forktails are energetic birds who pick insects from stones along mountain streams.  The Little Forktail also plunges under water dipper-style in search of aquatic insects.  It’s always fun to see any forktail.

Little Forktail

Little Forktail

After two nights in Sattal, we moved a little higher to Pangot at about 6,000 feet.  We stayed at Kafal House/Jungle Lore Birding Lodge.  This was the only place during our two weeks in India where the birds were fed.  But even better than the seed that was scattered at lunchtime were the bird baths.  They really drew the skulking birds out into the open. Everyone seemed to enjoy a bath.

Rufous Sibia

Rufous Sibia

The White-throated Laughingthrushes we saw here were my favorite birds of the trip.  I loved watching as they dropped to the ground one by one until there were flocks of 30 or more.  It was fun to watch their interactions with each other, too.  Some young were still begging for food from the adults and the adults were pretty friendly with each other.

White-throated Laughingthrushes

White-throated Laughingthrushes

After seeing Courtois’s Laughingthrush in China in 2012 and now these birds, laughingthrushes were quickly becoming favorites.   I was happy to also add the very cooperative and photogenic Streaked Laughingthrush and the brightly-colored Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush to my list.

Streaked Laughingthrush

Streaked Laughingthrush

Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush

Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush

The Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler, however, was even more exciting than the laughingthrushes.  The Gray-sided Scimitar-Babblers that I’d seen in China were extreme skulkers who didn’t want me to get a good look at them.  At Jungle Lore, the Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler came right out in the open for – you guessed it – the bath.

Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler

Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler

On our second afternoon in Pangot, I was tired and opted to stay alone at the lodge to relax a little rather than participate in the scheduled afternoon birding in the mountains.  I didn’t think that they would see many new birds, but the group was surprised with good looks at male Kalij Pheasants.  Of course, I was disappointed to have missed the pheasant, but I did enjoy the relaxing time photographing birds at the lodge.

Another bird that I saw that afternoon was this Black-throated Tit.  This species was a favorite of some members of our group.  I thought it was a beautiful, but evil-looking little bird.

Black-throated Tit

Black-throated Tit

In addition to birds, we had Gray Langurs at the lodge.  This one was so bold that I had to shoo it away so that I could get in the door to my cabin.

Gray Langur

Gray Langur

After four days in the beautiful Himalayan foothills, we moved to the last location of the trip, Village Dhikuli, just outside Corbett National Park.  After we checked in at the luxurious Tiger Camp and had lunch, we headed out to look for Ibisbill along the Kosi River.  Ibisbill is a unique wader that is the only species in its family and it is one of the world’s most highly-sought birds.  It has a large range, but is found only in small numbers at high elevations along flat stony rivers.  A few birds usually winter near this interesting area on the Kosi River.  Garjiya Devi Temple sits on a large rock in the river close to the walking bridge over the river.  The area is filled with visitors and street vendors. We were very lucky and quickly found two birds close to the temple and the crowds.  This was one of the main targets of the trip and we were all thrilled to get such close looks.

Ibisbill

Ibisbill

The next morning we had our first outing to Corbett National Park.  This was more open birding like we had earlier in the trip, but with different species.  My favorites from that morning were Stork-billed Kingfisher and Collared Falconet.  We added Muntjac to our growing mammal list.  I thought that his short unbranched antlers made him look like he had four ears.

Muntjac

Muntjac

The following morning, in an area not too far from the park, we found the most spectacular owl of the trip, Tawny Fish-Owl.

Tawny Fish-Owl

Tawny Fish-Owl

Our final drive in the park was one of the best days of the trip with sightings of Oriental Pied-Hornbill, Plum-headed Parakeet, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, and Scarlet Minivet among many other wonderful birds.  The raptors were the stars of the day, though, with outstanding looks at Red-headed Vulture, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, and Booted Eagle.

Red-headed Vulture

Red-headed Vulture

Changeable Hawk-Eagle

Changeable Hawk-Eagle

Booted Eagle

Booted Eagle

We never got tired of the more common, but colorful, Black-rumped Flameback which we had seen throughout the trip.

Black-rumped Flameback

Black-rumped Flameback

Another common but lovely bird was the Blue Whistling Thrush. Its singing ability ranks right up there with our own Wood Thrush.  You can listen to the sweet and complex song of the Blue Whistling Thrush here.  Earlier in the trip at Jungle Lore, I had loved hearing this beautiful song in the early morning.

Blue Whistling Thrush

Blue Whistling Thrush

Our last outing in the Corbett area was back to the temple on the Kosi River.  We saw the Ibisbill again, but did not add any new birds to our trip list.  It was a wonderfully relaxing late afternoon and we soaked up the atmosphere of the temple and its visitors.  One Indian family was particularly friendly and wanted us to pose for photographs with them. The pretty girl in pink was constantly smiling (except for the photo!) and joking with us.  She said that she wanted to go with us.  It was the perfect end to our time in India.

An Indian family poses for photographs with members of our group.

An Indian family poses for photographs with members of our group.

We left early the next morning for Delhi and headed straight to Bhasai Village where Lokesh and I had birded on my first day in India.  We saw most of the same birds, but I added one life bird, Isabelline Shrike.  Next we had a quick lunch and birded at Sultanpur National Park, where we had also birded on that first day.  I enjoyed the repeat visit to this very nice park and got my last life bird of the trip, Brown-headed Gull.

We had to leave sooner than we wanted so that we could get through the New Delhi traffic to our hotel.  We had just enough time for dinner, showers, packing, and two hours of sleep before heading to the airport.  It was a wonderful trip with great birds, excellent food, and good company.  Many thanks to Charles of Partnership for International Birding for all his work organizing the trip.  Thanks to Leio and Jenny of India Nature Tours for their excellent work on logistics and accommodations.  Leio was a warm and friendly leader with great patience and a contagious sense of humor.  Lokesh could not have been more helpful and we were very happy to have him as a guide, too.  Special thanks to Lokesh for all his help with photographs.  His finger pressed the shutter on my camera for many of these shots.  We could not have asked for more!  I think I see another trip to India in my future.

Our group of birders outside Sultanpur National Park

Our group of birders outside Sultanpur National Park

More photos from this trip can be seen in my Flickr set Northern India 2014.  Also see Kirk Huffstater’s Flickr set, India 2014.

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