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Trip Report, Ladakh 2004
by Mathias Ritschard & Daniel Matti (pictures)


  Ladakh   Checklist

Page 3

Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
A few birds were reported from Rumbak Valley and along the Indus between Upshi and Mahe Bridge.

Red-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus
Common in Rumbak Valley (up to 50 birds daily) and in Nubra Valley; smaller numbers observed in and above Leh, around Upper Sumdo in Changtang and at Tso Moriri.

© Daniel Matti
Rumbak, 2.7.04

Twite Carduelis flavirostris
Common around Rumbak and Yurutse in Rumbak Valley and at most sites in the Changtang region, where around 80 birds were estimated around Tso Kar on 11th.

© Daniel Matti
Yurutse, 4.7.04

Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola
Common in Rumbak Valley between Rumbak and Ganda La above 4000m, where up to 30 individuals were seen daily. Moreover, singles were seen near Sumdo in the Changtang area and at Sumur in Nubra Valley at only around 3000m.

© Daniel Matti
Yurutse, 5.7.2004

Brandt’s Mountain Finch Leucosticte brandti
Common to abundant in the Changtang area, where up to a few hundred birds (maximum: about 400, including a flock of 300, at Startsapuk Tso on 12th) were seen daily. Less common in upper Rumbak Valley above 4500m, where 20+ birds were noted below Ganda La on 3rd and 10 birds west of Yurutse on 4th.

© Daniel Matti
Upper Rumbak Valley, 4.7.2004

Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
Common in Leh and along Indus between Thikse and Choglamsar as well as between Zinchen and Yurutse in Rumbak Valley. Abundant in Nubra Valley, where up to a hundred birds were estimated daily.

© Daniel Matti
Shey Marshes, 14.7.2004

Red-mantled Rosefinch Carpodacus rhodochlamys
A pair was observed in a small forest at Zinchen (lower Rumbak Valley) on 1st, where at least 4 birds (2 males, 2 females) were present on 5th. There are only a few previous records of this species from Ladakh.

© Daniel Matti © Daniel Matti
Male, Zinchen, 5.7.04                               Female, Zinchen, 5.7.04

Streaked Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilloides
Reasonably common in Rumbak Valley between Rumbak and Ganda La, where 3-15 birds were observed daily. Furthermore, 3 birds were noted at Upper Sumdo on 8th.

© Daniel Matti
Rumbak, 2.7.2004

Great Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilla
Regularly reported from Upper Rumbak Valley and the Changtang area, with a total of 8 observation of 1-4 birds. Sites included Rumbak to Ganda La (especially around Yurutse), Upper Sumdo, Tso Moriri and Tso Kar.

© Daniel Matti
Yurutse, 3.7.2004

House Sparrow Passer domesticus 
Common to abundant at all sites up to 4000m. Rarer higher up, with a few birds seen at Tso Moriri at more than 4500m. 

Tibetan Snowfinch Montifringilla adamsi
Common above 4000m in upper Rumbak Valley and in the Changtang area as well as around Taglang La and Khardung La. Highest count was around 50 birds at Startsapuk Tso on 12th, including two presumably melanistic juveniles with blackish body.

© Daniel Matti © Daniel Matti
Rumbak, 2.7.04                                      Juvenile, Rumbak, 5.7.04

Blanford’s / Plain-backed Snowfinch Montifringilla blanfordi
Present around the campsite at Tso Kar (at the spring opposite to Thukse village), where 2 juveniles were seen from 10th to 12th, with 2 adults also there on 11th and at least one on 12th. Around 10 birds, including many juveniles, were seen in a large flock of Brandt’s Mountain Finches at the southern end of Startsapuk Tso on 12th. Blanford’s Snowfinch is a rare summer visitor / resident in Ladakh.

© Daniel Matti
Juvenile, Tso Kar, 10.7.2004

Brahminy Starling Sturnus pagodarum
A single bird was present around the campsite at Tso Kar (at the spring opposite to Thukse village) at 4550m from 10th to 13th. Brahminy Starling is an occasional vagrant to Ladakh in summer and autumn and this might be the highest observation ever.

© Daniel Matti
Tso Kar, 10.7.2004

Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
1-2 birds were reported from the Indus Valley between Thikse and Choglamsar (30th of june and 20th of july) and from Diskit and Sumur in Nubra Valley (17th of july).

