Summers can make even the coolest person want to wander away from Delhi. With the school vacations on, it was absolutely difficult to handle the girls at home. And hence we decided on a 3-night trip to Binsar. We wanted the property to be something exciting and far away from the city. And thus we ended up booking our stay at Ayush Guest House in Almora for three nights. My review of the place is now up on TripAdvisor.
We had a fun road trip and reached the guest house by evening at around 6 pm after gobbling up almost half a kilogram of Kaphal (wildberries). By early next morning, the family of four was down with dehydration. Day one had been completely ruined. But the adventure seekers that we are we couldn’t stay in bed for long and got up to trek to the nearest village. The place is so beautiful that we ended up extending our stay by two more nights. And though we didn’t find anything except a laughing dove in Binsar Bird Sanctuary, we did manage to spot quite a few species within our guest house itself. Here’s a list of the beautiful birds from the mountains of Himalayas.
1. The Himalayan Bulbul
The Himalayan bulbul or white-cheeked bulbul, is a species of songbird in the bulbul family found in in and near the Himalayas. We were lucky to have had the privilege of having this Bulbul family which was mothering their newborn chicks on a bush right outside our room.
It was a delight to watch this family through the glass window of our room sitting at the window sill, my favourite spot. My #NikonP900 helped me zoom into their nest and capture some precious moments.
2. Kalij Pheasant
The Kalij Pheasant (Lophura leucomelanos) is a pheasant found in forests and thickets, especially in the Himalayan foothills, from Pakistan to western Thailand.
The first time I saw this guy climbing up from the valley beneath, dusk was falling and hence light was not in my favour. I woke up around 4 am each morning and kept waiting for him. At last, I managed some clicks though nothing to be proud of.
3. Black Francolin
The black francolin (Francolinus francolinus) is a gamebird in the pheasant family. It was formerly known as the Black Partridge.
This fellow used to call out continuously with a loud voice as he climbed up from the valley that even if I was away capturing the sunrise, I would rush down to click him.
4. The Great Himalayan Barbet
The great barbet (Psilopogon virens) is an Asian barbet. They get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills. It is a plump bird, with a short neck, large head and short tail.
I heard him since the very first day but was able to spot him only on the last day when he was perched on a tree right outside our room.
5. Oriental White-eye
The Oriental white-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus) is a small passerine bird in the white-eye family. They forage in small groups, feeding on nectar and small insects. They are easily identified by the distinctive white eye-ring and overall yellowish upperparts.
This little chick we found near the fence at the backside of our cottage. Li’l Love carefully put it underneath a dense bush to save it from the rains.
6. Verditer Flycatcher
The verditer flycatcher (Eumyias thalassinus) is an Old World flycatcher widespread in Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
He gave us a direct view as we stepped out to start our journey for Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary. Mighty happy to have got some really good shots even though it was perched on a faraway tree.
This species is named after its distinctive shade of copper-sulphate blue and has a dark patch between the eyes and above the bill base.
7. Brown-fronted Woodpecker
Also known as Yellow-crowned woodpecker.
A medium-sized, pied woodpecker with yellow in crown. White-barred (rather than spotted) black. Underparts, prominent black moustache extending to breast and black-streaked white underparts. Vent deep pink. In male forecrown brown, centre yellow, rear red with black rear neck. In female whole crown yellow.
It ranges across the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, primarily the lower-to-middle altitudes of the Himalayas. It is found in Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan.
8. Scarlet Minivet
The scarlet minivet (Pericrocotus speciosus) is a small passerine bird. This minivet is found in tropical southern Asia from India to southern China, Indonesia, and the Philippines. They are common resident breeding birds in forests and other well-wooded habitats including gardens, especially in hilly country.
9. Jungle Myna
This bird is a common resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Burma east to Indonesia. The jungle myna builds a nest in hole.
10. Streak-throated Woodpecker
A medium-sized, green woodpecker with streaked throat and scaly whitish underparts. Green above with yellowish rump, white supercilia and white and black moustache. Crown red in male, blackish in female. Tail dark and plain. Small, dark bill.
11. Blue Whistling Thrush
The blue whistling thrush (Myophonus caeruleus) is a whistling thrush present in the mountains of Central Asia, China and Southeast Asia. It is known for its loud human-like whistling song at dawn and dusk.
12. Blue-capped Rock Thrush
This thrush-like Old World flycatcher breeds in the foothills of the Himalayas and winters in the hill forests of southern India. During winter it is found throughout Pakistan, Bangladesh (passage migrant), parts of Myanmar and India, especially in the Western Ghats region.
