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Uttaranchal
 

Corbett National Park

The Corbett National Park is located in the Terai region of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Nestling in the foothils of the Himalayas, the park extends over an area of 1200 sq. km, at an elevation of 400-1200 meters.

The Ramganga River flows through the park and little forest streams tumble through the ravines. While dense stands of sal cloak the higher ridges, mixed deciduous forests are found throughout the park.

The park was established in 1936, following the advice of the hunter-naturalist Jim Corbett. The park Project


Corbett Elephant HerdTiger, which was set up with the help of the World Wildlife Fund, was launched at Dhikala, in the Corbett National Park in1973. This project was aimed at saving the Indian tiger  from extinction.

The park is a prime birding area with a list of 580 species. Here the avifauna of the lower Himalayas meets that of the Indian plains One reason for the rich birdlife is said to be the fact that the park is located in the transition zone between high altitudes and the plains. Additionally, migratory birds are attracted to the river, especially species that migrated vertically up (in summer) and down the Himalayas (in winter).

Ibisbill at Kosi Ramnagar

Birders can spot the rare Ibisbill, in the Kosi River bed in winter Other winter migrants include the Greylag and the Barheaded goose, Great Crested Grebe, Snipe, Sandpiper, Gull and the Wagtail.

Habitat changes have actually benefited a large number of water birds like Cormorants, Darters, Herons and Egrets, Storks, Fishing Eagles and Kingfishers, whose populations have increased manifold. Moorhens have become permanently resident in the park.

The Lammergeyer, King and Griffon Vulture are present. Himalayan Golden Eagles, Steppe Eagles, Honeybuzzards, Crested Serpent Eagles, Long legged Buzzards and Kestrels can be seen here. Apart from Peacocks, the Kalij, Monal and Koklas Pheasant are all visible (Chir Pheasants only at higher altitudes).

Grey Warblermany as 17 kinds of Woodpeckers, five different species of barbets, including the Great Himalayan Barbet, five different Wagtails, Minivets, Redstarts, Finches, Cuckoos, Babblers, Parakeets and Thrushes.

Nights are resplendent with nocturnal birds like the Nightjar and Owls. Stone Plovers and Stone Curlew are active hunters on the night waters of the river.

Click here for bird list of Corbett and surrounding areas including Nainital dhole, jackal, yellow throated marten, Himalayan palm civet, Indian grey mongoose, common otter, porcupine, clack taped hare are the other attractions of this area. It is possible to see wild elephants all over the park.

Four species of deer are found here. These are the chital, the well known spotted deer, para, kakkar, and the barking deer. The goat antelopes are represented by the ghoral.

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Reptiles, which are residents of this area, are the gharial, the rare fish eating, long - nosed crocodile, and a few species of turtles and tortoises. The Indian python, viper, cobra, krait and king cobra also inhabit the Corbett National Park.

It is advantageous to have one's own vehicle here. Birding on foot is restricted to rest house compounds, watch towers and areas outside the park boundry.  Elephant rides for wildlife viewing, in the mornings and evenings, have to be booked in advance at the  Dhikala complex

Densities are low - particularly as compared to Bharatpur.  On our  tours we arrange to take you to selected hot spots around Ramnagar, Mohan,  Dikala, Betalghat and Kaladhungi ( see map above)  We expect that you should be able to record around 200 species

The nearest town and rail link is at Ramnagar, 51 kilometres away. New Delhi is a six hour drive ( 300 kms ).

The best time for birding is from late November to February, when there are altitudinal and long distance migrants  You need 4-5 days for birding in and around Corbett.

A variety of accommodation is available outside the park boundery. Inside the park you have to avail of the Project Tiger Rest Houses. We have selected the following lodges close to the park, for your birding tours

Birding areas around Corbett

Your birding trip to Corbett would be incomplete without birding at Kaladhundi Forests and  Betal Ghat,

Kaladhungi Forests

The Kaladhungi forests located 30 Kms East of Corbett Tiger Reserve on the Ramnagar- Nainital road have long been famous for their birds and Tigers. Jim Corbett, the legendary wildlife author and hunter of man-eating tigers, who lived in Kaladhungi betwen 1875 and 1947, remarked in his book "Jungle Lore" that he never saw such a variety of birds as existed in Kaladhungi.

