Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Trip to Sattal and Pangot... 23 May 2015 to 25 May 2015

Planning:


The planning was on through the months of March, Apr and May and finally fructified in the month of May 2015. The idea was planted by Ravi Arora (Chandigarh Birds) and then both coaxed it to action. The plan was simple - galvanise atleast 3 to 4 birders so that we can have good company and do some quality birding. 


The date decided was 23rd to 25 May 2015. Not wanting to waste 23rd we decided to start on 22nd night itself so that the journey of 12 / 13 hours could be done at night and we were in position the 23rd morning. I decided against driving myself as fatigue would have been killing and killed the joy of birding the first day. 
Hence I called my ‘Taxi wala’ and decided on an Innova. The taxi asked for 11/- per km, 200 per night, all taxes and tolls extra. Next we booked our rooms with KMVN (KMVN is Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam Ltd and is hyperlinked for ease). I will kill the accommodation details here only. The rooms were comfortable and average. The bookings cost 2,200/- per room per night and included B’fast and Dinner.



The weather projected during our stay was 36/38 degree C during day and pleasant 24/26 Degrees at night. The packing included full sleeves shirts and T-Shirts and a half sleeve Jacket as a precaution. It worked out well as the 4,000 feet and Pangot is 6,300 feet. Ofcourse Beer and Scotch was too packed which surprisingly came back untouched. The day was a flurry of activity chasing birds and then came drop down dead sleep by the night.

The Place:

Sattal literally means ‘Sat Tal or seven lakes’. The lakes are freshwater and interconnected. These lakes are set among the Oak and Pine forests and I am told that they are one of the few unspoiled and unpolluted lakes of India. After seeing the place myself I do agree with it. The locals cater for the tourists and some activities are available at Sattal. Ofcourse the birding trip included getting and sifting on all the material about avian fauna of the place. Of the 1400 odd species listed of Birds in India, 500 were spotted there. The excitement was now at the very peak and just could not hold my horses now. Other than birds 20 species of mammals, over 525 species of butterflies were also listed in various blogs.

The journey:

The Birders
Route planning also took a lot of time as I had driven a few days back to Rishikesh and back but did not have any knowledge of the road from there to Nanital - Bhimtal - Sattal. I was suggested Chandigarh - Delhi - Sattal (For those planning: Chandigarh - Karnal - Panipat - Ghaziabad - Hapur - Moradabad - Rudrapur - Haldwani - Bhimtal - Sattal. This routs was approximately 570 Km and listed as 11 hr and 26 min Journey). The second route suggested was Chandigarh - Panchkula - Ponta Sahib - Dehradun - Haridwar - Najibabad - Kashipur - Nanital and Sattal. This route was listed as 466 Km on Google and gave travelling time as 10 hrs and 52 min. Though logically the Delhi route seemed longer - finally as it turned out it was not all that long after all.


While going we took the Delhi route. After starting at 1900 hrs and one halt for Dinner in Sukhdev Dhabba we reached at 0900 taking 14 hrs of drive. The road was good and four lane for most of the journey. We were stiff but the road was good in the sense that driver did not face any oncoming veh at night. The traffic (being a weekend) was crazy at the best.

While coming back we took the route via Dehradun and again with one stop for Lunch we started at around 1300 and reached home by 0230 hrs. That totals 13 hrs and 30 min approximately. The road was single for the most of the time but the condition and the traffic was light considering to what we faced while routing from Delhi.


So what route do I suggest that you take ? Well take any - non week-end days Dehradun is fine. But on weekend I feel four lane of Delhi would be better.

Birding: 


Upon reaching our rooms were opened promptly and we were off to the track near the lake birding. The beginning was spectacular to say the least. We stepped out of the rooms and there was a Yellow Nape, followed by Nuthatch and Black Lored Tit. We hurried on to a track along which there is a place known as 'The Studio' The studio is nothing but some perches placed next to a running stream and all the birds come there to bathe and drink water. As we reached there my heart almost sank. 

The Birders at the Studio
There were almost 30 odd birders already there. All the same we went there light footed and took seats. The magic started almost immediately. The birds started coming for water, bathing and fun as I would have done as a child - just play. we reached there at around 0930 and we know that we had just an hour or so when this activity would finish. At the end of it I was sitting there for 3 hours plus. Then finally got tired and went along the trail. The birding was as good as expected.

