North Bengal
Trip Report

 
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Trip Report symbol © Sumit Sen                                  North Bengal
                                  by Sumit Sen
                                  04 November -10 November 2004

 


© Sumit K Sen 2004
Coronation Bridge
Gateway to the North-east

Trip List


Introduction

I spent seven days in North Bengal visiting Gorumara (plains), Tinchuley (6000 ft), Loylegaon (6500 ft) and Kalimpong (4000 ft). The attached list of 113 birds were observed during the trip.

The weather throughout the trip was beautiful with stunning views of the Sinaglila range on all days. I birded all mornings and spent the rest of the day with the family. The best bird on the trip was a small flock of Cutias at Loylegaon, my first encounter with this species. The sight of raptors of different species flying and playing together at Tinchuley was also memorable.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Bagdogra airport (p.m.) and travel by road to Gorumara ( 2 hrs). Stay at Gorumara Jungle Camp run by Help Tourism.
Day 2: Gorumara Range office (for woodpeckers) and Gorumara National Park visit in the morning. Drive to Tinchuley to arrive before lunch (4 hrs.). Stay at Gurung Village Resort, Tinchuley. 
Day 3: Birding in and around Gurung Guest House, Tinchuley. Night at Tinchuley.
Day 4: 5 hour drive to Loylegaon via Kalimpong and Algarah Road, Lava. Stay at DGHC Dafey Munal Lodge, Loylegaon.
Day 5: A.M. Birding at Jhandidara peak. Afternoon drive to Kalimpong. Stay at Orchid Resorts, Kalimpong.
Day 6: Birding in and around Kalimpong. Short visit to Relling to check the location.
Day 7: Morning birding Kalimpong. Depart for Bagdogra Airport for flight to Kolkata.

Highlights

Day 1: A night safari drive yielded no birds but a couple of Jungle Cats and an unidentified carnivore (possibly a large Civet) were of interest.
Day 2: The Range Forest office is a great place to see woodpeckers at the crack of dawn, and I was rewarded with a pair of Greater Flamebacks and Greater Yellownapes. Inside the National park, the usual crowd of pigeons at the salt lick had Green Imperial and Yellow-footed Green with Oriental Turtle Doves. An Oriental Pied Hornbill came to sit a few feet away at the watchtower and Indian Peafowl were common at the eastern end of their range. A feeding Black-naped Monarch and Crimson Sunbirds were of note as was a soaring White-rumped Vulture. Before leaving Gorumara Jungle Camp the sight of a over-flying Common Buzzard was very satisfying. The drive to Tinchuley had a roadside roosting Mountain Hawk Eagle and a pair of Steppe Eagles.  
Day 3:  A pair of Wedge-tailed Green Pigeons, an Eurasian Sparrowhawk and a male Kalij were the only birds of note on a disappointing morning.
Day 4: The disappointments of the previous day were forgotten when the day broke with a small flock of Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, a Crimson-breasted Woodpecker which gave crippling views and the spectacular air show put up by a pair of Oriental Honey Buzzards (orientalis), a pair of ruficollis Honey Buzzards, a pair of Sparrowhawks and a Red-headed Falcon all diving and mock fighting over the Himalayan amphitheatre. The drive to Loylegaon had a Black Eagle on Algarah Road to close a raptor-filled morning.
Day 5: Loylegaon is easily becoming a most desirable destination for birders. Added to the Rusty-bellied Shortwing from a April visit were a small flock of Cutias on the road leading down from Jhandidara. Stunning and utterly memorable birds. Golden-throated Barbets, Little Bunting, Mrs Gould's Sunbird, Grey-chinned Minivet, Striated Bulbul, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker and Striated Laughingthrush all added to a great mornings birding at this location.

© Sumit K Sen 2004
Loylegaon

Day 6: Orchid Retreat, where I stayed at Kalimpong, is at 4000 feet on the road from Kalimpong to Algarah. The resort is located in a large horticultural nursery and seemed like an ideal place to look for birds. Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Golden-spectacled Warbler, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Asian Barred Owlet were easily seen, as were large flocks of Scarlet Minivets and numerous Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers.
Day 7: A Speckled Piculet to start off the morning on the last day and a Greater Racket-tailed Drongo to close it, I could always ask for more, but there is always a next time.

Site details

Altitudinal Zones: The Tropical Zone (Teesta valley, Gorumara and Chapramari, Suntanekhola) upto 4000 feet which extends down to the foothills of the outer Himalayas and the Moist Temperate Zone ( Kalimpong, Lava) extending to 8000/9000 feet

Forest Type: Dense evergreen jungle (lower reaches) and sub-tropical evergreen forests.

