Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chakki Mor towards Nahan (Chandigarh region) - by Narbir Kahlon

(Unidentified butterfly)

Mr.Prabhat Bhatti was here and as I am always looking for an excuse to get into the field made our way towards Parwanoo. We left Chandigarh at about 5am with intention of getting back to office and the mundane routine of work by 10.30 am. In which we were successful much to the surprise of my Family. (I normally leave for birding at the appointed hour but seldom manage to get back in time.)

We gave ourselves two options :-

(1) Parwanoo Kasauli Road (an area, I am well conversant with)
(2) Chakki Mor towards Nahan (an area , well-known to Prabhat ji)

We decided to follow the latter, i.e., Chakki Mor towards Nahan, and were not disappointed.

You turn left from Chakki Mor and go into the Khud (on a motorable road, of course); there at the base of the hill is a stream which seems to be a favourite with week-end revelers, considering the incosndierate manner in which the variety of whisky cartons were strewn along an otherwise picturesque and birdfriendly landscape.

We decided to scan this stream for redstarts instead we came across a few juvenile Red-billed Blue Magpies, followed by a nice long sighting of Kalij Pheasants. Infact there were two pairs.

Encouraged we continued to scan this interesting stream from the road which runs alongside but the Plumbeous and the White-capped Water Redstarts eluded us.

At the next bridge we came across a confluence of two streams and there was a Mandir just above the bridge.

At this place we saw a heron take to the air and take refuge in the thick undergrowth on the steep banks. In flight there was no white coloration and it was a Yellow bittern sized bird which leads me to believe it may have been the Little Heron but I cannot be sure.

The area around the temple was teeming with birds apart from the Himalayan and Red-vented Bulbuls we saw the Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, the Black-chinned Babbler, the Speckled Piculet, the Common Chiffchaff and a number of Gre- breasted Prinia.

The road leading further is a narrow single road with very little traffic; all the same the driver needs to keep alert because jeep trundles down at break-neck speed without any warning.

My knowledge of trees is limited but there is a healthy population of Cymbal, Figs a few Pipul and some fruit bearing trees like, the Khurmani and Plum growing wild in these parts. Lantana bushes, stepped fields of Corn touching the road and the rivulet bellow make for a very interesting Habitat.

While driving down this stretch we came across the Streaked Laughing thrush and the Verditer Flycatchers (3). Amongst the other fly catchers seen that day were the Whit- throated Fantail Flycatcher as well as the Dark-sided Flycatcher, in the area we also the White-crested laughing thrush. The thrushes were quite obliging and gave us plenty of photo opportunities we on the other hand were both stuck on the 'Lucknowi style of politeness' and in the 'pahle aap' - we lost a great opportunity.

The melodious call of the cuckoo shrike made us stop in our tracks it turned out to be alone male Black-headed Cuckoo Shrike. On the same tree were a long tailed Shrike and its juvenile who also posed for their portraits .There was a tree stump in the center of the lush green corn field where we had parked and on top of it was a Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Mr. Bhatti was able to get some nice pictures of the woodpecker

Driving along the road you leave behind the deciduous forest and enter the world of the evergreen pines the forest is a little more open and the slopes are covered in thick grass.
We came across The Red Jungle Fowl the Black Francolin as well as a number of Grey Treepie in the area amongst the other residents were the great Himalayan Barbet and the great tit.

We decided to call it a day exactly 50 Km from Chandigarh at which point we spotted the Jungle Owlet, on the way back the forest kept us on our toes with a brief encounter with a Flameback I got a brief glimpse of the bird in flight and am not sure whether it was the Greater Flameback or the Himalayan Flameback. Mr. Bhati got to see plenty of Black Bulbuls a rarity in the area around Nangal as per him, The crimson sunbird male gave us a good display and we enjoyed the lovely views of the Red billed Leiothrix calling from a bush not more than 15 ft away.

By the end of the day we were able to see 38 species, a short but interesting trip. For me it was a totally new area and what was exiting was the number of perennial streams and the untouched beauty of the place. I intend keeping a watch on this area I expect it to be very interesting from the birding point of view.

Narbir Kahlon

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