Started this trip , as usual alone, from Kolkata but was joined at New Jalpaiguri with Dibyendu, our leader and tour guide, and Dr.Suman and her daughter Suchitra from a hotel in Siliguri. We then proceeded to our home stay at Latpanchar. We had our lunch and proceeded for birding around Latpanchar. On our first day we saw some 44+ species ,maximum was lifer to me. The bird of the day, for me, was the gorgeous Rufous necked Hornbill couple, though I could only photograph the female with help from Dibyendu.
Day 2, started with a beautiful sunrise, with birding around Latpanchar in ithe morning half, and a visit to Mana and Ahal post lunch. We spotted some 34+ species, and as usual, maximum was lifer for me and highlights of the day for me was , Sapphire Flycatcher-male, pin-tailed green pigeon, Large Cuckoo-shrike, to name a few. The bird which I missed was Red-headed Trogan, but I thoroughly enjoyed the trek with my heavy gear. We also had Parag and Deben, excellent local guides, and they are really an asset to Dibyendu.
|Other than Rufous-necked Hornbill; these are the five birds that we saw from Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. 1. Sultan Tit ; 2. Sapphire Flycatcher ; 3. Oriental Pied Hornbill ; 4. Jerdon's Baza ; 5. Golden-fronted Leafbird|
Day 3, we started much before sunrise, for Ringtong tea estate. We saw many species and moved along the Hill Cart Road to Kurseong. We saw some 26+ species, and as usual, maximum was lifer, but the highlights for me was Golden fronted leafbird, Maroon Oriole, and the Jerdon's Baza. On our way back, we enjoyed photographing the Barred Owlet, and another rare one, Oriented Pied Hornbill, perched at the top of a tree. We also enjoyed the moonrise, looked more like a forest fire due to the presence of floating clouds.
Day 4, we started early for Senchal, a pristine place at 8000ft. It was chilly, but we enjoyed the view of the Kanchenzonga at sunrise. We saw some small birds perched high up in the trees, and trying to photograph them. It was a real nightmare for any photographer, as it was foggy, small size of birds, and their skittish nature, as well as, perched high up in the trees. Then Didyendu comes running to us informing that one of the small birds perched high up the trees is Dusky Thrush, a lifer even for him. We got some excellent photographs of the bird. There was so many types of Yuhinas and I was mesmerised by their size and beauty. We also saw Barred Cuckoo Dove couple, Chestnut crowned laughing thrush, Bar throated Siva, to name a few. On our way back we saw the Maroon backed Accentor. Our day ended with some 25+ species. we could not have asked for more.
|Top three birds from Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary. 1. Maroon-backed Accentor ; 2. Dusky Thrush ; 3. Barred Cuckoo Dove|
Day 5, our final day, luggage packed and loaded in our vehicle, and we started for our final destination, Gajoldoba. A very foggy morning and on reaching Gajoldoba, had our breakfast and tea and headed towards the boats. Due to heavy fog, visibility was hardly few meters, so we waited for the fog to clear and started photographing some birds like wagtails, martins, swallows and stonechats at the dyke. At about 10.30am, fog cleared and we started birding from our respective boats. As the visibility increased, we could photograph some fantastic migratory birds like Ruddy Shelducks, Crested Grebes, Common Snipes, Red crested Pochards to name a few. The highlight of the day was the solitary Common Shelduck. Though the name common, it is very rare to find one. At 3.30pm, we came back for lunch. At the end of the day, with 46+ species , and at the end of the trip 175+ species, this trip for me is the best birding trip till date.
|Top five birds from Gajoldoba. 1. Ferruginous Pochard ; 2. Great Thick-knee ; 3. Red-crested Pochard ; 4. Little Ringed Plover ; 5. Common Shelduck|
This trip was the best for me, as we had Dibyendu Ash, a brilliant spotter, with a never give up attitude and last but not the least ,a good person, always helpful .I will recommend GoingWild to all my friends , and planning for my next trip with Dibyendu soon.