By the day finished I was happy, dog tired and dreaming of more what more would come. The lists of birds are given later day wise.

Next day we decided we will go to Pangot. We started early like at 0430 and by the time we crossed Nanital the birding started and once again the place did not disappoint. After reaching back in the afternoon we had a quick bite and were out on the trail and back at the studio. We had so far missed two of our target species namely the mountain bulbul and Straited Laughingthrush. At night I wanted to try my hand with startrails with my new camera (canon 7D mark ii) . The Star grazing app said the sky was 85% good for star gazing and the moon was in third quarter. We positioned ourself at the lake and we started shooting away. I did not take too many frames (wanted 25 sec frames, 60 in all) I managed only 22. The reason was feeling slightly unwell and a mixup with the settings of the camera. All in all it did not turn out to be too bad. The North star is the one that is stationary in the centre.

Star Trails: Sattal Lake Bridge
The third day we decided that we would position ourself at the studio before sunrise and stalk it out there. Both the birds did not disappoint us though they just came there for a few seconds and they were gone.

Now I move on to presenting the pictures from my trip... the very purpose of all this.

Lesser Yellownape
Long-tailed Broadbill (Lifer)


















Tickell's Thrush
Verditer Flycatcher

Oriental Magpie-robin

White-throated Fantail

Red-billed Leiothrix (Peking Robin)

Blue-winged Minla (Old name: Blue-winged Siva) (Lifer)

Ultramarine Flycatcher

Leiothrix and Ultramarine Flycatcher

Blue Whistling Thrus

Black-headed Jay

Black-Pored Tit

Verditer Flycatcher

Greater Flameback (Old Name: Greater Goldenback)

Mountain hawk-eagle (Hodgson's Hawk-eagle) (Lifer)

Oriental-turtle Dove

Spot-winged Tit 
Whiskered Yuhina

Brown-fronted Woodpecker

Grey Bush Chat (Juv on left)

Russet Sparrow

Rufous-bellied Woodpecker (Lifer)

Green-backed Tit

Ashy Drongo

Oriental White-eye

Emerald Dove (Common Emerald Dove)

Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush

Black Bulbul

Blue-winged Minla (Old name: Blue-winged Siva) (Lifer)

Jungle Myna

Rufous Sibia (Black-capped Sibia)

Ashy Drongo

Green-backed Tit feeding Juv

Chestnut-tailed Starling

Black-lored Tit

Common Kingfisher

White-throated Laughingthrush

Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher

Mountain Bulbul

Asian Paradise Flycatcher

Orange-headed Laughingthrush

Striated Laughingthrush (Lifer)

Wedge-tailed Pigeon

ID ?? Please paste message if confident (Looks like Mountain Hawk Eagle)

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher
Orange-headed Thrush


Barking Deer

The Detailed sighting of the birds day wise is as given under. There are some unidentified birds that will be added to the list. The same list is uploaded to the eBirds.org.

