Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Chopta - Tungnath: A Birding Haven in Western Himalayas (26th Nov. to 01st Dec.2016)

There are few birding destinations in India which are on MUST VISIT list for every birder. Chopta-Tungnath is one such fantastic birding place, apart from the splendid natural beauty.

Nature India proudly announces a new Birding destination, Chopta-Tungnath, in western Himalayas. Only 8 participants per batch, Please go through the dates & details :-) 
Date: 26th November, 2016, 10.00 am to 1st December, 2016 eve 7.00 pm (Travel days excluded). The bookings for the Meticulously planned bird-watching trip are on…..book your seats now (see the complete details at the end of this blog).....Birdwatch in one of the India's greatest birding hot-spots with Nature India.

We will be visiting Chopta, Tungnath, Mandal and Makkumath areas during the trip.

Chopta (Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary)
Situated in the Western Himalayan mountain ranges in the State of Uttarakhand, Chopta is a part of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary and with its lush green meadows interspersed with Pine & Fir forest, it is popularly known as mini Switzerland. Chopta came to prominence recently not just because of its abundant birdlife, but also because of the diversity and ease of birding.. Situated at an altitude of 2600 meters msl this small hamlet provides some mesmerizing views of the imposing Himalayan ranges & grassy slopes dotted with Pine, Deodar & Rhododendron trees, surrounded with lush green meadows.

Chopta is around 225 kms from Dehradun with a comfortable roads that travels along the rivers of Ganga, Alaknanda & Mandakini. The Best season for birding in Chopta valley is between November to May.

A birding hotspot, Chopta became famous because of its amazing bird diversity, which include a long list of Western Himalayan birds, especially the Himalayan Monal which is supposedly a relatively easy bird to see along with several good birds including, Koklass Pheasant, Various species of Tits like, Rufous-vented, Grey-crested, Fire-capped, Black-throated, Spot-winged, Green-backed etc..., several species of Warblers like,  Grey-hooded; Black-faced; Ashy-throated; Buff-barred; Western-crowned etc..., Bar-throated Minla, Mrs. Gould and Green-tailed Sunbird; Collard,  Black & Yellow and Spot-winged Grosbeak; White-throated, Striated, Streaked & Variegated Laughingthrush, Rufous-gorgeted, Blue-throated, Ultramarine & Verditer Flycatcher; Himalayan, Rufous-bellied & Grey-headed Woodpecker; Great Barbet; White-tailed and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch; Bar-tailed Treecreeper; Mistle Thrush etc.....

Along with the bird-life, the scenic natural beauty is what also catches your fascination, no wonder it is called a mini Switzerland of India :-)

Tungnath Ji   


Situated just above Chopta at around 3700 mtrs, Tungnath is also known as third temple of Panch Kedar. Its a very steep but easy climb of around 3.5 kms, with paved path wide enough for a comfortable passage....however to maximize birding, it is recommended to take a Pony/horse ride to reach the top and descend down walking. Tungnath provides mind-blowing views of Himalayan ranges of Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba.....And off course great place for high altitude birding. The 1st half of this trail passes through Rhododendron tress, which quickly give way to the stunted bushes and then the grassy meadows, thus giving an opportunity to see some different & high altitude bird species. A morning cup of hot tea in on of the Dhabas here is something to experience. 

Being a popular pilgrimage destination,  it is part of the Panch Kedar Yatra, hence this place becomes crowded from May to October, hence it is recommended to avoid planning a trip during this time.Just a 1.5 km steep trek from here leads you to the top called Chandrashila peak which offers stunning 360 degree view of the Greater Himalayas.....however this climb is strenuous and will not be covered in our itinerary. 

