Eastern Himalaya
Trip Report

 
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Trip Report symbol © Sumit Sen                        North Bengal and Sikkim
                        by Sumit Sen
                        29 March -04 April 2003

 


© Sumit Sen

Trip List


Introduction

I took a 7 day break with the family to see the Rhododendrons in the Eastern Himalayas. © Sumit SenWe covered Ravangla (7000 ft) in South Sikkim, Kalimpong (5500 ft), Lava (8000 ft) and Gorumara, Duars (600 ft) in North Bengal over the week. Although not a serious birding/photography trip, I did carry my camera and devoted the mornings to birding. The appended list of 149 birds were observed mostly from main roads and hotels. The weather in the mountains was depressing with fog, mist and rains dominating daylight hours. This restricted birdwatching and affected the count. Even then, I did get to see some good birds and the soft light ( when there was visibility) gave me some acceptable mid-day photographs.

I would strongly recommend this trip to those who want to cover this region on a short tour. The opportunities of seeing good birds over terrain that rises from 500 feet to 10000 feet in 130 kms is limitless.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Bagdogra (p.m.) and travel by road to Ravangla ( 5 hrs).
Day 2: Ravangla at Hotel Zumthang. Day trip to Demtang forest ( 2 kms). Afternoon to Reylong via Maenam.
Day 3: Morning Maenam WLS (rain & mist). Depart Kalimpong (70 kms and 4 hrs) via Teesta Bazar. Stay at Himalayan Hotel.
Day 4: Morning Lava (mist, mist and more mist) - Algarah Road (33 kms and return)
Day 5: Rain and depart for Gorumara via Lava, Gorubatan and Damdim. (80 kms & 3 hrs). Stay at Help Tourism's Jungle Camp.
Day 6: Morning Mahakal Trek (Gorumara) - no birds !!! Afternoon Sunatnekhola (3000 ft at the base of Neora Valley NP) and Chapramari WLS.
Day 7: Morning Khunia Block, Garumara WLS. Depart for Bagdogra and Kolkata.

Site details

© Sumit Sen

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 ( Ravangla, Kalimpong, Maenam, 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.

Notes: We visited Gorumara in November 2002 and saw a delightful number of birds in large flocks. On this visit birds were thin and most had paired off. The Mahakal trail which yielded some great birds and large flocks in November was almost bereft of bird-life. There is possibly a seasonal pattern of bird movement in the area.

LIST OF BIRDS OBSERVED IN Sikkim and North Bengal

1. Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola
Hear Ravangla
2. Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus
One at Suntalekhola 
3. Kalij Pheasant  Lophura leucomelanos 
One male flushed at the viewpoint on the road to Loylegaon
5. Greater Yellownape Picus flavinucha 
Pair at Suntalekhola  
6. Great Barbet Megalaima virens 
Heard everywhere. 
8. Blue-throated Barbet Megalaima asiatica 
Suntalekhola
9. Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala
Single Gorumara.
10. Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris 
6 at  Gorumara ( 4/4)  and single at Chapramari.
11. Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis 
One bird seen on on the road to Namchi at the higher reaches of the river Teesta (29/3)
12. Common Hoopoe Upupa epos
One on the Algarah Road near Lava (2/4) and one at Gorumara (4/4). 
13. Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis affinis
Common on the way to Sevok and the foothills. Pair at Suntalekhola. 
14. Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis 
One bird on the banks of the Teesta in Sikkim at the lower reaches (31/3).

© Sumit Sen

15. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis 
Recorded on the Teesta, Gorumara and lowlands. Only Kingfisher on the trip. 
16. Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus 
Common at Jungle Camp and the road to Teesta from Gorumara.
This is the 1st time in 3 recent visits that these birds have been noticed in this area. Maybe passage migrants.
17. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti
Flock on the Teesta and pair at Chapramari.
18. Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides 
Heard Ravangla and seen at Suntanekhola (3/4).
19. Common Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx varius 
Heard at Gorumara.
20. Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus 
Heard Ravangla and Gorumara Jungle Camp.
21. Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus 
Heard every day at Ravangla. 
22. Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea
Gorumara.
23. Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
One bird seen on the Khunia grassland, Gorumara was presumably of this species.
24. Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria 
Small numbers recorded daily in the Gorumara area. 
25. Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri 
Pair at Gorumara (4/4) 
26. Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri 
Common around Gorumara. Also seen at Chapramari. 
27. Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis 
Small flock at Jungle Camp, Gorumara. 
28. House Swift Apus affinis 
Four seen at Kalimpong on 26/11 were of the nipalensis subspecies, showing a 
slightly more forked tail than the “Little Swift” found elsewhere.
29. Brown Wood Owl Strix leptogrammica 
One calling at Himalayan Hotel, Kalimpong 
30. Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides 
One near Himalayan Hotel, Kalimpong. Mobbed by Red-vented Bulbuls. 
31. Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus 
One at the Gorumara Jungle Camp in 3/4 
32. Rock Pigeon Columba livia 
33. Speckled Wood Pigeon Columba hodgsonii 
A pair at Danteng forest near Ravangla.  
34. Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis 
Pair on the Teesta road to Namchi.  
35. Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis 
Lowlands.
36. Red Collared Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica 
One bird outside Garumara Jungle Camp.
37. Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto 
38. Yellow-footed Green Pigeon Treron phoenicoptera 
8 at Gorumara. 
39. Thick-billed Green Pigeon Treron curvirostra
Pair seen at Gorumara (4/4). Female chasing the male.

