Himalayan foothills of Uttaranchal
Corbett (Bhakrakot, Dhikala, Lohachaur), Nainital & Mangoli valley
12 Days / 11 Nights by road and air
Mid November – March
Accommodation in fully serviced tented camp & Forest rest houses with private facilities. Park drives in exclusive safari vehicles accompanied by local naturalist
About 50 Species of Raptors, 2 dozen Owls, altitudinal migrants like Ibisbill, Forktails, Brown Dipper, Tesias, Scaly (Whites) Thrush & residents like Great Thick-Knee & Black-throated Parrotbill
Introduction: Corbett national park
geographically hemmed between the Himalayan foothills and the Indo Gangetic plains, the area around Corbett park is one of the richest bird habitats of Asia. This broad-leafed forest, along with the adjoining hills and the seldom-visited wetlands, harbours about 650 species including long distance and altitudinal migrants. The foothills of the western Himalayas westward from Kumaon are particularly interesting on account of the overlap between high altitude and plains. Eastern and western races of a number of species occur here and the altitudinal variation of 400 m to 2600 m offers great avian diversity. Of the 68 raptor species in the subcontinent, more than 50 are found in Corbett, including Pallas-Fish Eagle, Eurasian Marsh Harrier and Mountain Hawk-eagle to name a few.
Our Corbett bird tour covers diverse habitats of grasslands, broadleaf tropical forest, riverine and high altitude forest of conifers and oak with a backdrop of the mighty Himalayas. Birdwatchers visiting in winters (November- February) will encounter Palearctic and altitudinal migrants like Siberian Rubythroat, Ibisbill and Wallcreepers whereas summer visitors (April- September) will hear Cuckoos, Indian Pitta and the gregarious Chestnut Tailed Starling. Accompanied by experienced bird guides you base yourself in wilderness lodges in prime birding areas, so as to spend maximum time in birding.
At Corbett, we explore the riverine areas for Brown dipper, Little & Spotted Forktail, Ibisbill, Wallcreeper and White-throated Needletail. While the adjoining forests with dense moist undergrowth and streams support specialties such as Chestnut-headed Tesia, Scaly Wren Warbler, Purple Cochoa, Common Green Magpie, Lesser Shortwing, White Crested Laughingthrush, Long-tailed Broadbill and Spot-bellied Eagle-owl. Adjoining higher forests of oak and conifers are good for Altai Accentor, Abarrent Bush Warbler, White-throated Tit, Slaty Blue Flycatcher, Plain Backed & Scaly Thrush, Nepal House Martin, Eurasian Scops Owl etc. Dhikala, in the heart of the Corbett National Park overlooking the Ramganga Valley boasts 50 different birds of prey. Large owls include the Brown Fish Owl and the rare Tawny Fish Owl while Osprey and Pallas's Fish Eagle are commonly seen here. You can also spot the Bright-headed Cisticola, Chestnut-capped Babbler and grassland species like Hen Harrier, Red Avadavat and perhaps the Hogson's Bush Chat. In winters, ducks, waders, herons and egrets visit the Ramganga reservoir in large numbers. The river Kosi is a good place to see the Ibisbill, Wall Creeper and the Great Thicknee. The broadleaf forest that blankets Nainital and its adjoining hills forested with oak and rhododendron harbours several species like Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Spotted Forktail, Chestnut-crowned Laughing Thrush, Red-billed Blue Magpie and Black-headed Jay.
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Day 1: Delhi
Arrive Delhi and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel
Day 2: Delhi - Garhmukteshwar - Corbett
Morning depart Delhi by surface for Corbett (270 km). At Garmukteshwar, located on the banks of the Ganges, we make a brief midway stopover to spot gulls and Gangetic Dolphins. Arrive at Camp for lunch. Dominated by Sal (Sorea Robusta) the forest here is dense with a picturious creek. From the thatched dining area at a clearing you may spot Great Hornbills, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Siberian Rubythroat and Collared Falconet. Evenings are replete with alarm calls of deer, definitive indicators of big cats in close proximity. Overnight at Camp
Day 3: Camp & Adjoining areas (Corbett)
Early morning walks in the broad-leafed forested hills and proximity to higher hills reveal an exceptional variety of birdlife such as the Red-Billed Leothrix, Scaly breasted Wren Babbler, Rufous-Bellied Niltava, Long-Billed Thrush, Zitting Cisticola and raptors like Eurasian Hobby and Rufous-Bellied Eagle. We probe the creek and its feeders for Little & Spotted Forktail, Chestnut Headed & Grey-Bellied Tesia. The much sought after Tawny Fish Owl and Brown Fish Owl are also often sighted here.
Day 4: Lohachaur Forest Lodge (Corbett)
After an early breakfast depart in the morning with packed lunch for Lohachaur. This densely wooded part of Corbett Tiger Reserve is the richest in bird life and birds not found anywhere else in the region have been reported here. We'll be looking for Green Cochoa, White-browed Fulvetta, Silver-eared Mesia, Striated Laughing Thrush, Puff Throated Babbler, Dusky & Tickell's Leaf Warbler, Rufous-naped Tit, Small Niltava, Rufous Gorgeted Flycatcher and Green-billed Malkoha. About 8 species of drongos are commonly sighted including the Lesser & Greater Racket-tailed Drongo along with mixed hunting parties of Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike, Rosy Minivet, Yellow-bellied Fantail, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch.
