Friday, 19 February 2016

Saturday 6th February – Delhi to Sattal

We were packed in the van and on the road by 6.00am, another six hour drive ahead of us. Thankfully the traffic at this time of day wasn’t too bad and we made quick progress. However, it was rather foggy, the traffic made no concessions to the conditions, I was glad that our driver seemed to have a little more common sense than the majority of India’s drivers think Death Race 2000.

We were travelling along a dual carriageway and had just gone through a toll when ahead of us the traffic stopped, our driver pulled over conversed in Indian with Lokesh then proceeded to do 3-point turn and went back the way we had come! He then proceeded to go through a gap in the central reservation and we made our way on the hard shoulder against the oncoming traffic. I felt quite safe as we were following a few other cars who had done the same thing. Then a large bus who had copied our manoeuvre thundering past in the outside lane – staggering!! We passed the accident and there were cars and lorries smashed up everywhere. We rejoined the correct carriageway but had barely gone a few miles before all the traffic on our side was coming towards us – another accident, repeat procedure!

As we approached the foothills of the Himalayas it was quite depressing, with timber yards full of  trees as far as they eye could see. There were groups cutting trees alongside the road as we passed through villages. It was reminiscent of the Orcs in Lord of the Rings! – Just wait until Treebeard find out, those Ents might be slow......

We eventually reached the foothills and slowly made our way on winding roads upto the mountain village of Sattal where yet again we booked into a really good hotel. This was the part of the holiday that I was looking forward to and I was expecting a tick fest! At the hotel Lokesh was in reception talking to an elderly Indian gentleman which turned to be his father who is also a bird guide!

We went birding down wooded ravine which held a swift flowing stream and apart from the traffic and the continual blowing of horns was two of the best hours birding I have ever had. I had around 30 new species over the next few hours, it was overwhelming, with new birds coming thick and fast.
Blue Whistling Thrush and Asian Barred Owlet
Whiskered Yuhina 
Himalayan Rubythroat

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