Rohtang area
Trip Report

 
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Himachal Pradesh
by Mathias Ritschard & Daniel Matti
21 July - 30 July 2004

 

 

 

Introduction

The Rohtang area around Manali and the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh has hardly ever been researched by ornithologists, although it has still a nice variety of fairly well preserved habitat to offer. © Daniel Matti

We explored the immediate surroundings of Manali and did a 7-day trek into the areas south of Rohtang Pass. We found more than 110 species of birds, including some of wider interest. A population of a Bradypterus warbler which is not known from literature yet was observed (see annotated species list for details), while the presence of White-bellied Redstart Hodgsonius phaenicuroides, one of the least known birds of the Indian Himalayas, was proven as well.

 

 


Habitat of White-bellied Redstart
below Rohtang La, July 2004

 

Itinerary:

21.7.    drive from Jispa to Manali on Leh – Manali road
22.7.    Manali Sanctuary towards Lamadugh + Forest south of Manali
23.7.    Manali Sanctuary towards Lamadugh and Trek from Rala Nala to Madhi
24.7.    trek from Madhi to Thast
25.7.    trek from Thast to Bhrigu Lake and back to Bhrigu Lake Base Camp
26.7.    trek from Bhrigu Lake Base Camp to Gulaba
27.7.    birding around Gulaba
28.7.    trek from Gulaba to Rala Nala
29.7.    drive from Rala Nala to Manali
30.7.    Manali Sanctuary towards Lamadugh, leaving for Delhi in the afternoon

Annotated Species List

Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus
Rather common, with up to 5 birds observed on 7 out of 10 days in the area.

Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis
Observed daily, with a maximum of about 70 birds on 24th, including at least 60 birds at a dead cow near Madhi.

Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Singles were observed near Thast on 24th and 25th and 4 birds (including juveniles) were present in the forest below Gulaba on 28th.

Oriental Honey-Buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus
2 birds were noted at Manali Sancuary on 22nd and a juvenile was seen near Thast on 24th.

Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
A single bird was observed near Thast on 25th. There are few, if any, summer records from Himachal Pradesh.

Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
A single bird was seen below the Rohtang pass on 21st; there are few, if any, summer records from Himachal Pradesh.

Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
The only observation was a single bird at Manali on 29th.

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus
Rather common, with 1-3 birds seen at most sites on 7 out of 10 days in the area. Dark and rufous morphs were predominating.

Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Present in small numbers around Manali, below Gulaba and above Thast, where 5 birds (including freshly fledged juveniles) were observed in a rock face on 23rd.

Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
A few birds were observed at Manali Sanctuary on 22nd and 23rd.

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
A single bird was seen above Manali on 22nd.

Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus
A single bird was heard below the campsite at Thast in the evening of 24th and on 25th. 2 birds were flushed in the forest below Gulaba on 27th.

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia
2 birds were present in a small pond on the Rohtang pass on 21st.

Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
A single bird was noted at the campsite at Madhi on 24th.

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola
A single bird landed in dense fog in front of our tent at Thast early morning on 27th.

Ruff Philomachus pugnax
A single bird, partly in breeding plumage, was seen at a small pond at Rohtang pass on 21st, at an altitude of 3900m.

Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota
A single bird was shortly seen above Madhi on 23rd, with 2 birds there the following morning.

Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis
Common at all sites up to the tree line; up to 15 birds were observed almost daily.

Slaty-headed Parakeet Psittacula himalayana
The only observation was round 50 birds in apple trees below Manali Sanctuary on 22nd.

Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides
Only observed inside Manali, with a maximum of around 6 birds (mainly juveniles) seen in a park just above the taxi stand.

Himalayan Swiftlet Collocalia brevirostris
Between 5 and 30 birds were counted on 4 out of 10 days in the area, mainly around Manali and Gulaba.

Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
A single bird was seen along the river below Manali on 30th.

Common Hoopoe Upupa epops
Present in small numbers around Manali.

Great Barbet Megalaima virens
Present mainly in and above Manali, where up to 6 birds were seen at Manali Sanctuary. A single bird was observed above Rala Nala on 28th.

Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
A single bird was calling just above Manali on 23rd and 30th.

Brown-fronted Woodpecker Dendrocopos auriceps
2 birds were noted at Manali Sanctuary on 23rd.