Day One
23/05/15
NONE
Sattal Day one | Rima, Sarabjit, Ravi & Self
NONE None 37.54 -95.05
Great Barbet NONE 1 23/05/15 07:28 29.308187 79.551582 0
Long-tailed Broadbill NONE 1 23/05/15 10:52 29.352476 79.526505 0
Black Bulbul NONE 1 23/05/15 09:46 29.352686 79.526192 0
Mountain Bulbul NONE 1 23/05/15 15:21 29.348351 79.530098 0
Red-vented Bulbul NONE 1 23/05/15 07:28 29.308147 79.551613 0
White-cheeked Bulbul NONE 1 23/05/15 07:28 29.308170 79.551590 0
Gray Bushchat NONE 1 23/05/15 08:03 29.375702 79.531807 0
Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher NONE 1 23/05/15 09:07 29.349417 79.528931 0
Emerald Dove NONE 1 23/05/15 09:48 29.352840 79.525520 0
Spotted Dove NONE 1 23/05/15 08:58 29.348301 79.530388 0
Ashy Drongo NONE 1 23/05/15 09:56 29.352692 79.524818 0
White-throated Fantail NONE 1 23/05/15 11:00 29.352610 79.527130 0
Ultramarine Flycatcher NONE 1 23/05/15 17:47 29.352581 79.525917 0
Mountain Hawk-Eagle NONE 1 23/05/15 20:47 29.346474 79.559265 0
Black-headed Jay NONE 1 23/05/15 09:50 29.352829 79.525658 0
Common Kingfisher NONE 1 23/05/15 17:16 29.353071 79.525627 0
White-throated Kingfisher NONE 1 23/05/15 18:09 29.352869 79.525520 0
Red-wattled Lapwing NONE 1 23/05/15 16:47 29.353008 79.526260 0
Streaked Laughingthrush NONE 1 23/05/15 10:06 29.352104 79.523186 0
White-throated Laughingthrush NONE 1 23/05/15 09:41 29.352695 79.526505 0
Red-billed Leiothrix NONE 1 23/05/15 10:05 29.352129 79.523148 0
Oriental Magpie-Robin NONE 1 23/05/15 08:08 29.359243 79.527992 0
Long-tailed Minivet NONE 1 23/05/15 09:15 29.349512 79.529053 0
Blue-winged Minla NONE 1 23/05/15 18:08 29.353096 79.525146 0
Common Myna NONE 1 23/05/15 09:27 29.351206 79.527939 0
Jungle Myna NONE 1 23/05/15 08:57 29.348211 79.530411 0
Small Niltava NONE 1 23/05/15 20:47 29.348881 79.529007 0
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch NONE 1 23/05/15 09:07 29.349466 79.528954 0
Asian Paradise-Flycatcher NONE 1 23/05/15 10:05 29.352140 79.523186 0
Plum-headed Parakeet NONE 1 23/05/15 07:29 29.308136 79.551567 0
Slaty-headed Parakeet NONE 1 23/05/15 08:44 29.348408 79.529564 0
Kalij Pheasant NONE 1 23/05/15 07:37 29.313839 79.547165 0
Wedge-tailed Pigeon NONE 1 23/05/15 09:44 29.352686 79.526237 0
Blue-capped Rock-Thrush NONE 1 23/05/15 07:27 29.308151 79.551544 0
Crested Serpent-Eagle NONE 1 23/05/15 18:42 29.352345 79.530899 0
Rufous Sibia NONE 1 23/05/15 09:44 29.352657 79.526207 0
Chestnut-tailed Starling NONE 1 23/05/15 17:07 29.352892 79.526085 0
Black-throated Thrush NONE 1 23/05/15 20:47 29.348949 79.529037 0
Tickell's Thrush NONE 1 23/05/15 11:04 29.352400 79.527298 0
Black-lored Tit NONE 1 23/05/15 09:10 29.349556 79.529083 0
Green-backed Tit NONE 1 23/05/15 16:32 29.353025 79.526039 0
Gray-hooded Warbler NONE 1 23/05/15 10:22 29.351168 79.521111 0
Blue Whistling-Thrush NONE 1 23/05/15 09:22 29.350279 79.528160 0

