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Uttarakhand Birding – Kakragad

I am always amazed at my ability to wake up before sunrise when I am out on vacation. I think it is one of those unsolved mysteries of the universe. On a normal day I need multiple alarms and sometime cold water to wake up. Anyhow, I like waking up to the sweet, melodious call of Whistling Thrush I think. Crisp and cold mountain air would send chills up my well protected spine. Anyone who wants to try this in winter, should read-up on dressing in layers. Beats freezing one’s tush though.

A lot of birders would know it already, Negi Ji had his earlier camp at Kakragad. Unfortunately he lost it to floods in Uttarakhand. I have read many good things about that place. Negi Ji and I agreed on visiting the place a couple of days to see what we can find. We started early morning and reached there as the day was breaking. Kakragad has hills surrounding it with a river flowing by. I think total population of the place should not exceed 20 (might be wrong though). By the time we reached, it was freezing cold, surprisingly it was colder than what we had seen at higher altitude. Reasons for this extra cold was the river and lack of sunlight till quite late (due to the mountains).

The bird-life around Kakragad was fantastic. We started instantly and birds started rolling. Just a few minutes walk from the main road bought us to the other side of the river, near an abandoned inspection bungalow. Whiskered Yuhina, Himalayan Bulbul, Spotted-forktail, Rusty Cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Streak Brested Scimitar Babbler, Black Bulbul to name a few. As we walked around, we were looking out for some specialties like Rufuous Bellied Niltava, Small Niltava, Chestnut Crowned Laughingthrush etc. Glad to say that during both visits, most of the species obliged us.

Blue Whistling Thrush

Chestnut Crowned Laughingthrush

The river that flows through Kakragad is a great spot for Brown Dipper, Plumbeous Water Redstart, White Capped Redstart, Spotted Forktails and Little Forktail. While Little Forktail eluded us, the rest did show up and gave me a small opportunity to grab some images. Every time I saw a Brown Dipper, I could only think of calling it a little brave-heart. The way these little birds “dip” into the icy water, calling them anything less will be not justified. Photographing the dipper was a bit of the challenge, once the bird goes under the stream for foraging, it can come up anywhere. By spending some time with the birds, I was able to grab a few images of it.

Spotted Forktail

Spotted Forktail

Whiskered Yuhina

Whiskered Yuhina

Brown-fronted Woodpecker

Brown-fronted Woodpecker

Around the inspection bungalow, we were able to find plenty of bird activities. A flowering tree there acted as bird magnet and we spent a lot of time observing and photographing some of the visiting birds. Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers posed a challenge in photographing due to their hyperactive nature. During the second visit, we even found ourselves a Rufus-bellied Neeltava that obliged and posed.

Firebreasted Flowerpecker

Firebreasted Flowerpecker

Black Bulbul

Black Bulbul

 

Plumbeous redstart female

Plumbeous redstart female

Streak breasted scimitar babbler

Streak breasted scimitar babbler

While wondering around Kakragad, Negi Ji decided to look for scaly breasted wren babbler. WE started scouring the area around the river for this little bugger. We heard this bird long before we got a glimpse of it. However being the skulker that it was, it always lurked in the shadows. While we were searching, we came across a Chestnut Headed Tesia, who was quite trusting. I clicked away to my hearts content. In fact we encountered Tesia again as we were having tea. Right in the back of the shop, a Tesia kept me glued to the spot by just casually jumping around the shrubs.

Chestnut-headed Tesia

Chestnut-headed Tesia

Brown Dipper

Brown Dipper

Plumbeous water redstart

Plumbeous water redstart

Rufous fronted niltava

Rufous fronted niltava

Chestnut-headed Tesia

Chestnut-headed Tesia

After having enjoyed couple of really fantastic days around Kakragad, we were just getting started with Himalayan birds. We had a nicely planned itinerary planned for next few days and I was all excited to go looking for Monal. That will be next installment..

9 Comments

  1. Sahdev Singh · February 13, 2015 Reply

    Hello Karthikeya,
    These are excellent photos of himalayan birds. Very well done.
    It appears that you are now hooked to the hills and will return again.
    I think the Tesia is an uncommon bird and you have wonderful images of it.
    Look forward to your next installment …
    Cheers,
    Sahdev Singh

    • kartik · February 13, 2015 Reply

      Hi Sahdev,

      Thank you for the kind words. Yes, I am quite hooked to the mighty hills now. Just waiting for the next chance to get there. Your blog seems like a great source of info. I might bother you for the Dhaba’s name πŸ˜€

      Cheers,
      Kartik

  2. punita · February 13, 2015 Reply

    The most difficult to shoot are birds cause at your one click they flutter away n u have done such a marvelous job of capturing them at ease….. Hats off

  3. sangeeta · February 13, 2015 Reply

    Superb sightings and images! Dying to see the monal now!

  4. jignesh · February 13, 2015 Reply

    Excellent Boss πŸ™‚

  5. james fernandes · February 14, 2015 Reply

    Very nice report Sir,
    One more place to explore in wish list,
    Thanks for sharing..

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