Birds of India

Trip List

Ladakh Area Trip List
by Otto Pfister
26 May - 26 June 2004

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis
- 2 birds (in breeding plumage) (7.,11.,15.June) in Trisul-Tso
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus
- 1 pair (incubating) in Yoye-Tso, common (plus >6 nests at northern shore) at Tsomoriri, common (about 100 nests) in Startsapuk-Tso - pairs mainly incubating, some constructing nests and some already with chicks
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
- 1 bird at Yoye-Tso
Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus
- common at Thadsang Karu lake and Tsomoriri (with chicks), common (>200 counted) in Startsapuk-Tso (with chicks)
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
- 2 pairs in Yoye-Tso, common at Thadsang Karu lake, less so at Tsomoriri (few with chicks), occasional in Puga and Sumdo, more common at Tso-Kar than Startsapuk-Tso
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
- 2 pairs in Yoye-Tso, plus >20 birds in Startsapuk-Tso (some males moving into eclipse)
Gadwall Anas strepera
- 2 males / 1 female (7. + 15.6.) in Trisul-Tso, plus >2 pairs in Yoye-Tso
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
- 1 male in Startsapuk-Tso
Northern Pintail Anas acuta
- 7 pairs (11.6.) in Trisul-Tso, about 7 pairs in Yoye-Tso, plus >40 birds in Startsapuk-Tso
Garganey Anas querquedula
- 3 pairs (15.6.) in Trisul-Tso
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata
- 1 pair (11.6.), 1 male (15.6.) in Trisul-Tso, plus 1 male at Shey fishponds
Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina
- 1 male in eclipse / 2 females (7.,11.,15.6.) in Trisul-Tso, occasional (males in eclipse) northern part of Tsomoriri, plus >2 pairs in Startsapuk-Tso
Common Pochard Aythya ferina
- 3 males / 2 females (7.6.), 1 male (11.6.), 3 males / 2 females (15.6.) in Trisul-Tso
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula
- 1 male (7.,11. + 15.6.) in Trisul-Tso
Common Merganser Mergus merganser
- 1 female in Indus at Chumatang, plus 1 female in northern Tsomoriri
Black Kite Milvus migrans lineatus
- one pair breeds in an old magpie nest in a poplar tree (ca. 8m above ground) in the Leh circuit house complex (3600m) - a first breeding record for Ladakh
Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus
- 1 sub-adult over Rumbak, 1 adult below Stock-La / Hussing nullah , 1 bird in roost below southern reach 5 km before Mahe bridge, 1 adult at nest with unfledged chick (at eastern reach before ascending into steep slope towards Yoye-Tso), 1 pair in spectacular courting display flight at Puga-Sumdo (calling a very soft 'piaa'), 1 bird at Tsomoriri, 1 bird over Startsapuk-Tso, and 1 bird soaring over Dibring before and another one immediately north of Taglang-La in its roost / nest
Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis
- 1 immature below Stock-La / upper Hussing nullah, 6 birds soar around peaks of northern reach (3 km after Likche / 3680m), plus 3 single birds sit in respective whitewashed roosts / nests located in high cliffs in northern reach (5 km after Likche / 3710m)
Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus
- 1 bird near Tso-Kar
Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius
- 1 bird at Tsomoriri below Korzak
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
- 1 bird gliding along cliffs near 'nest' in Rumbak gorge
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
- 1 pair in / around Leh of which one pair is breeding in an old magpie nest (ca 8m above ground) in poplar tree in the circuit house complex / Leh 3600m (5 trees next to the Black Kite nest, fighting often for the dominant perch on a neighboring dry/dead tree top, kestrel is more aggressive, the male carries a Himalayan Agama and presents it to the begging female sitting on the perch), 1 female accompanying her fledged chick in flight training above Upper Sumdo, 1 female at Puga, >2 birds in the Tso-Kar plains
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
- 1 bird hunting dragon flies over 'fishponds' in Shey marshes and devouring the catch straight in flight, while its partner called from a nearby poplar tree (29.5.) and again (17.6.) presumably the same pair hunting dragon flies over the same site, plus 1 pair breeding in old magpie nest in poplar tree (about 12m above ground) after Shey bridge, female is incubating while male, perched on a horizontal branch in neighboring tree is calling frequently in fast repeated / rising 'piu-piu-piu..'