Himalayan Woodpecker Dendrocopos himalayensis
The commonest woodpecker, observed mainly in forest below Gulaba, with a single bird observed at Manali Sanctuary on 22nd.

Streak-throated Woodpecker Picus xanthopygaeus
2 birds were seen at Manali Sanctuary on 22nd.

Scaly-bellied Woodpecker Picus squamatus
A single female was present at Manali Sanctuary on 23rd and presumably the same on 30th.

Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus
2 birds were noted from Manali Sanctuary on 22nd.

Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus
Up to 30 birds seen on 8 out of 10 days in the area, mostly above 3000m.

Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
A single bird was seen below the campsite at Gulaba on 26th.

© Daniel Matti
Olive-backed Pipit, Gulaba, 26.7.2004

Rosy Pipit Anthus roseatus
Common above the upper tree line, where a maximum of 25 birds was seen between Thast and Bhrigu Lake on 25th.

Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Mainly seen along the river around Rala Nala.

Minivet sp. Pericrocotus sp.
A single Minivet above Rala Nala on 23rd and above Manali on 29th were only shortly seen but were most probably Long-tailed Minivets.

Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
At least 4 birds were seen in a large mixed flock at Manali Sanctuary on 30th.

Himalayan Bulbul Pycnonotus leucogenys
Quite common in Manali and at Manali Sanctuary.

Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus
Only seen at Manali Sanctuary, with a maximum of 30 birds on 22nd.

Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus
A single bird was seen near Rala Nala on 23rd.

Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
A single bird was reported from above Manali on 23rd and another from above Rala Nala on 28th.

Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii
2-3 birds were observed at Manali Sanctuary, near Rala Nala ans Thast and around Bhrigu Lake Base Camp.

Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Rather common above about 3800m, especially between Bhrigu Lake base camp and Bhrigu Lake, where around 8 birds were counted on 25th, and around Gulaba where 6 birds were seen on 27th.

Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
3 birds were reported from Rohtang La on 21st and around 8 birds between Bhrigu Lake base camp and Bhrigu Lake on 25th.

Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata
Rather common in rhododendron scrub around Thast and Gulaba. Highest number was 8 birds around Thast on 25th.

White-tailed Rubythroat Luscinia pectoralis
Single juvenile birds were noted near Thast on 26th and near Gulaba on 27th.

Indian Blue Robin Luscinia brunnea
Up to 5 birds noted on all visits to Manali Sanctuary and a single bird above Rala Nala, most of them only heard.

Red-flanked Bluetail Tarsiger cyanurus
Common in rhododendron scrub around Thast and Gulaba and in forest below Gulaba, with up to 25 birds seen daily in these areas.
 

© Daniel Matti
Red-flanked Bluetail, Gulaba, 27.7.2004

Golden Bush Robin Tarsiger chrysaeus
Present in small numbers in rhododendron scrub around Thast. A juvenile bird was seen below Thast on 24th, a single male near the campsite on 25th and a single male, a female and a juvenile bird observed on 26th.

Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Only observed in small numbers at Rohtang pass on 21st.

Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
Up to 10 birds noted at Rohtang pass and between Thast and Bhrigu Lake.

White-bellied Redstart Hodgsonius phaenicuroides  
2 birds were singing in scrub between Rala Nala and Madhi on 23rd, one of them reacting to pishing and showing up nicely on the top of a bush for a few moments. Rarely reported from India, probably mainly due to its very secretive habits.

White-capped Water Redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus
Common along streams in the area, with 1-12 birds seen on 5 out of 10 days.

© Daniel Matti
White-capped Water Redstart, Rala Nala,  23.7.2004

Plumbeous Water Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus
Common along streams, with 3-10 birds observed on 4 out of 10 days in the area.
Plumbeous Water Redstart, Rala Nala, 23.7.2004

© Daniel Matti
Plumbeous Water Redstart, Rala Nala, 23.7.2004

Grey Bushchat Saxicola ferrea
Common at Manali Sanctuary, where up to 20 birds were noted daily. Moreover, a few were seen above Rala Nala on 28th.

Blue-capped Rock Thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus
An adult male and a juvenile male bird were seen at Manali Sanctuary on 30th.

Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris
Fairly common above 3000m, with 1-4 birds seen on 5 out of 10 days in the area. Sites included Thast, in forest below Gulaba and between Rala Nala and Madhi.

Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus
Common, with up to 25 birds seen on most days.