The fauna and flora of the Kaladhungi area is basically similar to Corbett Reserve. The Kaladhungi forests have resident tigers, leopards, elephants and an incredible diversity of birds. Best of all, as it isn't a designated reserve, you are free to walk in the forest, which is certainly not the case in Corbett Reserve, where you are restricted to jeeps or elephant rides. Also, Kaladhungi has more interesting and varied scenery, all in a relatively compact area of about 12 x 8 km. These dimensions are approximate as we are talking about a tract within a belt of forest that extends for hundreds of km. west to east.

The amazing diversity of habitat types is reflected by the recordings made by Christopher Salt on successive trips in a relatively small area (as opposed to the huge areas of rather boring Sal forest in Corbett Reserve) Christopher recorded about 305 species. Most of these were seen within a small area of about 4 x 3 km. . Most productive are the wooded margins of the Boar River and its tributaries, where numerous sub-environments can be found, each with its own characteristic Some of the birds most likely to be seen are: Asian Paradise Flycatcher, Black Headed Oriole, Black Crested Yellow Bulbul, Blue Bearded Bee Eater,Large Bee Eater; Blue Whistling Thrush, Brown Fish Owl, Changeable Hawk Eagle, crimson , Emerald Dove, Fire  Capped Tit, Fulvous Breasted Woodpecker, Great Barbet, Great Indian Hornbill, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Green Billed Malkoha, Green Magpie, Himalayan Flameback Woodpecker, Grey Capped Pygmy Woodpecker, Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher, Griffon Vulture, Himalayan Pied Crested Kingfisher, Large Billed Leaf Warbler,  Lesser & Greater Racket Tailed Drongo, Long Tailed Broadbill, Nuthatch   - Chestnut Bellied & Velvet Fronted, Olive Backed Pipit, Orange Bellied Leafbird, Orange Headed Thrush, Red Billed Leiothrix, Red Billed Blue Magpie, Red Jungle Fowl, Rubythroat, Siberian & White Tailed, Rufous Bellied Niltava,Stork Billed Kingfisher, Scaly Breasted Munia, Scarlet Minivet, Flycatchers etcSlaty Blue Flycatcher, Slaty Headed Parakeet, Spotted Owlet, Tawny Fish Owl, Tickell's Thrush, Verditer Flycatcher, White Capped Water Redstart, White Crested Laughing Thrush, White Throated Fantail Flycatcher, andYellow Eyed Babbler. Two days are required for birding

Accomodation : Camp Corbett,  run by experienced naturalist is an intimate lodge with lovely cottages in the midst of prime birding areas.

Betalghat

Swall CreepLocated 60 Kms from Corbett on the Ranikhet road, this is another prime birding area with a atmospheric  lodge called The Call of the Wild Safari Lodge - located on the Kosi banks. More than 400 species of birds have been spotted in and around Betalghat. Some of the species you are likely to spot here are: Hill Prinia, Himalayan Bulbul, Green-Tailed Sunbird. and Rufour Treepie., Spotted Forktail.,Hill Prinia, Rusty-Checked Scimitar Babbler, Streak-


Breasted Scimiter Babbler, Chestnut Thrush,  Rufous-Bellied Niltava, and Mrs Goulds Sunbird., Crimson Sunbird, Plumerous Redstart, White-Capped Water Redstart, Wall Creeper, Crested Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, River Lapwing, Red-Wattled Lapwing, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, White-Browed Wagtail and Lammergier, Himalayan Griffon, Jungle Owlet, Chestnut-Eared Bunting, Small Niltava and Slaty-Blue Flycatcher., Blue-Throated Barbet.Blue-Capped Redstart, Red-Billed Blue Magpie, Green Tit and  Black-Lored Tit.

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Nanital

Nainital from China Peak

Nainital is a hill station of the "Raj" period, located at 1938 meters. It surrounds the Naini Lake. It is only 60 kms from the fringes of Corbett, and is best combined with a visit to Corbett. The mountains around Nainital rise to over 2,800 metres. On a clear day, the view from the pine-clad ridges above the town is nothing short of spectacular and, gazing across the snow-capped giants towards the borders with China and Tibet, we may be able to see Nanda Devi, at 8,500 metres, India's highest peak.