Climate: Day: Warm ( 28oC ) foothills. Pleasant ( 14-18oC ) higher altitudes.
              Nights: Pleasant ( 18oC ) foothills and cool ( 5oC) heights.
              Wet  and misty on all days in the hills. Bright and sunny plains.

The trip was arranged by Help Tourism

LIST OF BIRDS OBSERVED IN North Bengal

1. Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus
Gorumara National Park 
2. Kalij Pheasant  Lophura leucomelanos 
Common at dusk, Tinchuley
3. Indian Peafowl
Gorumara
4. Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus
Single sighting at Kalimpong
5. Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus
Tinchuley
6. Crimson-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos cathpharius
At Tinchuley. Small size and small bill helped in identification. Field guides do not depict the species accurately.

© Sumit K Sen 2004

7. Greater Yellownape Picus flavinucha 
Pair at Gorumara
8. Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus
Pair at Gorumara  
9. Great Barbet Megalaima virens 
Heard everywhere in the hills 
10. Golden-throated Barbet Megalaima franklinii
Pair at Loylegaon with Sibias and Cutias
11. Blue-throated Barbet Megalaima asiatica 
At Gorumara and Kalimpong
12. Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris
Common at Gorumara
13. Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis affinis
A few seen on the road from Siliguri to Gorumara
14. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 
Recorded at 6,000 feet near Tinchuley
15.Cuckoo ssp. 
Unidentified. Seen at Kalimpong.
16. Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea
Gorumara
17. Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria 
Gorumara area
18. Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri 
Gorumara Jungle Camp
19. Himalayan Swiftlet Collocalia brevirostris 
Gorumara
20. Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides 
Kalimpong
21. Rock Pigeon Columba livia 
22. Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 
The Rhino Point Watchtower at Gorumara has never disappointed when looking for this species.   
23. Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 
Rhino Point, Gorumara and at Tinchuley.
24. Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis 
Lowlands.
25. Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica
Common at Gorumara near the elephant holding area
26. Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto 
On the road to Gorumara.
27. Yellow-footed Green Pigeon Treron phoenicoptera
Many at Rhino Point, Gorumara and a few seen in flight in the lowlands
28. Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon Treron sphenura
Pair at Tinchuley
29. Black Kite Milvus migrans 
Common in the Siliguri area. 
30. White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis 
Gorumara National Park. single over-flying bird. Another seen from Tinchuley possibly this species.
31. Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis 
Tinchuley. Seen on both days.
32. Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela 
Gorumara National Park, Rhino Point. Good place to see this species.
33. Black Eagle  Ictinaetus malayensis 
A majestic bird seen overhead while driving through Algarah Road, Lava.
34. Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Common at Tinchuley. Great aerial display from a pair.
35. Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus ruficollis
Pairs in flight display at Tinchuley. One dark and one pale phase. Breeding ?

© Sumit K Sen 2004

36. Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
Individual soaring over Gorumara Jungle Camp

© Sumit K Sen 2004

37. Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis
Pairs at Tinchuley and Kalimpong
38. Mountain Hawk Eagle Spizaetus nipalensis 
Seen every day at Tinchuley and Kalimpong
39. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
Observed at Tinchuley
40. Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera
Observed at Tinchuley
41. Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger 
Gorumara National Park
42. Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Lowlands.
43. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 
Common lowlands. 
44. Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii 
Gorumara National Park and on the road in the plains.
45. Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 
Many on  the road from Siliguri to river Teesta 
46. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 
One (ssp. erythronotus ?)  seen at 2000 feet near Kalimpong.
47. Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus 
Gorumara area
48. Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda 
Gorumara Jungle Camp area
49. Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 
Common at Tinchuley, Loylegaon and Kalimpong 
50. House Crow Corvus splendens 
Siliguri 
51. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 
Seen on all days of the trip
52. Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
Four birds hawking insects at Gorumara National park
53. Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
Gorumara area. Single bird. 
54. Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei
Single observation. Gorumara area.
55. Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris 
2 at Loylegaon 
56. Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus 
Flocks at Tinchuley and Kalimpong. Possibly this species at Gorumara.

© Sumit K Sen 2004

57. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus 
Common in the lowlands but not recorded anywhere in the hills. 
58. Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus 
Common at Gorumara and observed at Kalimpong.
59. Spangled Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus 
A few at Gorumara and a pair bird at Kalimpong.
60. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus 
Thrilling fly-past at eye level at Kalimpong.
61. Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
Single observation at Gorumara National Park.
62. Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus
Common at elevations. None seen in the lowlands. 
63. Red-throated (Taiga) Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla 
Two birds at Gorumara Jungle Camp
64. Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina 
Tinchuley and Loylegaon

© Sumit K Sen 2004

65. Rufous-bellied Niltava Niltava sundara 
Female at Kalimpong. 
66. Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis 
Common at Kalimpong and also observed at Gorumara

