Khangchendzonga National Park is an important bird area with area code INSK04. This park has very recently been promoted as a UNESCO world heritage site. Since this part of Sikkim shares its border with Nepal thus avian fauna population is much correlated to central Himalayan fuana life, rather eastern Himalayan fauna life. It was an announced tour of GoingWild. Only one participant responded for this tour and we continued it as well. In general we don't fail to commence a tour when there is just one participant.
The guy who joined us for this tour was Yogesh Srivastava from Mumbai in the state of Maharastra in India.
This birding tour commenced on 7th of November 2016 and continued till 11th of November 2016 for four nights and five days. The day-wise itinerary along with major sightings have been put down here. If you feel this part of the blog is boring, you can directly skip to the species list provided at the end of this blog.
Route Taken: New Jalpaiguri, Sevok, Melli, Jorethang, Legship, Yuksom, Pelling, Khecheopalri, Darap, Dubdee, Tashiding, Legship, Jorethang, Melli, Sevok, Bagdogra
P.S. Theplace where accommodation was arranged was the best resort in Yuksom
Driving Distance: 410 Kilometers.
Top five birds from this tour:
Daily travel log:
7th November 2016:
Previous night, on 6th Nov, I stayed at New Jalpaiguri city at Tirupati Lodge (adjacent to Rly sytation); since pick up of the guest was on next day. Due to slow traffic we had plan to start by 9 AM in the morning. Mr Srivastava was at Hotel Sarovar Portico (one of the most premier hotel in Siliguri). After picking him up from the hotel we directly drove to Melli (at 11:30 AM - we faced a bad traffic chaos in Sevok ), where we took a pit stop to stretch our legs and to have tea. After that we drove via Jorethang; just before reaching the city we saw a group of Kalij Pheasant in disturbed road due to back cutting of hills of road construction work. We didn't stop at Jorethang. Once we reached at Tashiding we stopped for lunch and had chicken rice. Our birding started just after crossing Tashiding. Just around the place where we had lunch we saw a Mrs Gould's Sunbird. On the way we saw Common Green Magpies in flock around Legship, Great Barbets, Spangled Drongo etc. Light was dimming out fast (around 4:50 PM); thus we had to wrap up the day. Later we directly drove to Yuksom. After having some chat with the owner of the home stay Dhan Singh Limboo, we took high tea. Later around 8 PM in the evening to took our dinner and moved to our rooms.
8th November 2016:
Today we started our morning birding around 5:30 AM in the morning. Till, 6:30 AM for photography purpose light was low. Though we saw Red-billed Leiothrix, Black-throated Sunbird, Blue-winged Siva etc. Later we moved in to the national park. Around 6:45 AM we started moving from the trekking trail. Just after the entrance we saw Black-throated Thrush in a flock of around 8-10 of them. Apart from that, there was Black Bulbul. Just few kilometres before Paha-khola we saw Purple Cochoa! Purple Cochoa was something that I can't explain. It was a new lifer for me and most importantly just handful of photographs are there around the world. It was perched in a open branch in Birch tree. The sighting went on just for two minutes. Most importantly we were accompanied by a kid of Yuksom as well. If you have gone through the previous blog write ups from Khangchendzonga; you may have heard about him - Sujal Limboo. All of us were overjoyed with this kind of bombastic sighting. We saw Whiskered Yuhina, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Striated Laughingthrush etc. The other highlight was Streaked Laughingthrush - it is the extra-limit range for eastern Himalayas for the species (firstly I had a thought of Bhutan Laughingthrush; after reaching home in the evening I confirmed the identification). In the morning we saw Scarlet Finch and photographed them from a closer distance. Though we didn't had luck for Spot-winged Grosbeak. Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler was there too calling from forest thickets; encountered those almost three times on that day. Around 9 AM that we tried for Yellow-rumped Honeyguide and around 9:30 AM we saw one. This endangered species is found chiefly at this altitude (7,000 ft) and KNP is a premier place for sighting for Honeyguide. The sighting went on for 30 minutes or so. Later we moved back (10 AM) towards our home stay for lunch. On our way back we covered village trails and saw commoners only. By 12:30 AM we reached to our home stay and had lunch. After having a quick lunch we started again around 2 PM for afternoon birding session. For the afternoon session we choose to cover Dubdee area; where we saw Little Forktail, Mountain Hawk Eagle (again - as we got in morning). Later we photographed and Greater Yellownape. Light became very dull by 4 PM and we decided to move back to our home stay for the day. After returning back we had tea with snacks for the dinner we called early; since we had to start early for the next day.
9th November 2016:
Today we had plans to cover the whole day for Pelling, Rabdantse and Pemayangtse complex. In the morning we started around 4:30 AM and photographed Mount Khangchendzonga in early morning golden light. After reaching the helipad area in Pelling we started our birding and that time light became sufficient enough. From the helipad area we saw mostly commoners, nothing so special. From there we moved down to Pemayangtse-Rabdantse complex. The sightings comprised of - Grey-winged Blackbird, Blue-fronted Redstart, Olive-backed Pipit, Green-tailed Sunbird, Rusty-fronted Barwing etc. Just above the open steppe area we saw a Hen Harrier in flight. Later we moved in a shadowy area and found mixed flock of Passerine-timilidae : Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Grey-hooded Warbler, Little Pied Flycatcher, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Whiskered Yuhina, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Leiothrix, Nepal Fulvetta, Rufous-capped Babbler, Red-tailed Minla, etc. On a slightly higher ground we found a flock of Bar-throated Minla as well. Later on the way back to our home stay in smaller streams we saw both Black-backed and Slaty-backed Forktails. Just before reaching Yuksom, we saw Small Niltava, Grey-throated Babbler. As usual by 4:30 PM, due to low light and poor visibility we had to stop birding for the day. By 5 PM, after reaching to our home stay we had a nice cup of flavored tea.
