Friday, August 28, 2009

Chakrata and Deoban, Uttarakhand - Trip Report

(old trip report, thought - could be of some help)

Trip Report – Chakrata and Deoban, Uttarakhand

Dates: 12 May 07 to 15 May 07

Birders: Dr Sudhir Oswal, Dr Chander Kumar Ballal and Suresh C Sharma

12 May 09 (Saturday):

Left Sonepat at 0615 hrs and drove to Asan Barrage via Yamunanagar-Paona Sahib without stopping at Kalesar.

A whistle stop at Bata River bridge yielded River Lapwings, one Pond Heron with red legs and Red-rumped Swallows.

Asan Barrage. (stopped at Asan and scanned the reservoir from 1215 to 1300 hrs) Full of water, no sign of Pallas’s Fish Eagle about 150 ducks still left, including Pintails, Shovelers, Gadwalls, 3 Red-crested Pochards, Brahminy Ducks, Spot-billed Ducks, Garganeys, 3 species of cormorants together, a few Openbill and Painted Storks. Coots and Little Grebes also present.

FRI Dehradun. By 1400 hrs we had arrived at FRI and checked in Room No 178 in the Annexe. Ramana Attrey and Dhananjai Mohan joined us and after having some birding talks and tea, 3 of us birded along the nearby bird trail. Black Eagle was the first bird we saw in flight, Drongo Cuckoo calling from atop a dried branch of a tree, Greater Flameback, Yellow-crowned Woodpecker, Grey Hornbill, Jungle Myna, White-eyes, Grey-breasted Prinias, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Spangled and Black Drongos, Puff-throated Babbler, Grey-bellied and Common Hawk Cuckoos, Asian Koels, Spotted and Emerald Doves, Blue-throated Flycatchers, White-throated Flycatcher, Egyptian Vultures, Black Kite, Jungle Babbler, Tailorbird, Brown-headed Barbet, Himalayan and Red-vented Bulbuls, Purple Sunbirds.

Bikram Grewal’s House in Dehradun. We reached Bikram’s house by 1700 PM and quickly walked up to the Tons River, good views of Brown Dipper, Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Blue Whistling Thrushes and Ashy Bulbul. After devouring Samosas and Gulab Jamuns at Bikram’s house, we reached FRI by 1830 hrs.

FRI at night. One hour birding at night produced Brown Hawk Owl (calling), Spotted Owlets (calling) Indian Cuckoo (calling), and fleeting glimpse of a nightjar near girl’s hostel. Great surprise was the call of ’ka phal pa ko’ of Indian Cuckoo even at 2230 hrs (1030 PM)!!

(13 May 07 - Sunday) FRI in the morning. Woke up early and were on the move by 5 AM. Common Hawk Cuckoo calling, birds started turning up. Later on Dhananjay Mohan also joined us. Rufous Woodpecker in the bamboo plantation with a few ‘ant nests’, Yellow Yellownape, Speckled Piculet, Rufous-chinned Laughing Thrush, Drongo Cuckoo, Puff-throated Babblers, Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Crimson sunbird, Red Jungle-fowl, Orange-headed Thrush, Grey-bellied Cuckoo and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker.

Left Dehradun at 0745 hrs for Chakrata, 13 May 09.

Chakrata. Reached Kalsi at 0845 hrs and spent sometime at the Edict of Ashoka, because the gate opens at 0930 hrs. Dr Ballal, being a neuro-surgeon attended a Muslim patient nearby – his name Shamsher Ali, whose wives were already crying thinking him dead, luckily he survived.

Indian Cuckoo was calling at Kalsi. Reached Shayya at 1030 where while waiting for the gate to open, some birding around produced Asian Paradise Flycatcher (one white male) and a few Grey-hooded Warblers. One handsome Great Barbet also made an appearance. Striated Prinias were also observed singing their songs between Shayya and Chakrata. 2 Himalayan Griffons were soaring overhead. Upland Pipits were calling in the suitable habitat.

Reached Chakrata and checked into DFO Residence (now FRH) made in 1888. Immediately on our arrived, Bar-tailed Treeceepers, Brown-fronted Woodpeckers, Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Verditer Flycatchers, Russet Sparrows welcomed us. We drove up to Tiger Falls and back. Indian Cuckoos were calling at several places, Blue-throated Barbets, Paradise Flycatchers, Himalayan Griffons eating a dead cattle (cow), Slaty-headed Parakeets, Oriental Turtle Doves, Long-tailed Shrike, Grey Treepie, a large crow (much larger than Large-billed Crow) of the size of a black kite, could be a raven which was soaring like a Black Kite, Black-capped Rock Thrush, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Plumbeous Redstart, Pied Bushchats, Black Bulbuls, Streaked Laughing Thrushes, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babblers, Rufous Sibia and Black-headed Jays were other birds we saw.

Night stay at the FRH. A largish scorpion under the wash basin.

Day 3 (14 May6 07 Monday)

Devban (Deoban). Morning birding around the FRH produced Spot-winged Tits, Common Rosefinches, Hill Partridges, Black-lored Tit and other usual species already mentioned above.

After having the breakfast and getting the packed lunch, we drove at 0730 hrs for Deoban located at about 3000 meters ht, and reached there after two hours, birding all over the way. Deoban is very rich in bird life, significant birds included:

“Chestnut-crowned Laughing Thrush, Himalayan Woodpecker, Scaly-bellied Woodpecker, Spotted Nutcracker, Eurasian Blackbird, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black-throated Tit, Great Barbet, Eurasian/Oriental/Indian Cuckoos, Eurasian Tree-creeper, White-tailed Nuthatch, Yellow & Black Grosbeaks (4 – perched too high, could also be collared), Western-crowned Leaf-warbler, Greenish Leaf Warbler, Long-tailed Minivets, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, good view of Large Hawk Cuckoo, Eurasian Eagle Owl (captive and being used by a ‘quack’ roadside doctor in the open market at Chakrata).

Day 4 (15 May 07) : Morning birding began with the musical wake up calls of the Blue Whistling Thrush, then other birds, we could identify these birds by their calls – Hill Partridge, Asian Barred Owlet, Rufous Sibia, Oriental Turtle Dove, Grey-hooded and Brown-fronted Woodpeckers, Wedge-tailed + Pin-tailed Green Pigeons and Oriental Cuckoos). Drove back via Mussorie road.

(Typed on 29 August 09 in a tearing hurry from old notes)

Suresh C Sharma

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