10 off beat birding places in India - Wild Voyager Blog
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10 off beat birding places in India

10 off beat birding places in India

Wildlife experiences in India not only comprise of going on tiger safaris and visiting national parks but also involve birding. India makes up for12 percent of the total number of bird species in the world. There are roughly 1,200 bird species spread across various parts of the country.  From the towering Himalayas to the gentle backwaters of Kerala and even the Northeastern, India is rich in its birdlife.

Tasmanian Rosella or green Rosella in the wild
Tasmanian Rosella or green Rosella in the wild

The activity of birding is greatly enjoyed by wildlife enthusiasts, birders, and ornithologists alike in India. Due to the varied landscapes and suitable habitats spread across the country, India has naturally become a bird watcher’s paradise. There is a fair share of native as well as migratory birds that are often sighted in India. One glance at the abundance of India’s avifauna is bound to captivate anyone. Keeping this in mind, there are various tailor-made tours and trips that help satisfy a birder’s desire to witness birds in distinct parts of India. 

However, if you’ve already visited the popular spots, it’s time to choose these 10 off-beaten birding places in India:

Munsiyari -Uttarakhand

Situated in the Pithoragarh district of the Uttarakhand state, Munsiyari is a scenic village. It is nestled in the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas and offers breath-taking vistas of its surroundings. Perched at an altitude of 2,298 meters above sea level, this scenic hill station is often compared to Kashmir for its beauty.

Variegated Laughingthrush
Variegated Laughingthrush

A major hot spot for tourists and hikers alike, Munsiyari is also popular as a bird-watching destination. Munsiyari is a hidden gem as not many bird-watchers frequent the place. The thick forests of deodar, pine, and Rhododendron surround Munsiyari, where various species of birds reside. Along with resident birds, migratory species like the Himalayan griffon and serpent eagle are also found here. Other birds commonly spotted here are Chukar partridge, white browned fulvetta, winter wren, variegated laughingthrush, and white-throated tit to name a few. With more than 300 recorded species of birds, Munsiyari is recognized as a bird-rich area. 

Manila – Uttarakhand

The tiny hamlet, Manila, is located in the Almora district in Uttarakhand. It is set at an altitude of 1,820 meters and is approximately 45 kilometers away from the famous Jim Corbett National Park. Encompassing tranquility and pristine landscapes, Manila offers spectacular panoramic views of the might Himalayas. It is notable for Maa Neela Devi, a deity temple that many tourists visit.

Cheer Pheasant or Wallich's pheasant
Cheer Pheasant or Wallich’s pheasant

Manila is bordered by dense forests and houses numerous bird species. The most popular bird to spot here is the Cheer peasant, a vulnerable species of the pheasant family. Other birds commonly seen in Manila and the Kumaon region are Verditer Flycatcher, Kalij Pheasant which is an exotic bird of Kumaon, Rufous Sibia, blue whistling thrush, black-headed jay, and many more.

Chiplun – Maharashtra

Chiplun is a small city that lies in the district of Ratnagiri, Maharashtra. This pleasant destination is well-known for its white-sand beaches as well as splendid mango and cashew grooves. Chiplun is adjacent to the Vashti River and the Western Ghats lies towards the east of the city. Due to these ghats, there is a wide range in biodiversity where different types of birds can be spotted.

Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher
Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

Chiplun has more than 350 species of birds, both local and migratory. One of the prominent birds observed is the oriental dwarf kingfisher, a brightly colored yet tiny bird found in Chiplun. Its distinguished coral red dagger bill helps in finding insects, worms, fishes, frogs, and lizards to eat. It stays near streams or ponds in lowland forests.

Blue-eared Kingfisher
Blue-eared Kingfisher

On the other hand, the blue-eared kingfisher is familiar to the city and often recognized through its bluish ear stripe. This small bird is found in dense shaded forests and hunts in streams. Other species of birds seen in Chiplun are eagles, barbets, Hornbills, robins, sunbirds, drongos, and more.

Bhitarkanika – Odisha

Bhitarkanika mangroves or Bhitarkanika National Park is situated in the state of Odisha. The Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary is nearby the national park and both are overrun by four rivers: Baitarani, Brahmani, Dhamra, and Pathshala. Hosting various types of mangroves, Bhitarkanika is the second largest mangrove ecosystem in India. It is also famous for housing a large population of saltwater crocodiles in the country.

A Pied Kingfisher
A Pied Kingfisher

Situated near the coast of Orissa is the Bhitarkanika Bird Sanctuary, lying close to the deltas of Baitarani and Brahmani River. The mangroves forest combined with the river systems create an ideal habitat for animals and birds alike in Bhitarkanika. Almost 320 species of birds are found here, including extraordinary species of kingfishers. The brown winged kingfisher, common kingfisher, collared kingfisher, Pied kingfisher, white-throated kingfisher, stork billed, black-capped and ruddy are the eight types of kingfishers spotted in Bhitarkanika. Other than these, birders can also see mangrove whistler, oriental darter, black-headed ibis, Eurasian oystercatcher, and many more.

Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary – Goa

Huddled in the foothills of the Western Ghats, the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest wildlife preserve in Goa. Possessing an abundance of biodiversity, this sanctuary has a variety of plant, bird, and animal life. Here, visitors can find the popular Dudhsagar waterfall, the devil’s canyon, and a number of historic sites.