In the evening, Mr Srivastava offered some rum and after making the daily birding log we went for dinner around 9 PM.
10th November 2016:
We had a plan for whole day birding in the trekking trail and to cover up to Sachen. Around 6 AM we started from Yuksom, just after entering the trail we found some Comon Green Magpies moving uphill. We got nice photograph of these beauty. later from the bush thickets we saw Black-throated Prinia. As we moved up bird activity was good there. In a mixed flock we saw Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Nepal Fulvetta etc. Black-throated Thrush was there too and they may be migrating downhill that time. Males, Females and the first winter males were all together. Today we didn't spent time for Yellow-rumped Honeyguide since we got good images just the day before. As soon as we crossed Paha-khola we saw Scarlet Finches again in flocks of both male and female. Other species we saw for that day was - Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, Green Shrike Babbler, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Rufous-capped Babbler. We got good photographs of all those species from the mixed flock. We came back to home stay by 4 PM. Since it was a long distance and we were tired of walking; thus we relaxed for the day.
Tonight we celebrated the day with Chang (a local brew and speciality of Sikkim). Tonight was the last day for this entire birding tour and next day we planned for little late start for the day.
11th November 2016:
Today we started around 6:15 AM and directly started birding after Yuksom downhill. Around the lower Yuksom we saw huge flock of Short-billed Minivet, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Long-tailed Minivet, Black Bulbul etc. The major highlight from this mixed flock was Sultan Tit. All of these birds were foraging on fruiting trees full of berries. Later we found - Grey-throated Babbler, Buff-barred Warbler etc. We paused our birding around 7:30 AM after reaching Legship. We directly started driving towards Bagdogra today. Just for a tea and momo break we stopped at 29th Mile. By 1 PM we dropped Mr Yogesh at Bagdogra and I came back to New Jalpaiguri since I had to commence a tour from the next day for Neora Valley-Pangolakha-Mahananda area. That night I stayed at Tirupati Lodge at New Jalpaiguri
Hope, birders will enjoy this blog. I was really grateful to be a part of this birding tour.
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 Khangchendzonga Biosphere Reserve and National Park.
To do a customized birding trip like this one; write to us at [email protected] or keep watching our Upcoming Tour.
The entire list of birds can be downloaded from below! Cheers!
A loveless life is futile and what could be more satisfying than loving and being loved by nature? Well, this is for you to decide but he always knew that he belonged with nature. At a very tender age he clearly realised that he is increasingly attracted to nature. The constant longing to get away from the city humdrum guided managing partner, Dibyendu to take up birding and wildlife photography as his profession, working in an IT company could never satisfy the hunger of his soul and mind. A very young Dibyendu took interest in animal skull craft for it used to be his favourite pastime, he read his mother’s zoology books which made his interest in animals grow stronger . His love for wildlife groomed him to grow up into a wildlife enthusiast, he is now an avid traveler and has been to many important birding areas in the Himalayas, honing his skills as a naturalist, birder and a wildlife photographer.
With a huge bird list (which is ever increasing) till date he is currently one of the eminent bird watchers in India. Many of his works have been published in domestic and international publishings, books and newspapers.
Breathing life into the frozen moments of nature is what Soumyajit has been doing through his lenses for the last two decades. Trained as an architect, framing comes to him automatically and composition is his high plus point. Given his early schooling in art & painting, the basic concepts of composition and light always titillated his young brain. Being a self taught he strongly believes in the inherent sense of beauty which at all times, is the best guide than the bookish rules of photography. And he got ample opportunities to cross check his concepts with visiting stalwarts of this field. He valued the criticism of professionals as well as laymen and shaped his creativity accordingly. His photographs strike the very chord in the hearts of his audience urging them to react to the strong messages of nature conservation.
Soumyajit had been long drawn by the mystic world of animals and their natural habitat, the jungle. Coupled with this love for nature and unending patience he makes the right individual to practice wildlife photography. The photographs clicked by him play an integral part in altering the monstrosity of the creatures and highlighting their vulnerability.
Soumyajit is currently whetting his tiger tracking skills especially in the Indian Sunderban, exploring the enigmatic mangroves in a whole new light and bringing the wildlife lovers one step closer to the exotic species of Indian Sunderban not only this but also he shares his knowledge with the clients to ensure that they understand better and the awareness is propagated properly. Having said this, it is needless to mention that not only the tigers of Sunderban, Soumyajit’s erudition about other species of the land of Sundari trees is no doubt remarkable for he has acquired such extensive understanding by spending substantial amount of time in the mysterious mangroves, thus playing a key role in rebuilding the forests and providing protection to its inhabitants.
“Love looks not with the eyes, But with the mind; And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
His love for tigers is unfathomable. The books of Sir Jim Corbett and of course the wanderlust always made him yearn to be at one with nature, the very thought of observing and photographing the majestic Bengal tigers “filled up his senses like a storm in the desert”, the burning eyes of the majestic beast have lured him to leave his job as an IT professional and made him delve deep into the tangled heart of the forests and breath in the redolence of the jungles. Managing partner, Tamanud Mitra developed a strong understanding of nature and its components, first from the books of Sir Jim Corbett and then by absorbing the jungle lore in the Indian jungles over a considerable period of time, his perseverance and strong determination to walk on the path of his long cherished dream have led him into being an excellent, self-taught tiger tracker and a good enough photographer.