North Bengal

 
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Duars   Lava   Singalila   Kalimpong   Karmi Farm

 


Birding areas in Northern West Bengal

© Sumit Sen
North Bengal


North Bengal comprising the districts of Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Dinajpur and Cooch Behar lies at the foothills of the great Himalayas. The area covers the moist and dense riverine forests of the Bengal  dooars (duars) and the stark foothills of the snow-capped Kanchenjunga range. The unique climatic and ecological conditions makes North Bengal an unique home for a variety of superb biome restricted bird species. 

Key birding hotspots in the region are:

Darjeeling area : Altitude 2130m. Base for Sandakphu and Singalila ridge. Day trip to the area near the Zoological Gardens and Tiger Hill. Darjeeling is a popular hill station and offers superb views of Mt. Kanchenjunga (8586m). Kalimpong a resort town at 1,300m is only 50kms away and provides a middle range perspective. Tinchuley, situated near Takdah is an ideal mid-way point between Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
Best time to visit: April to May and October to December

Singalila area: Altitude 2000m - 3640m. Area covers the Singalila Ridge and is characterized by bamboo, oak and rhododendron forests interspersed with numerous mountain streams and rugged mountains. The area is suitable for trekking and is on the Sandakphu trek route. 
A visit to Singalila can be combined with a halt at Karmi Farm where a eco-tourist resort at 1,400m is the ideal place to rest weary legs while the birds watch you.  
Best time to visit: November to March

Lava / Loylegaon area: Altitude 1600 -2400m. Base for Neora Valley and Sikkim.  Area is covered by mature evergreen forest. Loylegaon is 28kms from Lava. 
Best time to visit: March to April and October to December

Bengal Duars: Altitude 100m - 500m. Base for Jaldapara National Park, Gorumara National Park, Buxa Tiger Reserve and Mahananda Wild Life Sanctuary. Area is crisscrossed by both glacier fed rivers like the mighty Teesta and numerous rain fed rivers. The area is dominated by moist deciduous forests and river valleys. Gorumara is a reasonable choice as a base for birding in this area.  When you are in the area do visit the foothills of Neora Valley National Park at Suntalekhola (900 meters). This is a great birding spot.
Best time to visit: October to April

The Darjeeling and Lava/Loylegaon area has been covered in detail by Krys Kazmierczak and Raj Singh in their " A Birdwatchers' Guide to India (OUP). The Duars area is covered in this website through presentations and  trip reports.

Sumit Sen
Kolkata, India 

   
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