While talking about the rich bio-diversity of Uttarakhand, we cannot miss out the beauty of the myriad, playful birds that attracts many globetrotters to visit Uttarakhand and capture their beauty in the eye of the camera. So let’s celebrate the International Migratory Birds Day (held on every second Saturday of May) in a unique style and give a moment of thanks to the colourful birds which have made Uttarakhand truly a “Bird Watchers Paradise”.
Location: Agora-Barsu-Dayara (District Uttarkashi)
Known for its snow-clad peaks, meandering meadows and dense woods the Agora-Barsu-Dayara circuit is blessed with more than 200 varieties of Himalayan birds that have chosen this celestial place as their home. This birding destination is nestled in the Western Himalayan region precisely in the Bhatwari tehsil of Uttarkashi district. The backpackers can also have a taste of the pristine Dodital Lake and Dayara Bugyal that are located here.
Birds Specialities: Cheer, Monal and Koklass Pheasants, Cinereous Vulture, Bearded Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Snow Pigeon, Brown Wood Owl, Scaly-beasted wren Babbler, Golden Bush Robin, Beautiful Rosefinch
Location: Asan-Timli (Dehradun)
Offering the ravishing views of the migratory birds that flock in huge numbers to this surreal place, the Asan Conservation Reserve of Dehradun district is India’s first conservation reserve established in 2005. The reserve sprawls over an area of 4.44 sq. km and is idyllically situated at the confluence of the Asan and Yamuna rivers. It stretches at Asan and Timli Reserve Forest about 12 km from Asan. With more than 255 species of birds, this wetland is listed as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International and is one of the favourite spots of the migratory birds.
Bird Specialities: Great Crested Grebe, Great Bittern, Common Goldeneye. Baer’s Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Marbled Teal, Lesser white-fronted Goose, Painted Stork, Pallas’ Fish Eagle, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-tailed Rubythroat, White-crowned Penduline Tit.
Location: Chakrata-Koti Kanasar (Dehradun)
These remote hill stations seated in the upper reaches of the Dehradun district that are not so popular amongst the tourists but have made a special place in the hearts of the tiny, winged Himalayan inhabitants. This scarcely populated place is bound by Mussoorie on the east and Kinnaur on the west and can be easily approachable.
Bird Specialities: Chukar Partridge, Cinereous Vulture, Speckled Piculet, Himalayan Woodpecker, Wallcreeper, Bar-tailed Treecreeper, Spotted Nutcracker, Black and Yellow Grosbeak, Brown Bullfinch, White- checked Nuthatch.
Location: Chilla-Rajaji (Dehradun and Pauri Garhwal)
Cradled in the Shivaliks, the Rajaji National Park covering a vast expanse of 1075 sq. km is outlined with mixed tropical deciduous forests. The Shivaliks are also important breeding grounds for endangered bird species such as Great Hornbill, Pallas Fish Eagle, River Lapwing ad Vulture species. The Rajaji harbours about 311 myriad bird species such as ducks and flycatchers descending into the Shivalik during winter. This national park is listed as an important Bird Area by BNHS and BirdLife International.
Bird Specialities: Black Stork, White-eyed Buzzard, Cinereous Vulture, Pallas Fish Eagle, River Lapwing, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Great Hornbill, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Wallcreeper.
Location: Thano-Maldevta-Lachhiwala (Dehradun)
The lavish vistas of Doon Valley have lured the playful birds to make their abode in the green patches, mainly in the scrub forests, riverine jungle, agricultural fields and the orchards. A wide variety of birds can be spotted in the eastern part of Doon Valley which is bounded by Sal mixed forests of the Shivaliks.
Bird Specialities: Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Greater Yellownape, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Crested Kingfisher, Indian Pitta, Sirkeer Malkoha, Maroon Oriole, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Wallcreeper, Red Avadavat, rock Bunting, Green-Tailed Sunbird, European Goldfinch.
Location: Deolsari-Magra (Tehri Garhwal)
The picturesque Aglar Valley located in the lower Himalayas of Tehri Garhwal district boasts some of the eye captivating views of the sun-kissed peaks and the bubbling creeks, bordered by the broad-leaved forests. The Aglar River that drains into the holy river Yamuna surpasses through this valley. The vivid flora-fauna, agricultural fields at Suwakholi and Rauto ki Bela, deodar forest at Deolsari and the kaleidoscopic landscape makes this place a perfect place for birding.
