Chintpurni, Dharamshala, Pragpur……(Himachal Pradesh)
14-17 th April, 2007
-Partha Pratim Pal
It has been long time since we both (Kirti and myself) took a break from Delhi on religious reasons . As some of you are aware we had been blessed by
a daughter some five months back – we undertook a visit to Chintpurni, Chamunda, Kangra Devi and Jwala ji along with Vanya (our daughter).
Incidentally it was also her second outing after her first being to the Corbett some three months back. Keeping in mind that I won’t find time for birding,
I was little hesitant to carry the birding equipments – But as always heart prevailed over mind!
We reached Chintpurni on 14th evening. Since we had an Aarti appointment in the evening I could not do the Reiki of the surrounding area, though after dinner I
saw few trees.
Next morning I woke up very early more due to people’s voice walking in the street – All eager to do a darshan early morning being Basaikhi weekend .Not expecting any bird life in that cacophony of people ,Radio,
Stereo and of course Mandir mike – I moved out of the Dharamshala with heavy feet and heart with my Binoculars hanging on my neck .
Just 200 mtrs from the Dharamshala, I hit upon a dirt road, which took me to semi jungle kind of a habitat, which lifted my spirit. There was a sudden expectancy in the air . Probably God sensed my mood and in strange
twist of nature – there was flood of Bird activity. I could not believe my luck - nearly 15 pairs of Asian paradise flycatcher with their long white tail fleeting around with few just couple of meters away.
A pair of
Blue rock thrush, Flocks of Plum headed Parakeet and Common Rose finches, Ten odd golden orioles and quite a few more species were sighted within span of hour. More than satisfied since I didn’t expect any – happily I went back to Dharamshala to attend the
morning havan. Only regret being I didn’t listen to Kirti’s advice of carrying the camera for the walk.
16th afternoon we reached Paragpur our destination for next two days. We stayed in a resort called “Judge’s Court” basically a Pre independence Haveli turned into Welcome heritage resort owned by Mr. Vijay Lal whose
ancestors made the Haveli in 1913. As expected luxury at its best mixed with old royal eloquence,
wonderful food (that includes some great pickles and jams personally made by Mrs. Lal herself – Most of the vegetables and fruits are all grown in the property itself), great hospitality and very very warm hearted host made the stay wonderful.
It has been on our wish list for some time now, finally it materialized.
Interestingly, Paragpur also has a Heritage village for people who are interested in historical facts and architecture.
Lot of its credit goes to Mr.Lal and his family. It is an excellent and well maintained property with lots and lots of trees both fruiting and flowering and of course 120 odd bird species across the year. Paradise flycatcher once
again was the highlight of the little birding I did around the property, not to miss the Grey Hornbill’s fight for nest with the Rose ringed parakeet who ultimately lost all the three juveniles to aggressive Hornbill, omnipresent brown headed, Blue throated
barbet, tiptoeing Grey wagtail, various warblers, various Myna & starlings,
huge flocks of Common Rose finches etc.
17th was again an out and out
religious day with three of us visiting the balance temples as mentioned above.
Except an odd sighting of Egyptian vulture and Himalayan Griffon at Kangra fort area, no birding.
Down with a severe headache due to excessive heat,
I didn’t have the strength to do any birding that day , though we reached the hotel by 5pm.
18th morning was the D day marked for my morning birding at Maharana Pratap Sagar wetland which is 20 odd kms from the hotel.
Armed with my camera and binoculars ably supported by driver Daler Singh we reached the destination early morning.
Initial scanning of the area was very disappointing though villagers informed us in advance that all migratory ducks have flown back.
I was awe struck by the huge water body. (Sagar is so aptly named) Water riding on the wind when hit the shores reminded me of the seashore.
Initial disappointment gave away to some relief when I saw a Little Ringed plover feeding at the edge of the water.
There was no looking back, slowly and gradually one after the other species came tumbling out as if they were hidden in some closet – only favouring the brave who can fight the ever rising temperature which was getting
unbearable with every minute , though cold draft from the Sagar did help me to stay there for nearly two hours . Whether it was different terns, different wagtails, larks, pipits, Blue tailed Beeaters, Bar headed geese,
First winter Palas Gull, Eurasion wigeon, Small pratincole, Different Lapwings and of course my only two lifer of the trip Richard Pipit and Eurasian Skylark (confirmed by Mr. Bill Harvey after seeing the Photographs)- I enjoyed every bit of the two
hour of birding.
Promising myself that I have to be here in winter we drove back to the hotel .On our return journey a solitary Oriental honey buzzard was sighted.
Comparatively to our earlier birding trips I just clocked probably 5 hours of birding, however it turned out to be Ok with nearly Ninety odd species seen including common ones.
God of all seasons, please bring winter fast – I cannot wait to visit the
birding paradise again.