Birding in Uttarakhand (Makku, Chopta & Tunganath) – March 2018 (batch 2)

Tour Date: Batch 2: March 27th (Tuesday) – April 1st (Sunday) 2018

Gallery

Here are few clicks from our previous trip. Over 150 species of birds were sighted.


Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Pick up by CAR from Dehradun airport by 12:30 PM and proceed towards Mukku Village. Approx driving time is 7 to 8 hrs. Reach Mukku Village around 8 PM in the evening.

Day 2: Visit Chopta monal points, Mukku Bend, Mukku Farm. Interactive session in evening followed by dinner.

Day 3: Visit Tunganath (Chopta – Tunganath trek) for some specific high-altitude species. The trek is approximately 3.5 KMs from the base. Interactive session in evening followed by dinner.

Day 4: Visit Kakraghat and bird-watching on the way. Interactive session in evening followed by dinner.

Day 5: Bird-watching in and around Mukku village. Interactive session in evening followed by dinner.

Day 6: Leave for Dehradun airport early in the morning by 3:30 AM.

Note: Wake up call at 5:30 in the morning everyday.

Tour Cost: 22,900/- ** Per Person.

Cost includes

  • Transportation from Dehuradun – Makku – Chopta
  • Accommodation at Sparrow house at Makku village
  • All Veg meals during the stay
  • Park entry fee, Safari & Guide Charges, Govt. Service Taxes and fee
  • Mineral water during journey or at the campsite.

Cost do not include

  • Camera charges
  • Any kind of personal expenditure and medical expenses
  • Any charges not mentioned in “the charges include.

**INR prices are applicable to resident Indians only. Non Resident Indians (NRI) and Foreign Nationals please email us for tour cost at info@wild-india.in


Bharatpur Birder’s Paradise – January 2018

Tour Date: January 14th (Sunday) – 17th (Wednesday), 2018

Tour Highlights

  • Photography tips & expertise
  • Assistance in bird-watching and bird identification
  • Knowledge sharing sessions (We urge our participants to share their knowledge and experiences so that everyone learns)
  • Focus to sight & capture key species of Bharatpur such as the Sarus cranes, Pelicans, Black-necked Stork, Bluethroat, Owl species, Golden Jackals, Bittern species and more. (Please note that we cannot gaurantee any sightings. We shall try our best to help you sight & make images of the key species)
  • Maximum group size limited to 8 members (including Wild India Group Leader)
  • Accomodation on twin sharing basis with all meals, snacks & bottled mineral water.

About Bharatpur

Keoladeo National Park or Keoladeo Ghana National Park formerly known as the Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India is a famous avifauna sanctuary that hosts thousands of birds, especially during the winter season. Over 230 species of birds are known to be resident. It is also a major tourist center with scores of ornithologists arriving here in the hibernal season. It was declared a protected sanctuary in 1971. It is also a World Heritage Site.

Hurry only limited seats available. Booking will be accepted on first come first serve basis.


Gallery

Here are few clicks from our previous trips. More clicks can be found on our facebook page at Wild India Eco Tours.


Tour Itinerary

Mode of Travel: Cycle Rickshaw (2 members per rickshaw)

Day 1: Arrival at Bharatpur @ 13:00 Hrs. Check-in Hotel in Bharatpur. After lunch, proceed to Keoladeo Park in Cycle Rickshaw – Explore the Park till sunset. Return for dinner and Overnight Stay at Hotel in Bharatpur.

Day 2: Early morning breakfast, process to Keoladeo park in cycle rickshaw. Explore the park for scrubland birds. Will carry packed lunch. After lunch will explore near sopan mori and Keoladeo temple. Return for dinner and Overnight Stay at Hotel in Bharatpur.

Day 3: Early morning breakfast, process to Keoladeo park in cycle rickshaw. Explore the park for scrubland birds. Will carry packed lunch. After lunch will explore near sopan mori and Keoladeo temple. Return for dinner and Overnight Stay at Hotel in Bharatpur.

Day 4: Early morning breakfast, process to Keoladeo park in cycle rickshaw. Explore the park for scrubland birds. Return to hotel. After lunch check out and proceed to Jaipur or Delhi for return journey.

Tour Cost: 14,900/- ** Per Person (ex-jaipur)

Tour cost includes

  • Pick up and drop between Jaipur Airport and Bharatpur
  • Transport in 14 seater tempo traveller / Minibus
  • All entry fees and guide charges
  • Food and Accommodation at the resort for 3 nights and 4 days
  • All taxes and service charges
  • On board mineral water and snacks

Tour cost do not include

  • Soft Drinks, Laundry Charges, Phone Calls, Tips etc
  • Any kind of insurance, Medical or/and Emergency Charges
  • Any extra meals not included in the above itinerary.

