Friday, 19 February 2016

Tuesday 9th February – Pangot

Today was designated pheasant day, we were driving up to an elevation of 8,000ft in our search. We were on the road by 6.30am We were driving through woodland and it wasn’t long before we were into quite a few Kaleej Pheasants, typically in small parties. Koklass Pheasant proved to be a little more tricky. We reached a clearing when Lokesh shouted he could see a few Hill Partridge, we were quickly out of the van and five minutes later these birds were safely in the bag. We decided to retrace our steps back down the hill and we hadn’t gone far before the Koklass Pheasant gave itself up and we had views of a male and three females below us on the forested slopes.

Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler
Another bird that we saw was the strange looking Long-billed Thrush all bill and no tail, weird thing it was. So having been relatively successful we drove higher looking for the next target Cheer Pheasant. It was more open here and the landscape consisted of hills covered in a yellow grass, unsurprisingly Cheer Pheasant was the same colour as the grass, no doubt contributing to us not seeing any. As we scanned the slopes below us we could hear talking and several woman from the valley below had scaled the hill in order to cut grass for their livestock. An example if ever there was one that this habitat will not last much longer, if they are climbing that high for fodder there can’t be a lot left in the Valley.

We did see a flock of around 80 to 100 Altai Accentors they would wheel around, land, then disappear into the long grass, they were on view nearly the whole of the time we were here but we never got a good view of them.
The Himalayas
Joy with the Himalayas behind her.
Cheer Pheasant habitat without the pheasant
On our return we stopped at a viewpoint where we took in the spectacle of the snow capped Himalayas at about 30 miles distance, they were simply breathtaking!

In the afternoon we decided to try and catch up with Woodpeckers a family that had successfully avoided us all morning. We birded an area called Binok Road where we had great views of Scaly-fronted Woodpecker plus Rock Bunting and several Red-flanked Bluetail. We then drove slowly  back along the road through the forest, about half-way down Lokesh stopped the van and announced he had a woodpecker, not one but at least five including the bird that had eluded us most of the day Rufous-fronted Woodpecker plus another new species in the form of Himalayan Woodpecker.

Streak-breasted Woodpecker
Himalayan Woodpecker with Rufous Sibia
Then it was back to Pangot where we watched the sunset in the west with the backdrop of the Himalayan foothills.
The sun setting over Pangot


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