Some of the birds that can be encountered here include Himalayan Monal; Snow Partridge; Hill Partridge; Snow Pigeons; Rufous-vented, Grey-crested & Coal Tits; Koklass Pheasant; Fire-tailed Sunbird; White-browed Fulvetta; Dark-breasted, White-browed, Pink-browed and Spot-winged Rosefinch, Variegated and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush; Himalayan Bluetail; Grey-sided Bush Warbler; Fire-tailed Sunbird; Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture); Himalayan Griffon; Rosy & Tree Pipits, Several species of woodpeckers including Himalayan Pied, Scaly-bellied & Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers....also Speckled Piculet, Red-billed Blue Magpie etc... 

Makkumath & Mandal

In Himalayas altitude changes rapidly within short distances, so bird life also varies. That is the reason why it is very important to cover both, high as well as low altitudes places to see diversity in bird life. Along with Chopta & Tungnath, which are high altitude areas, we will be visiting Makkumath & Mandal areas which are at approx.2000 mts to get some low altitude species. These regions are clothed with the lush green forests where several species can be encountered including Golden Bush Robin, White-tailed Rubythroat, Tickell's Leaf Warbler, Tickell's Thrush, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Aberrant Bush Warbler, Oriental Turtle Dove, Eurasian & Black-headed Jay, Grey-winged Blackbird, Great Barbet, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Long-tailed Minivets, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Green-backed Tit, Russet Sparrow,  etc..

Check out some trip report from the area

Nature India is conducting a well planned  trip to Chopta-Tungnath that will cover most of the birding sites in the Chopta valley...... see below for complete details.

Date: 26th November, 2016, 10.00 am to 01st December, 2016 eve 5.00 pm

Mode of Local Travel :  Comfortable SUV's (Innova / Tavera)

Suggested Travel Options: 

Flight Options (To be done by the participants): Since there is no direct flight reaching early morning to Dehradun, you can break your journey, Mumbai to Delhi and Delhi to Dehradun

Mumbai to Delhi (26th Nov.16): Indigo flight no. 6E-154, leaving Mumbai at 2.00hours, reaching Delhi at 4.10hours 
Mumbai to Delhi (25th Nov.16): Air India flight no. AI - 101, leaving Mumbai at 21.30 hours, reaching Delhi at 23.30 hours.

Delhi to Dehradun (26th Nov.16): Jet Airways flight no. 9W - 2831, leaving Delhi at 6.10 hours, reaching Dehradun at 7.15 hours. 
Train Options (To be done by the participants): 
  1. New Delhi to Dehradun by 12205  Nandadevi Express, Staring from New Delhi at 23:50 Hrs on 25th Nov'16
  2. H. Nizamuddin to Dehradun by 12687 Dehradun Express, starting from H. Nizamuddin at 21.10 hrs on 25th Nov.16
Rough Tour Itinerary: (Dehradun to Dehradun)

Day 1: 26th Nov, 2016 (Saturday): Pick-up from Dehradun railway station / Airport at 05:30 hours – Proceed to Mandal (approx. 270 kms or 8 Hrs) – Breakfast & Lunch on the way -  Birding on the way if time permits - Check-in and Diner – Overnight stay at hotel in Mandal

Day 2: 27th Nov, 2016 (Sunday): Early morning birding around Mandal - Lunch - Continue birding towards Chopta uptill Kachula Khark Forest Camp - Return back - Dinner - Overnight stay @ Hotel hotel in Mandal 

Day 3: 28th Nov, 2016 (Monday): Early morning check-out and proceed towards Chopta - Full day birding around Chopta, Monal Point etc.- Overnight stay @ Hotel Green View in Chopta

Day 4: 29th Nov, 2016 (Tuesday): Start early morning for Tungnath - reach Tungnath top riding on pony / horse by sunrise - Birding on Tungnath top - Breakfast - start descending on foot - Birding on the way - Lunch at resort - afternoon birding at Monal point - Overnight stay @ Hotel Green View in Chopta

Day 5: 30th Nov, 2016 (Wednesday): Start early morning for Makkumath - Full day birding around Makkumath - overnight stay @ Hotel Green View in Chopta

Day 6: 01st Dec, 2016 ( Thursday): Start early morning for Dehradun - Lunch on the way - reach Dehradun by 16.00 hrs or earlier

Trip charges (Dehradun to Dehradun only) : Rs.24000/- (Includes Stay in Hotel in Mandal & Hotel Green View in Chopta  on twin sharing basis, Local travel by Innova / Tavera, All Park entry charges, All meals including lunch, dinner and breakfast , Expert charges, Information articles & on board snacks and mineral water)…….

