Sunday, June 19, 2022

2022-04-13 Dehradun-Rishikesh-Kakdagad-Chopta : Birding along the streams

Have been reading about Chopta, a birding hotspot in western Himalayas and also called mini-Switzerland, for many years but somehow could not manage to plan a trip to this.


It was March 2022 and I was desperately trying to plan a trip on the long weekend on April 15. First part was to finalize on the place that can be visited during this timeframe. Had shortlisted Latpanchar and Chopta, but came to know that bagdogra airport was closed from 11th to 25th of April so Latpanchar was out. 
For Chopta tried with few birding groups but either the trips were full or they had no trips. 

Finally had contact with Jason who is a very enthusiastic bird photographer whom I had met on a trip to Malang. Jason contacted Dilip Guptaji of Avian Trips and he arranged for trip logistics and guide.

It was an amazing arrangement and our local expert Mr Pushkar Negiji is a great birder and made sure that we are able to make most of our time.

Finally it was four of us Me, Jason, Jagdish and Sridhar (from Bengaluru).

We stayed all days at the Snow View Hotel, Pothibasa (Chopta). It is an amazing place to stay with open space behind with lot of birding activity.

We reached Dehradun by 7.30am, picked up Sridhar from Rishikesh and proceeded towards Chopta.

First sighting was itself of a very graceful bird the Steppe Eagle. And that too not one but 3. They were sitting on a tree next to the highway.
The road was all along the river and we were searching for Crested kingfisher. 

While searching for that we got a Goral on the other bank of the river. It was quite far but still quite a good sighting.

At one point we stopped because we spotted something and it was the Crested Kingfisher on a wire running along the river.
Also here got some sand martins sitting on the wire and their id is yet to confirmed.
Next stop was at Kakdagad. It has a beautiful stream with very cold water. 
We got some wonderful sightings and I got many lifers. 

There was a small restaurant on the side of the road just before the bridge and a path leading to the stream below. 

At the stream the Plumbeous Redstart was calling and the male was doing a wonderful display to the female. 

There was also a Grey Wagtail in breeding plumage. 
First time saw such wonderful plumage of Grey Wagtail. 

Also there were the regular suspects.

Blue Whistling Thrush

White Capped Redstart

Common Kingfisher

Crested Kingfisher with a big fish which it seemed it was not able to eat. It flew from the stream to a tree on the road and we quickly climbed up to the road. It sat there for sometime but then flew away. 

Meanwhile on the other side of the stream our local bird expert Pushkar Negi ji spotted the Brown dipper. A beautiful juvenile with many spots. 

There was activity on the trees along the bank,
Himalayan Black-lored Tit
Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher
Russet Sparrow

Indian Paradise-Flycatcher
Himalayan Black Bulbul

While looking at these Jason suddenly saw the Spotted Forktail in the stream below. From the top we could nicely see the long forktail with spots on the black back. 

There was a single Chestnut-headed Bee-eater.

As the evening started to set the activity increased along the stream with birds coming down to take bath in the water.
White-throated Fantail

Blue-throated Flycatcher

Blue-capped Rock-thrush

And lots of Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush

By the time we reached the hotel it was almost dark.
And we were in for a wonderful surprise - Himalayan Civet in front of the hotel, What a wonderful animal.