13. Rose-ringed Parakeet
Abundantly found all across India. Yet it looks so elegant every single time.
14. Oriental Magpie-robin
The oriental magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis) is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but now considered an Old World flycatcher. They are distinctive black and white birds with a long tail that is held upright as they forage on the ground or perch conspicuously. Occurring across most of the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia, they are common birds in urban gardens as well as forests.
15. Green-backed Tit
The green-backed tit (Parus monticolus) is a species of bird in the Paridae family. It is found in Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Laos, Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Taiwan and Vietnam. Its natural habitats are boreal forests, temperate forests, and subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.
16. Red-billed Blue Magpie
The red-billed blue magpie (Urocissa erythroryncha) is a species of bird in the crow family, Corvidae. It is about the same size as the Eurasian magpie but has a much longer tail, one of the longest tails of any corvid.
17. Black-throated bushtit
The black-throated bushtit is a small passerine, around 10.5 cm long and weighing 4-9 g. It ranges from the foothills of the Himalayas, stretching across northern India through north-eastern Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, northern Myanmar, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
He said, “Can you please give me some privacy?”
18. Indian Spotted Creeper
This small bird has a marbled black and white plumage that makes it difficult to spot as it forages on the trunks of dark, deeply fissured trees where it picks out insect prey using its curved bill. It is found in patchily distributed localities mainly in the dry scrub and open deciduous forests of northern and central peninsular India. It does not migrate.
19. Grey Bushchat
It is found in the Himalayas, southern China and northern Southeast Asia.
20. Streaked Laughingthrush
It is commonly found in the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent and some adjoining areas.
21. Scaly-breasted Munia
Also known as Spotted Munia. It is a sparrow-sized estrildid finch native to tropical Asia.
22. Slaty-headed Parakeet
The slaty-headed parakeet (Psittacula himalayana) is the only psittacid species to exhibit altitudinal migration. The species’ range extends from Pakistan, to Western Himalayas in India through Nepal and Bhutan and up to the Eastern Himalayas in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. They descend to the valleys in winter, approximately during the last week of October.
23. Plum-headed Parakeet
The plum-headed parakeet (Psittacula cyanocephala) is a parakeet endemic to the Indian Subcontinent. Plum-headed parakeets are found in flocks, the males having a pinkish purple head and the females, a grey head. They fly swiftly with twists and turns accompanied by their distinctive calls.
The treepies comprise four closely related genera (Dendrocitta, Crypsirina, Temnurus and Platysmurus) of long-tailed passerine birds in the family Corvidae. There are 11 species of treepie.
Treepies are similar to magpies. Most treepies are black, white, gray or brown. They are found in Southeast Asia. They live in tropical forests. They are highly arboreal and rarely come to the ground to feed.
25. Rufous Sibia
It is found in the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent, ranging across India, Nepal and Bhutan. Its natural habitat is the temperate forests of the Lower to Middle Himalayas. The species has an unmistakable appearance with its rufous-dominated colouration and black head, and is often seen with its crest raised. It is a vigorous, melodious singer.
26. Indian Golden Oriole
The Indian golden oriole (Oriolus kundoo) is a species of oriole found in the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. Adults can be told apart from the Eurasian golden oriole by the black of the eye stripe extending behind the eye.
27. Upland Buzzard
Also known as Tawny Eagle.
The upland buzzard (Buteo hemilasius) is a species of bird of prey in the family Accipitridae. This is the largest buzzard, though it is equaled in size by the North American ferruginous hawk. Normally found in open montane grass lands and cultivation in summer, wintering to lower altitudes. Frequently hovers. Hunts from air or ground. Nest is made of sticks and well lined. Feeds on small mammals, birds and insects.
28. Scaly Bellied Woodpecker
Large, green woodpecker with distinct scaling from breast to vent. Similar to streak-throated woodpecker but larger and with unstreaked throat and upper breast. Black moustache and black bored white supercilia. Tail strongly barred. Crown red in male, blackish in female. Large pale bill.
Binsar has been declared an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International with over 200 bird species. And I’m glad that as an amateur I have been able to spot, capture and identify over 25 of them. But the thing is, none of these birds were captured at Binsar Sanctuary. These were captured from our Guest House in Paparsali, which is about twenty kilometers before Zero Point in Binsar.
Photos clicked by self using #NikonP900. Bird information sourced through internet and birder groups.