Saker Falcon Falco cherrug milvipes
- 1 shy bird (in 'south Tibet' morph) for 3 days (established territory?) above southern edge of Startsapuk-Tso
Tibetan Snowcock Tetraogallus tibetanus
- 2 birds heard for 3 days in the early mornings in the upper slopes high above Upper Sumdo
Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallus himalayensis
- occasional along the upper hillsides above Rumbak, >4 birds above Yurutse (+ 4500m), >20 birds below Stock-La / above Hussing nullah (4600m)
Chukar Alectoris chukar
- 2 birds at Horzey / Leh, common to abundant from Zinchan to Yurutse up to below Ganda-La but also into Hussing nullah and especially around Rumbak 'the Chukar capital', common around Hemis Shukpachan,
and also around Wanla
Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis
- 1 pair breeding on longish island at the northern pond off the main lake at Yoye-Tso (a new breeding spot since my research on the species in Ladakh from 1995-97; the nest contained two creamy, reddish-brown splotched eggs laying directly in the grass / no nesting material added, the partner feeding in the nearby marshes amongst sheep, goat and yak is frequently chased by a shepherd dog); 1 2nd-year sub-adult at northern feeder-stream delta at Tsomoriri; >2 (non-breeding) pairs plus one 'loner' in the Tso-Kar plains and shuttling to Puga
Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus
- 6 birds in Shey marshes - mainly in the fish ponds
Common Coot Fulica atra
- 10 birds in Shey marshes mainly the fish ponds, 3 birds (7.6.) and 2 birds (11.6.) in Trisul-Tso, 1 bird in Yoye-Tso, occasional in northern part of Tsomoriri, >70 birds in Startsapuk-Tso, = compared to earlier year counts I would suggest the summering coot population in Ladakh as increasing
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius
- 2 birds - probably a pair, on a side-canal in the Shey marshes
Lesser Sand Plover Charadrius mongolus
- common at Thadsang Karu lake, around the Tso-Kar lakes, plus about >20 birds on the northern feeder-river delta of Tsomoriri. Males of these latter group were lacking any white on lower forehead or above lore - characteristic for the usual Ladakh breeding form 'atrifrons', but appeared black from forehead and lore to ear-coverts, i.e. identical to the Tien-Shan / Karakorum breeding 'pamirensis'. Confirmation of identification (photographed) would indicate a new subspecies for Ladakh on migration to reach its breeding grounds.
Common Redshank Tringa totanus
- 2 birds at Yoye-Tso, occasional in the Puga plains, rather common in the Tso-Kar plains especially around Startsapuk-Tso
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
- 1bird at the spring at northern Tso-Kar
Brown-headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus
- 1over Indus at Chumatang, 1 bird over river at Upper Sumdo but occasional at Puga, abundant at Thadsang Karu lake and Tsomoriri, and common over the Tso-Kar lakes and breeding in Startsapuk-Tso
Common Tern Sterna hirundo tibetana
- 1 pair on Indus at Shey marshes (29.5. + 17.6.), 1 over Indus at Chumatang, 1 bird over Yoye-Tso, 2 records over northern Tsomoriri and >4 birds at Startsapuk-Tso
Tibetan Sandgrouse Syrrhaptes tibetanus
- daily flypass of >1 pair (07.30h) and 1 male drinking at spring at Startsapuk-Tso
Rock Pigeon Columba livia neglecta
- common throughout the lower regions in visited places of Ladakh to about 3900m
Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris turkestanica
- common throughout visited parts of Ladakh up from 3800m but mainly above 4000m
Oriental Turtle-Dove Streptopelia orientalis meena
- occasional to common in groves throughout the lower regions of visited Ladakh to about 3700m with single sightings up to Rumbak; 2 fledging chicks at Hemis Shukpachan
Eurasian Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
- 1 female in hepatic morph in Wanla area, plus 1 male (also calling) and 1 female (hepatic morph / also calling) in the Shey-Tikse marshes
Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo hemachalana
- 1 adult with 1 downy chick in nest in rock-niche in steep rock-wall at Upper Sumdo, 1 adult in northern rock wall above nomad winter settlement at Puga
Little Owl Athene noctua bactriana / ludlowi
- 1 pair breeding in rock-fall at southern end of Startsapuk-Tso, with the male hunting in the grass-land near the spring and carrying the vole-kill up into the rocks, the nest site was found in a changed location due to destruction of their traditional breeding place (see also OBC Bulletin 29: 22-28)
Common Swift Apus apus
- 1 bird over Shey marshes, >2 birds over Indus - Rumbak river junction, plus 1 bird over Startsapuk-Tso
Fork-tailed Swift Apus pacificus
- 2 birds over Indus - Rumbak river junction
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
- quite common around Leh (pairs calling), common in Shey marshes (one pair courting, others carried food), plus 1 bird in the Wanla area
Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
- 1 bird in the Wanla area, calling unceasingly in a repeated (ca. 15 notes) fast 'piu-piu-piu-piu...', perching up in a poplar tree woodpecker-like
Hume's Short-toed Lark Calandrella acutirostris
- occasional at Yoye-Tso, common around Thadsang Karu lake and Tsomoriri, common in Puga, common (also incubating) in the Tso-Kar plains
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
- occasional (incl. some singing males) in Hemis Shukpachan, occasional in the Shey-Tikse marshes
Horned Lark Eremophila alpestris longirostris
- occasional in the upper Rumbak valley from Rumbak upwards, common tow. Kardung-La (South Pulu), common in the Rupchu region incl. Yoye-Tso, Thadsang Karu lake and Tsomoriri, Puga-Sumdo or Tso-Kar plains (also incubating)
Sand Martin Riparia riparia
- 1 bird in the Wanla area
Eurasian Crag-Martin Hirundo rupestris
- occasional in Rumbak valley (around 3500m); 1 pair incubating in a small breeding colony (together with Northern House Martin) above Alchi bridge (3200m) (13.6.), yet the nest was found destroyed two days later (vandalism) and the clutch of 4 (white, brown splotched) eggs laying broken below with the birds gone; 2 birds over Indus 3 km after Likche / 3680m, common (breeding) in the Puga-Sumdo area
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica rustica
- 2 birds Shey marshes, 1 pair at Startsapuk-Tso
Northern House Martin Delichon urbica
- 1 over Choglamsar; >3 pairs nest-construction in a small breeding colony (with Eurasian Crag Martin) above Alchi bridge (3200m) (13.6.), two days later the colony was found destroyed (vandalism) and the birds gone; 2 birds over Indus 9 km before Mahe bridge; common along the north-facing rock-wall east of Sumdo (>7 pairs in nests / incubating),
White Wagtail Motacilla alba alboides
- common above Leh along Leh-river and the Shey-Tikse marshes, 1 bird in Wanla area, quite common around Chumatang
White Wagtail Motacilla alba personata
- 1 bird near Indus along the road ca. 3 km west of Alchi bridge
Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola calcarata
- common above Leh along Leh-river and in the Shey-Tikse marshes; >1 pair below Yurutse (4050m); 1 male, 1 female Hemis Shukpachan; quite common in Wanla area; occasional at Yoye-Tso; common in the Puga-Sumdo area; occasional amongst the Tso-Kar plains
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
- 1 pair breeding at water canal in Leh near bazaar, common above Leh town along Leh river, >2 birds + 1 pair along Rumbak river
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus cashmeriensis
- 3 birds and 2 fledging chicks above Leh; 2 birds along Rumbak river (3550m), 1 fledged juvenile along Rumbak river (3750m), 1 pair carrying nesting material at upper end of Rumbak gorge (3850m), 1 pair constructing a nest at the edge of a small brook below Yurutse (4050m); 2 birds along northern feeder river into northern Tsomoriri,
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes neglectus
- 1 bird at Horzey above Leh
