Birding in Sikkim & Darjeeling
South Sikkim: Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary
Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary, is located North of Ravangla Pass, 2100 m. Ravangla is on the state highway connecting Gangtok and Pelling/Pemayangtse and rests at the foot of snow capped Mt. Narsing, 6400 m. It is located 75 Kms from Gangtok, 40 Kms from Pelling- Pamayangtse and 140 kms from Bagdogra.
The sanctuary has an altitudinal variation ranging from 2300 m – 3263 m. It is rich in a bird life, plants of medicinal value, flora, and is home of the Red Panda. The Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan Satyra) is the star of the sanctuary. Other species to look for are Fire-tailed Myzornis. Rufous vented Tit, Grey Crested Tit, Rufous- fronted Tit, Green Shrike Babbler, Tibetan Siskin, Dark breasted Rosefinch, White browed Rosefinch, Spotted Laughingthrush, White collared Black Bird, Darjeeling woodpecker, Crimson breasted Woodpecker, Himalayan Cutia Can be seen. The Lower valleys hold the great Sultan Tit, Puff-throated Babbler and Streaked Spider hunter. And the more common Great Himalayan Barbet, Grey Treepie, Green Magpie, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Black Bulbul and many more.
South Sikkim Damthang Forests
Damthang is located at an altitude of 1650 m, South of and Ravangla at 2100 mtrs, and is linked to Maenam sanctuary by the scrubland around the pass. Damthang Forest is a reserve forest , with a good birding trail of 14 kms upto Tendon Peak, 2700 meters. It is a round trip of 04 hrs. Birding is slow due to interwining forests. Birds spotted are Green billed Malkoha, Dollarbird, Black winged Cuckoo Shrike, Short billed Minivet, Chestnut bellied Rock Thrush, Blue Whistling Thrush, Grey winged Blackbird, Buff barred Warbler, Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, Golden spectacled Warbler, Grey hooded Warbler, Black faced Warbler, Rufous gorgeted Flycatcher, , Rufous bellied Niltava, Grey headed Canary Flycatcher, Red flanked Bluetail, Blue fronted Redstart, Grey Bushchat, White throated Fantail, White crested Laughing thrush, Chestnut tailed Minla, Red tailed Minla, Rufous Sibia, Whiskered Yuhina, Rufous vented Yuhina, Black throated Tit, Green backed Tit, Chestnut bellied Nuthatch, Green tailed Sunbird, Ashy Drongo, Maroon Oriole, Brown Bullfinch. And many more.
North Sikkim : Tholung Valley
Located in the shadow of the 6888 Meters high Siniolchu, and the 5200 Meters Lamo Anden, this is virtually an uninhabited valley with a miniscule population ( less than 50 ) of Lamas, yak herdsmen, wood cutters, cow and sheep graziers. Due to restricted entry there is little tourist traffic.