Day 5: Lohachaur Forest Lodge (Corbett)
Today we'll probe the moist forest and fern-laden streams to observe Spotted and Grey-backed Forktail. This is also where we expect to see Grey-bellied & Chestnut-headed Tesias. Dense forests with numerous streams are home to Brown Fish Owl, Collared Scops Owl & Collared Owlet etc. White-browed Shortwing, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Long-tailed Broadbill make the Mandal valley a region not to be missed.
Day 6: Dhikala Forest Lodge (Corbett)
Breakfast & depart for Dhikala. A mix of dense deciduous forest, riverine forest, grassland and presence of a large water body has endowed this region with extremely rich avifauna. Over 50 species of raptors is a certain indicator of that richness. Red-headed & Cinereous Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, Hen & Marsh Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Oriental Honey Buzzard, Greater Spotted & Bonelli's Eagle, Changeable Hawk Eagle, Lesser Kestrel, Merlin, Laggar Falcon & the tiny Collared Falconet make Dhikala a raptor haven. Pure Sal forest nearby are home to Flamebacks, Great Slaty, Rufous, Fulvous-Breasted & Scaly-Bellied Woodpecker, Emerald Dove, Gold-fronted Leafbird, Large Cuckoo Shrike, Large Woodshrike, Scaly Thrush, Asian Brown & Snowy-browed Flycatcher & Rufous-bellied Niltawa.
Day 7: Dhikala Forest Lodge (Corbett)
After breakfast we leave for the Ramganga reservoir, a 100 sq km lake that's the hub of all wildlife at Dhikala. Packed with fish, the Mugger & the fish-eating Gharial crocodile thrive here and so do Pallas's Fish Eagle, Grey-headed & Lesser Fish Eagle and the Osprey. Large areas of marshy reeds and riverine tracts are ideal habitat for various migratory & resident waders, ducks, snipes, storks, coots and moorhens. Much of our attention will however will be on the massive savannah for grassland specialties like Bright-headed and Zitting Cisticola, Red Avadavat and globally threatened species like Hodgson's Bushchat and Grey-crowned Prinia. Open patches and jeep trails are home to a rich variety of Wagtails, Pipits and Larks.
Day 8: Corbett - Nainital
Leave Dhikala early to visit areas where Brown and Tawny Fish Owls (less frequently seen) can be spotted. Exit Dhikala zone via Dhangari gate and stop at the Kosi river barrage near Ramnagar to spot Ibisbill - a target species for every birder. Several birders on previous trips have got Great Thicknees, Wallcreepers and the Ibisbill in one scope here. There are loads of Hirundines about. Arrive Nainital for lunch. The pleasant hill station and its adjoining temperate forest of Oak, Deodar, Rhododendron & conifers with a backdrop of the higher Himalayas & open valleys, makes this region excellent for altitudinal migrants and a wide array of resident birds. Altitude varies from 1600 m to 2800 m. We may be lucky to see a Flying Squirrel late evening. Dinner and overnight at hotel
Day 9: Nainital
After very early breakfast we leave with packed lunch for the moist Oak forest of Kilbury with a view of the higher Himalayas on the north and a vast expanse of Corbett & adjoining reserve forests on the south. Chukar, Koklass & Khaleej Pheasant, Crested Bunting & Upland Pipit could be spotted on the road early morning while openings in the forest are foraging ground for Hill Partridge & Cheer Pheasant. Western & Satyr Tragopan & Himalayan Monal are also reported here. The Himalayan Quail was last seen in this region over a hundred years ago, and awaits rediscovery. Mature oak forests are good for Speckled Wood Pigeon, Rufous, Himalayan, Brown-fronted & Fulveous-breasted Woodpeckers and about 9 species of Tits including the not so common Fire Capped Tit. While returning to hotel by dusk we may come across Spotted Owlet & Mountain Scops Owl. Dinner & overnight at hotel.
Day 10: Nainital
Today we do the southern slopes of Nainital till Mangoli valley. A mix of temperate forests, conifers, grassy slopes & cultivation brings about an irresistible variety of birds. Massive rock faces and open valleys are particularly good for raptors like Common Buzzard, Steppe Eagle & Common Kestrel. Lammergeiers, Himalayan & Eurasian Griffons take advantage of the late morning thermal. Huge flocks of Slaty-headed & Plum-headed Parakeets are seen here, so are mixed flocks of Alpine & Himalayan Swiftlet and White-rumped Needletail. Some birds of Mangoli valley are Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Bar-tailed Treecreeper, Plain-backed and Mistle Thrush, Mountain Bulbul and Goulds & White Browed Shortwing. Village edges and fields are good for Blue-capped Redstart, Black-lored Tit, Black-chinned Babbler, Blue-winged Minla, Whiskered Yuhina, Green-tailed Sunbird, Fire-fronted Serin, Altai and Alpine Accentor. Dinner & overnight at hotel
Day 11: Nainital - Delhi
After breakfast depart for onward journey to Delhi. Overnight at the hotel
Day 12: Depart Delhi
In time transfer to the international airport to board the flight for onward destination
Room held till 1200 noon of this day