Tickell´s Thrush Turdus unicolor
Not uncommon in and above Manali, where up to 4 birds were observed in the early morning. Very difficult to find during the day.

White-collared Blackbird Turdus albocinctus
3 birds (2m, 1f) were noted in rhododendron scrub between Thast and Gulaba on 26th and a single male in forest south of Gulaba on 27th.

Grey-winged Blackbird Turdus boulboul
Single males were observed above Rala Nala on 23rd and near Gulaba on 26th.

Eurasian Blackbird Turdus merula
3-4 birds were observed around the campsite at Thast on 24th and 25th.

Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus
Around 10 birds were seen near the campsite at Gulaba on 26th, with fewer birds around Thast on 24th and 25th.

Streaked Laughingthrush Garrulax lineatus
Rather common in Manali Sanctuary, where up to 10 birds were observed daily. Moreover, a few birds were seen above Rala Nala.

Variegated Laughingthrush Garrulax variegatus
Common in rhododendron scrub above the tree line, mostly around Thast and Gulaba, where a maximum of 10 birds was estimated on 26th. Less common at Manali Sanctuary, where the only observation was 4 birds on 30th.

Chestnut-tailed Minla Minla strigula
Rather common above 3000m, especially around Thast and Gulaba where up to 5 birds were noted daily. At least 2 birds were seen above Rala Nala on 23rd.

Whiskered Yuhina Yuhina flavicollis
Only observed at Manali Sanctuary, where around 8 birds were observed on 22nd and 6 on 30th.

Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler Cettia fortipes
Common at Manali Sanctuary, where around 10 birds were heard on all visits.

Aberrant Bush Warbler Cettia flavolivacea
2-3 birds singing in rhododendron scrub around Thast on 25th and 26th.

Grey-sided Bush Warbler Cettia brunnifrons
A single bird was observed in rhododendron scrub near the campsite at Thast on 25th.

Bradypterus (thoracicus) ‘kashmirensis’
At least 15 singing individuals of a Bradypterus warbler were noted between Madhi and Bhrigu Lake base camp above around 3800m, with the highest density around the base camp. An additional bird was heard a few kilometers south of Gulaba. The Bush Warblers were mainly found in low fern and rhododendron thickets and were frequently singing during the cool hours of the day. The taxonomy of this population will be discussed in a forthcoming paper by P. Alström et al.

© Daniel Matti
Bradypterus (thoracicus) ‘kashmirensis’, Thast, 24.7.2004

© Daniel Matti
Habitat of Bradypterus (thoracicus) ‘kashmirensis’ above Madhi, July 2004

Tickell´s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus affinis
2 birds were seen in rhododendron scrub near Thast on 24th.

Buff-barred Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher
Common above 3000m, especially in rhododendron scrub above the tree line, where up to 40 birds were seen daily near Thast.

Lemon-rumped Warbler Phylloscopus chloronotus
Common at slightly lower altitudes than Buff-barred Warbler, with only a few birds observed in rhododendron scrub above the tree line. Highest number was around 40 birds in forest above Rala Nala on 28th.

Hume´s Warbler Phylloscopus humei
Common at the upper tree line around Thast and Gulaba, where up to 25 birds were estimated daily.

Large-billed Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris
Not uncommon above about 2800m, but more easily heard than seen. Most were seen in forest below Gulaba and above Rala Nala. Highest number was 4 birds between Gulaba and Rala Nala on 28th.

Western Crowned Warbler Phylloscopus occipitalis
Up to 5 birds were seen on all visits to the Manali Sanctuary.

Blyth´s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides
Mainly observed at Manali Sanctuary, where the highest number was around 30 birds in a single flock on 30th. Single birds were seen around Rala Nala on 28th and 29th.

Grey-hooded Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos
Rather common in Manali and at Manali Sanctuary, with a maximum of 12 birds reported on 22nd.

Goldcrest Regulus regulus
Rather common in forest below Gulaba, where 1-10 birds were observed daily between 26th and 28th.

Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica
Quite common, with up to 10 birds noted at all sites between Manali and the upper tree line on 8 out of 10 days in the area.

Little Pied Flycatcher Ficedula westermanni
A single juvenile bird was observed at Manali Sanctuary on 23rd.

Ultramarine Flycatcher Ficedula superciliaris
A few birds were seen in Manali, at Manali Sanctuary and above Rala Nala.

