Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Birding in SIKKIM - A dream destination - 24th Apr to 30th April, 2016

The long wait is over... Get ready for a birding feast in one of the "Best & Beautiful birding hotspots in the World". With over 550 species of birds, this has to be a dream destination for any bird-watcher.

Nature India is immensely happy to announce, meticulously planned & carefully organised, Bird-watching trip to Sikkim (North-East India) from 24th April to 30th April 2016 (Travel Days excluded). Only few seats are available, so you know what to do!! Book fast...

Read an excellent report of our last year's trip to Sikkim
http://dattakiranjoshi.blogspot.in/2015/05/birding-on-dzongri-trail-trip-to-south.html

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Sikkim - A Dream Destination for Bird-watching


With around 650,000 inhabitants, Sikkim is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest state after Goa in total area, covering approximately 7,096 sq. km. Sikkim is nonetheless geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas.

Over the years Sikkim has become the most favored location for birders all over world. Sikkim is like a small piece of land surrounded on all sides by mountain walls. Within an area of 80kms, the elevation rises from 225 mtrs in Tista river valley to 8600 mtrs at Kanchendzonga, India's highest & World's third highest mountain peak. Separated by Singhalila Range from Nepal in the west & Dongkya Range from Tibet to the east, Sikkim, is like a "bird catchment area." Nowhere in the world in such a small area can one find flora and fauna of all varieties - Tropical to the Alpines.

Nature India announces, again this year, an exclusive bird-watching trip to this dream destination from 24th April to 30th April 2016…. The details are given at the end. Amongst the places that we intend to cover are Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, Okhrey, Hilley, Yuksom, Pelling (Pemayangtse monastery) etc...in Short the West & South of Sikkim
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Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary, West Sikkim




The Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary or Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary is Located at an altitude of 2900 mts and is renowned for the diversity of Rhododendron’s. It is situated in Western Sikkim in Singalila Range forming a natural border with Nepal in The West. The sanctuary also borders the State West Bengal from Sikkim in the south by Rambong Khola stream. The entire sanctuary is spread over 104 km2, across the Singalila Range. The Varsey Sanctuary can be reached from three points, Hilley, Dentam and Soreng. The most popular entry is Hilley since it is approachable by road and Varsey is only 4 km trek from this point through the beautiful undulated path shaded by different species of rhododendron. The Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary spans over the razor sharp Singalila Range. The diverse forest types found here shelter a wide range of high altitude bird species.




The Barsey Rhododendron sanctuary is famous for Satyr Tragopan (Tragopan Satyra) which is one of the rare species of Pheasants found in Eastern Himalayas, the other star bird species to look for is Fire-tailed Myzornis. Also Rufous vented Tit, Grey Crested Tit, Rufous- fronted Tit, Green Shrike Babbler, Tibetan Siskin, Dark breasted Rosefinch, White browed Rosefinch, Spotted Laughingthrush, White collared Blackbird, Darjeeling woodpecker, Crimson breasted Woodpecker, Fire-capped Tit, Himalayan Cutia, Several Species of Laughingthrushes, Fulvous & Great Parrotbills, White-browed Fulvetta  etc... can be seen. Barsey Rhododendron sanctuary is also home to the rare beautiful state animal of Sikkim the Red Panda or Firefox and Himalayan Yellow Throated Marten.



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Yuksom Area (Kanchendzonga National Park)


The term Kanchendzonga means 'the Abode of Gods consisting of Five Treasure Houses'. The Kanchendzonga National Park is situated in the North District of Sikkim (Yuksom), spreading over an area of 850 square kilometers. The elevation range from 1800 meters to 8600 meters approximately, one of the highest park in the country. The area of the park of spectacular wilderness with one of the highest mountain peaks towering above virtually undisturbed forest cover. The variation of altitude and vegetation has enriched the park area with rich variety of flora.


