Friday, 22 July 2016

The Rhythm of Sattal

Until recently Sattal was just another town in Uttarakhand. The influx of tourists especially the birders, is turning the place into one more popular hill station on the Himalayas. No, it's not pristine and peaceful and middle of no where. But one can enjoy a kayak ride surrounded by lush green hills without many buildings or hawkers in sight. That is saying a lot considering the pollution of all sorts that surround almost all lakes in India.

At 1370 m relatively lower compared to Pangot, Sattal is small in size but big in its avian attraction.  The ecology of  this district makes it an oasis for the 500 odd species of birds migratory or otherwise. The many birding outings I have been on generally involved driving, hiking or boating. Now imagine ring side seats for Cirque du Soleil of the avian world. Set amidst oak and pine trees on the surrounding rolling hills and the stage designed along a little stream with twigs, offshoot branches, is like none other. Without any previous knowledge of " the studio" or its performers, we placed ourselves among the many birders around the stage. We wondered if the artists would arrive considering we the birders, the "outsiders" , had the place surrounded and littered. The conscience in us started playing up. But greedy as we humans are, we continued our wait by being as less conspicuous as possible. The sun had not broken out yet but we saw the start of  flurry of activity. It started back stage in amidst the many bushes along the stream. Small flocks of little birds  all excited perked us up and we patiently waited for more. And then began the flutter, the dance , an explosion of colors, shapes sizes. A splash here , a swoosh there! Did we feel guilty of trespassing the private time of the birds. Wish i could say "yes". The bathing and feeding activity of birds of different kinds, some at the same time, enough for us not to know where to look , not know what to observe, not know what to capture was the best sight and feeling ever!

Bath time - Chestnut Tailed Starling

Verditer flycatcher- An explosion of blue against the amber of dawn

Ashy Bulbul- " I am hungry! What is that on that branch above?"

Tralalala  The water is nice -Orange headed thrush

Same perch but two different birds- Oriental White eye abd Asian paradise Flycatcher Male

Verditer Flycatcher and Oriental White eye- " Its my time, no its  mine"

Red Billed Leoithrix - "Can we get any more cuter Asterix and Obelix "

Red Billed Blue Magpie " Hey! look at my Gorgeous tail"

And here you go the quintessential "List"
  1. Tickell's thrush
  2. Wedge tailed green pigeon
  3. Black lored tit
  4. Grey headed canary flycatcher
  5. Striated laughing thrush
  6. Chestnut bellied nuthatch
  7. Ashy bulbul
  8. Rusty cheeked scimitar babbler
  9. Asian Paradise flycatcher male and female
  10. Red billed blue magpie
  11. long tailed minivet male and female
  12. Scarlet minivet
  13. long tailed broadbill
  14. Slaty headed parakeet
  15. Yellow wagtail
  16. Emerald dove
  17. Spotted dove
  18. Jungle mynah
  19. White browed fantail
  20. Oriental white eye
  21. Grey winged blackbird
  22. Buff barred warbler or western crown warbler
  23. Red billed leiothrix
  24. Rufous chinned laughing thrush
  25. Red breasted flycatcher
  26. Black drongo
  27. Black bulbul
  28. Small niltava
  29. Verditer flycatcher
  30. Orange headed thrush
  31. White throated laughing thrush
  32. Blue winged siva
  33. Rufous breasted bush robin?
  34. Chestnut tailed starling
  35. Oriental  magpie robin
  36. Streaked laughing thrush
  37. Blue throated blue flycatcher?
A " birds" eye view of Sattal

We were booked in "v resorts". Not much to say about the resort except for the view from the top. A bumpy ride away from the birding spot makes it unfavorable choice for the birders.  But Sattal did not disappoint us . It provided the birders in us what it promised. I certainly wish to come back here again.

April 2016
Sattal Uttarakand
The Travel Connection: Expect the unexpected!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Teetar teetar- Phleasant time in Pangot

  1. Grey winged blackbird male and female
  2. Khalij pheasant male and female
  3. Scaly thrush
  4. Mistle thrush
  5. Koklass pheasant male and female
  6. Himalayan woodpecker
  7. Brown fronted woodpecker
  8. Black throated tit
  9. Cheer pheasant
  10. Black headed jay
  11. Rufous bellied woodpecker
  12. Rufous sibia
  13. White throated laughing thrush
  14. Slaty headed parakeet
  15. Himalayan bulbul
  16. Great barbet
  17. Blue whistling thrush
  18. Red billed blue magpie
  19. Grey treepie
  20. Pied bush chat male and female
  21. Streaked laughing thrush
  22. Chestnut headed bee eater
  23. Common rose finch
  24. Chestnut tailed starling
  25. Grey capped pygmy woodpecker
  26. Plum headed parakeet
  27. Blue capped rock thrush
  28. Purple sunbird male and female
  29. Oriental turtle dove
  30. Spotted dove
  31. Large billed crow
  32. Red ventted bulbul
  33. Red whiskered bulbul
  34. Russet sparrow
  35. Himalyan shrike babbler
  36. Grey bushchat female

The all important "list" ! Most serious birders have a list. No, I don't have one  but after watching the movie " The big year" was tempted into making one. The tag line of the movie is " Everyone in searching for something" . And no guesses on what I am searching for this year. The search led me to Pangot in Uttarakand.
I have fond memories of Uttarakand as I have spent some time out there growing up. Going back there after many many year was like revisiting my childhood. The long drive to Pangot from New Delhi airport with stopover at Brij Ghat to bless us with infinite possibilities was without much incidents. Though a bit disappointing to see Dhabas replaced with food courts at Gajraula, we were glad for the good hygenic food and clean loos on the highway.

Maa Ganga

Imagine a little village at height of 6300 ft in Nainital district. Smell the rick oak and rhododendron forests. See the glistening lakes that dot  the mountains. Feel the excitement of being part of pristine nature. Taste the adventure of long mountain drives and even longer treks. And now hear the twittering, chirping, chirruping, cheeping, tweeting, chittering, chattering, trilling and singing of our feathered friends. and there you have pangot!

Nainital lake

Peekaboo Moon Pangot 

Considering that 250 species of birds have been recorded in this region, we got in touch with IT nature club to plan out a trip for us. They in turn recommended  Asian adventures. The trip made easy with our talkative driver and not so talkative  guide Sunil was an unforgettable one. The inconvenient long drives to spot birds on innova  is not recommended as some of us would always miss out the birds on the other side. The walks through fields and along roads gets two thumbs up Though it was breeding season, we managed to spot all the three Pheasants - Khalij, Koklass and Cheer and yes of course, the birds listed above. Considering that birders come across the world to spot these guys, we got lucky in the off season.

Over 10,000 species of birds and counting. The variety of shapes, sizes colors- can there be a better diversion from the monotony of life.  Another excuse to travel! An outdoor activity  paced to our comfort. While you are at it, why not contribute a little to citizen science by reporting the sightings. And I still get questioned " why birding?"

A fairy tale resort and fairy tale setting.That is Jungle lore birding lodge to me. Themed after birds and to be specific owls, a magical place , a perfect place for the birders. Visit Pangot and discover yourself!

 Blue capped rock Thrush

Blue whistling thrush

 Himalayan Ranges

 Grey Winged Black bird Female

White Throated Laughing Thrush

April 2016
Pangot Uttarakand
The Travel Connection: Birds , Birds and more birds!

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