Bird Specialities: Cinereous vulture, Chukar Partridge, Mountain Scops Owl, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Black-Faced Warbler, Golden Bush Robin, Spot-winged Grosbeak, Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Fire-fronted Serin, Altai and Alpine Accentor.
Location: Har-ki-dun, Changsil, Ruinsara Taal treks in Govind Pashu Vihar National Park
This national park is perched at a mid-to-high-altitude Himalayan region in the Garhwal Himalayas, sprawling over an area of 958 sq. km. This area is also the catchment of Tons River and is also a protected area. More than 148 species of colourful birds have been recorded in this area that makes it an ideal place for birding.
Bird Specialities: Rufous-throated Partridge, Himalayan Snowcock, Western Tragopan, cheer Pheasant, Snow Pigeon, Green Shrike-Babbler, Pied and Long-billed Thrush, White-throated Tit, Robin Accentor, Allied Grosbeak, Red-fronted Rosefinch.
Location: Khirsu (Pauri Garhwal)
Only 17 km from Pauri, the district headquarters this relatively unexplored tourist destination is easily accessible. Myriad tiny birds have chosen the peaceful aura of the beguiling hills of Khirsu as their safe haven. One can soak in the beauty of the snowy peaks of Phurkunda that sparkles even in the dark as if the mother earth has decorated her heavenly abode with a natural chandelier.
Bird Specialities: Black Francolin, Koklass Pheasant, Speckled Piculet, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Grey-winged Blackbird, Little Forktail, Yellow-browed Tit, Fire-Breasted Flowerpecker, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch.
Location: Mussoorie: Benog-Suwakholi-Dhanaulti (Dehradun, Tehri Garhwal)
A wide variety of songbirds can be spotted in the alpine hills of Mussoorie, forming the northern boundary of Doon Valley. The mountain range runs from the east to west axis and its northern side falls away into the Aglar Valley. The spellbinding views of the snow-capped peaks of western Garhwal region and the scent of the scarlet rhododendrons can be relished here. It is one of the best places to watch the activities of the birds as this area has been listed as an Important Bird Area by BNHS and BirdLife International.
Bird specialities: Lammergeier, Mountain Scops Owl, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Long-tailed Broadbill, Black-faced Warbler, Himalayan Blue-tall, Blue-fronted Redstart, Upland Pipit, Pink-browed Rosefinch, Spectacled Finch, Spot-winged Grosbeak, Fire-fronted Serin, Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird, Alpine Accentor.
Location: Binsar-Jageshwar (Almora)
One of the most frequented places of Kumaon, the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary is a small protected area that covers an area of 45 sq. km. It can be easily reached within a short, one-hour drive from Almora. The trek through the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary offers majestic views of the sister peaks Nanda Devi, Trishul and Panchachuli peaks. Birding at Jageshwar adorned in the Jataganga River Valley is one of a kind experience.
Bird Specialities: Black Francolin, Himalayan Woodpecker, Long-billed Thrush, Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Fire-capped Tit, Rufous-Breasted Accentor, Vinaceous Rosefinch, Brown Bullfinch, White-tailed Nuthatch.
The outskirts of Corbett from Kaladhungi to Baur has at least 350 species of birds. The forests that are found here are the moist deciduous type with predominantly Sal trees. With diverse flora and fauna, this region is home to tigers and birds that live in harmony with the diverse flora-fauna found here.
Bird Specialities: Kingfisher, Green-billed Malkoha, Long-tailed Broadbill, Chestnut Thrush, chestnut-headed Tesia, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Fire-tailed Sunbird.
This lesser known place is an off-beat destination located in the midst of Nainital and Maheshkhan in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The sweet melodious chirpings of the birds found here makes the dull day bright, as one can hear the twitters of the velvety birds during the day and the hooting of the wise owlets at night.
Bird Specialities: Collared Owlet, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Spotted Forktail, Black-faced Warbler, Lesser Racket-tailed, Drongo, Mountain Bulbul, Rusty-tailed flycatcher, Blue-winged Minla, White-cheeked Nuthatch.
