Spiti Sojourn – Spiti Valley – Part 2 – Entering Spiti
The next and the most important and thrilling stage of the trip was entering Spiti Valley…!!!
There were NO bird sightings and ONLY Landscape Photography till we were somewhere near Nako.
The first one in line was a Red-billed Cough – a lifer for me. And this was the only time I saw this one for the whole trip. Though I could not manage any great shots, I still got just a poor Record Shot.
Next I stopped for a Pied Wheatear, a long-long-long awaited lifer. After the Wheatear, I tried on a Rock Bunting, which I think is the most common bird of Spiti Valley.
Soon we reached Nako and here I had my first sighting of very common but still another long-awaited lifer, Oriental Turtle Dove (no great photograph except a record shot of its back😅😅).
Another new species that I saw was maybe the ‘Second Most Common Bird of Spiti’ – Hill Pigeon.
I had High Hopes from Nako Lake but to my disappointment, there saw nothing except a male and a bit later female of Black Redstart (maybe the ‘Third Most Common Bird of Spiti🤣🤣).
A few hours later we crossed the Sumdo Check Post and entered ‘Lahaul Spiti’ district.
We went straight to Gue Monastery which is a few kilometers from Tabo. The Landscapes there are just unbeatable. Beautiful village covered with plantation and beautiful flowers – it was just amazing. It was where I wanted to spend some time birding but because of lack of time, we couldn’t afford that. I really want to visit it sometime again in the near future.
Someplace 7-8 kms before Gue, I saw a pair of Blyth’s Rosefinch (no shots).
There I decided to make a good frame of the Hill Pigeon and I thankfully succeeded in that.
The Monastery is famous for the mummy of Sangha Tenzin. India’s only natural mummy.
Near the Monastery I saw another beautiful And awaited Lifer – European Goldfinch. I could not manage a great shot because the wind was blowing like crazy and I was having issues in focusing and the bird was having issues in staying stable and so it flew away.
On the way to Tabo, we stopped for a large group of Himalayan Blue Sheep (Bharal). Though it is neither blue nor a sheep but still it is named so. We didn’t spend much time with them and moved on.
Next Stoppage was for an Oriental Turtle Dove who was sitting on a wire near the road. Because it was siting in harsh and direct sunlight, I was getting overexposed photographs. So, here I did something I had never done before. I took a dark area of the mountain behind as the background and reduced the Exposure Compensation to -2 1/3. I gave superb results!!
Within half an hour we reached Tabo Monastery. It was 7 pm then, so, there were no bird sightings for the rest of the day.
We decided to night drive and reach Kaza so that we could compensate the day which was wasted because of the Nullah overflow near Reckong Peo.
After Tabo, there are beautiful flat and rocky lands on either side of the road. There was a young Red Fox sitting on the left side of the road and as soon as he saw the car’s headlights, it crossed the road and ran to the other side of the road to disappear in the vast rocky land. I could not click any photographs because it was quite dark at that time and we were in a hurry.
I really wanted to photograph it but it was not possible.
About half an hour later there were stones falling from the mountain and we had to stop because of that. Going back was worthless, so we waited. But it did not stop. There was a Himalayan Blue Sheep group up the mountain which was blamed for the falling stones which quite could be the case. I tried a silhouette shot of one of them but could not manage what I wanted because I was not using a Tripod and was shooting hand-held.
And here comes the Thrilling Part!!
We decided to take the risk and cross the area. There was a Police car on our front and we were following him like his tail. There were stones hitting my window and I was maybe for the first time, real-scared.
But, thankfully, all went well and we reached Kaza safely at around 9:30 pm.
The day was great and a lifer-day for me. 4 lifers in a single day!!!
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