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
- 2 birds tow. Kardung-La at South Pulu
Robin Accentor Prunella rubeculoides
- occasional in the Rumbak region, common tow. Kardung-La at South Pulu, common at Yoye-Tso, Puga-Sumdo and occasional at Tso-Kar
Brown Accentor Prunella fulvescens
- occasional in the Rumbak region, >1 bird tow. Kardung-La at South Pulu, common in the Puga-Sumdo area, 1 pair above Startsapuk-Tso
Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius
- 1 male below (3600m) and 1 male near 'plantation' (3700m) in the Rumbak valley, 1 pair establishing territory above Rumbak (4100m) (male singing) and 1 singing male at Yurutse (4400m), and 2 males / 1 female in Wanla area
Blue Whistling-Thrush Myophonus caeruleus
- 1 bird along Leh-river above town, >2 birds (1 singing) around Zinchan, and 2 single birds further above after park-entrance into Hemis N.P., 1 bird in Wanla area
Tickell's Thrush Turdus unicolor
- a group of 3 males at Upper Sumdo
Mountain Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus
- common to partly abundant (especially in the Shey-Tikse marshes) in the lower tree-set (favouring willow trees) areas to 3700m rapidly decreasing above and rarely to about 3900m
Tickell's Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus affinis
- few birds amongst Caragana above Rumbak, few around Sumdo with a nest in Caragana bush - the incubating bird is not leaving the nest even after my close (1m) approach
Sulphur-bellied Warbler Phylloscopus griseolus
- 1 bird in Zinchan grove moving along poplar tree-trunk like tree-creeper, 1 bird at 'plantation' (3700m) in Rumbak gorge, occasional around Rumbak with one pair carrying nesting material (4100m), >4 birds above Yurutse (4500m) calling in a dry sharp 'duck', plus >3 records in Upper Sumdo
Hume's Whitethroat Sylvia althaea
- common in dry scrub in Shey-Tikse marshes and Wanla area, occasional above Leh town and Hemis Shukpachan
Bluethroat Luscinia svecica abbotti
- rather common above Leh in Buckthorn bushes along Leh-river (red-star morph more frequent than white-star); common though much more visible / audible on 17.6. than during 1st visit in late May (red-star morph more frequent)
Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros phoenicuroides
- common around Leh, with one pair breeding in stone wall at the roadside next to the hotel; common up Rumbak valley up to Yurutse, but also Hemis Shukpachan, Wanla area, Puga-Sumdo and occasionally in Tso-Kar plains; most pairs busy feeding into the nest, many males appear in various shades of darker brown to black coloured back, or not uncommonly breeding males appear in female plumage
White-winged Redstart Phoenicurus erythrogaster
- 3 pairs tow. Kardung-La at South Pulu defending territories, plus 1 male collecting/carrying food at Upper Sumdo
Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
- 1 male keeping territory in Zinchan grove - a 3rd record for Ladakh only
Pied Wheatear Oenanthe pleschanka
- 2 breeding pairs carrying food in a barren plateau along the road 3 km west of Alchi-bridge
Desert Wheatear Oenanthe deserti
- 1 male tow. Kardung-La below South Pulu, 1 male at Yoye-Tso, occasional in Puga-Sumdo incl. 1 pair carrying food, quite common in Tso-Kar plains
Great Tit Parus major cashmirensis
- common in and around Leh, occasional (some birds carry food) in Shey-Tikse marshes, >3 + 2 birds in Rumbak valley, some few records at Hemis Shukpachan, quite common in Wanla area with one pair feeding into nest located in a willow trunk slit
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
- 1 female in Wanla area, 1 pair at Shey-Tikse marshes
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach erythronotus
- 1 bird in Wanla area (singing unceasingly from top of poplar tree, also imitating Red-wattled Lapwing or Golden Oriole)
Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus lahulensis
- 1 bird at Chumatang (called frequently)
Black-billed Magpie Pica pica