These charges are Dehradun to Dehradun only....... participant has to make their own travel arrangement upto Dehradun and Back . This does not include any charges other than the above.

Group Size : 8 persons

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmation mail to natureindiatours@gmail.com and by paying non-refundable advance of Rs.9500/- (and only after our confirmation mail) as per the payment guidelines given below…...

Stay Arrangement: Hotel  Gurukrupa in Mandal….. an absolutely basic but neat & clean hotel.

Hotel Green View in Chopta (refer above image), a basic but neat clean hotel with amazing view on lush green valley.

Resource Person: Local Expert, Mr. Mandar Khadilkar, and Mr.Adesh Shivkar

Mode of Payment: You can either
1) Transfer the money directly to my HDFC A/c (Please call Mandar @ 9930318665).. please mention your name, date and other details….
2) Courier a cheque in favour of "Mandar Khadilkar" of Rs.9500/- to the following address:
Name: Mr. Mandar Khadilkar
Address:Flat No.2, Blossom Apartments, Below Shantighan Hospital, LM Road,
Kandarpada, Dahisar-West, Mumbai-400068

Please Note:
1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 9500/- is strictly non-refunadable
2) The seats will be confirmed only against the advance amount on first come basis
3) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on Nature India Tours
4) Nest photography or any collection of specimens is prohibited
5) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with  Nature India's rules and policies

Please revert on natureindiatours@gmail.com ID, in case you need any clarification …..

For any other queries we are available on 9869071091 / 9820455713 (Adesh) or 9930318665 / 9967518665 (Mandar)

Thanks for your patience.

Looking forward for a very rewarding trip with you all !!

Warm Regards,
Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar

Thattekkad & Munnar - The Richest bird habitat in Western Ghats (8th Dec - 11th Dec,2016)

It is said that if you want to get almost all of Western Ghats bird species then its here, where Dr.Salim Ali once said "Thatekkad is the richest bird habitat in Peninsular India, perhaps only comparable to the Eastern Himalayas" .... if you want this and more to experience, then embark for a Birdwatching trip to one of the India's richest birding hot-spots within the place revered as "God's Own Country" with Nature India...


Date: 8th December, 2016 to 11th December, 2016 (travels days excluded). The bookings for Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary / Munnar bird-watching trip are open…..book your seats now (for complete details about charges, itinerary etc. see at the end).....

See one of the previous report.....


Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, Thattekkad

Thattekkad is the richest bird habitat in peninsular India, comparable only with the eastern Himalayas” this is how Dr.Salim Ali described the place when he visited Thattekkad in 1930’s.

If you desire to see Western Ghat endemic bird species at one place, then Thattekkad & Munnar "Is" the place. This lesser known place untill now is fast becoming a favorite destination of birders not just across India but also the world as it offers the variety, quality and ambience that can be rivaled by few places.

Thattekkad bird sanctuary located at an approximate distance of 20 kilometers from Kothamangalam on the Kochi Munnar route situated in Idukki district. The serene sanctuary came into being in the year 1983 and was discovered by Dr. Salim Ali the famous ornithologist. This 25 sq.kms sanctuary is home to 250 plus species of birds and other birds that migrate to this place during the migratory seasons. This sanctuary has since being named as "Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary" in honour of the great man.

(PS: Some images for this blog has been taken from internet)

Nestled among evergreen forests this sanctuary is home to endemic birds like the Malabar grey & Pied Hornbill , Malabar black woodpecker, Blue winged parakeet, Flame-throated Bulbul, Dark-fronted & Rufous Babbler, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Malabar Trogon, Crimson-throated Barbet, White-bellied Blue Flycatcher, White-bellied Treepie,.................

Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Grey Jungle Fowl, Grey-headed and Yellow-browed Bulbul, Crimson-backed Sunbird, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Black throated Munia, Crimson-fronted Barbet, Jerdon’s Nightjar, Southern Hill Myna etc…… But the most celebrated species here would be the Sri Lanka Frogmouth,  perhaps due to the ease at which it is seen here and most of the photographs taken in India of this species are from this place.

The other uncommon species that can also be encountered regular here are Black Baza, Black Eagle, Great-eared Nightjar, Dollar Bird, Red Spurfowl, Lesser Yellow-nape Woodpecker, Speckled Piculet, Chestnut-winged Cuckoo, Drongo Cuckoo, Vernal Hanging Parrot, Mottled Wood Owl, Green Imperial Pigeon, Crested Goshawk, Malayan Night Heron, Indian Blue Robin…… This list will lure any birder to come running here :-)

Apart from the birdlife there are various mammals that are recorded from here including leopard, porcupine, bear, deer and various other animals and the majestic elephants. Cobras and pythons are common among the reptiles. The place is also noted for the majestic king cobra which is revered through out India.

The sanctuary also is abounding in plant life with mahogany, teak and rosewood vying for places. There are also a variety of plants which are endogenous to the region .These huge trees provide the lush canopy. The thick forest coverer apart from being a safe haven for birds is also a treat for wildlife lovers and bird enthusiasts alike.

Munnar & Eravikulam National Park

Not very far, Munnar compliments the Thattekkad Sanctuary well due to its altitude. It is a hill station 125 kms from Kochi to the West. The altitude above 1600 m above MSL means an agreeable climate throughout the year, though in December-January the temperatures can fall to the single digits. The rain fall of over 300 cm is recorded mainly during June to September. The shola-grassland eco- system so typical of Munnar is home to large numbers of birds, many of them endemic. Sightings of endemics like the Nilgiri Wood Pigeon, Nilgiri Pipit, Greyheaded Bulbul, Black & Orange Flycatcher, Broadtailed Grassbird, Crimsonbacked Sunbird, Greybreasted Laughing Thrush, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Indian Rufous Babbler, Whitebellied Blue Flycatcher, Whitebellied Shortwing, Whitebellied Treepie & the Wyanad Laughing Thrush can be the highlights of a birding trip to Munnar & surroundings.

Eravikulam National Park is 97 sq. km. in extent, situated along the crest of the Western Ghats in the High Ranges of Idukki district of Kerala state, India. The Park holds the largest viable population of the endangered (IUCN) Nilgiri Tahr (Hemitragus hylocrius).

About 120 species of birds have been recorded which include endemics like black and ornage flycatcher, Nilgiri pipit, Nilgiri wood pegeon, white bellied shortwing, Nilgiri verditer flycatcher and Kerala laughing thrush. Endemics confined to the shola-grass land ecosystem like the red disk bushbrown and Palni fourwing are among the 100 odd butterflies listed inside the park.

Have a look at some of these wonderful trip experiences...

(click for part 1 to 6)


Click below to get the Bird Checklist of Thattekkad


Complete Trip Details

Travel upto Cochin and Back to be done by participants, however we can provide assistance for train travel if required

Tour Itinerary: Ernakulam to Ernakulam (Cochin to Cochin)

1. Thursday, 8th December, 2016:Pick-up at Ernakulam Station / Airport at 02.30pm ….. Departure in jeep for Thattekkad Bird Sanctuary......Check-in at Jungle Bird Homestay- Quick eve. birding trail - Light Snacks and Birdwatching for Nightjars and Owls - Dinner and Early Bed. 

