Friday, June 12, 2015

Trip Report – Rishikesh-Chopta from 21 Feb to 28 Feb 15

Day one – Saturday, Feb 21
Drove from Delhi to Rishikesh via Meerut, Roorki, Haridwar, Chilla. Evening walks along the Gangaji and Ram Jhoola; night stay.

Day two and three – Sunday/Monday, Feb 22 and 23
The course at the Yoga camp was quite familiar, so we took a break and walked upto the water fall near Garud Chatti.. Birdwatching around Mohan Chatti.

Day four – Tuesday, Feb 24
Drove from Rishikesh via Garud Chatti bridge over the Ganga; passing Shivpuri, Vyasi, Devprayag, Shrinagar, Kaliyasor, Rudraprayag, Agastyamuni, Tilwada, Chandrapuri, Bheeri.

At Bheeri or Bhiri, we took a right turn to be on the ever climbing hill road. At Bheeri, a traffic jam caused a delay of one hour; yet managed to reach Yashpal Negiji’s Birdwatchers’ Camp at Makku village by 6.30 PM.

Heard Mountain’s Scops Owl’s calls intermittently at night.

Had dinner  and went to bed.

Day five – Wednesday,  Feb 25

It was raining since morning, light drizzle and snow falls at Baniyakund (Chopta region), so movement was restricted to the room and ‘now and then’ peep to the nearby bushes where both bulbuls, two species of sparrows, streaked laughtingthrush, chesnut-crowned laughtingthrush, common stonechat, grey bushchat, grey-winged blackbird, black francolin, spot-winged grossbreaks, pink-browed rosefinches, snow pigeons obliged us with decent views. Dinner and sleep. Mountain Scops Owl was still calling at night.

Day six – Thrusday, Feb 26
Sky was partly clear, no rains. Yashpal Negiji took us on a gentle climb down to his village, seeing flocks of Spot-winged Grossbreaks, Snow Pigeons, Grey-winged Blackbirds, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Spotted Forktails, white-capped river redstart, Plumbeous Red starts, Yellow-rumped Honey Guide, white-throated and chestnut-crowned laughting thrushes, Golden Bush Robin, Common Buzzard, Kaleej Pheasants, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Himalayan woodpeckers, Red-billed Blue magpies, Grey Treepie etc.

After eating late breakfast of ‘Mandua ki roti with chatni and ghee’ drove towards Chopta despite snow covered road; soaked myself with the life-giving wilderness from Makku to Makku bend watching birds like Rufous Sibia feeding on the flowers of buraans. Snow on the bugyals and road was everywhere; at a few places 3 to 4 feet high. Piles and piles of snow – vast white carpet all around; even driving was not so easy at some stretches.  Lunch at baniyakund; ‘raayii ka saag’ was delicious.

Birds obliged again – I was lucky to sight Alpine Accentors, Altai Accentors and a Mistle Thrush I presume. Plenty of sibias, Himalayan Whistling Thrushes and other common speices.

Returned by the sunset, dinner and rest.

Day seven – Friday, Feb 27

After morning breakfast, drove back. Negiji was with me so lot of birds on way  including Black-throated Accentor, Rock Buntings, Chestnutbellied Rock Thrush and other common species. Reached Haridwar via Chilla canal.

Day eight – Saturday,  Feb 28

Drove to Rajaji National Park and took the first jeep safari inside from Chilla. Pugmarks of the big cats, several sightings of spotted deer, sambar, wild boars, Crested Serpent eagle, Changeable Haw-eagle, white-eyed buzzard, Grey/Oriental Pied and Great Hornbills, woodpeckers, treepies, Indian Rollers, Black-headed Orioles, vultures, red jungle fowl and other common species.

Left for Delhi at 1200 noon stopping ror a while at Bheemgauda barrage to see Grey-headed Fish-eage, several Great Crested Grebes, numerous Mallards, pochards, geese and ducks. Took late lunch near Mujaffarnagar and reached home by 7 PM.

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