During this seven days trip, we got many magnificent birds like Blood Pheasant, Saheen Falcon, Brown Parrotbill and more. This tour is best set for both bird watchers as well as for bird photographers.
Route Taken: Siliguri, Rangpo, Singtam, Ranipool, Gangtok, Pangthang, Mangan, Chungthan, Lachen,
Thangu, Lachung, Katao.
P.S. All the stay arrangements were done in hotels
Driving: Around 670 kms.
Hiking: 56 kms.
Top five birds from this tour:
12 th March 2019:
In this tour three participants joined us. They were picked up from Rangpo Tourist lodge at around 10:30 AM. On the way till Gangtok, we didn’t stop for birding as heavy traffic movement was there. We checked in at Hotel Zong at Bojoghari. After having lunch we moved out for afternoon birding session. In the Pangthang area, the first bird we saw is a Striated Bulbul, which was seen feeding on some fruiting (local name Poiyu) tree. Little later we stopped for Bay Woodpecker, which was extremely shy in nature and hardly appeared in open, though we tried desperately to get good photos of the bird for more than half an hour. Otherwise, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Striated Laughingthrush, Striated Bulbul, Lesser Yellownape, Grey-headed Woodpecker etc were sighted. On our way back a flock of Black-throated Tit and a Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler foraging beneath a thickly vegetated area was sighted; though call of the bird was nicely recorded. Later, we stopped for a while at Tashi View point and had nicely prepared steamed momos. After we came back to our hotel at Bojoghari, we had a short birding discussion and had early dinner at 8:30 PM.
13 th March 2019:
Today we were supposed to start at 6 AM from our Gantok hotel, but due to some unforeseen circumstances we started at 6:40 AM. We directly drove to Ganesh Tok. From near the temple area, a pair of Spotted Wren Babbler aka Elachura was sighted. Just Prabhanjan could click the bird. Little later, flock of Blue-winged and Chestnut-crowned Laughers were sighted. Red-billed Leiothrix and Rufous- capped Babbler was very commonly seen near the garbage dump against a hill slope. From the nearby thicket a pair of Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler was calling continuously; however, we could not manage to get them. Little later, a flock of Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler was seen and this time all the participants managed to get good photograph of the bird. In addition, a Golden-throated Barbet was sighted from this session as well. Two species of Yuhinas were also here – Whiskered and Stripe-throated. After having breakfast at Tashi view point, we drove via Tingda-Phensang area. Here, three Spot-winged Grosbeak was sighted; two male and a female was foraging on for a long time. From a nearby area, a Maroon Oriole was heard as well. Few turns up a Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler kept us busy for long time. Whistler’s Warbler and Yellow-bellied Fantail was sighted there as well. In the first check post, at Kabi we stopped for a while at first check post. Due to checking and heavy tourist movement, we spent nearly half an hour. Just before we entered Chungthang, a big flock of Rusty-fronted Barwing gave us nice sight. We checked river side area at Chungthang, but found nothing much to mention other than three species of Redstarts – Plumbeous, White-capped and Blue-fronted. Just before sundown, a big flock of Black-faced Laughingthrush delighted us as well. We checked in at Lachen in evening at 6:30 PM. The hotel, where we would be staying for next three days was – Floret.
14 th March 2019:
In the early morning, we planned for going for the whole day at Gurdongmar; due to sudden snowfall, road beyond Thangu was closed. We experienced the situation later. Early morning sighting stated with a flock of Snow pigeon just next to our hotel. Little later we moved little down and near the forest check post, we found a Black-throated Thrush with few Red-billed Blue Magpie, White-collared Blackbird and couple of Dark-breasted Rosefinch. We decided to go uphill for other birds. Just few minutes away, we saw a huge flock of Grandala flying around the huge glacial Lachen valley. Other tourists were not going up and due to low frequency of traffic; birds were sighted more on the morning session. A handsome looking Serow (a rarely photographed mammal from Himalayas) was sighted inside snow cover Rhododendron bush. Little later a flock of Blood Pheasant was seen foraging in a very nearby area. We sighted five different Blood Pheasant flock that day, each consisting of five to ten members in each. Other birds worth mentioning – Rufous-fronted Tit, Grey-creasted Tit, Rufous-vented Tit, Coal Tit etc. Huge flocks of Red-billed Chough were sighted as well in higher altitude. We drove as far as we could go, but huge deposition of snow restricted hiking as well. After coming back from Yathang, we stopped at a Tea bar and had breakfast. On our way back we repeated almost all the morning species sighted and by 1 PM we were back to our hotel. In the afternoon session we decided to go downhill; however, no significant sightings were there, except some Nepal House Martin were flying around against huge rock cliffs. Again we drove back to Lachen and sighted Kalij Pheasant, White- browed Fulvetta, Alpine Accentor etc in a peaceful sight. The Kalij Pheasant sighted here consisted of two males and a female. It is really tough to see and photograph ‘melanota’ subspecies of Kalij, because of their skittish behavior. After this session we returned back to hotel and rested for the day.
