This birding tour to North Bengal and East Sikkim was a customized tour comprising of six participants from Kazakhstan. Previously they have done birding with us in Uttarakhand, thus this time they decided to cover Neora Valley National park, Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary (both in Darjeeling district in north Bengal) and lower Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary in East Sikkim district of the state pf Sikkim. In this entire seven nights and eight days trip we have got two hundred and eight bird species all together.
After crossing Kalijhora, as we drove towards Latpanchar, very few minutes were in our hand for the last minutes of birding. Hair-crested Drongo, Bronzed Drongo etc we found and wrapped up for that day for birding.
As always today also we did the birdlist and celebrated our day with brandy. After having chicken and rice, we moved to our rooms by 9:30 PM and prayed for the the next day sighting for Rufous-necked Hornbill.
Photo courtesy: Oleg Belyalov
With our fingers crossed we moved to the designated birding trail towards the south-east of the village in search of Rufous-necked Hornbill. As soon as we reached the place, we found them almost immediately; it was a male. We thanked to our trail guides Ujwal and Sandeep. Since the beginning (6:32 AM) to the end (up to 7:04 AM) we captured each and every movements of it. Later we tried to find Sultan Tit in that area, but just heard sound from the both end of the hills. We moved up and after having a cup of tea and breakfast (noodles) we moved forward and got mostly the repeated species. Around 9:30 AM we found a big flock of Black-crested Bulbul and Black Bulbuls (50 of them around). Just after the sightings of Bulbuls I heard the flight noise of Hornbill. Following the noise we found Rufous-necked Hornbill again and this time it was a female. Just after that another surprise was waiting for us and we got Yellow-bellied Warbler (a hard to see Phylloscopus), female of Rufous-bellied Niltava, Whistlers Warbler and a magnificent Black Giant Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor). Later we moved towards a shadowy area and saw flocks of Cuckoo-shrike, Wood-shrike, Bulbuls etc. Around 12:30 PM we ended the morning session and headed back for lunch to our home stay by car (which was just 4 kilometers away). After lunch we moved down in a different birding trail adjacent to primary school and saw Greater racket-tailed Drongo, Black-lored Tit, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Black-chinned Yuhina and White-browed Scimitar Babbler. Light was fading out very fast since it drizzled a little and the weather was cloudy. Thus we had to wrap birding for the day at 4 PM.
Today was the last night for the entire tour, we celebrated the day for Hornbills. Oleg gifted a fantastic book on state national nature park "Altyn-Emel"; authored by him. All the birders autographed it and presented it to me. It was a great honor for me to receive such a beautiful writing on nature and wildlife of Kazakhstan.
We had plans for waders and lowland birds today, thus we had to start very early. By 4:30 AM in the morning to started to drive. Just before arrival to Gajoldoba, we saw lowland birds mostly. After reaching at the location, we saw 9 species of Ducks/Grebes, three species of Lapwings, three species of Egrets, Black-headed Gulls, Purple Swamphen, Moorhen, Coots, Ringed Plovers, Baya Weaver, Reed Warblers etc. By 9:15 AM we wrapped up birding and took our breakfast.
Photo courtesy: Ujwal Rai
From Gajoldoba Road we drove directly to Bagdogra via Ambari-Falakata Road. By 10:50 AM we reached at airport. Sanzhar and his team had to catch a flight (Indiago) for Delhi at 12:10 PM. On the next day they moved to Almaty by Air Astana flight.
Since, itinerary and time schedule alongside the bird activity changes seasonally; thus this itinerary was not be followed in other months. Kindly go through other blogs of GoingWild's bird photography tours in Pangolakha.
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The entire list of birds can be downloaded from below! Cheers!