Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A sojourn in the Kumaon and Garhwal Himalayas : Captivating Chopta - The bird watcher's paradise (Part 8)

Day 10 - Oct 11th , 2014

We reached Chopta the previous night, and stayed in a private homestay at Bhulkan run by Mr. Shishupal.

It has basic facilities, but is situated at a mind blowing location. The forests around it, are home to many endemic birds and animals of the Himalayan range.

Note : This blog mainly focusses on the Flora and Fauna present in the region.

Early in the morning, we heard the calls of the Monal pheasant, and followed it.

After walking for some distance, we could see the Himalayan Tahrs crossing the road. It was so quick, that in two jumps it was in the cliffs below.

Himalayan Tahr :

The Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) is a large ungulate native to the Himalayas in southern Tibet, northern India and Nepal. It is listed as Near Threatened by IUCN, as the population is declining due to hunting and habitat loss.

Results of an analysis indicate that the Himalayan tahr is associated with wild goat.

 A young female Tahr

   Male followed by two females

While shooting the Tahrs, we heard the calls of the Monal again, and I spotted few female Monal pheasants that had perched on a rock ahead of us. We approached carefully, and Satish uncle spotted the male bird which was nearby.

Seeing a Monal was a dream come true experience, as it is highly endemic , elusive and colorful. 

I strongly believe that this bird was created when God spilled his color palette on the canvas.

Himalayan Monal

The Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impejanus), also known as the impeyan monal, impeyan pheasant, is a bird in the pheasant family, Phasianidae. It is the national bird of Nepal, where it is known as danphe, and state bird of Uttarakhand India, where it is known as monal.

Monal Pheasant - Female 
 Monal Pheasant - Female 

 Monal Pheasant - Female 
 Monal Pheasant - Female 

Monal Pheasant -  male

The very sight and photograph of this bird was worth the whole trip. Such vibrancy in one creature is hard to imagine !!

 Mistle thrush

 Coal tit ?
 Himalayan queen frittilary
Variegated Laughing Thrush
 Yellow throated marten

 Green backed tit

 Whistling thrush

 Wild flower

Scaly bellied woodpecker

Later in the day, we all headed to Dugalbitta. 

There are few nature camps which are present in Dugalbitta, a destination which is very near to Chopta. Dugalbitta is situated between thick forests, and is a good place to watch birds.
It is a very silent offbeat location to spend time with Nature, and a walk on the bugyals makes this a place to yearn for.

A refreshing tea in a small Chai shop rejuvenated our mind , body and soul. This gave me more energy to hold my 500mm lens.

 Grey bushchat
Grey Bushchat with flies around

Clouds during sunset


A day completely filled with Wildlife, was a breather for me after many days. Seeing many exotic species on a single day has carved an inscription in my mind forever.

Night sky photography:

 F/2.8 , ISO 3200 , 30" sec , Tokina 11-16mm
  F/2.8 , ISO 3200 , 30" sec , Tokina 11-16mm
  F/2.8 , ISO 3200 , 30" sec , Tokina 11-16mm
  F/2.8 , ISO 3200 , 30" sec , Tokina 11-16mm

 F/8 , ISO 160 , 30 mins , Tokina 11-16mm

Equipments used :

Nikon D7100 
Nikon 200-500mm F/5.6 VR
Nikon 24-120mm F/4 VR 
Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8 ATX-II

Visit my post "From here to Eternity - An exploration of the universe through my lens" to know more about star trails / milkyway photography. 


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