15 th March 2019:
Today also according to the itinerary we had a full day drive to Gurdongmar. However, due to road blockage and weather turning bad, we decided to go to Lachung and spending two nights there, instead of spending just one night. In the morning session just inside Lachen village – Speckled Wood Pigeon, was sighted along with Plain Mountain Finch and Hoary-throated Barwing. Spotted Nutcracker, Small Niltava, Rufous-fronted Tit etc etc were found at the edge of the village. Participants spent considerable amount of time behind a Winter Wren, with Garrulax and Turdus thursh. In lower altitude areas, there were Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, following the call we found a White-browed Piculet as well. By 11 PM we checked in to Lachung Hotel Floret. Post lunch afternoon session, we decided to spend time at the further eastern uphill of Lachung. Red-headed Bullfinch, Hodson’s Treecreeper and a Green Shrike-babbler are important birds sighted from this session.
16 th March 2019:
A full day at Lachung – at Singba Rhododendron Sanctuary. We hardly sighted any birds on our way up. Near the park entrance gate, too many tourists were there. As we drove further ahead, birds were sighted more and more. Turdus group - Red-throated Thrush along with Black-throated Thrush and White-collared Blackbirds were sighted in huge numbers. A Rosy Pipit was foraging on almost in the same place. A Himalayan Buzzard was found sweeping over our head just near the park entrance. After having breakfast, we drove down hill and on our way back, a Shaheen Falcon (rufous morph of resident Peregrine species) was sighted. This is a very rare sighting in my opinion. As resident Peregrine (Shaheen) are hardly seen in entire north-east India. This bird was seen devouring on a Gadwall. After photographing the Falcon we left out and had lunch. Post lunch we again drove back to the same place. Trace elements – feathers, gizzards etc was found on the sight. Little ahead an Altai Accentor was seen. At 3 PM, we drove back and again drove uphill next to our hotel. A flock of Maroon-backed Accentor, Long-billed Thrush, Sikkim Treecreeper etc were sighting near a cushionoid stream area. It is worth mentioning that, we sighted both White-throated Redstart (from morning session at higher altitude) and Hodgson’s Redstart (at lower altitude near Lachung Chu).
17 th March 2019:
Today we had to drove back to Gangtok. On our way back there were some potential bamboo thickets, which I decided to check. Brown Parrotbills, Rufous-capped Babblers, two species of Yuhina – Whiskered and Stripe-throated, Long-tailed Minivet etc were sighted. At the chungthang check post, there was a sighting for Black-throated Prinia (from 13 th afternoon by our team). Though we checked the place, but we couldn’t find the bird again. After breakfast we drove downhill and couldn’t find any good birds till Tung. A flock of Golden Babbler, Grey-throated Babbler, Snowy-browed Flycatcher etc were sighted just before lunch hours. Before reaching Mangan we took our lunch and again started going further downhill. After crossing Dikchu, before we reached Pangthang – a Chestnut-headed Tesia rocked for nearly 30 minutes. A Pale Blue Flycacther was sighted at the same place; both the birds were sighted near a cattle shade.
18 th March 2019:
Today being the last day of the tour, we decided to spend time at a higher elevation above Gangtok-Nathula road. A rapid fire Laughingthrush-round yielded five different species of Laughingthrush within just 5 minutes. Grey-sided, Blue-winged, Scaly, Black-faced and Chestnut-crowned were the birds there foraging at the edge of Fambong Lho WLS. One more bird which we expected but missed is Spotted Laughingthrush. Bar-throated Siva, Fire-tailed Sunbird and Rufous-capped Babblers were plentiful around. After driving down through Gangtok, we stopped for breakfast at Paglakhola and drove via Singtam-Pendam road to do afternoon birding at Pendam. By the time we reached Pendam, we were little late. White-creasted Laughingthrush obliged participant so as Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush. As the participants took lunch at my place, we drove uphill in search of Spotted Elachura and Tesia if any. Two days back Elachura was sighted but, we couldn’t find the bird here (we sighted this bird on day 2 i.e. on 13 th March at Ganesh Tok area). A Grey-bellied Tesia kept us busy almost at the same location, but didn’t appear in open. Light was going down fast in the afternoon and rain was about to start. We had a long way to drive back Siliguri. We started at 4 PM in the afternoon at Pendam and reached Siliguri at 7:30 PM. All the participants were dropped at Marina’s Motel at Bihar More, they had flight to catch on the next day to their hometown.
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.