This visit was planned and booked almost a year ago. I was joined by Dr.Eash, Dr.Nagraj, Ranga my office colleague and his friend Hardik Vashi from Mumbai. We joined Ranga and Vashi in New Delhi from where we boarded Raniket Express to Kathgodam. Unfortunately we had to miss the first mornings birding as our train reached a good 4 hours late. We were greeted by the famous guide Harilama at the Birders Den in Sattal. After breakfast we drove to Sattal studio in search of the beautiful Long Tailed Broadbill a species which all of us were after. Immediately we were welcomed by the Long Tailed Broadbill and did manage to get a few pictures. We spent to days in Sattal and managed to get some good pics of the Crested Kingfisher, Slaty Headed Parakeet, Spotted Forktail etc.
Harilama has set up a hide for the photographers at Birders Den. We managed to photograph the Great Barbet, Red Billed Blue Magpie, Khaleej Pheasant, Black Francolin etc.
The accommodation and the food at Birders Den is excellent. We departed to Chopta after spending a couple of days at Sattal. Even though the distance between Sattal and Chopta is about 260 kms it took us about a good 12 hours to reach Hotel Snow View situated at Pothibasa near Chopta. The accommodation is pretty decent and the food that’s available at the hotel is also good. The purpose of visiting Chopta was to get the Himalayan Monal, the much sought out bird for any photographer.
There is no electricity in these regions of Uttarakhand, however the hotel had the generator facility. Usually the generator is run for about 3 hours at night and we did manage to get the batteries charged during this period. The next day we were fortunate to get the Himalayan Monal – Male which is very vibrant in colours. We also got to photograph the Himalayan Griffon Vulture, the Green Tailed Sunbird, the Scarlet Finch (both Male and Female) a rare one though.
Harilama had booked one day at Thunganath mainly for the Himalayan Monal and the Finches. Thunganath incidentally is about 12000 feet above the sea level and is the highest temple situated in India. Lama had booked a room for us adjacent to the main temple. The climate is fantastic, no pollution but unbearable in terms of cold. We manged to get a few shots of the snow peaked Himalayan mountains. Apart from this we were able to get glimpses of Pink Browed Finch, Rufous Vented Tit, The Himalayan Monal (Female) to name a few. It was an experience walking down from Tunganath which took a good 3 hours for a stretch of 4 kms.
Back in Chopta we managed to get a few more species like the Yellow Billed Blue Magpie, Collared Owlet, Straited Yuhina, Eurasian Jay etc. After 4 nights at Pothibasa we departed back to Sattal via Raniketh. We spent one more night at Sattal and managed to get the Greater Yellow Nape, the Russett Sparrow etc.
We finally departed from Sattal to board a train from Kathgodam to New Delhi on our way back to Bangalore.
It was indeed a memorable trip and had some great time with Dr Eash, Dr Nagaraj and my colleague Ranganathan M S and his friend Vashi.