Day Two
24/05/15
NONE
Sattal, Pangot Day two | Rima, Sarabjit, Ravi & Self | 
NONE None 37.54 -95.05
Great Barbet NONE 1 24/05/15 05:11 29.377703 79.528229 0
Gray-winged Blackbird NONE 1 24/05/15 07:08 29.413511 79.448959 0
Black Bulbul NONE 1 24/05/15 14:14 29.352287 79.527298 0
Red-vented Bulbul NONE 1 24/05/15 05:07 29.375147 79.535721 0
Gray Bushchat NONE 1 24/05/15 09:25 29.423082 79.426781 0
Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher NONE 1 24/05/15 06:55 29.408363 79.444374 0
Large-billed Crow NONE 1 24/05/15 07:35 29.419945 79.440002 0
Black-winged Cuckooshrike NONE 1 24/05/15 16:35 29.352993 79.525841 0
White-throated Fantail NONE 1 24/05/15 14:47 29.352842 79.525970 0
Blue-throated Flycatcher NONE 1 24/05/15 18:30 29.352556 79.524994 0
Ultramarine Flycatcher NONE 1 24/05/15 06:55 29.408323 79.444366 0
Black-headed Jay NONE 1 24/05/15 07:33 29.421843 79.441475 0
Eurasian Jay NONE 1 24/05/15 07:48 29.422188 79.437401 0
Common Kingfisher NONE 1 24/05/15 16:33 29.353352 79.525986 0
White-throated Kingfisher NONE 1 24/05/15 18:41 29.352665 79.524712 0
Red-wattled Lapwing NONE 1 24/05/15 17:06 29.352329 79.526581 0
Red-headed Laughingthrush NONE 1 24/05/15 19:59 29.349035 79.529282 0
Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush NONE 1 24/05/15 16:01 29.352781 79.525955 0
Streaked Laughingthrush NONE 1 24/05/15 07:34 29.422958 79.438507 0
White-throated Laughingthrush NONE 1 24/05/15 07:39 29.419296 79.439445 0
Red-billed Leiothrix NONE 1 24/05/15 14:47 29.352945 79.525742 0
Blue Magpie NONE 1 24/05/15 07:34 29.422565 79.439537 0
Oriental Magpie-Robin NONE 1 24/05/15 14:11 29.351709 79.527901 0
Common Myna NONE 1 24/05/15 07:34 29.421761 79.439209 0
Jungle Myna NONE 1 24/05/15 05:06 29.375244 79.532608 0
Rufous-bellied Niltava NONE 1 24/05/15 07:53 29.424414 79.437004 0
Small Niltava NONE 1 24/05/15 18:11 29.352997 79.526138 0
White-tailed Nuthatch NONE 1 24/05/15 06:54 29.408213 79.444412 0
Asian Paradise-Flycatcher NONE 1 24/05/15 16:57 29.352993 79.525841 0
Slaty-headed Parakeet NONE 1 24/05/15 08:13 29.424116 79.427322 0
Wedge-tailed Pigeon NONE 1 24/05/15 08:52 29.423555 79.426895 0
Plumbeous Redstart NONE 1 24/05/15 07:34 29.422134 79.438850 0
House Sparrow NONE 1 24/05/15 07:33 29.421940 79.440804 0
Russet Sparrow NONE 1 24/05/15 08:50 29.423824 79.426895 0
Chestnut-tailed Starling NONE 1 24/05/15 16:27 29.353148 79.523201 0
Spot-winged Starling NONE 1 24/05/15 18:01 29.353018 79.526024 0
Barn Swallow NONE 1 24/05/15 08:13 29.424116 79.427322 0
Red-rumped Swallow NONE 1 24/05/15 08:13 29.424116 79.427322 0
Orange-headed Thrush NONE 1 24/05/15 17:51 29.352831 79.526215 0
Tickell's Thrush NONE 1 24/05/15 07:32 29.419655 79.443985 0
Black-lored Tit NONE 1 24/05/15 14:17 29.353025 79.527496 0
Coal Tit NONE 1 24/05/15 07:12 29.414660 79.447777 0
Green-backed Tit NONE 1 24/05/15 14:17 29.352711 79.527313 0
Bar-tailed Treecreeper NONE 1 24/05/15 10:46 29.421522 79.434074 0
Oriental Turtle-Dove NONE 1 24/05/15 07:33 29.421724 79.442741 0
Gray-hooded Warbler NONE 1 24/05/15 15:38 29.352966 79.525879 0
Blue Whistling-Thrush NONE 1 24/05/15 05:06 29.376249 79.534119 0
Brown-fronted Woodpecker NONE 1 24/05/15 06:53 29.408180 79.444496 0
Rufous-bellied Woodpecker NONE 1 24/05/15 10:43 29.421078 79.433517 0
Whiskered Yuhina NONE 1 24/05/15 06:52 29.408098 79.444298 0


