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
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"
- Tickell's thrush
- Wedge tailed green pigeon
- Black lored tit
- Grey headed canary flycatcher
- Striated laughing thrush
- Chestnut bellied nuthatch
- Ashy bulbul
- Rusty cheeked scimitar babbler
- Asian Paradise flycatcher male and female
- Red billed blue magpie
- long tailed minivet male and female
- Scarlet minivet
- long tailed broadbill
- Slaty headed parakeet
- Yellow wagtail
- Emerald dove
- Spotted dove
- Jungle mynah
- White browed fantail
- Oriental white eye
- Grey winged blackbird
- Buff barred warbler or western crown warbler
- Red billed leiothrix
- Rufous chinned laughing thrush
- Red breasted flycatcher
- Black drongo
- Black bulbul
- Small niltava
- Verditer flycatcher
- Orange headed thrush
- White throated laughing thrush
- Blue winged siva
- Rufous breasted bush robin?
- Chestnut tailed starling
- Oriental magpie robin
- Streaked laughing thrush
- 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.
The Travel Connection: Expect the unexpected!