2. Friday, 9th December, 2016: (Strenuous day) Start early morning (@05:00 am) for Munnar and Eravikulam National Park to watch Nilgiri Pipit, Black & Orange Flycatchers, White-bellied Shortwings, Nilgiri Laughing Thrush, Malabar Whistling Thrush, Indian Scimitar Babbler, Nilgiri Flycatcher, Painted Bush Quail and other endemics of the shola forests...... Lunch at Munnar ---- continue watching birds and return back to Thattekkad for night stay. 
Note: Munnar trip is purposely kept on Friday to avoid weekend rush at Eravikulam National Park, Munnar
3. Saturday, 10th December 2016: Whole Day Birding in Thattekkad Sanctuary and surrounding areas for the Western Ghat Endemics on foot.....Lunch - visit the Bhoothathankettu forests (The place is famous for its natural rocky topography, which according to the myth is believed to have been built by bhootams (spirits/demons)....a wonderful birding place not very far from TBS - Stay at Jungle Bird Homestay.

4. Sunday, 11th December, 2016: Early morning birding in Thattekkad - Lunch - Continue birding in Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary and adjoining areas to see the elusive Ceylon frogmouth, Malbar Trogon, Black baza & other endemics- Dinner - drop at Ernakulam Railway Station by 9 pm 

Travel Options: (to be done by participants, however we can provide assistance for train travel if required)....

Preferred trains...
1) 07th Dec, 2016: Train No. 16345 Netravati Express from Mumbai (Departure 11:40) to Ernakulam (Arrival 14:45) on 8th Dec'16. 

OR 12618 MNGLA LKSDP EXP (From Vasai Road)

2) 11th Dec, 2016: Train No.12224 +ERS LTT Duronto Express from Ernakulam (Dep.23:30) to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) @ 23:55 on 12th Dec'16.

3) Air Travel: Regular flights from Mumbai - Cochin & Bangalore - Cochin

Trip charges : (Ernakulam to Ernakulam only)…. Rs. 14800/-

Includes Twin sharing in Gireesh's Jungle Bird Home-stay, Local transport , all Park entry charges, local guide charges, All meals (veg/non-veg food), Entry permits , Articles on Thattekkad & Munnar and bird checklist, on board mineral water and snacks………

This does not include Mumbai - Cochin - Mumbai travel charges or any other charges and also any individual camera charges ....Individuals will have to pay additional charges if any to the forest dept. as per the rules.

Stay Arrangements

(images below) Jungle Bird Homestay; Birdwatching ; Giresh's mother and Grandmother ; Gireesh Chandran

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmatory mail to natureindiatours@gmail.com and by paying a non refundable Advance of Rs.8000/- and  after getting registration mail by us (The seats will only be confirmed after receiving the advance amount) …..the remaining amount will be collected during the trip.......

Please Register at the earliest as only limited seats are available.

Resource Persons: Mr.Gireesh Chandran and his Mother Sudha (Both are excellent guides) & Mr.Adesh Shivkar 

Mode of Payment: You can either

1. Transfer non-refundable advance amount of Rs. 8500/- directly to Adesh's HDFC A/c : (please call Adesh @ 09820455713 for A/c no.) .... please mention your name, date and other details….OR

2. Courier a cheque of Rs.8500/- to the following address
Name: Mr. Adesh Shivkar
Address: D-8, The Adi Janata Society, Behind HP Petrolpump, Near Sion Signal, Sion (East), Mumbai - 400022
Ph.: +91-9820455713

Please Note:
1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 8500/- is strictly non-refundable
2) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on all Nature India Tours
3) Nest photography or any collection of specimens is prohibited
4) Kindly register on this trip only if you agree with  
 Nature India's rules and policies

Please revert on natureindiatours@gmail.com ID, in case you need any clarification.

For any queries we are also available on 9930318665 / 9967518665 (Mandar) or 9869071091 / 9820455713 (Adesh) ..... 

Hope to see you for this wonderful trip

Thanks for your patience.

Warm Regards,


Adesh Shivkar & Mandar Khadilkar

About Me

Appreciate, Respect & Care for Nature