Day Three
25/05/15
NONE
Sattal, Pangot Day three | Rima, Sarabjit, Ravi & Self | 
NONE None 37.54 -95.05
Black-chinned Babbler NONE 1 25/05/15 06:51 29.352953 79.526115 0
Blue-throated Barbet NONE 1 25/05/15 09:17 29.352463 79.524559 1
Long-tailed Broadbill NONE 1 25/05/15 06:03 29.352850 79.525902 0
Black Bulbul NONE 1 25/05/15 05:53 29.352646 79.526619 0
Mountain Bulbul NONE 1 25/05/15 05:59 29.352808 79.525932 0
Red-vented Bulbul NONE 1 25/05/15 09:04 29.352165 79.522987 0
Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher NONE 1 25/05/15 08:08 29.352840 79.526733 0
Eurasian Collared-Dove NONE 1 25/05/15 07:51 29.353222 79.526108 0
Black-winged Cuckooshrike NONE 1 25/05/15 10:15 29.352856 79.526642 0
Emerald Dove NONE 1 25/05/15 07:49 29.352913 79.526024 0
Spotted Dove NONE 1 25/05/15 06:00 29.352850 79.525902 0
White-throated Fantail NONE 1 25/05/15 06:01 29.352850 79.525902 0
Blue-throated Flycatcher NONE 1 25/05/15 06:20 29.352829 79.526093 0
Ultramarine Flycatcher NONE 1 25/05/15 06:51 29.352953 79.526115 0
Verditer Flycatcher NONE 1 25/05/15 06:01 29.352850 79.525902 0
Oriental Honey-buzzard NONE 1 25/05/15 11:59 29.357212 79.527405 0
Black-headed Jay NONE 1 25/05/15 06:21 29.352985 79.526062 0
Common Kingfisher NONE 1 25/05/15 05:52 29.352558 79.526886 0
White-throated Kingfisher NONE 1 25/05/15 12:49 29.361097 79.588379 0
Red-wattled Lapwing NONE 1 25/05/15 06:31 29.353025 79.526039 0
Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush NONE 1 25/05/15 06:00 29.352850 79.525902 0
Streaked Laughingthrush NONE 1 25/05/15 08:54 29.351406 79.521118 0
Striated Laughingthrush NONE 1 25/05/15 07:27 29.352890 79.526199 0
White-throated Laughingthrush NONE 1 25/05/15 06:00 29.352850 79.525902 0
Red-billed Leiothrix NONE 1 25/05/15 06:19 29.352650 79.525948 0
Blue Magpie NONE 1 25/05/15 12:19 29.367973 79.576218 0
Oriental Magpie-Robin NONE 1 25/05/15 06:05 29.353003 79.525909 0
Long-tailed Minivet NONE 1 25/05/15 08:51 29.352062 79.521667 0
Jungle Myna NONE 1 25/05/15 06:04 29.353079 79.525864 0
Small Niltava NONE 1 25/05/15 08:18 29.352871 79.525696 0
White-tailed Nuthatch NONE 1 25/05/15 06:02 29.352850 79.525902 0
Indian Golden Oriole NONE 1 25/05/15 08:18 29.352873 79.525734 0
Asian Paradise-Flycatcher NONE 1 25/05/15 06:19 29.352650 79.525948 0
Slaty-headed Parakeet NONE 1 25/05/15 07:48 29.352617 79.526001 0
Kalij Pheasant NONE 1 25/05/15 07:05 29.352934 79.526031 0
Wedge-tailed Pigeon NONE 1 25/05/15 06:21 29.353031 79.526093 0
Gray-breasted Prinia NONE 1 25/05/15 12:49 29.361097 79.588379 0
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler NONE 1 25/05/15 08:18 29.352873 79.525734 0
Rufous Sibia NONE 1 25/05/15 06:39 29.353109 79.526093 0
Black-throated Sunbird NONE 1 25/05/15 08:43 29.351870 79.521645 0
Orange-headed Thrush NONE 1 25/05/15 05:52 29.352474 79.527061 0
Pied Thrush NONE 1 25/05/15 08:20 29.352879 79.525414 0
Tickell's Thrush NONE 1 25/05/15 06:52 29.352980 79.526100 0
Black-lored Tit NONE 1 25/05/15 06:01 29.352850 79.525902 0
Green-backed Tit NONE 1 25/05/15 08:21 29.352751 79.525314 0
Bar-tailed Treecreeper NONE 1 25/05/15 09:46 29.352879 79.526878 0
Gray-hooded Warbler NONE 1 25/05/15 05:59 29.352850 79.525902 0
Blue Whistling-Thrush NONE 1 25/05/15 06:01 29.352850 79.525902 0
Oriental White-eye NONE 1 25/05/15 06:05 29.353079 79.525864 0
Lesser Yellownape NONE 1 25/05/15 11:41 29.356735 79.529449 0




Before I pen off, there were beautiful and plentiful butterflies. some pictures that I took are pasted below.








So concluded one of the most satisfying birding trips of all times...

2 comments:

Sumeet Mukherjee said...

Wonderful post and beautiful pics. Amazing birds of sattal. I wish i go there some time soon.

S S Cheema said...

Thanks @Sumeet Mukherjee. Will look forward to reading your experience.