**INR prices are applicable to resident Indians only. Non Resident Indians (NRI) and Foreign Nationals please email us for tour cost at info@wild-india.in


Birding at Thattekad – December 2017

Tour Date: December 14th (Thrusday) – 17th (Sunday), 2017

Tour Itinerary

Day 1: Pick-up at Ernakulam Station / Kochi Airport by 12:30 hrs. Departure in jeep for Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary with lunch en-route followed by check-in at Jungle Bird Homestay. Bird-watching in & around the resort with some light snacks followed by evening bird trails for nightjars & owls. Back to resort at around 8:30 PM, have dinner and go early to bed.

Day 2: Full day bird-watching in Thattekkad Sanctuary & surrounding areas for the Western Ghat endemics species on foot. Night stay at Jungle Bird Homestay.

Day 3: Start early morning (by 05:00 hrs) for Munnar & Eravikulam National Park. Have lunch at Munnar & continue bird-watching till evening. Night stay at Jungle Bird Homestay.

Day 4: Early morning bird-watching in Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary. Break for lunch followed by another bird-watching session in & around Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary till 15:00 hrs. Drop to Kochi Airport / Ernakulam Station by 17:00 hrs.

Some of the key species we could sight include Black Baza, Black Eagle, Great-eared Nightjar, Dollar Bird, Red Spurfowl, Lesser Yellow-nape Woodpecker, Speckled Piculet, Mottled Wood Owl, Green Imperial Pigeon, Crested Goshawk, Malabar grey & Pied Hornbill, Malabar parakeet, Flame-throated Bulbul, Dark-fronted & Rufous Babbler, Asian fairy-bluebird, Malabar Trogon, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, White-bellied Treepie, Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Nilgiri Pipit, Grey-headed Bulbul, Black & Orange Flycatcher, Broadtailed Grassbird, Nilgiri Flycatcher, White-bellied Shortwing, Whitebellied Treepie & the Wyanad Laughing Thrush.

Tour Cost: 15,400/- ** Per Person.

Tour cost includes

  • Transportation from Ernakulam Station / Kochi Airport – Jungle Bird Homestay – Ernakulam Station / Kochi Airport
  • Accommodation at Jungle Bird Homestay
  • All Veg meals during the stay
  • Park entry fee, Safari & Guide Charges, Govt. Service Taxes and fee
  • Mineral water during journey or at the campsite.

Cost do not include

  • Camera charges
  • Any kind of personal expenditure and medical expenses
  • Any charges not mentioned in “the charges include.

**INR prices are applicable to resident Indians only. Non Resident Indians (NRI) and Foreign Nationals please email us for tour cost at info@wild-india.in


the Magical Bharatpur…

Foggy mornings, Sarus Cranes, Bluebulls, Pelicans, loads of waterfowls and some mesmerising sunrise & sunset scapes is what you associate with Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur. We at Wild India Eco Tours had one such trip with an amazing bunch of folks to this place in January 2017.

  • Tour dates: 13 – 15 January 2017
  • Group size: 8
  • Total birds species sighted: 115
  • Key highlights: Sarus Cranes, Dalmatian & Great White Pelicans, Black & Yellow Bitterns, Black-necked Stork, Dusky Eagle Owl, Oriental & Collared Scops Owls, Red-crested Pochards, Ferruginous Ducks
  • Mammals & reptiles sighted: Golden Jackal, Monitor Lizard, Bluebull (Nilgai), Spotted Deer

eBird checklists:

Day 1

Starting from Delhi, we began our journey to Bharatpur by 10:00 hrs after some expected flight delays. We took our 1st halt just after we joined the Yamuna Expressway for a quick snack. A 30 minute break and we were back on our journey. As we neared Mathura, we stopped for our 1st sighting – it was a family of Sarus Cranes!

This was surely some start to the tour as everyone got good views and photographs of this lovely species. Resuming our journey, we arrived at the resort by 14:30 hrs and after a quick lunch and freshening up, we were ready for our 1st excursion to Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary by 16:00 hrs.


Splitting into groups of 2, we began our excursion on the cycle rickshaws. We came across various species of ducks – Common teals, Northern Pintails, Gadwalls, Little Grebes along with numerous Common Moorhens & White-breasted Waterhens. We also got some lovely views of the Oriental Scops Owl – camouflaged perfectly in a tree. Going ahead, we reached an opening were we got to see a pair of Bluebull walking across the wetlands.

