Participants on this trip were:
Roger Ahlman, Värnamo, Sweden
All photos taken by Roger
Christer Brostam, Täby, Sweden
Seppo Haavisto, Vallentuna, Sweden
Lars Högström, Gårdby, Sweden
Ulf Karlsson, Farsta, Sweden
Anders Lundkvist, Gårdby, Sweden
None. We found people up here to be very friendly and honest. The roads are
generally narrow and not very good but our drivers were careful. Only in
Siliguri we found a few mosquitos and at lake Khecheoperi leeches were
All of us had high quality binoculars and good telescopes too. Telescopes
are very useful in all situations except when walking in dense forest. Roger had
two MiniDisc taperecorders and microphone. We also had Birds of Nepal and Birds
of the Himalayas tapes (Scott Connop) for playback and reference. Peter Lobo
also had a taperecorder with prerecordings. Using tape playback is vital to see
some species like Shortwings, Scimitar-babblers etc.
We all had the Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent (Grimmett,
Inskipp & Inskipp 1999) and also one copy of the bigger version with more text.
This book was very useful as a reference. We also had Birds of Thailand and
south-east asia (Craig Robson 2000). This book covers Burma and thus is very
useful for northeast India, specially since the pictures are very good and also
the sound descriptions are very good. It is also more up-to-date regarding
taxonomy, for instance the Seicercus warblers. The pocket guide is reasonably
good but as you bird you realise that the pictures are not perfect.
Gurudongma Tours & Treks
Gurudongma House, Hilltop,
Kalimpong, 734301, India
web: Tours & Treks: www.gurudongma.com
East Metropolian Bye Pass,
We had a few hours before our flight from Calcutta to Bagdogra and got info about
an easy-to-visit site from Sumit Sen at Calcutta birdclub. Thank you Sumit! To
find this site drive from the airport to Ruby hospital. Go straight past the
hospital, cross a bridge and after about a kilometre there is a dirttrack to the
left with some paddies and wasteland on either side. This is a good site for
Bengal bushlark and some wetland birds. 30 minutes from the airport.
Mahananda Wildlife Sanctury (Mahananda WS)
This site is only about 20 mins north of Siliguri. We birded the first afternoon
at a site called Sorea. The next two full days were spent in the west and south
part of the park and also walked along the river Teesta riverbed. As it is in
the lowlands the wheather was hot. The forest was very dry and birding not very
good. The understorey was almost completely clean of birds and very few birds
were singing. This site is probably better when the area is wetter.
Mahananda Forest Reserve (Mahananda FR)
This site is nearby but in the foothills and thus with a different avifauna.
Higher up, at about 600 m, bamboo started to be a sigificant part of the
vegetation and we started to see more birds. This site was also very dry. One
full day was spent along the road from 250-800 metres. Birds seen at both the
lowlands and the foothills are put as Mahananda.
This is where Gurudongma has a farmhouse with great hospitality. We started to
bird about 20 mins back from the house along the road. The habitat is dry scrub
with some patches of forest. The altitude around 1000-1500 metres. We birded
here for a full day. Birding was very good.
This is a traditional site about 45 mins from Kalimpong. If reading tripreports
most people bird the road around Lava and also the nearby Neora trail. We spend
one full day walking the absolutely superb Pipeline trail. This trail is 11 kms
and goes from 1960 m down to about 1700 and then steep up to 1860 when it meets
the main road back to Kalimpong about 10 kms from Lava. The trail goes through
excellent forest and gently sloping downhill along the pipeline. Lots of birds
and we encountred many flocks. Birding was however challenging as the flocks were
moving very fast.
Day two was spent on the track up the Neora valley. Rather slow birding compared
to the day before.
We spent five full and two half days on this trek. From Manaybanjang at 2000 m
the 31 km jeeptrack ascends to 3660 m at Sandakphu and the birds vary
accordingly as do the scenery. Nights were spent in trekkers huts along the
track. We were unfortune to have too much fog/low clouds on this trek. We also
had two afternoons completely lost to rain. During the second night at Sandakphu
some snow and hail fell. The next morning was clear and produced some birds and
a spectacular scenery of the Kanchenzonga massif.
Map of Sandakphu and
the Sandakphu Trek.
Best birding was undoubtedly around the Gairibas lodge at about 2600 m. Birding
around the Tumlin lodge was completly useless and, although the food and
accomodation here was good, another night at Gairibas is better.
This small cluster of houses in western Sikkim offered very good birding and is
also the launching point for visiting the Varsey Rhododendron Sanctury. We
camped here two nights and birded the road back. The first two-three kilometres
goes through open country with patches of bamboo but still birding was good. The
road then enters good forest and birding was very good. Broad-billed warbler was
found to be rather common here once we learned the song.