© Sumit K Sen 2004

67. Orange-flanked Bush Robin Tarsiger cyanurus
Loylegaon
68. Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis 
Only seen in the Gorumara area. 
69. White-rumped Shama
Single male at Gorumara National Park 
70. White-capped Water Redstart Phoenicurus leucocephalus 
One bird seen on the road near Manpang
71. Siberian Stonechat Saxicola torquata
On a wire by the road at 2,000 feet
72. Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnus malabaricus 
Flock near Gorumara 
73. Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra 
Lowland areas. 
74. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis 
Lowlands and Kalimpong
75. Hill Myna Gracula religiosa 
Gorumara area 
76. Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Sitta castanea 
Single bird at Tinchuley
77. White-tailed Nuthatch Sitta himalayensis 
Loylegaon
78. Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis 
Common in the Kalimpong area.

© Sumit K Sen 2004

79. Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus 
Common at all locations
80. Striated Bulbul Pycnonotus striatus
Small flock at Loylegaon
81. Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus
Kalimpong and Gorumara
82. Himalayan Bulbul Pycnonotus leucogenys 
Only at Kalimpong, where common.
83. Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
Gorumara National Park.
84. Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer 
Tinchuley and Kalimpong area.

© Sumit K Sen 2004

85. Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus
Common at Tinchuley and Kalimpong. 
86. Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum (?)
Bird seen in the bush at Kalimpong possibly this species.
87. Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius 
Kalimpong.
88. Ashy-throated Warbler Phylloscopus maculipennis
Tinchuley
89. Hume's Warbler Phylloscopus humei 
Tinchuley and Loylegaon 
90. Blyth's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides 
Kalimpong.
91. Golden-spectacled Warbler Seicercus burkii
Small flock at Kalimpong.

© Sumit K Sen 2004

92. Grey-hooded Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos 
Tinchuley and Kalimpong.
93. Striated Laughingthrush Garrulax striatus
Loylegaon
94. Streaked Laughingthrush Garrulax lineatus
Loylegaon.
95. Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush Garrulax erythrocephalus
Commonly heard.
96. Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrogenys (?)
Heard at Tinchuley. Possibly this species.
97. Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis
Flock of four at dawn near Gurung Resort, Tinchuley

© Sumit K Sen 2004

98. Jungle Babbler Turdoides striatus
Kalimpong area
99. Cutia Cutia nipalensis
Star bird on the trip for me. Small flock feeding with Rufous Sibias, Golden-throated Barbets and others. Loylegaon. 
100. Chestnut-tailed Minla Minla strigula 
Large flock recorded on Algarah Road, Lava.
101. Red-tailed Minla Minla ignotincta 
 Fairly common at Loylegaon and Tinchuley.
102. Rufous-winged Fulvetta Alcippe castaneceps 
Loylegaon
103. Whiskered Yuhina Yuhina flavicollis 
Tinchuley and Loylegaon.
104. Rufous Sibia Heterophasia capistrata 
Tinchuley and Loylegaon.
105. Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus
Stunning male at Loylegaon.
106. Mrs Gould's Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae 
At the Forest Rest House, Loylegaon. At least two pairs.

© Sumit K Sen 2004

107. Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja
Two males at Gorumara National Park.
108. House Sparrow Passer domesticus 
Kalimpong market
109. Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 
Kalimpong market
1101. White Wagtail Motacilla alba
Siliguri area.
111. Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 
Loylegaon and Tinchuley
112. ? Pipit Anthus ssp. 
Possible Rosy Pipit at Tinchuley
113. Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
At the Forest Guest House, Loylegaon.

© Sumit K Sen 2004

Additions post identification from images
114. Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus
On the road to Tinchuley
 

List of Mammals

1. Assamese Macaque Macaca assamenis
On the Sevok Road, Teesta River.
2. Spotted Deer Axis axis
Gorumara National Park
3. Asian Elephant Elephas maximus
Gorumara area
4. Jungle Cat Felis chaus
Gorumara area
5. Civet ssp.
Gorumara area
6. Hoary-bellied Himalayan Squirrel Callosciurus pygerythrus
Kalimpong
7. Northern Tree Shrew (?) Tupaia belangeri
Kalimpong

REFERENCES 
[1] Birds of the Indian Subcontinent; Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp & Tim 
Inskipp; Christopher Helm; 1998. 
[2] A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent; Krys Kazmierczak & Ber 
van Perlo; Pica Press; 2000; 
[3] A Birdwatchers' Guide to India; Krys Kazmierczak & Raj Singh; Birdwatchers' 
Guides, Oxford University Press
[4] Birds of South-east Asia ~ Craig Robson; New Holland 
[5] Handbook of the Birds of the India and Pakistan; Ali & Ripley; OUP
[6] Birds of the Eastern Himalayas;  Salim Ali 
[7] Oriental Bird Images Gallery - OBC

© Sumit K Sen 2004 

   
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