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

White-browed Bushchat in Hisar District, Haryana by Dr P.S. Sangwan

On 25th January 2003, Dr Pratap Singh Sangwan reported one White-browed Bushchat from Hisar district of Haryana. A note was published in Indian Birds and the article can be read at

Suresh C Sharma

Morni Hills - on 16 August 09 by Narbir Kahlon

Mr. Prabhat Bhatti and self visited the area beyond Morni on 16th of August 2009. While we were making our way towards Morni just ahead of Madhna village, we came across a group of European Rollers. What made the sighting interesting was the fact that there were 7 birds. Normally one dos not associate this bird with large groups (at least not in this area) as it is a passage migrant in our area and one or two birds are seen in a location. The rollers were enjoying a scrumptious breakfast of beetles and other insects. They were still at it when we returned but by then there were only 4 birds seen and they too were spread over a larger area. The Indian Roller is a bird known to migrate during the day bad weather seemed to have made them more pragmatic and so we were able to get nice photographs on the way back.

While making our way through the pine forest near Jorian we came across a Black francolin calling from the bough of a pine tree it was close and inspite of the poor light Mr. Bhatti was able to get a nice close up of the bird calling. It is always a pleasure to see this bird.

2 Rock Bush-quails (I suspect) walking along the berm of the road also made for a great sighting, as it is a rather uncommon bird. The picture that we got was not too good because of poor light would have loved to click a better picture of them. (The picture is with Mr. Bhatti and a closer look is needed to ensure that it is indeed the rock and not the Jungle bush quail)

Crested buntings were there in plenty Morni seems to be one of their preferred breeding grounds. Scaly breasted munia’s could also be seen ferrying nesting material. And so were the pied bush chats.

While at Saron we heard the Rusty cheeked Scimitar babblers, the Puff throated babblers and saw the black chinned babbler. Talking of babblers we came across a group of Jungle babblers, what made this encounter special was that they were feeding a Pied Cuckoo chick larger than themselves, much as we tried to coax them into giving us a clear picture they stuck to the safety of a thick lantana bush.

Saron was not its usual self, bird numbers were not high, overcast skies casting a dull spell over the avian fauna I suppose. We did see Black Bulbuls a Eurasian cuckoo, the Blue throated flycatcher (Male and female),The fulvous breasted woodpecker was very obliging and took out precious time from his morning grub hunting routine for me to make it’s portrait. A chestnut tailed starling amongst a group of Brahminy mynas and a golden oriole was also seen.

On the walk along the track leading up to Saron there is a thickly forested patch where we got to see the Jungle Owlet. It seems to be a resident as we have been sighting it around the same area regularly. (This Picture was taken on an earlier trip in the same area.)

Amongst the Prinias seen were the Grey breasted, The Striated Prinia and the Jungle Prinia. Of these the Striated has a distinct call which is always useful in making an Id. We were also treated to the vocalizations of the Rufus tree pie and saw the Red billed blue magpies going about their morning chores (always a pleasant sight).

The Raptors seen were the oriental Honey buzzard and the Crested Serpent Eagle.

On the way back we came across two birds in the distance they appeared to be very large crows. There call rang out across the valley a distinct 4 note metallic call which makes me suspect they were Ravens. The sighting was near Madhna, size can be deceptive in the Hills so we decided to try and approach them, but before we could proceed on this long trek they saved us the bother by taking to the air. We also saw a flock of large billed crows riding the thermals in the area. We need to get a better sighting of these birds to confirm the ID so anyone going to this section please keep a look out for these birds.

Altogether a nice day out birding in Morni hills.

List of birds seen:

Common name Scientific Name

1. Grey Francolin Francolinus pondicerianus

2. Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus

3. Rock Bush Quail Perdicula argoondah

4. Oriental Honey Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus

5. Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela

6. Jungle Owlet Glaucidium radiatum

7. Fulvous Breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos macei

8. Brown-headed Barbet Megalaima zeylanica

9. Common Hoopoe Upupa epops

10. European Roller Coracias garrulous

11. Pied Cuckoo (Juv) Clamator jacobinus

12. Eurasian Cuckoo Cuculus canorus

13. Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris

14. Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri

15. Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala

16. Rock Pigeon Columba livia

17. Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis

18. Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto

19. Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis

20. Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis

21. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach

22. Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda

23. Red Billed Blue magpie urocissa erythrorhyncha

24. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos

25. Common Raven (Possibly) Corvus Corax Subcorax

26. Golden Oriole Oriolous oriolus

27. White throated Fantail Flycatcher Rhipidura albicollis

28. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus

29. Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bottentottus

30. Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus

31. Asian Paradise Flycatcher(Juv) Terpsiphone paradist

32. Verideter Fly catcher Eumyias thalassina

33. Blue Throated flycatcher Cryonis rubeculoides

34. Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis

35. Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicata

36. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata

37. Brown Rock Chat Cercomela Fusca

38. Streaked Laughing Thrush Garrulax lineatus

39. White crested Laughing Thrush(Heard) Garrulax leucolophus

40. Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnus malabaricus

41. Brahminy Myna Sturnus pagodarum

42. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis

43. Bank Myna Acridotheres ginginianus

44. Jungle Myna Acridotheres Fuscus

45. Great Tit Parus major

46. Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica

47. Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus

48. Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer

49. Himalayan Bulbul Pycnonotus lleucogenys

50. Striated Prinia Prinia criniger

51. Jungle Prinia Prinia sylvatica

52. Grey Breasted Prinia Prinia hodgsonii

53. Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus

54. Tailor Bird Orthotomus sutorius

55. Western crowned Warbler Phylloscopus occipiltalis

56. Jungle Babbler Turdoides striatus

57. Rusty Cheeked Scmittar Babbler(Heard)Pomatorhinus erythrogenys

58. Black-chinned Babbler Stachyris pyrrhops

59. Puff Throated Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps

60. Purple Sunbird Nectarinia asiatica

61. House Sparrow Passer domesticus

62. Chestnut-shouldered Petronia Petronia xanthocollis

63. Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus

64. Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura puntulata

65. Crested Bunting Melophus lathami

Narbir Kahlon