Black-billed Magpie Pica pica
Common in all lower regions visited (up to around 40 birds seen daily), locally up to nearly 4500m (in Rumbak Valley).

Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Common in Rumbak Valley and at most sites in Changtang and Nubra valley (up to 20 a day); small numbers around the Shey Marshes.

Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
More local than Red-billed Chough, not seen in the Changtang region. Sites included Rumbak Valley between Rumbak and Ganda La (maximum: around 80 birds on 3rd), above Leh, Khardung La and around Sumur and Panamik in Nubra Valley.

Eurasian Jackdaw Corvus monedula
4 birds were observed at the bridge at Choglamsar on 30th of june. Eurasian Jackdaw is only occasionally seen as far east in Ladakh.

© Daniel Matti
Choglamsar, 30.6.04

Carrion Crow Corvus corone orientalis
Only seen in the Indus Valley between Thikse and Choglamsar, with around 10 birds reported on 30th of June but only a single bird on 14th of July.
( * note that ‘orientalis’ birds look very different from western Carrion Crows and could easily be mistaken for immature Rooks).

© Daniel Matti
Shey Marshes, 30.6.04

Common Raven Corvus corax
A few birds seen in the Changtang area between Thazang Guru Tso and Tso Moriri, at Tso Moriri, Puga and at the campsite at Tso Kar. Single birds were also noted at Khardung La. 

Hume’s Groundpecker Pseudopodoces humilis
Two pairs were found at the southern end of Startsapuk Tso, both of them feeding their chicks in nest holes. One nest was found in the ground (possibly an old pika hole) at the eastern end of the village (which is only inhabited in winter) south of the lake. The second nest was situated in a steep sandy face in a small valley at the mountain slope a few hundred meters south of the bank, around 500 meters east of the village. At the first site there was an additional adult bird present. Hume’s Groundpecker occurs mainly in the extreme eastern parts of Ladakh, which are not accessible to foreigners. Our observations may be the first breeding records in accessible areas.

© Daniel Matti  © Daniel Matti
Startsapuk Tso, 12.7.2004


Wolf Canis lupus
A single individual was observed at Tso Kar on 12th.

© Daniel Matti Tso Kar, 12.7.2004

Red Fox Vulpes vulpes
A single individual was noted between Tso Kar salt lake and Startsapuk Tso on 12th. Kiang, 

Tibetan Wild Ass Equus kiang
Common in the plains around Tso Kar, with a maximum of 105+ individuals counted on 11th. A few were observed along the Leh-Manali road south of Taglang La.

© Daniel Matti Tso Kar, 11.7.2004

Bharal, Blue Sheep Pseudois nayaur
Mainly observed in upper Rumbak Valley. A group of 16 females/juveniles was seen just above Rumbak and 3 males near Ganda La on 3rd. 3 different groups (9 females/juveniles, 31 females/juveniles, 18 males) were seen at different locations in upper Rumbak Valley on 4th. Moreover, 10 females/juveniles were noted north of Taglang La on 13th and 7 males along the Leh-Manali Road near Lachung La on 20th.

© Daniel Matti Rumbak, 3.7.2004

Argali Ovis ammon hodgsoni
The only observation was a group of 70+ females/juveniles above Rumtse north of Taglang La on 20th.

Himalayan / Long-tailed Marmot Marmota bobak / caudate
Unidentified Marmots were commonly observed in upper Rumbak Valley, in the Changtang area, at Khardung La and along the Leh-Manali road, mostly at altitudes above 4500m.

© Daniel Matti Probable Himalayan Marmot, Upper Rumbak Valley, 3.7.04

Woolly Hare Lepus oiostolus
Rather common in upper Rumbak Valley, where around 5 individuals were observed almost daily.

Cape Hare Lepus capensis
A few individuals were seen daily in Nubra Valley.

© Daniel Matti Upper Rumbak Valley, 4.7.2004 

Pika sp. Ochotona sp.
Common in Rumbak Valley, in the Changtang area and in Nubra Valley. Several species occur in Ladakh but are difficult to identify in the field.

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© Mathias Ritschard & Daniel Matti (pictures), 2004
Questions and comments to Mathias Ritschard:


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