Destination – Patnitop, Udhampur district, Jammu and Kashmir
Date – 20 & 21 June, 2021
We started our journey in the morning and reached Mansar lake by noon. Apart from a couple Pansy butterflies, there was not much to see there. Mansar was a big disappointment and thus we did not spend much time there and left for Patnitop.
The outskirts of Patnitop were full with sounds of Siberian Stonechats. Just outside Patnitop, I got my first Kalij Pheasant, but the light was too low and it was impossible for me to get any usable shots of it.
I got up early next morning and went for my customary morning bird walk. In the parking lot of the hotel I got a very long awaited species – pair of Gray-Capped Pygmy Woodpeckers – climbing up and down an electricity pole. The male flew immediately on seeing me but the female was rather cooperative and gave me some pretty decent shots.
The next species I saw was a also a long-awaited one – Yellow-Breasted Greenfinch! These were pretty common throughout Patnitop and I saw around 10-15 individuals there.
After photographing the greenfinches, I started walking towards the Naag Temple. On the way I saw a male Brown-Fronted Woodpecker and while photographing him I found a pair of Himalayan Woodpeckers. Here also the male flew away but the female didn’t mind giving me some photographs.
Green-Backed Tits, Cinerous Tits and Streaked Laughingthrushes were also pretty common there.
After about one hour or so I went back to the hotel and found an Argus sp butterfly. It didn’t give me any shots and flew away. I followed it and in the process found a small flower garden.
There were butterflies flying from everywhere to everywhere in that little garden. The new ones I saw there were Common Argus, Himalayan Common Five-Ring, Himalayan Common Beak, Plain Marbled Skipper, Common Silverstripe, Silvery Hedge Blue, Azure Sapphire, Common Copper and Kashmir Dusky Blue Cupid.
After my butterflying session, I went to Naag temple again but this time with everyone else and not for birding. After visiting the temple we packed our bags and left for Srinagar. On the way I found a pair of Himalayan Woodpeckers and this time the male at least let me take a couple of record shots of him. I also photographed a couple of Yellow-Breasted Greenfinches, Egyptian Vultures and a Blue Whistling-Thrush there.
To be continued…