It is the domain of glaciers, snow clad peaks, alpine lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, bio-diverse forests, cascading rivers and streams, and twittering birds, The altitudinal variation ranges between 1000 meters to 4500 meters. The lower valley has mixed open forest with amazing biodiversity. The variation in altitude, variety of trees and shrubs, lack of human population and vehicular traffic combine to make it a haven for birds, and a prime Birding Area. The mossy oak and Rhododendron forests, coniferous forests and bamboo stands in the Tholung Valley support some beautiful East Himalayan specialities. A very good walking trail with offshoots of grazing trails provides access for birding. The entire length of the walking trail of 15 kms is a birding hot spot. Species recorded in 2 days of birding were Crested Serpent Eagle, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Northern Goshawk, Upland Buzzard, Satyr Tragopan, Kalij Pheasant, Whimbrel, Ashy Wood Pigeon, Oriental Turtle Dove, Large Hawk Cuckoo, Asian Koel, Greater Coucal, Brown Wood Owl, Asian Barred Owlet, Himalayan Swiftlet, Fork tailed Swift, House Swift, Great Barbet, Golden throated Barbet, Rufous bellied Woodpecker, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Crimson breasted Woodpecker, Bay Woodpecker, Yellow rumped Honeyguide, Nepal Martin, Citrine Wagtail, Olive backed Pipit, Rosy Pipit, Black winged Cuckoo Shrike, Short billed Minivet, Striated Bulbul, Red vented Bulbul, Black Bulbul, Orange bellied Leafbird, Winter Wren, Blue capped Rock Thrush, Chestnut bellied Rock Thrush, Blue Whistling Thrush, Plain backed Thrush, Long tailed Thrush, Scaly Thrush, White collared Blackbird, Grey winged Blackbird, White browed Shortwing, Striated Prinia, Hill Prinia, Chestnut headed Tesia, Slaty bellied Tesia, Brownish flanked Bush Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Buff barred Warbler, Ashy throated Warbler, Lemon rumped Warbler, Large billed Leaf Warbler, Blyth’s LeafWarbler, Yellow vented Warbler, Golden spectacled Warbler, Grey hooded Warbler, Chestnut crowned Warbler, Ferruginous Flycatcher, Rufous gorgeted Flycatcher, Snowy browed Flycatcher, White gorgeted Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Slaty blue Flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Small Niltava, Rufous bellied Niltava, Grey headed Canary Flycatcher, Blue fronted Redstart, White capped Redstart, Plumbeous Redstart, Little Forktail, Spotted Forktail, Common Stonechat, Grey Bushchat, Yellow bellied Fantail, White throated Laughingthrush, Striated Laughingthrush, Scaly Laughingthrush, Black faced Laughingthrush, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Spotted Wren Babbler, Rufous capped Babbler, Golden Babbler, Cutia, White browed Shrike Babbler, Black eared Shrike Babbler, Hoary throated Barwing, Blue winged Minla, Chestnut tailed Minla, Redtailed Minla, Rufous winged Fulvetta, White browed Fulvetta, Nepal Fulvetta, Rufous Sibia, White naped Yuhina, Whiskered Yuhina, Stripe throated Yuhina, Rufous vented Yuhina, Black throated Tit, Green backed Tit, Yellow cheeked Tit, Yellow browed Tit, White tailed Nuthatch, Rusty flanked Treecreeper, Wallcreeper, Gould’s Sunbird, Green tailed Sunbird, Black throated Sunbird, Fire tailed Sunbird, Little Spiderhunter, Streaked Spiderhunter, Fire breasted Flowerpecker, Maroon Oriole, Grey backed Shrike, Black Drongo, Ashy Drongo, Gold billed Magpie, Grey Treepie, White rumped Munia, Plain Mountain Finch, Black headed Mountain Finch, Dark breasted Rosefinch, Scarlet Finch.
We offer two birding options. A leisurely birding walk to the Tholung Gompa is a rare opportunity to bird watch in the open mixed forest ranging in altitude from 1000 meters to 3000 meters and explore Tholung – the “secret hidden Valley of Sikkim”, which is still a restricted area, even for domestic tourists. The whole family can enjoy nature’s bounty – far from crowds.
For the energetic we extend the birding up to Kishong Chu, 4228 meters looking for high altitude birds and enjoying the splendid views of Himalayan peaks, Alpine lakes, cascading streams, and grazing yaks. The spring period Feb-April is usually snow covered, and May has regular rainfall. The ideal time for this trek is in Oct-Nov.
Mangan on the North Sikkim High way is 70 Kms ( 2.30 hrs) from Gangtok and 153 kms (5.30hrs from Bagdogra Airport/NJP rail station via Singtam and Dikchu. A special entry permit is required to proceed beyond Mangan. You can drive for another 14-25 Kms to Lingsha/ Baa, which is the road head and the start point of the trail to the Tholung Valley.
Accomodation available is basic in village homestays . Alternativly we provide fully serviced camps. 5-7 days are required for this birding trip.