We spent rest of the the time at this place itself, watching the beautiful sunset. Some of the birds we saw here were Greylag Geese, Knob-billed Duck, Grey-headed Swamphen, Bronze-winged Jacana and the Bluethroat. While returning back, we were also greeted by a family of Golden Jackals.

We got back to resort by 18:30 hrs for snacks / tea and followed the rest of the evening in introductions, sharing wildlife experiences, making bird list, highlights of the day and finally winding up with dinner.

Day 2

The second day of the tour started as early as 07:00 hrs as we made our entry into the park. The weather was chilly with temperatures around 8 degree celsius. We explored one of the trails were we came across two Great Cormorants perched on a dry branches against the beautiful sunrise – giving us ample opportunities to try out various exposure to make the classic silhouette images. We explored the other side of the trail where we came across waterfowls in big numbers. We also got to see the beautiful Black-necked stork on these trails and a Booted Eagle as well. We returned back to point where we saw the cormorant and this time we saw 5 Spotted Owlets perched close to eachother – indeed a lovely sight.


We explored the trees around this place were we saw Red-breasted Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher and also a pair of Long-tailed Minivets. After spending around an hour, we made our way to the canteen in the park for breakfast. We also got to see a Hume’s Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, White-cheeked Bulbuls, Shikra and a Golden Jackal crossing the road at this place.



After breakfast, we kept exploring on the main tar road in the park as we came across a variety of species – a Collared Scops Owl pair, a Marsh Harrier busy hunting for a meal, Northern Shoveler, pair of Red-crested Pochards, Bonelli’s Eagle, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Greater Spotted Eagle, White-tailed Lapwings, two pairs of Ferruginous Ducks and numerous Bluethroats, Painted Storks, Great Cormorants, Purple Herons, Grey Herons, Little Grebes, Common Teals and Common Moorhens. Couple of members from our group also got to see and photograph the Great Cormorant hunting and feeding on a huge fish!


As we kept exploring, we sighted the shy Black Bittern in its typical habitat – completely camouflaged in a thick bush. A little ahead we also got to see the Yellow Bittern, this one was bold though as it was busy hunting in the open.

We did not realise as it was 14:30 hrs already. We proceeded for lunch in the canteen at the park. After lunch, we explored couple of trails near the park were we got decent views of the Dalmatian Pelicans, Cotton Pygmy Goose and a pair Dusky Eagle Owls. We also sighted three types of kingfishers – White-throated, Common and the Pied Kingfisher. After exploring for an hour or so, we made our way back to the sunset point. This time we sighted numerous raptors perched on the trees – Eastern Imperial Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagles (2) and Marsh Harriers. As the light was fading, We also got lucky to sight the shy Black Bitten in open for few seconds before it jumped back into the bush.



Other species seen were a group of Knob-billed Ducks, Grelag and Bar-headed Geese, Black-crowned Night Herons, Grey-headed Swamphens, Oriental Darter and numerous Bronze-winged Jacanas.

Soon the day ended and we were back to resort for yet another experience sharing session, reviewing images followed by dinner.

Day 3

As with Day 2, Day 3 started at 07:00 hrs. The weather was a little more foggy today as we made way into the park. We wanted to take a good chance of sighting the Sarus Cranes and getting better view of the Dalmatian Pelicans in this final morning session and hence we headed straight to the sunset point which has best chance of sightings. We saw couple of Pelicans in flight but couldn’t click them. We started exploring on of the trails a little ahead of the point and soon came across a pair of Sarus Cranes. It was a treat to watch them in the typical Bharatpur scape – standing tall in the long dry grass against bluish foggy background. After getting some decent clicks, we came across similar frames for Oriental Darter, Purple Heron and a Booted Eagle.


As we were returned back to the main road, we saw numerous groups of Great White Pelicans flying to other side of the trail. We went to explore and could see them in good number (over 50 individuals) feeding together. We missed making decent images as it was opposite light. Being content with the sighting, we started back to return to the main tar road in the park when we saw Marsh Harrier flying with a kill and to our luck, it perched right in-front of us and started feeding on its kill..!


Final hour of our session and we had to get back to resort to pack bags start our return journey. We were just exploring for Bitterns again when suddenly a pair of Dalmatian Pelicans came and landed in a water body next to sunset point and began feeding, only to be joined by around 6 more of them. As if a parting gift, we finally got to make some lovely images of this ‘Vulnerable’ species (as per IUCN v3.1). There wouldn’t have been a better end to the trip.