© Sumit Sen

40. Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea 
Gorumara.
41. White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus 
A pair at Khunia beat, Gorumara.
42. Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus
Bagdogra Airport ( 4/4).
43. Black Kite Milvus migrans 
Common in the lowlands but not seen at higher elevations. 
44. White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis 
Single on the road to Sevok (29/3). 
45. Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis 
Singles on 29/3 and another over Suntanekhola (3/4) 
46. Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela 
Single at Gorumara Jungle Camp.
47. Shikra Accipiter badius 
One bird at Mahananda ( 4/4) 
48. Besra Accipiter virgatus
One bird seen well at Ravangla ( 30/4).
49. Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus 
Ravangla ( 1/4). 
50. Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis 
Great views at Suntanekhola. 
51. Bonelli's Eagle Hieraaetus fasciatus 
One at Ravangla. 
52. Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger 
Upto 10 on a tree on the way to Sevok (lowlands). 
53. Little Egret Egretta garzetta
2 birds in the lowlands.
54. Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis 
Common at Gorumara but not recorded at higher levels. 
55. Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii 
Surprise, surprise. Only one bird of this common species seen near Jungle Camp, Gorumara.
56. Black Ibis Pseudibis papillosa 
Surprise bird. Single seen well at Kunia block, Gorumara an area outside the known range of the species.
57. Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus 
One at Chapramari.
58. Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons 
2 birds of the nominate subspecies seen at Chapramari (3/4). 
59. Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus 
Upto 6 only on the road from Siliguri to river Teesta ( on 29/3 and 4/4) 
60. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach 
Birds of both nominate and ssp. Tricolor seen at Kalimpong. Tricolor in the lowlands. 
61. Grey-backed Shrike Lanius excubitoroides 
One bird at Kalimpong and another on the Mahakal trail, Garumara. 
62. Common Green Magpie Cissa chinensis 
Pair seen at 3000 feet on the road to Teesta below Namchi ( 31/3) and 5 at Suntanekhola ( 2500 feet) on 3/4. Both sightings were of blue coloured birds.

© Sumit Sen

63. Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda 
Only seen at the Gorumara Jungle Camp. 
64. Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae 
Pair with a mixed flock of Maroon Orioles, Racket-tailed Drongos and Greater Yellownapes at Gorumara (4/4) 
65. House Crow Corvus splendens 
Only on the Siliguri road and Kalimpong town. 
66. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos 
Common. 
67. Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus 
One at Gorumara.
68. Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii 
Pair at Gorumara. 
69. Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei 
Pair at Jungle camp. 
70. Black-winged Cuckooshrike Coracina melaschistos 
Pair at Chapramari. 
71. Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus 
Upto 4 on the Algarah Road, Lava. 
72. Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris 
Upto 4 on the Algarah Road, Lava. 
73. Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus 
Pair on the Algarah road, upto 6 at Chapramari. 
74. Yellow-bellied Fantail Rhipidura hypoxantha 
One at Kailmpong. 
75. White-throated Fantail Rhipidura albicollis 
Very common at Ravangla. 
76. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus 
Common in the lowlands but not recorded anywhere in the hills. 
77. Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus 
One at Ravangla, pair at Lava and upto 4 at Gorumara.
78. Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer 
2 at Gorumara.

© Sumit Sen

79. Spangled Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus 
2 at Jungle Camp ( 3/4 and 4/4) and a pair at Gorumara (4/4) 
80. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus 
6 birds having an argument at Gorumara. Part of a mixed hunting flock.
81. Blue-capped Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris 
Single on Namchi - Teesta Bazar road and another on  Algarah road.
82. Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus 
Pair on the Algarah road. Single female at Ravangla.
83. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius 
One adult male at Gorumara Jungle Camp
84. Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus
Almost one bird every hundred yards on the road past Maenam. Common everywhere on the trip. 
85. Tickell's Thrush Turdus unicolor 
One on the Algarah road. 
86. White-collared Blackbird Turdus albocinctus 
Single, Algarah Road, Lava.
87. Grey-winged Blackbird Turdus boulboul 
Common in the hills.