Location: Marchula-Mohan-Kumeria (Ramnagar)
Covering the two beauteous Kosi and Ramganga Valley, the Marchula-Mohan-Kumeria-Lohachaur circuit is located in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. It is a part of the buffer forest of Corbett Tiger Reserve, Kalagarh and Almora Forest Divisions that lies between the Himalayan foothills and the Indo-Gangetic plains. Now an abode to more than 500 species of birds, this region was once under the terror of Mohan, the tiger whose name has been immortalized by Jim Corbett in his best-selling book ‘The Maneater of Kumaon’.
Bird Specialities: Pallas’ and Lesser Fish Eagle, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Collared Falconet, ibisbill, Common Green Magpie, Little Forktail, White-tailed Rubythroat, Long-tailed Broadbill, Nepal Wren-babbler, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Wallcreeper.
Location: Munsiyari-Askot (Pithoragarh)
The Gori Ganga Basin and the Askot Sanctuary, home to 320 threatened bird species is listed as an Important Bird Area by BNHS and BirdLife International. Some parts of the Askot Wildlife Sanctuary and buffer zone of the Nanda Devi National Park falls within the Gori basin which makes it a must visit place for the nature lovers.
Bird Specialities: Himalayan Snowcock, Satyr Tragopan, Eurasian Woodcock, Great and Black-throated Parrotbill, Grey-bellied Tesia, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Spotted Laughingthrush, Black-chinned Babbler, Pied Thrush, Long-billed and Long-tailed Thrushes, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, White-tailed Robin, white-browed Bush Robin, Himalayan Cutia, White-throated Tit, Red-headed Bullfinch, Robin Accentor.
Location: Nandhaur (Nainital, Champawat)
One of the newly added protected areas, the Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a sanctuary on December 2012. The Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary covers an area of 269 sq. km. This sanctuary is a part of the Terai-Bhabar region in the Shivaliks, the Gola River in the west and the Sharda River in the east bind Nandhaur. More than 250 bird species reside in this sanctuary which makes this place a bird watchers paradise.
Bird Specialities: Lesser Fish Eagle, Goosander, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Great Hornbill, Red-headed Trogon, Crow-billed Drongo, Rufous Sibia, Short-billed Minivet, Siberian Rubythroat, White-bellied Erpornis.
The tiny hamlet of Pangot about 15 km from Nainital is known for the chirpy birds and for offering peaceful nature walks. You can relax in the lavish surroundings of Pangot, lie in a hammock and read books while the birds entertain you with their mellifluous hymns.
Bird Specialities: Cheer and Khalij Pheasants, Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, Spotted and Slaty-backed Forktail, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Rufous-bellied and Small Niltava, Blue-winged and Chestnut-tailed Minla, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Grey-crowned Prinia, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Green-tailed Sunbird.
Location: Powalgarh-Kotabagh-Sitabani (Nainital)
Cradled in the Ramnagar Forest Division, the newly declared Powalgarh Conservation Reserve sprawls over an area of 60 sq. km. This area was listed in December 2012 as a conservation reserve. The Sandani Gaja, an enchanting grassland is located at a favourable distance of 5 km south-east of Powalgrah FRH. While the Kotabagh Plateau that is rich in birdlife is currently under inhabitation and agriculture and around 350 species of birds are estimated to be found here.
Bird Specialities: Rufous-bellied Eagle, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Great Hornbill, White-bellied Erpornis, Little Pied Flycatcher, Nepal wren-babbler, Blue-bearded Bee-eater.
Location: Corbett: Dhikala-Gairal (Ramnagar)
Established in 1936, the Corbett National Park comprises of three core tourism zones of which Dhikala Tourism Zone is the oldest and most restricted. It is situated in the Shivalik-Terai-Bhabhar biotic province and has a great habitat diversity. The paradise birds, pristine Ramganga River, and the thick woodlands make Corbett a birding haven with more than 550 bird species that reside or visit seasonally.
Bird Specialities: Kingfisher, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Great Hornbill, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Common Green Magpie, Ashy Bulbul, Chestnut-capped Babbler, White-bellied Erpornis, Wallcreeper.