Clearly Keoladeo National Park at Bharatpur stands out as one of the best places to sighting a variety of bird species as well as to learn various aspects of wildlife photography – portraits, landscapes, silhouettes! you get a chance to try them all. Add to it delicious food and an amazing group, we just did not want to return.

That said, we have already planned to visit Bharatpur again in Jan-Feb 2018, this time a 4 Day trip. Stay tuned for the detailed itinerary and exact dates by subscribing to www.wild-india.in.

Thanks for viewing. Let us know in-case of any queries, suggestions, critics and we will be happy to respond.

In-case you have destination & dates in mind, write to us at info@wild-india.in and we shall design custom wildlife tour as per your requirements.

– Team Wild India Eco Tours

Tickell’s blue flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae)

The Tickell’s blue flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae) is an insectivorous species which breeds in tropical Asia, from the Indian Subcontinent eastwards to Southeast Asia. Its range stretches across all the countries from India to Indonesia and are found in dense scrub to forest habitats.

The Tickell’s blue flycatcher is a small bird, that grows to a length of about 11–12 cm long. It sits upright and forages mainly in the overgrowth. Apart from flying insects they have been noted to occasionally glean crawling insects as well and are also known to feed after dusk.

The name commemorates the British ornithologist Samuel Tickell.

Camera gear & EXIF:

– Canon EOS 7d Mark II with Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens

– ISO: 800
– Focal length: 400mm (640mm in 35mm equivalent)
– Aperture: f/5.6
– Shutter speed: 1/200 seconds

Goa: Birding and herping

Talking about Goa, the first few things that conjure up in the mind are the beautiful beaches, the shining sun, exotic holidays, alcohol (for those inclined towards that) and of course relaxation. I am no different. I had a chance to visit Goa for the first time about 7 years ago for a vacation with my family. Never knew then, that there existed another side to Goa covered with greenery.

The Western Ghats, which form most of eastern Goa, have been internationally recognised as one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. Western ghats are well known for their rich flora and fauna. According to Wikipedia, Goa’s wildlife sanctuaries boast of more than 1512 documented species of plants, over 275 species of birds, over 48 kinds of animals and over 60 genera of reptiles. Goa has many famous ‘National Parks’, including the renowned Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary on the island of Chorao. Other wildlife sanctuaries include the Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Molem Wildlife Sanctuary, Cotigao Wildlife Sanctuary, Madei Wildlife Sanctuary, Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, and Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary.

During the period from 2014 to 2016, I have the privilege of making five visits to Goa (twice during the rains looking for amphibians and reptiles (herping) and thrice during the December – January months for birding).

You arrive at Goa (either at the airport or at Madgaon railway station). You are driven to the far east side of Goa, to the outskirts of Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. After about 15 minutes of driving, you find yourselves surrounded by lush green forest. It is a sight to behold and the weather too is pleasant. Nestled in the middle of the greenery, we arrive at the resort which is one of the best places to stay and explore. Near the resort, we can easily spot Little Spiderhunter, Purple Sunbird, Forest Wagtail, Malabar Hornbill, Vernal Hanging Parrot (the only parrot found in India) and many many varieties of birds during year end. But that is not belittling the rainy season in any way, as we get to see a wealth of amphibians, insects and reptiles.

We also visit Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Tambdi Surla, some interior parts of Goa and finally a visit to Zuari River & Maina lake. During the months of December and January, we have 6 sessions of birding in which one can easily see over a hundred species. We also have a night trail to catch a glimpse of nightjars, frogmouths and owls just outside the resort.

During the visit in the rainy season, we get the opportunity to visit Mhadei Wildlife sanctuary. It is an hours drive from our resort as we pass through the scenic beauty of the western ghats. The tracks of Mhadei are full of blood sucking leeches. Anti leech socks are a must-wear during the trail. Walking through the woods while it is raining is a unique experience. The evening trail at Tambdi Surla is fascinating. The thrill of walking in the darkness with humidity, coupled with the pouring rains gives goosebumps and it is definitely a not-to-be-missed experience.

Speciality
A visit to Zuari river is an opportunity to get a glimpse of six species of Kingfishers viz White-throated, Pied, Common, Collared, Black-capped and Stork-billed. Other birds to sight include Osprey, White-bellied Eagle, Greater Crested Tern, Peregrine Falcon. If you are lucky, you will also get to see ‘mugger’ crocodiles.