88. Dark-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis 
Very common at Ravangla and Kalimpong where upto 5 (ssp. ruficollis) roosting at the Himalayan Hotel 
89. Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica 
One at Lava. 
90. Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata 
Pair, Lava.
91. Red-throated Flycatcher Ficedula parva 
Single female, Jungle Camp Gorumara.
92. Slaty-blue Flycatcher Ficedula tricolor 
93. Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina 
Common at Ravangla. One on the Algarah Road, Lava. 
94. Large Niltava Niltava grandis 
One seen well at Maenam.

© Sumit Sen

95. Rufous-bellied Niltava Niltava sundara 
One seen at Lava. 
96.  Pale Blue Flycatcher Cyornis unicolor 
97. Golden Bush Robin Tarsiger chrysaeus 
Single at Ravangla ( 30/4, 31/4 ).
98. Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis 
Kalimpong and lowlands. 
99. White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus 
Gorumara.
100. Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros 
Single male ssp. rufiventris, Gorumara (4/4)
101. Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis 
Commonest bird at Ravangla. All males. Single bird at Lava.
102. White-capped Water Redstart Phoenicurus leucocephalus 
103. Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosus
2 birds on the Damdim Road. 
104. Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata 
One at Gorumara. 
105. Grey Bushchat Saxicola ferrea 
Common Ravangla and Lava. 
106. Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnus malabaricus 
Pair at Kalimpong. 
107. Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra 
Common in lowland areas. 
108. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis 
Seen everyday and everywhere except Lava forest. 
109. Jungle Myna Acridotheres fuscus 
Four seen at Gorumara Jungle Camp. 
110. Hill Myna Gracula religiosa 
G. r. intermedia pair on the Mahakal trail, Gorumara. 
111. Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Sitta castanea 
Single on Algarah Road, Lava. 
112. White-tailed Nuthatch Sitta himalayensis 
113. Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus 
Small numbers at Ravangla, Kalimpong and Lava.
114. Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea 
6 birds calling incessantly while feeding at Chapramari. Seems to be a good place to see these birds. 

© Sumit Sen

115. Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus 
Lava 
116. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica  
Algarah town and Algarah Road.
117. Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus ?
Kalimpong.  
118. Nepal House Martin Delichon nipalensis 
Ravangla.
119. Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus
Pair on the Teesta drive ( 29/3) and single at Chapramari ( 3/4) 
120. Himlayan Bulbul Pycnonotus leucogenys 
Pair on Teesta road, Sikkim and nesting pair at Himlayan Hotel, Kalimpong
121. Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus 
Large flock on the Khunia grassland (4/4) 
122. Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer 
Perhaps the commonest bird seen.
123. Ashy Bulbul Hemixos flavala
3 on the Dentang road ( 30/4).
124. Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius 
Kalimpong.
125. Buff-barred Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher 
126. Hume's Warbler Phylloscopus humei 
Kalimpong
127. Eastern Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus coronatus
Possible at Kalimpong
128. Grey-hooded Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos ?
Ravangla.
129. Striated Laughingthrush Garrulax striatus 
Pair on the Maenam Road.
130. Streaked Laughingthrush Garrulax lineatus
Ravangla.
131. Black-faced Laughingthrush Garrulax affinis
Single, Maenam 
132. Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush Garrulax erythrocephalus
Large flock at Ravangla and Lava. 
133. Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis
Pair, Algarah Road, Lava (1/4)
134. Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps 
Flock of 8/9 at Ravangla ( 30/4)
135. Grey-throated Babbler Stachyris nigriceps
Pair in  bamboo below Namchi ( 31/4).
136. Jungle Babbler Turdoides striatus
Kalimpong and Gorumara Jungle Camp. 
137. Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea 
Upto 6 at Ravangla.
138. Chestnut-tailed Minla Minla strigula 
Small flock recorded at Lava. 
139. Red-tailed Minla Minla ignotincta 
2 feeding birds seen well near Algarah town with Whiskered Yuhinas and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch.

© Sumit Sen

140. Rufous-winged Fulvetta Alcippe castaneceps 
Lava. 
141. Rufous Sibia Heterophasia capistrata 
Hills. 
142. Whiskered Yuhina Yuhina flavicollis 
Strangely the only Yuhina of the trip at Algarah road (1/4)
143. Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis 
Two small flocks at Lava (1/4)
144. Fire-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga ignicauda 
Ravangla and one large flock of 18 birds on Algarah Road, Lava.
145. Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna 
Single at Gorumara.
146. House Sparrow Passer domesticus 
147. Tree Sparrow Passer montanus 
148. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea 
One at Suntanekhola (3/4). 
149. Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni 
Upto 10 on Algarah road.
150. Altai Accentor Prunella himalayana 
4 feeding birds just outside Ravangla town ( 0/4)
151. White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata acuticauda
Nesting pair, 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] The Birds of Sikkim ; Salim Ali .Oxford University Press

© Sumit K Sen 2003 
 

   
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