In April second week of 2017, we had a combined tour to Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary in Sikkim and Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal. Though we had only four seats for the tour, but in the last moment one more participant showed his interest to join Pangolakha part only. From the participants two were from Puna in Maharastra, one was from Kerala, One from Chennai and last participant from Kolkata.
Route Taken: New Jalpaiguri, Kalijhora, Latpanchar, Kalijhora, New Jalpaiguri, Sevok, Rongpo, Rongli, Zuluk, Kupup, Rongli, Rongpo, New Jalpaiguri
P.S. All the Hotel and/or Resorts where we stayed were of rural homestay category
Driving Distance: 560 Kilometers.
Top five birds from this tour:
Daily travel log:
8th April 2017:
The birding tour started on 8th of April '17 , first three days we would cover Pangolakha in East Sikkim and last three days for Mahananda. On 8th of April we started picking up participants from different locations in and around Siliguri-Jalpaiguri and Bagdogra area. After picking up we started driving to Rongpo, prior to that we did little birding with binoculars only; since most of those birds were common for participants from mainland India. The birds that we listed on the way till Rongpo were Indian Roller, Spotted Dove, Hill Myna, Great Cormorant, Indian Cormorant, Barn Swallow, Striated Swallow, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo etc.As we crossed Rongpo, now we entered Sikkim; (please note that, Rongpo is the state border between West Bengal and Sikkim and foreigners seeking to visit Sikkim must obtain restricted area permit and Inner line permits respectively). Since all the participants were from India only thus documentation were not required from Rongpo. However, for the people those who are not dwellers of Sikkim must obtain Inner Line Permits to visit this part of Sikkim(this is applicable to citizens of India).
As we reached Rongli, we made our Inner Line Permits from Sub Divisional Police Officer of Rongli and had light lunch with chicken momos. After crossing Rongli, we resumed our birding again, this time we listed Grey-throated Babbler, Greater and Lesser Yellownapes, Black-chinned Yuhina etc. Little later in a nearby village we saw a mixed flock consisting of Spangled Drongo, Black Bulbul, Himalayan Bulbul, Great Barbet etc on fruiting trees. As we ascended high up, the vegetation changed, so as the avian fauna. Above Padamchen we saw Hume's Bush Warbler and Whistler's Warbler. Soon the light became very dim and just after reaching Zuluk we saw a Bhutan Giant Flying Squirrel.
9th April 2017:
Next day we started at 5:30 AM in the morning and decided to cover Thambi, Laxman Chowk, Nathang Valley and adjacent area. Just before breakfast we saw two magnificent Monals in flight. Some participants could capture them flying, some couldn't but the brilliance of color what we experience was beyond description. Another major sighting was Siberian Weasel. As I was checking beside the road, for smaller birds, all on a sudden some movement beneath the bush thicket drawn my attention. The rusty colored weasel was foraging for food (was on hunt) and posed from time to time for the photographers. Later the sighting of Himalayan Brown Goral and a pair of Himalayan Monal female is worth mentioning before lunch. As the sun moved up, the scorching heat invited raptors - Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Kestrel and Hen Harrier were three different types we could enlist for the day as raptor sighting is concerned. At Nathang Valley a pair of Red-billed Chough and beyond that point at Bedang Tso Ruddy Shelducks, Eurasian Weagions were grazing on high altitude pasture. In the afternoon, Golden-breasted Fulvetta and Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler kept us busy just below Zuluk. This is how we wrapped up our birding for the day.
10th April 2017:
10th morning was the day for other smaller birds like Fire-tailed Myzornis, Golden Bush Robin, White-browed Bush Robin etc. In higher altitude above Lungthu, the landscape was partly frozen and in those area Plain Mountain Finch, Fire-tailed Sunbird and Rufous-vented Yuhina were flocked together. Above the flowering trees of Rhododendron and Chimal - Rufous-vented Tits and Black-faced Laughingthrushes were foraging. By noon we had covered all the major species from the higher ridges of the forest, thus in the afternoon session we decided to explore downhill. In and around Padamchen area on the way from Zuluk we saw - Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes, Red-billed Leiothrix, Rufous-capped Babblers, Golden Babblers, Niltavas etc. The catch of the day was in the afternoon session - Golden Babbler. This hard to photograph species gave ample opportunity, while it was feeding on gooseberries. Black-eared Shrike-babbler and Niltavas were also show stopper at the end of the afternoon birding session.
11th April 2017:
As all the participants decided to photograph Himalayan Monal only since it was the last day in Pangolakha; I totally concentrated on sightings of Monal. In three hours of time we saw five individual male and two females. Participants got Monal in different shades and angles and actions. Once done we decided to pack up from Pangolakha and headed to Mahananda. Around 10 AM we checked out of Zuluk and directly headed to Mahananda. On our way we did little birding as well near a village - the sightings of Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, White-browed Scimitar Babbler and Rufous-winged Laughingthrush was very very special for the participants. On our way towards our home stay we saw couple of Long-tailed Broadbill as well. However, light was dimming out rapidly and we decided to pack the day for birding and would concentrate on Broadbill for next birding days.
12th April 2017:
Today our main aim was to photograph the gem of the species from Mahananada - Rufous-necked Hornbill. The first thing in the morning we saw in 5:30 AM was Rufous-necked Hornbill; that too both male and female. Later as the day progressed we saw Hornbill again at a closer distance. Moreover the sighting of Long-tailed Broadbill in the afternoon birding session was not satisfactory, this morning session we saw Broadbill too nicely. Orange-headed Thrush, Scaly Thrush, Yellow-bellied Warbler and Yellow-vented Warbler; when we returned back to our home stay we saw and Elephant too on the other side of the hill. In the afternoon light dimmed out and we visited Mahananda latkothi area and saw flocks of Himalayan Cutia and Mountain Imperial Pigeon.
At night I had a plan for night birding for Grey Nightjar and Mountain Scops Owl; We heard both of the night birds but saw only Mountain Scops Owl but not the Nightjar.
13th April 2017:
Today we had a plan to visit Senchal and Chatakpur area for birding. This is a newly explored area for birding and we would add as a permanent birding destination too. Just before reaching Senchal, we saw various Bush Warblers, Scaly Laughingthrushes, Broad-billed Leaf Warbler. The most remarkable sighting was no doubt Red-throated Thrush; this Thrush species has very thin sighting records from the oriental region, though some ornithologists consider this species con-specific with Black-throated Thrush and some consider it as a different species altogether.
Our main target to visit this part of Darjeeling district was photograph Red Crossbill, at a higher ridge above the village we saw an entire flock consisting of both male and female. The entire team photographed and saw the birds from a closer distance and we returned back with happy mind, the day was no doubt was a nice success as far as birding is considered.
14th April 2017:
Early morning again we saw Rufous-necked Hornbill; another major highlight species from this place was Sultan Tit. Around 6:30 AM in we saw a flock of Sultan Tits with Black Bulbul, interestingly there was a Maroon Oriole too. Later that day too we saw a flock of Himalayan Cutia along with White-throated Bulbul, Silver-eared Mesia, Mountain Bulbul. The day was special as well as we experienced one of the rare sighting from the avian world - the mating of Rufous-Necked Hornbill. It was the last day of our tour and participants had to depart. Post Lunch after the elephant sighting in Mahananda, all the participants were dropped at their designated destinations.
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|For Mahananda WLS part of this birding tour||For Pangolakha WLS part of this birding tour|
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.