SB/04: 08 days West Sikkim Birding Tour

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Description

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.

TOUR DETAILS

Compact Tour featuring Mahananda WLS ( 100-900 m), Rangit river Valley, Vershay Rhododendron sanctuary, ( 2700-3000 m) Pelling , Khichepheri lake, 1980 m, and Ravang la ridge comprising Maenam Wildlife sanctuary (2300 m to 3200 m) and Damthang Forests (2100m to 2700 m).

Visit the best birding areas of West Sikkim, covering the entire altitudinal zone from 100 to 3200 m. Look for the most sought after birds of the region and enjoy the breathtaking scenery, spectacular Buddhist monasteries and meet the lovely ethnic people.

ITENERIES

Day 01: Arrive Bagdogra and drive to Siliguri

Fly to Bagdogra airport. Met by your Car with driver and driven to Mahananda Wild life sanctuary in 45 minutes for 01-02 hrs of bird watching. Some of the birds you are likely to spot: Lesser Adjutant, Red Naped Ibis, Black Baza, Besra, Greater Coucal, Large Cuckoo Shrike, Black hooded Oriole, Indian roller, Green billed Malkhoa, Red Jungle Fowl, Indian Grey Hornbill, Himalayan Griffon, Jungle and Asian Barred owlet, various Bee eaters, Egret, Common Hill Myna and more.

Return to Siliguri suburbs and check in at hotel.

Day 02 Drive siliguri to Hilley, 2700 m, in Western Sikkim

Early start for 02 hrs drive to Malli check post in the Rangit River Valley, to enter Sikkim. Here you stop for border documentation. Sikkim is a restricted area and it is mandatory for foreign passport holders to have a Sikkim Entry permit Continue the drive to Hilley,(2700 m) through Rangit to Jorethang.

Enroute easy spotting of Jungle Fowl. Continue to Hilley. This is a scenic drive of 29 Kms through the tiny township of Sombaria. Enjoy the flora, picture post card villages and views of the river. Now the road climbs rapidly through a series of switch- backs through pristine forests.

We will spend time birding in this forest at an elevation of 2300 to 2700 m. Overnight at a private lodge at Okhray.

Day 03: Hilley, 2700 m- Vershay, 3060 m birding Trek

Birding trek along the 04 kms path to the Forest Hut at Bershay Rhododendron Sanctuary at 3060 m, passing through forests of Silver Fir, hemlocks, magnolia, and Rhododendrons. Spend the day birding along the network of trails along the Vershay Ridge. And return to your lodge at Oakhrey for overnight.

Day 04: Birding trek Hilley- Vershay- Soreng and drive to Pelling 2100 m

Birding trek to Soreng, through Vershay Rhododendron Sanctuary. This is a 06 hours trek mostly down hill along a well defined forest track.

Starting with Rhododendrons at the crest line, you will be birding in a bio-diverse forest, with many small clearings; which make for easy spotting. Spend the day birding: Some of the species you are likely to spot : Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Amur Falcon, Kalij Pheasant, Rufus belied woodpecker, Fire-tailed Myzornis, and Brown Parrot bills, Slaty-backed Flycatchers, Golden Robin, Long Tailed thrushes, Grey-crested tits, Streak breasted, Rusty cheeked, and slender billed Scimitar Babblers, various Laughing thrushes, Red-tailed Minla, and many others .

See the breathtaking views of Mount KhangchenDzonga, Rhododendrons in bloom in Feb-March. Look for birds through mixed forest of rhododendron, magnolia, and other flora. In the lower regions walk through cardamom fields, wild orchids, and ethnic villages.

After the days birding, arrive at the road head at the small town of Soreng by 1600 hrs. Thereafter drive for 50 Kms to Pelling, 2100 m in 2.30 hrs. Overnight at Hotel at Pelling.

Day 05: Birding around Pelling- Pamayangtse and Khichepheri Lake

Birding around Rabantse forests and on Sangacholing Ridge. In the moist temperate Oak Forests you have a chnce to spot: Common, Oriental and Indian Cuckoo, White-throated Needletail, Great Barbet, Grey-headed and Bay Woodpecker, Lesser Yellownape, Grey Treepie, Striated Bulbul, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Rufous-capped and Black-chinned Babbler, Hoary-throated and Rusty-fronted Barwing, Striated, Grey-sided and Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Rufous-winged and White-browed Fulvetta, Whiskered Yuhina, Cutia, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Rufous Sibia, Pygmy Blue, Verditer, Snowy-browed and Sapphire Flycatcher, Grey-sided and Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler, Blyth’s, Ashy-throated, Lemon-rumped and Yellow-browed Warbler, Grey-hooded, Golden-spectacled and Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Blue-fronted Redstart, Grey-winged Blackbird, Green-backed and Black-throated Tit, White-tailed Nuthatch, Fire-tailed and Green-tailed Sunbird, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, White-tailed Robin, Dark-breasted Rosefinch and Red-headed Bullfinch, Grey-winged Blackbird, Green-backed and Black-throated Tit, White-tailed Nuthatch, Fire-tailed and Green-tailed Sunbird, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, White-tailed Robin, Dark-breasted Rosefinch and Red-headed Bullfinch.

In the skies Mountain Hawk Eagle, Black Eagle, and Himalayan Griffon have been seen. Latter drive 24 Kms for birding walk in areas around the holy Khicherheri Lake.The lake hosts migrant ducks and occasionally some rare species such as Black necked Grebe, Baer’s Pochard or Greater Sccaup.

Other birds spotted have been Speckled wood pigeon, Emerald Cuckoo, Blue winged and Scaly Laughing Thrushes; White napped Yuhina Return to Pelling, for Overnight at Hotel.

Day 06: Pelling- Rabang la: birding in Maenam wildlife sanctuary

Drive Pelling to Maenam Wild Life Sanctuary in 2 hrs. Birding trek in Maenam sanctuary. At an an altitudinal variation ranging from 2300 m – 3263 m.

Home to the red Panda, the star bird of the area is the Satyr Tragopan. 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. Overnight at Lodge at Kewzing.

Day 07: Birding in Damthang Forests

Full day birding trek in Damthang Forests. You are likelt to spot: 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.

Overnight at Lodge at Kewzing.

Day 08: Kewzing- Bagdogra

Drive to Bagdogra in 4 hrs.TOUR ENDS.

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