Yuksom is a historical town in the Geyzing district of Sikkim. It used to be an old capital of the kingdom of Sikkim and has a royal palace complex called the Tashi Tenka which belonged to the Chogyal Kings. The forests around Yuksom constitute a hotspot for birding. Being at the head of the Khangchendzonga National Park and as the base camp for trekking to Mt. Khangchendzonga, it has large influx of mountaineers from all parts of the world. The Tibetan Buddhist monastery, Dubdi Monastery, is located in the area and also the smaller Mallu Monastery. Established in 1701, Dubdi Monastery professes to be the oldest monastery in Sikkim

From Yuksom, one can descend altitude from about 1500 mts to about 500 mts along the rangit river, enabling vast diversity of birds….. some of the birds that can be encountered in this region include Mountain Hawk Eagle, Crimson breasted Woodpecker, Short-billed and Grey chinned Minivets, Himalayan Bulbul, Red -tailed Minla, various Thrushes, Grey winged Blackbird, various Tits, White tailed Nuthatch, Long-tailed Broadbill, Sultan Tit, Golden fronted and Great Barbet, Scarlet Finch, Silver-backed Needletail, Himalayan Swiftlets, White-browed Piculet, Mr.s Gould’s & Black-throated Sunbirds, Hill Prinia ,Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Slaty-backed & Spotted Forktails, Plumbeous & White-capped Water Redstart, Small Niltava and various Tits & Cuckoo species.
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Pelling and Pemayangtse Monastery
Pelling is on the state highway connecting Gangtok and Yoksum and rests at the foot of snow capped Mt. Kanchenjunga, from where one can have the best view of this highest mountain of India (if weather permits). The important Pemayangtse monastery is a few kilometers from Pelling and is situated on a hilltop (2133 mtrs) which is covered by moist temperate Oak forests decorated with moss and lichens.


Pelling and Pemayangtse are well wooded and the moist forests hold Maroon-backed and Rufous-breasted Accentors, Barred Cuckoo Dove, White-tailed Nuthatch, Green-tailed Sunbirds, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatchers, Blue-fronted Redstarts, Small & Large Niltava, Green Shrike Babbler, White-throated & Chestnut-headed Laughingthrush, Nepal Fulvetta, Brownish-flanked Bush Warblers, Scarlet and Long-tailed Minivets, White-tailed Robin, Coal, Green-backed and Black-throated Tits, Blue-winged & Chestnut-tailed Minla, various Yuhinas, Fulvettas, Shrike Babblers, Scimitar Babblers, Laughingthrushes and Babblers.

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Dates: 24th April 2016 (Sunday) to 30th April 2016 (Saturday)
Travel Details:

Contact Point: New-Jalpaiguri Station (coming by train helps us to maximise our days instead of coming to Bagdogra where flights reach or take off only in afternoons)

Note: You will need to arrange your own travel to & fro New-Jalpaiguri station ......
Nature India will pick up the participants from here on 24th April Morning @ 9:00 am and arrange a drop to New-Jalpaiguri station on 30th April evening @ 20:00 Hrs.

Mumbai - Kolkata- Mumbai (by Air/Rail on personal expenses)
Kolkata-New-Jalpaiguri-Kolkata 
(by Rail on personal expenses)

While there are several flight options to reach Kolkata by flight..... we suggest you book the flight tickets so that you keep enough buffer time for your train timings....also please book train tickets to & fro New-Jalpaiguri as follows

Train Travel Suggestions:

1) Saturday 23rd April'16: Kolkata (Sealdah Station) to New-Jalpaiguri


12343 Darjeeling Express from Sealdah Station to New-Jalpaiguri .....starting @ 22:05 and reaching at 08:00 Hrs   OR

12377 Padatik Exp from Sealdah to  to New-Jalpaiguri .....starting @ 23:15 and reaching at 9:15 Hrs 

2) Sunday 30th April'16: New-Jalpaiguri to Kolkata (Sealdah Station)

12378 Padatik Exp from New-Jalpaiguri to Sealdah Station ..... starting @ 21:00 and reaching at 6:45 Hrs  OR

12344 Darjeeling Express from New-Jalpaiguri to Sealdah Station .....starting @ 20:00 and reaching at 06:00 Hrs   

and then fly from Kolkata on 1st May'16......

