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Bird Watching

Himalayan Birding Tour
 

Visit :: Saatal, Pangot (Nainital), Ranikhet & Corbett National Park

Best time to visit -
10 nights & 11 days (October to April)           Itinerary


Tour Synopsis:

The mountains around Nainital rise to over 2,80 metres. On a clear day, the view from the pine-clad ridges above the town is nothing short of spectacular and, gazing across the snow-capped giants towards the borders with China and Tibet, we may be able to see Nanda Devi, at 8,500 metres, India's highest peak.

The bird life is no less magnificent, with Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, Great Hill Barbet, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Black-throated Jay, Streaked Laughing-thrush, Altai Accentor, Red-headed Tit, and Golden Bush-Robin among an impressive list of upland species.

From Pangot via Nainital, we'll move slowly into the Himalayas to Ranikhet, birding as we go amid some splendidly scenic countryside. Our next destination is Saatal, that is seldom frequented by birders in large numbers. This place has interesting trails where one can see large feeding flocks of various Himalayan bird species. A drive to Corbett is rewarding as we stop enroute for birding, looking for wall creepers, forktails, etc.

Corbett, India's oldest national park, was established in 1935 and extends across 200 square miles. The setting is superb and the sheer variety of bird life astounding, with 580 species known in the park - from Changeable Hawk-eagle, Red Jungle Fowl, Emerald Dove, Brown Fish Owl, and Black-headed Oriole to Plumbeous and White-capped Redstarts, Himalayan Rubythroat, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, and Himalayan Bulbul.

Corbett also supports a great assortment of large animals including Sloth Bear, Marsh Mugger Crocodile, Indian Elephant, leopard and the Royal Bengal Tiger. For those with a passion for wildlife, the hysterical wailing of jackals, trumpeting of elephants, and an occasional roar of a tiger are among the marvels of Corbett. By mid-morning the bushes burst into life with crowds of small birds, from wood-shrikes and warblers to exuberant minivets and the exotic Marshall's Iora.

There will be much to see, and a walk past a regular wintering site for the elusive and beautiful Ibisbill can be fairly exciting. During the stay one can make excursions to places more sublime than Corbett itself - that most ethereal of India's monuments, the majestic Taj Mahal and the colorful, historical cities of Rajasthan. Join us for an adventure by bus, train, safari jeeps, on foot, and by bicycles through the bird-filled jungles of northern India!

Itinerary

Day 01 Delhi-Saatal
Drive in the morning to Saatal (7 hours). Afternoon birding with a guide near the lodge. This habitats offers different species like White-crested Laughing Thrushes, black winged kite, Red-billed Leothrix, Himalayan Ruby throat, crested and rock bunting. This scattered and deliberately undeveloped area is one of the most pleasant destinations. Overnight stay.

Day 02 Saatal
Full day birding in and around Saatal. Look for laughing thrushes, accentors, woodpeckers etc. Overnight stay.

Day 03 Saatal- Pangot (Nainital)
You will be transferred to Pangot (2 hr.), a journey that takes you on one of the world's more spectacular mountain roads as we climb up into the Kumaon Hills on our way to this delightful "lake city." One can stop along the way to look for birds which may include blue whistling thrush, yellow billed blue magpie, blue capped rock chat, white capped redstart etc. Rest of the day free for birding at Pangot. One can see Slaty headed parakeet, grey bushchat, long-tailed shrike, lesser kestrel, shikra, chestnut bellied rock thrush etc. Streaked Laughing-Thrush is a common garden bird here.

Day 04 Pangot
A long trail leads up to Cheena Peak, which at 2610 metres offers views of the Garhwal Himalayas including Nanda Devi. Also a very good birding area is the quiet old road through forests towards Corbett National Park. The viewpoint is alive with Grey headed Canary flycatchers, White-throated Laughing thrushes, Grey-winged Blackbirds and green backed tits. We can also look for Hill Barbet, Slaty grey Woodpecker, black chinned babbler, black headed and maroon orioles. Nearby mountains could include Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Lammergeier and Chukar, Khalij Pheasant, crimson Sunbird and the Fire-capped Tit.

Day 05 Pangot- Ranikhet
Early start for a 3.5-hour drive to Ranikhet through the Himalayan roads. Rest of the day birding in the surroundings. One can see fire-tailed or green tailed sunbirds, sultan tits, scaly breasted wren-babbler, Black bulbul, Black capped Sibia, Black Eagle, King Vulture, Black breasted sunbird, Blue throated Barbet etc.

Day 06 Ranikhet
Full day birding in Ranikhet and surrounding areas. You could come across Blue whistling thrush, Booted Hawk Eagle, Broad billed roller, green, gold or rose finch, Brown crested tit etc.

Day 07 Ranikhet-Corbett National Park
Corbett Tiger reserve has a spectacular avifauna diversity. About 580 species of resident and migratory birds have been recorded in and around the reserve and 49 species of diurnal raptors are found here forming a characteristic element of the avifauna. Great pied hornbill, Pallas's fishing eagle, lesser grey headed fishing eagle, red-thighed falconet are some of the endangered birds found in Corbett. More birds include Tawny Fish Owl, Great Hornbill, scaly bellied woodpecker, red breasted Parakeet, Himalayan Swiftlet, grey headed Fish Eagle, Stork-billed Kingfisher and Himalayan Rubythroat. Tiger Camp makes an ideal base for birding.

Day 08 Dhikala Forest Lodge (Corbett National Park) 
Drive early morning to Dhikala tourism zone. Arrive at the main tourist complex, Dhikala check in. Afternoon visit to the grasslands for birding. Overnight stay at Dhikala Forest Lodge. Birding in the lower jungle track along the Ramganga river is very rewarding for water birds such as river lapwings, waders, mergansers and other waterfowl. While relaxing at the lodge or visiting the grasslands one can see large-tailed nightjar, jungle owlet, spot-bellied owlet, grass owl, common and white-tailed stonechat, black francolin, purple and crimson sunbird, golden-fronted leafbird, black-shouldered kite, hen harrier, changeable hawk-eagle etc.

Day 09 Corbett National Park
Morning elephant safari through the grasslands and dense forests. This is the best mode of transport for wildlife viewing. Return at 0900 hours for breakfast and then spend time till lunch on a watchtower overlooking a water hole. Drive to Tiger Camp. Arrive Tiger Camp for dinner. Overnight stay.Some of the best birding areas of Dhikala are Sambhar Road and Khinanauli. One can expect to see great slaty woodpecker, great hornbill, puff-throated babbler, white-rumped shama, pallas's fish eagle etc.

Day 10 Corbett National Park
Full day at Corbett with a morning or evening elephant / jeep ride into the park. You may search the boulder-strewn river for the rare and elusive Ibisbill as well as brown dipper. The best birding areas are in the buffer zone along the Kosi River near Tiger Camp. You can also bird-watch across the river from the resort which can be crossed by a bridge a short distance upriver from the hotel or by wading across the Kosi. It can be fairly rewarding as one can see mergansers, crested kingfisher, green heron, egrets and cormorants etc.

Day 11 Corbett National Park-Delhi
You will explore the river edge at Kumeria for Brown Fish Owl, barred owlet, Plumbeous Redstart, brown dipper and the three species of forktails. Many new species are possible in the forest and could include Crested Tree Swift, Spangled Drongo and Blue-bearded Bee-eater. Drive back to Delhi at noon. Arrive Delhi in the evening (6 hour drive).


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