Middle to higher altitude of Sikkim Himalayas host magnificent avian fauna and it is always a pleasure to capture these beautiful species in beautiful frames. This time, famous bird photographer Rathika Ramaswamy joined us for this bird photography tour and the trip was quite successful. We are the leading bird watching tour operator in Sikkim for a reason and this time also we got some rare species such as - Himalayan Wood Owl, Lesser Shortwing, Eurasian Hobby etc.
Route Taken: Siliguri, Rangpo, Rongli, Lingtham, Nimachen, Phadamchen, Dzuluk, Thambi, Ganek, Laxman Chowk, Gnathang, Baba Mandir, Kupup
P.S. We stayed in Home Stays during the entire duration of the tour.
Driving: Around 480 kms.
Hiking: 32 KMs.
Top ten birds from this tour:
Daily travel log:
27th April 2019:
We started at 7 AM from Siliguri; however due to some unavoidable reason, guests were picked up a little late somewhere around 7:45 AM from Lemon Tree Hotel in Siliguri. On our way, we didn’t stop till Kirney (Kalimpong) for a tea break. Later we drove directly till Rongli. Before entering Rongli town area, we stopped for a while and found – Sultan Tit. A Himalayan Bulbul was seen on the top of a tree. Distant chirping of Long-tailed Broadbill was heard; though we couldn’t trace it later. Spangled Drongos were seen all around. After reaching Rongli, Inner Line Permit was prepared after that we had light lunch. Later on, behind the resort, we did little birding and tried for Necklaced Laughingthrushes (both Lesser and Greater). However, only Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush was sighted. From Rongli, we started driving uphill, as we were driving on... suddenly an Asian Barred Owlet was spotted by Mr. Dinnesh. Participants got nice shot of the Owl. Further uphill drive ensured some promising location for forktails and we got all three forktails – Little, Spotted and Slaty-backed. Just before sighting the forktails, we saw a Small Niltava as well; flying in and out from a nearby bush. A Streaked Spiderhunter kept us busy for nearly 15 minutes, which never descended down to eye-level perch. Short-billed and Long-tailed Minivets were sighted in very low light. Apart from the above mentioned birds – White-capped and Plumbeous Redstarts were sighted in streams. Blue-throated Barbet and Blue Whistling Thrush was commonly sighted. Later in the afternoon we reached at the homestay at Nimachen (where we stayed for next four days). Grey-hooded Warbler, Russet Sparrow, Crimson Sunbird etc were sighted from the balcony of the Home stay. There was a little bit of interruption in the power supply, however generator saved us. We took early dinner at 8 PM.
28th April 2019:
Our primary target was to see Himalayan Monal in this wonderful landscape. Near the home stay, a flock of White-throated Laughinghtrush arrived in the morning. We started at 6 AM. On our way up, Himalayan Buzzard was seen in foggy weather. Satyr Tragopan was heard from a nearby hill slope, soon weather degraded and we drove further up. As the traffic increased, monal sighting was interrupted; thus leaving behind most of the lower altitude species we drove directly to Monal point. After little bit of trying, two male Monals were sighted. One male later paired with a female. Along with the wonderful sighting of majestic Himalayan Monal, Fire-tailed Sunbird male (in breeding plumage) was sighted. Nice video of Himalayan Monal was captured by Rathika madam and Mr Anantha. In foggy weather Fire-tailed Myzornis was sighted as well; but before photographing them, the weather became very misty; only birdwatcher Mr Dinesh could see them. We drove towards AP Salami-Gnathang valley. Red-billed Chough, Altai Accentor, Robin Accentor, Blyth’s Pipit, White-collared Blackbird etc were sighted. At the last point near elephant lake Ruddy Shelducks, Brown-headed Gulls were seen in their breeding ground. We took lunch at Laxman Chowk tea house. On our way back Golden Bush Robin was sighted. In the afternoon Black-faced Laughingthrush was sighted on Rhododendron tree. In the nearby bush thickets and bamboo forest area we could see and photograph White-browed Fulvettas. We returned back little early at 4 PM. Miscelleneous sighting of the day includes :- Golden-naped Finch (in the morning session), Eurasian Tree sparrow (of ‘tibetanus’ subspecies) etc.
29th April 2019:
We mostly targeted the species that reside in the middle altitude of Himalayas, not to cover high altitude species. Commoners like- Green-backed Tit, Black-throated Tit, Buff-barred Warbler, Whistler’s Warbler etc were found. Black-eared Shrike- babbler, Golden Babbler and Rufous-capped Babbler showed up nicely. Grey-winged Blackbird was seen in Phadamchen. In the bamboo-pine forest area Black-throated Parrotbill, Green-tailed Sunbird, Bar-throated Siva were seen and photographed nicely. A little towards higher altitude, Rufous-vented Yuhina, White-browed Bush Robin were sighted. However, Rufous-bellied Niltava could not be photographed due to its skittish behavior. It never appeared in open. As the time passed by the day became a little warm; raptors were sighted soaring in up in the sky. Four Himalayan Griffons, One Steppe Eagle were sighted. The afternoon session went fantastic, when we saw an Eurasian Hobby; perched high on the top of a tree. This bird is not commonly sighted in this part of the region. Later it started raining a lot and we returned back to home stay to have lunch. After lunch we thought of doing another birding session. Just adjacent to our home stay, a beautiful Scarlet Finch was sighted. From the balcony, participants photographed Black-throated Sunbird.
30th April 2019:
In the morning, we drove uphill in search of Satyr Tragopan, but we couldn’t get response of it. A Lesser Shortwing was heard in the early morning nearby a newly built resort. I tried for the bird in rain and it responded well; later on one by one all the participants got nice frame of this elusive bird species. Through out the day, mostly common birds were sighted. Golden-breasted Fulvetta is also worth mentioning. In the bamboo forest area, this time we got this fulvetta and it gave us ample scope to click great pictures. On day 2 we missed this bird due to wrong coordination. Later we drove down and saw Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Hoary-throated Barwing so nicely. In some well wooded area, as we stopped for Himalayan Wood Owl and tried for the species; the bird showed up eventually and we got some amazing shots of the bird. The night was on its way and the light of the day was diminishing quite fast, so we decided to look for this species on the next day. On our way down, Golden-naped Finch female and Male were seen along with Stripe-throated Yuhina, Bar-throated Siva etc. Near Phadamchen, Grey-winged Blackbird and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler was sighted. After having tea at Phadamchen, we drove to home stay at 3 PM and had our lunch. Due to heavy downpour we wrapped up birding for the day.
1st May 2019:
On the last day of the tour we went uphill in the morning for rare and elusive Himalayan Wood Owl. We were successful, previous day Mr. Anantha missed the bird; this time he got lovely shots of the bird. By 8 AM, we came back to home stay and took breakfast. By 9:15 AM we checked out and drove downhill. Ferruginous Flycatcher, Little pied Flycatcher, Sikkim Treecreeper, Black-throated Prinia etc were sighted. As we drove downhill, the day became hotter and humid. We stopped birding on our way, due to heavy movement of the vehicles. Again we resumed, after crossing Rongli. Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrush and White-crested Laughingthrushes were nicely seen. After reaching Rangpo, we wrapped up and had lunch at 2 PM. From there we directly drove to Siliguri and dropped the bird photographers at hotel Sarovar Portico (one of the best hotels in Siliguri) at 5 PM. Tour ended with some amazing bird sightings(see birdlist).
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.