- common around Leh, the Shey-Tikse marshes, Hemis Shukpachan to Wanla; occasional up Rumbak valley to Rumbak, or up Indus to Chumatang
Hume's Groundpecker Pseudopodoces humilis
- 1 pair collecting food at southern end of Startsapuk-Tso and carry it far up into southern slope, plus 1 bird collecting food at south-western end of lake and flying up into (south-)western barren slope
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
- occasional over Leh, some individuals tow. Rumbak gorge and 1 pair nesting (incubating) in a hole in moraine wall below Rumbak, occasional towards Yurutse (to 4500m); common in Hemis Shukpachan; quite common in Wanla area including one pair with 2 fledged chicks; occasional around Chumatang and common at Tsomoriri
Yellow-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
- 3 birds tow. Kardung-La at South Pulu; occasional at Hemis Shukpachan (mixing with Red-billed Chough around feeding places)
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos intermedius
- 2 birds (prob. a pair) at the back dump of circuit house complex (wedged tail exceeding tip of primaries at rest, with rather slim and longish bill)
Common Raven Corvus corax tibetanus
- 1 bird soaring over Leh, 2 birds at northern end of Tsomoriri, >3 birds at Tso-Kar and 3 at Startsapuk-Tso
House Sparrow Passer domesticus parkini
- very common in and around Leh (busy in nest construction), Shey-Tikse marshes, Hemis Shukpachan, common in Rumbak valley up to Rumbak; abundant around Chumatang, and common around Korzak at Tsomoriri
Tibetan Snowfinch Montifringilla adamsi
- in general quite common above 4000m in center and eastern Ladakh including Rumbak to Yurutse , or the Rupchu region with 1 pair collecting food at Chumatang and many feeding into their nest or fledged chicks at Tso-Kar
White-rumped Snowfinch Pyrgilauda taczanowskii
- 1 bird above the slopes of Thadsang Karu lake
Plain-backed Snowfinch Pyrgilauda blanfordi
occasional to quite common amongst the sandy slopes of Startsapuk-Tso (feeding into nest or fledged chicks)
Plain Mountain-Finch Leucosticte nemoricola
- 3 birds after Rumbak gorge (3900m) but common around / above Yurutse (to 4500m), occasional in the Wanla area
Brandt's Mountain-Finch Leucosticte brandti
- common tow. Kardung-La around South Pulu, common at Yoye-Tso, around Sumdo-Puga, Tsomoriri and Tso-Kar
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus ferghanensis
- occasional in Shey-Tikse marshes mainly along willow-scrub near moist areas (on in-migration), occasional around Zinchan but common around Wanla area, and 1 pair at Upper Sumdo
Red-mantled Rosefinch Carpodacus rhodochlamys
- 1 male and >5 females in barren sandy slope south of the Wanla area
Streaked Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilloides
- common around Rumbak (4000m) but less so around Yurutse (to 4500m), >1 male , 3 females at Chumatang; occasional around Puga-Sumdo; the species favours Caragana bushes
Great Rosefinch Carpodacus rubicilla
- 1 territorial male tow. Kardung-La at South Pulu, >4 pairs (4km before Likche / 3650m) towards Chumatang; the species favours dryer slopes than Streaked Rosefinch
Twite Carduelis flavirostris
- encountered mainly above 4000m; occasional around Rumbak, common at Yoye-Tso, Puga-Sumdo, Tsomoriri (with fledged chicks), or Tso-Kar plains
Fire-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus
- common at Shey-Tikse marshes - favours blooming willow trees and feeding at its seeds, occasional above Leh town, common in Rumbak valley feeding at blooming willow - turning occasional towards Yurutse (4500m), common at Hemis Shukpachan (a pair observed: female alone is constructing nest while male followed her on material collection and perched in vicinity singing), common in Wanla area but occasional in Chumatang
Rock Bunting Emberiza cia par
- occasional in the Rumbak region, in Hemis Shukpachan and one record in the Wanla area


Compiled and created by Sumit K Sen I All rights reserved I Copyright © 2001 - 2017.
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