Spiti Sojourn – Spiti Valley – Part 1 – Entering Kinnaur

Spiti Sojourn – Spiti Valley – Part 1 – Entering Kinnaur

This June break, I visited a place which was on the top of my ‘Want to go’ List – Spiti.

We began our long journey on 23 June, 2019, 5 am.

The first day was a direct and no birding journey to Rampur. On 24th we started early in the morning.

There were no Bird Sighting for the first one hour. As soon we entered Kinnaur distict, birds finally started to show up. The first one for the trip was a Blue-capped Rock Thursh. And luckily, this bird allowed me to get close to him. I clicked several rounds and shot a video of it calling.

Blue-capped Rock Thrush

While I was busy with the Thrush, a female Common Kestrel flew past me (no photographs).

The next one was a Black Bulbul which I saw resting on a low electricity wire a few kilometres from Wangtu. It did allow close approach but just for a few seconds and then it took off to hide in a dense tree nearby.

Black Bulbul

After crossing Wangtu, I had to stop for a Grey Wagtail. This one also allowed close approach and I made one of my personal best shots. While clicking the Wagtail, the camera by chance focused on something far behind the Wagtail. It was a Chukar with chicks. That moment really was magical.

Grey Wagtail
Chukar with chicks
Notice the Chukar in focus in background and out of focus Grey Wagtail in the foreground

Not just a feet away from where the Wagtail was, there was lying a Himalayan Rock Lizard. And I was really standing less than 30 cms away from the Lizard. I had to back off a bit so that the camera could focus on the Lizard. It really didn’t mind me being so close.

Himalayan Rock Lizard

If I wanted I could have picked it up with my hand. It didn’t want to leave its space but as soon as I thought I was done, it ran away to hide under the large rocks. Everything magical was happening to me!!

It was near Karcham, that I had my first sighting of a Plumbeous Water Redstart, a long long awaited lifer. I could not manage the best shot but still got some good ones.

Plumbeous Water Redstart

A bit later, a Common Kestrel male flew past and decided to sit like miles away across the river.

Common Kestrel male

The next bird sighting was of a White-capped Bunting, at Kalpa. Here, I got my first and best shot of the bird. After that a Himalayan Woodpecker pair flew past me(no photographs). At that time, little showers had begun, so, there were no bird sighting for the next few hours.

White-capped Bunting male
(Notice little rain droplets in the background)

After spending quite some hours at Reckong Peo and Kalpa, we decided to move on. About 20 kms from Peo, a Nullah had overflowed because of the heavy rainfall. Crossing it was IMPOSSIBLE for an Innova, so, we had to head back to Kalpa to spend a night and return back next day to check if it was crossable. Though we were happy afterwards that we went in the morning because the roads and landscapes after Pooh are glorious.

Next day, early in the morning, I went out to explore the surrounding areas. Hard work of about 30 mins gave me excellent photographs of a Rufous-vented Tit, White-capped Bunting (female). Other sightings include Long-tailed Minivet, Short-billed Minivet, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler and Rock Bunting.

Rufous-vented Tit
White-capped Bunting female

On the way, I saw an Indian Paradise Flycatcher male (rufous). I tried to make a flight shot of it. I expected it to fly sideways, so I focused the camera accordingly. But as not expected, the bird flew straight towards me, though I fired a wild shot, it was out of focus. And it was the last one for Kinnaur.

Indian Paradise Flycatcher male
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~Arjun Basandrai

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/birdingwitharjun/

Spiti Sojourn – Spiti Valley – Part 1 – Entering Kinnaur

Spiti Sojourn – Spiti Valley – Part 2 – Entering Spiti

Spiti Sojourn – Spiti Valley – Part 3 – Local Sightseeing

Spiti Sojourn – Spiti Valley – Part 4 – The Moon Lake – Chandra Taal

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