The bird life is no less magnificent, with Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, Great Hill Barbet, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Black-throated Jay, Streaked Laughing-thrush, Altai Accentor, Red-headed Tit, and Golden Bush-Robin among an impressive list of upland species. Birding areas around Nainital visited by our tours are:-
 

  • Mallital area of Nainital Town & snow view ridge, 2260 m    

  • Bajun-Mangoli Valley birding trek

  • Sat Tal

  • Kilbury -, Pangot birding trek

  • Pangot- Naina Peak, 2610 m birding trek

  • Binsar wildlife Sanctuary

  • Ranikhet

Streaked Laughing ThrushSome of the birds you are likely to see on the tour are: Woodpeckers, Greater Yellow nape, Speckeled Piculet, Niltavas, Chesnut headed Tesia, Bush warblers,  Long-tailed Broadbill, Black-throated Jay, Black-throated Tit, Blue-headed Redstart, the stunning Spotted Forktail. blue whistling thrush, yellow billed blue magpie, blue capped rock chat, white capped redstart. Slaty headed parakeet, grey bushchat, long-tailed shrike, lesser kestrel, shikra, chestnut bellied rock thrush , and the. Streaked Laughing-Thrush - a common garden bird here, Rufus breasted Accentors, Slaty headed parakeet, Himalayan Green finch, and Asian barred owlet, Grey headed Canary flycatchers, White-throated Laughing thrushes, Grey-winged Blackbirds and green backed tits. We can also look for Hill Barbet, Slaty grey Woodpecker, black chinned babbler, black headed and maroon orioles, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Lammergeier and Chukar, Khalij Pheasant, crimson Sunbird and the Fire-capped Tit,Spececkled Piculet, lesser yellownape, white browed shrike Babbler, Nepal House Martin, White crested and rufous-chinned Laughingthrushes, Rufous - gorgeted and snowy browed Flycatcher, Long billed thrush, Greater yellownape, Scaly- breasted Wren Babbler, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Golden Bush Robin, spotted Forktail, Scaly thrush and Vinaceous Rosefinch, White-crested Laughing Thrushes, black winged kite, Red-billed Leothrix, Himalayan Ruby throat, crested and rock bunting,

You may choose to stay at Nainital. But there are other options of staying at charming places outside Nainital and close to prime birding areas. We have selected accomodation at Nainital, Ramgarh, Pangot, and Ranikhet. Click here for details.

4-5 days are required for birding around Nainital

Binsar

Binsar is located 110 kms ( 06 hrs drive) North of Nainital. One time capital of the Chand Rajas. It is a  scenic spots and a  hill resort.  Jhandi Dhar peak  located at an altitude of 2412 metres, is a view point offering a view of the 300-kilometre stretch of famous peaks that include the Kedarnath, Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nanda Kot and Panchchuli. The surroundings are abundant with  alpine flora, ferns, hanging moss and many other species of wild flowers.

Firetail SunbirdBirding in the Binsar Wildlife sanctuary can reveal  fire-tailed or green tailed sunbirds, sultan tits, scaly breasted wren-babbler, Black bulbul, Black capped Sibia, Black Eagle, King Vulture, Black breasted sunbird, Blue throated Barbet and more. A 06 hrs birding trek to Jhandidhar. climbing from 1700 meters feet to approximately 2412 meters. through  dense oak and rhododendron forests  could add Blue whistling thrush, Booted Hawk Eagle, Broad billed roller, green, gold or rose finch, Brown crested tit, and more to your life list. In winter you may be lucky to spot snow partridge and snow pigeon.  02 days

are required for birding at Binsar. Accommodation here is limited to the Spartan KMVN Rest house - but the food is delicious.

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Tour options for non-birding spouse/friends: www.gurudongma.com.
 
 

Bird photographs by Yashodhan Bhatia,

Ronald Saldino,  Niels Poul Dryer, Ketil Knudsen
Kalypso Adventures & Gurudongma Team
.



 
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