Slaty-blue Flycatcher Ficedula tricolor
A juvenile bird was observed at Manali Sanctuary on 30th, with an additional bird calling nearby.

Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina
2 birds were reported from Manali Sanctuary on 23rd and 30th.

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher Culcicapa ceylonensis
A single bird was seen at Manali Sanctuary on 22nd, with at least 3 birds there in a big mixed flock on 30th.

Yellow-bellied Fantail Rhipidura hypoxantha
Quite common up to the upper tree line, with up to 10 birds noted on 8 out of 10 days in the area.

Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus
Not uncommon in Manali and at Manali Sanctuary, with a few birds also seen in a mixed flock above Rala Nala.

Spot-winged Tit Parus melanolophus
Common, with up to 15 birds seen on 6 out of 10 days in the area.

Rufous-vented Tit Parus rubidiventris
A single bird was observed in a mixed flock in a park above the taxi stand at Manali on 22nd.

Grey-crested Tit Parus dichrous
A single bird was observed in a small flock of Spot-winged Tits at the campsite at Gulaba on 28th.

Great Tit Parus major
A few birds were seen at Manali and at Manali Sanctuary.

Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus
The most common tit, observed at all sites between Manali and the upper tree line, with up to 20 birds seen on 8 
out of 10 days.

White-cheeked Nuthatch Sitta leucopsis
Rather common in forest below Gulaba, where 5-8 birds were seen daily between 26th and 28th. Around 3 birds were noted in a large mixed flock at Manali Sanctuary on 30th.

Bar-tailed Treecreeper Certhia himalayana
Common, with up to 10 birds noted on 8 out of 10 days in the area.

Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus
Present in small numbers in Manali and at Manali Sanctuary

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
Rather common at Manali Sanctuary, with a few birds also present around Rala Nala.

Yellow-breasted Greenfinch Carduelis spinoides
Rather common at Manali Sanctuary and above Rala Nala.

Black-and-Yellow Grosbeak Mycerobas icterioides
A pair was reported from Gulaba campsite on 27th.

Collared Grosbeak Mycerobas affinis
A single female was seen in forest below Gulaba on 27th.

Spot-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas melanozanthos 
A single male was observed above Rala Nala on 28th.

Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola
Common above 3900m, where up to 20 birds daily were observed around Rohtang pass, Thast and Bhrigu Lake base camp.

Dark-breasted Rosefinch Carpodacus nipalensis
A pair was seen at Thast on 25th and 2-3 singing males around Bhrigu Lake base camp on 25th and 26th.

Pink-browed Rosefinch Carpodacus rodochrous
Common especially at higher altitudes, but also present around Manali. Observed on 8 out of 10 days in the area with a maximum of 30 birds between Thast and Gulaba on 26th.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Very common in Manali.

Russet Sparrow Passer rutilans
Mainly seen at Manali Sanctuary, where around 10 birds were noted on 22nd and 20 on 23rd. Also a few above Rala Nala on 28th.

Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Very common in Manali, where up to a few hundred birds were seen daily.

Jungle Myna Acridotheres fuscus
2 birds were seen on 22nd and 23rd at Manali Sanctuary.

Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
Singles were seen at Manali Sanctuary on 22nd and 23rd.

Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
Common at Manali Sancuary, where up to 30 birds were counted daily.

Yellow-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa flavirostris
Only seen at Manali and at Manali Sanctuary, with a maximum of around 15 birds noted at the Sanctuary on 22nd

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Present around Rohtang pass, Madhi and between Thast and Bhrigu Lake, where around 60 birds were estimated on 25th.

Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
Very common, with up to several hundreds seen daily.


MAMMALS

Pika sp. Ochotona sp.
Quite a few unidentified Pikas were observed between Madhi and Bhrigu Lake.

© Daniel Matti
Pika sp., Bhrigu Lake Base Camp, 25.7.2004

Rhesus Macaque
A few groups were observed around Manali .

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
A single individual was seen above Bhrigu Lake Base Camp on 25th.

© Daniel Matti
Probable
Himalayan Pit Viper Gloydius himalayanus, Rala Nala, 28.7.2004.
 


© Mathias Ritschard & Daniel Matti (pictures), 2004
Questions and comments to Mathias Ritschard: locustella@students.unibe.ch

 

   
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