Please note, 
Nature India would not be able to assist in travel bookings as we are on tours. 


Rough Tour Itinerary (Complete details of stay etc will be provided after registration)


Day 1: Sunday, 24th April, 2016 - New Jalpaiguri- Pelling (500 mts to 2000mts)
South Sikkim
We will meet at New Jalpaiguri Station @ 8:30 am and drive towards Sikkim - 06 hours straight but we will drive birding all the way as we come across the Sevok RF, part of Mahananda WLS.
The possible species you may encounter in this forest are as follows.... Oriental & Great Pied Hornbills, Dollar Bird, Crimson Sunbird, Hill Myna, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Jungle Myna, Pin-stripped Tit babbler, Blue-eared & Blue-throated Barbet, Lineated Barbet, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Fairy Blue Bird, White-rumped Shama, Scarlet Minivet, Maroon Oriole, Crested Serpent Eagle, Plain Flowerpecker, Black-crested & White-throated Bulbul.....and many more possibilities....Overnight Stay @ a Good resort in Pelling

Day 2: Monday, 25th April, 2016 - Pelling- Pemayangtse (2000 mts)
The entire day will be done around pelling, Rabadangtse Palace Ruins and pemayangtse monastery. This monastery is renowned for the abundance in birdlife. A very small area surrounding the monastery environs may produce gems like White-tailed Robin, Snowy-browed, Little Pied, Verditer, Ferruginous Flycatchers, Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers, Red-tailed Minla, Small & Large Niltava, Green Shrike Babbler, White-throated & Chestnut-headed Laughingthrush, Nepal Fulvetta, White-tailed Nuthatch, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeons, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Striated Bulbul, Green-tailed Sunbird, Rufous-fronted Babblers, Blue-fronted Redstart, Bay woodpecker, Brown-throated Tree-creeper and a variety of birds that will mesmerize you. ......overnight stay in Pelling.

Day 3: Tuesday, 26th April, 2016 - Pelling to Yuksom (1000 to 2000 mts) 
Early morning with packed breakfast Head towards Yuksam - Birding around Yuksam for the whole day, visiting the Rangit river (before lunch) and later the Dubdi monastery trail.... The birds that you might encounter are as following Streak breasted Scimitar Babbler, Striated Bulbul, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler,Hill Prinia ,Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Slaty-backed & Spotted Forktails, Gold-naped & Scarlet Finch, Black-throated & Mrs. Gould's Sunbird, Black-throated Prinia, Black-tailed Crake, Greater Yellownape Woodpecker, Plumbeous & White-capped Water Redstart, Small Niltava, Long-tailed Broadbill, Sultan Tit, Golden-fronted Barbet, White bellied Yuhina, Black-chinned Yuhina, White-browed Piculet and so on.....return to Pelling .....Birding on the way......Overnight stay @ a Good hotel in Pelling 

Day 4: Wednesday, 27th April, 2016 - Pelling to Okhrey (1800 to 2500 mts)
West Sikkim
After Breakfast head via vehicle towards the higher altitude Okhrey and full Day birding to look out for high altitude species like Blue-winged, Scaly, Grey-sided, Black Faced & Striated Laughingthrush, Himalayan Cutia, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Little Forktail, Stripe-throated, Rufous-vented & White-naped Yuhina, Rufous-fronted Barwing, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Rufous-winged & Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Beautiful Sibia, Broad-billed Warbler, Black-throated Parrotbill, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Rufous-gorgeted, Pygmy Blue and Little Pied Flycatcher, Ashy-throated & Buff-barred Warbler, Himalayan Blue-tail, White-collard Blackbird, Long-tailed Minivet, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Black-throated Tit and many more...... Overnight stay @ a Basic Homestay in Okhrey