Our Visits
Feb 2014, Dec 2014 & Dec 2015 for birding

Aug 2014 & 2015 for herping

About Western Ghats
The Western Ghats, spread over six states in western and southern India, cover an area of approximately 165,000 sq. km. They are far more ancient than the larger and better known Himalayas. The Western Ghats forests, rivers, and grasslands contain an extraordinary diversity of species, including rare and threatened species and endemics found nowhere else in the world.

Source: Wikipedia

About Goa
The widest belt of forests along the western ghats is in Goa and neighbouring Karnataka state.

Source: Wikipedia

Planning for wild life tour visit www.wild-india.in

Birding heaven – Chopta

At Wild India Eco Tours, Chopta – Uttarakhand is one of our favourite bird-watching destinations and this tour in April 2016 as good at it gets. We sighted over 140 species of birds and got some mesmerising views of the the beautiful snow clad Himalayas. Key sightings from bird-watching perspective included the Pygmy Wren & Scaly-breasted Babblers, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Bearded Vulture, Red-billed Chough, Golden Bush Robin, Koklass Pheasant, (more…)

Wild India’s first visit to Kaas Plateau in year 2013

Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… it remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything.” – Aaron Siskind

When you hold a camera, the first thought that comes to mind is to capture the different hues of nature and instinctively the first objects that come to mind are flowers (maybe butterflies too but they are too fast for a novice to capture on his camera). This is the feeling I had when I held the camera during the initial days.

It was the year 2013, when we arranged our first visit to Kaas Plateau. Being a social media freak, I already had a party of friends who had been there umpteen number of times. Their pictures on social media were stunning. I was already making plans on what I desired to see and how I would capture the myriad colours of the blooming flowers.

This was to be our first visit to Kaas plateau and we wanted to make it a memorable trip. More than a dozen enthusiastic nature lovers with a botanist were all set to experience the grandeur of Kaas. The botanist, as we learnt along the rest of the journey, helped us identify most of the flowers and explained to us the importance of the flower. And yes along with that, she also gave us the scientific names, most of which were tongue twisters and difficult to remember.

We started from Mumbai late in the evening (around 2300 hours) in a 21-seater bus. Around 0330 when we were dosing as our chauffeur continued driving through the streets of Pune, we heard BOOM. As luck would have had it, we had a flat tyre in the middle of the night! It took a good half an hour to replace it. We were back on track after that and by 0700 hrs we were at Satara. All of us were more than eager to dump our bags and head straight to the fields.

Kaas plateau was about 25 kms. from the city. For a first timer, looking at the plateau is a heavenly sight. With so many beautiful species of flowers, one could spend the entire day taking photographs. After this experience, we continued to Kaas lake where we continued to gaze at the flowers and also got to sight birds.

We passed through beautiful scenic landscapes of Maharashtra with a couple of stops looking for birds & flora while visiting Chalkewadi Wind Mills. On our way back we stopped at Thosegar waterfall, a scenic spot located near the village of Thoseghar to witness the grand waterfalls. During one of our visits, we even spotted a green vine snake there.

On the second day, we had a hearty lunch and headed back to Mumbai with some wonderful memories.

Places visited during our visit were Kaas Plateau, Chalkewadi Wind Mills and Thoseghar waterfall.
Some of the species we saw there include:

  • Pleocaulus ritchei (Topli Karvi)
  • Ceropegia oculata, vincaefolia, media & jainii
  • Habenaria rariflora (Ground Orchid)
  • drosera indica & burmannii
  • Smithia hirsuta (Hairy Smithia) & agharkarii
  • Murdannia lanuginosa (Abolima)
  • Impatiens lawii
  • Habenaria heyneana (Toothbrush Orchid)
  • Cyanotis fasciculata (Nilwanti)
  • Dipcadi montanum (Deepkadee)
  • Pinda concanensis
  • Vigna vexillata
  • Euphorbia laeta (Square root plant) ….. and many many more.

At Wild India, we organise tours every September. Do join us to explore the amazing Kaas. It will be a memorable experience.

About Kaas Plateau
The Kaas Plateau also known as the “Kaas Pathar” is a plateau situated 25 kilometres from Satara in Maharashtra, India. It is situated high hill plateaus and grasslands turns into a ‘valley of flowers’ during monsoon season, in the month of August. Kaas Plateau has more than 150 or more types of flowers, shrubs and grasses. Kaas plateau is a World Natural Heritage site.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaas_plateau

Best time to visit kaas is during August and September

For more information on a trip to Kaas Plateau, e mail us on info@wild-india.in

Additional Links
http://www.kas.ind.in/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaas_plateau