Paradise Flycatcher
Paradise Flycatcher

The area of the sanctuary is heavily forested and covers west coast tropical evergreen forests. Residing in these are more than 100 bird species, including rare and exotic types. While the state bird of Goa, ruby-throated yellow bulbul is common, birders can even witness golden oriole, paradise flycatcher, emerald dove, Malabar pied hornbill, crested serpent eagle, grey-headed myna, and various others. Forest explorations merged with vivid bird species make Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary a haven for bird watchers.

Chidiya Tapu – Andaman Island

As the name suggests, Chidiya Tapu or Bird’s Island is located in the southernmost tip of the South Andaman Island. This destination is categorized by rich mangrove forests and stunning ocean views. The unique flora and fauna of the island has given rise to exotic and endangered species of plants and animals.

A Black-Naped Oriole
A Black-Naped Oriole

This tropical island is a birdwatcher’s heaven as it hosts numerous types of birds, from indigenous to exotic and even migratory. Sightings of different types of wood pigeons, woodpeckers, cuckoo, doves, black-naped oriole, and treepies are common. After getting familiar with the birds on Chidiya Tapu, visitors can further enjoy snorkeling and other water activities on the island.

Mishmi Hills – Arunachal Pradesh

The Mishmi Hills are situated at the North-eastern tip of India, near the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. It covers pristine tropical forests, bamboo groves, alpine meadows, shrubby woods, and sloping grasslands. The hills also provide gorgeous sceneries of the snow-capped Himalayan Mountain, the Shivalik Ranges, and the lower Himalayan regions.

Rufous-Necked Hornbill
Rufous-Necked Hornbill

The forest area near the hills is considered to be the best biogeographical zone in the entire Himalayas, making up for rich biodiversity. Besides endemic birds, several eastern Himalayan bird species that are otherwise difficult to find can be seen in Mishmi Hills. The hills have around 680 diverse types of birds such as the rusty throated wren babbler, Sclater’s monal, Temminck’s tragopan, pale-capped pigeon, rufous-necked hornbill, Ward’s trogon, Himalayan shortwing, and many others.

Latpanchar – West Bengal

The small village of Latpanchar is situated in the Kurseong division of the Darjeeling district. Sitting at an altitude of 4,000 feet, Latpanchar’s unique location has attracted tourists from all over. The village gives the grand view of the snow-capped peaks of the Kanchenjunga ranges. The core area of Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary also lies conveniently close to Latpanchar.

Scaly Thrush
Scaly Thrush

Apart from offering heavenly vistas of the mountains and the forests, Latpanchar is also a favorite destination for birders. It houses nearly 250 species of birds, many of them considered as rare. Birds such as the unique Himalayan Pied Hornbill, scaly thrush, black bulbuls, ashy-backed shrike, kingfishers, spotted eagles, minivets, magpies, and several others are seen in Latpanchar .

Patna Pakshi Vihar – Uttar Pradesh

Patna Pakshi Vihar or Patna Bird Sanctuary is a protected sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh. It comprises a natural freshwater shallow wetland or a lentic lake. This serves as an important ground for migratory birds in the winter. The water quality of the lake supports an array of avifauna as winter arrives. Although Patna Pakshi Vihar is the smallest bird sanctuary in the state, it manages to record 106 bird species and another 300 different migratory birds that visit the sanctuary.

An Egyptian Vulture
An Egyptian Vulture

The resident birds include aquatic birds as well such as the lesser whistling duck, northern pintail, Eurasian wigeon, green-winged teal, little grebe, sarus crane, Egyptian vulture, laughing duck, oriental magpie-robin, purple sunbird, and many more.

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary – Kerala

The serene Thattekad Bird Sanctuary is one of the ‘richest bird habitats in peninsular India’, as described by notable ornithologist, Salim Ali. The sanctuary is set on the banks of the Periyar River and constitutes of evergreen low land forests.

Sri Lankan Frogmouth
Sri Lankan Frogmouth

Thattekad Bird Sanctuary’s luscious topography has birthed rich and varied bird species. There is a dense population of over 300 migratory and resident birds. Both forests, as well as water birds, visit Thattekad. While the uncommon Sri Lankan Frogmouth is the highlight of the sanctuary, other bird species like orange-headed thrush, Jerdon’s nightjar, cormorants, whiskered terns, collared scops owl, and several others are sighted. A particular region of the sanctuary is dubbed as Cuckoo Paradise as it inhabits varieties of cuckoos including drongo, Indian hawk, and large hawk cuckoos.

Birding in India is a rewarding experience that brings one closer to nature. The richness of India’s ecosystem has given rise to various popular as well as hidden destinations for bird watchers. Keep the above-listed birding locations in mind the next time you plan to go bird-watching in India.

 

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Wild Voyager Team

The blogging team at Wild Voyager. We are explorers at heart and we love to share our travel stories and destination knowledge with you, which often serve as an inspiration for the life changing journeys we curate. When you decide to embark on one such life changing journey, our travel experience designers at letstalk@wildvoyager.com will be happy to get you started.

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