Joanna Van Gruisen


Himalayan Monal © Joanna

Himalayan Monal
(Lophophorus impejanus)



Image details
Kodachrome 64
Nikon F3 with Nikon 300mm f4/2.8
Location: Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal
June 1983

Shoot details
We spent six weeks camping in the mountains to document the breeding cycle of the Monal, living, as many of the Sherpas did, solely on potatoes (breakfast, lunch and dinner). The colourful and displaying males were relatively easy to spot but finding and getting close to the cryptically coloured females was much more difficult. They are very cautious not to reveal their nesting sites and rarely come into the open when foraging with chicks. Time, patience, understanding and luck are required. The brightly coloured male ‘bird of nine colours’ alerted me to this female. He is drooping his wing in display to her. Even so I could only get this close by shooting through a small opening in obscuring herbs and bushes after many hours of watching and stalking.

Species details
The Himalayan Monal is a near-endemic found in the higher altitudes of the Himalaya. The brilliant male is a sight to behold in the cold dark landscape of the high Himalaya.
Interestingly, the Nepalese name for this bird is 'Danphe' and the Satyr Tragopan is called the 'Munal or Monal' in the same language. In a strange twist of crossed-communication, the Danphe became the Monal and the true Monal became the rather 'out of place sounding' Tragopan. The IOC had a good chance to take the initiative and rectify this historic blunder when they came up with the recent name revisions - but this must have been the last thing on their mind.
The male of the species chips in at 72cms and the much more difficult to observe female is smaller at 64cms.

A Birds of India presentation


This image is copyrighted by the photographer. All rights reserved.