Day 5: Thursday, 28th April, 2016 - Okhrey- Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary (2500 to 3500 mts)
Early morning after breakfast birding trek for 04 km to the Forest Hut at Vershay Rhododendron Sanctuary at 3400m. Even though we will be climbing about 300m, the track is well laid with a gentle gradient. As you look for birds, enjoy the lovely walk through forests of Silver Fir, magnolia, and Rhododendrons. The high altitude birds that you might encounter are as following Satyr Tragopan, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Striated Bulbul, Spotted & Scaly Laughingthrush, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Fulvous, Brown & Great Parrotbill, Rufous-vented & Stripe-throated Yuhina, Grey-crested, Coal & Rufous-vented Tit, Black-faced & Grey-hooded Warbler, Grey-sided Bush Warbler, Golden-breasted, Brown-throated and White-browed Fulvetta, Red-tailed & Chestnut-tailed Minla, Black-eared & Black-headed Shrike Babbler and so on..... Overnight stay @ a Basic Homestay in Okhrey

Day 6: Friday, 29th April, 2016 - Okhrey- Hilley (2500 to 3000 mts)
Early morning birding around Hilley to get another shot at the high altitude birding ...... the Other bird species that are possible here include, Dark-rumped, Spot-winged & Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Crimson-browed Finch, Spot-winged Grosbeak, Collard Owlet, Yellow & Red-billed Blue Magpie, Mountain Bulbul, Plain-backed & Dark-throated Thrush, White-browed Shrike Babbler, Maroon-backed & Rufous-breasted Accentors, Golden Babbler, White-browed Bush Robin, Rufous-fronted Tit, Yellowish-bellied Bush Warbler, Red-headed Bullfinch, Different types of Cuckoo species and a variety of birds. ......overnight stay at Biksthang.

Day 7 : Saturday, 30th April, 2016 - Biksthang to New-Jalpaiguri
Early morning with packed Breakfast proceed towards New Jalpaiguri - Birding on the way at different spots - Lunch & head towards New-Jalpaiguri Station to catch a train @ 20:00 Hrs (Dinner not included)

Conclusion and farewell of the tour.....
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Trip Charges: (New-Jalpaiguri to New-Jalpaiguri)...Rs.43600 /-only

Includes Stay on twin sharing basis at Pelling, Barsey (or Hilley) & in Biksthang resort, Local transport by Jeeps, Park entry charges, Local Expert charges, vegetarian food, Entry permits for Sikkim, Articles on Sikkim and bird checklist, on board mineral water and snacks, Camera Charges if any………

Please Note: That this is the most affordable, yet luxurious trip planned with very good resorts and arrangements.
PS: Unfortunately, if any flights / trains are cancelled due to bad weather or for any other reasons, Nature India will not to be responsible for making stay arrangements. Although, Nature India will assist for hotel bookings.

Stay Arrangements:
Sikkim Tourist Centre or similar (Pelling), Varsey Retreat Homestay or similar (Okhrey) & The Bliss Resort (Biksthang)


 The Bliss Resort, Biksthang

Registration: You can register by sending a confirmatory mail to natureindiatours@gmail.com and by paying a nonrefundable Advance of Rs.20000/- after getting a registration mail from us.......the remaining amount will be collected later as mentioned below.......Please Register at the earliest as only 10 seats are available.

Payment terms:
Phase 1 - Rs. 20000/- as non-refundable Advance to be paid immediately, to confirm the participation. We need to forward this as an advance for logistics & to block our seats.

Phase 2 - Balance amount (Rs.23600/-) to be paid before 29th Feb 2016.

Resource Persons:Mr.Adesh Shivkar, Mr.Mandar Khadilkar & a Local Expert

Mode of Payment: You can either
Transfer non-refundable advance amount of Rs.20000 /- directly to the HDFC A/c : (please call Mandar @ 9930318665 for A/c no.) .... please mention your name, date and other details….

Courier a cheque of Rs.20000/- to the following address and forward the details.
Name: Mr. Mandar Khadilkar
Address: B/702, Neha Apartments, Ashish Complex, Dahisar-East, Mumbai-400068.

Please Note:

1) Once registered, the advance amount of Rs. 20000/- (Phase 1) is strictly non-refundable
2) Alcohol & Smoking is strictly prohibited on Nature India Tours
3) Nesting photography 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 other queries we are 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


(Some images of past trip......@Photo credit: Dattakiran Joshi)








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