Sunday, 16 August 2015

India (Rajasthan and Kashmir) Trip - 31st July - Day 7

We had to be at Dachigam National Park for 5:30 to meet the park guard today so the alarm went off at 03:30 and after a quick coffee we were off in the dark heading to the park gate. We parked someway from the gate, gathered our gear and planned to be in the park all day. It felt like an undercover military operation when we got to gate two and it was locked with no sign of life, we then walked round to the main gate and there were two guards. However, it appeared that they had no idea that we were due to be there and after much head shaking one of the guards reluctantly agreed to accompany us. However, we were not able to have Farook accompany us and it quickly became apparent that the guard spoke very little English and was not at all keen on us being in the park but he agreed to take us in until 10:00. The target was then to get to the area where the Orange Bullfinch occur at the end of the access road and it appeared that the guard understood this. As we walked the road the first bird of note was a Spotted Forktail which showed well as it fed on the road, we 'chased' this bird up the road in front of us for some time before it eventually decided to head into the forest. In a clearing a Hangul showed well but i can't get very excited about deer! And then things got a bit weird, the guide insisted on taking us off trail and we spent the next couple of hours randomly walking around in the scrub, it was clear that the guide was nervous about showing us around and that we clearly weren't meant to be in the park - he was doing his utmost to keep us off the main access road where we wanted to be. We saw little and when it became apparent that the guard was not going to take us to the Bullfinch area we decided to cut our losses and leave - but, we took an arduous route via back paths and eventually had to climb over a fence to leave the park rather than leave via the main park gate. We had had a somewhat wasted morning and saw little but for a Sulpher-bellied Warbler and Himalayan Langur plus some very fresh Bear poo. We left the park at 09:45 and after some discussion decided that our best option was to head back to the house boat for an afternoon siesta and then head out again in the afternoon.

We spent a couple of hours at the house boat birding from the balcony which overhung the lake and taking some shots of the common lake species (Little Bittern, Whiskered Tern, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Black Kite and Common Kingfisher) before heading out for lunch and then heading for the Shankarachariya Temple.

We parked at the summit of the hill below the temple and walked up with the masses to the temple but other than the view it was pretty uninspiring so we quickly escaped the masses and wandered down the road birding as we went. Very quickly, after a bit of pishing, Andy found a cracking male Kashmir Flycatcher and we spent some time getting views of this bird. The road was generally very birdy and we encountered a few bird flocks which were largely dominated by Oriental White-eye with species such as Rusty-tailed Flycatcher, Western Crowned Leaf Warbler, Two-barred Greenish Warbler and Ultramarine Flycatcher. We birded the road from 15:00-18:00 and then spent the last hour of daylight at Lake Dal photographing boats, Whiskered Tern (breeds in good numbers on the lake) and Kingfisher before heading back to the boat house to drink some Kingfisher.

Todays Weather: Generally sunny with cloudy spells.

Spotted Forktail (immature) - Dachigam

Entrance sign to Dachigam National Park - If only they had given us the chance to 'be alert and look for'.

Very fresh Black Bear poo- Dachigam

Swallowtail Moth at Dachigam

Stream in the deciduous forest at Dachigam

Our exit from Dachigam the least welcoming National Park in the world

Little Bittern - Nigeen Lake

Whiskered Tern (Juvenile) - Nigeen Lake

Little Grebe of race albescens, note the yellow iris - Nigeen Lake

Black Kite of race govinda - Nigeen Lake

Marco Polo Houseboat - Nigeen Lake

Kashmir Flycatcher came into pishing about 100m below the main temple car park - Shankarachariya Temple 

Oriental White-eye - Shankarachariya Temple

Hobby attacking Black Kite - Shankarachariya Temple

Hobby - Shankarachariya Temple

Himalayan Woodpecker - Shankarachariya Temple

Ashy Drongo - Shankarachariya Temple

Common Kingfisher, we found the nest of this bird approximately 200m from the lake in a bank in a woodland - Dal Lake 

Common Kingfisher - Dal Lake

Whiskered Tern (adult) - Dal Lake 

Whiskered Tern - Dal Lake

Whiskered Tern (juvenile moulting to first winter) - Dal Lake

Whiskered Tern - Dal Lake

House Crow of the race zugmayeri a much greyer more Hooded Crow like bird than the familiar nominate race

Dal Lake

Links to the other Days of the Trip:
Day 1 - Background and Travel day
Day 2 - Surajpur Wetland and Nahargah Biological Park
Day 3 - Sonkhaliya
Day 4 - Ajmer Thorn Forest and drive back to Delhi
Day 5 - Fly Delhi to Shrinigar (Kashmir) then Yousmarg
Day 6 - Yousmarg
Day 8 - Yousmarg then return to Delhi and flights home

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