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Explore These Offbeat Birding Havens

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Explore These Offbeat Birding Havens

India’s top places for bird spotting and photography in the wild

Birds are fascinating creatures. Spanning across the planet, in sizes small and big, birds have rightfully spurred man’s imagination for centuries.

Living specimens of natural evolution, birds evolved from dinosaursScientists estimate that around 18,000 species of birds are found on Earth today. On the field, an annual global event involves common citizens to record sightings of wild birds around their homes.

The Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) recently named Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Himachal Pradesh as the country’s top 5 states in bird diversity.

If you’re interested in bird watching or photography, here are the places one can visit in these states this summer. Don’t forget to pack your binoculars and camera!

1. Uttarakhand

With 365 bird species recorded, spotting birds in the Himalayan state is possible everywhere. However, a little birdie told me that Pangot and Sattal in the Kumaon region are best.

Located 15 km away from Nainital, Pangot is a small village in a forested area. Expect to see Himalayan griffons, spotted owlets, rufous-bellied woodpeckers, khalij pheasants, and a variety of thrushes among the 200+ species recorded here by avid birders.

Sattal is a pleasant lake known for its biodiversity. Apart from resident species, a host of migratory birds are also found here.

Most travellers visit both places during a week-long holiday. Jungle Lore is a great stay option.

2. Karnataka

Located in the state’s north, Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary promises an offbeat rustic adventure with an opportunity to spot over 200 bird species.

The pristine forest habitat is home to the Malabar grey hornbill, large woodshrike, various species of drongos, flycatchers, minivets, and bee-eaters among others.

The Forest Department’s Kulgi Forest Camp is the best option to stay; bookings can be made here. Nearby Anshi National Park (70 km away) can also be included if you have the time.

3. Maharashtra

More than 300 bird varieties were spotted in the latest GBBC event. A majority of these can be found in forested patches around Mumbai — Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Yeoor Hills in Thane, Tungareshwar and Chinchoti near Vasai, Arnala and Agashi near Virar, and Karnala Bird Sanctuary in Panvel.

Nandur Madhyameshwar Bird Sanctuary is an offbeat birding spot, located in Nashik. This wetland habitat comes alive with around 80 migratory bird species in winter, but summer is also good to spot its local residents. Overnight stay at the forest rest house is possible.

4. Tamil Nadu

Deep in the Nilgiris, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve offers the best of wildlife and birdlife in this southern state. The thick tropical forests here were once home to Veerappan.

These days, over 227 bird species call it home, including hornbills, flycatchers, owl, hawks, eagles, bulbuls, drongos and many more.

Government-run accommodation is plenty and cheap in this naturally blessed zone.

5. Himachal Pradesh

No surprises yet again. The land of humble pahadis and evergreen coniferous forests is perhaps India’s first choice when it comes to having a summer holiday.

Standing on your hotel balcony is sometimes enough to spot a range of birds, but visiting the Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu is recommended for adventurous birders.

Native species of monals, pheasants, minivets, bulbuls, parakeets, and thrushes abound among the 311 recorded in the 2018 GBBC.

More details on stay and permits here.

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar

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Mineli Goswami is a 24-year-old Assamese-East Indian, which usually translates into pretty good weekend feasts. When she’s not at her desk struggling with poetry – more often than she’d like – she’s seen wasting time on an assortment of things such as lugging an antique SLR, breaking nails climbing boulders, and chasing turtles. She’s graduated in history and has an unofficial PhD in Bandra-style jiving.

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