Tag Archives: birding in patnitop

Birding in Kashmir | Mission Kashmir – Part 1

Destination – Patnitop, Udhampur district, Jammu and Kashmir
Date – 20 & 21 June, 2021

Day 1

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.

Mansar lake in Udhampur district
Mansar Lake

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.

Siberian Stonechat male
Siberian Stonechat male
Siberian Stonechat male with kill
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Day 2

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.

Gray-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker
Gray-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker female
Gray-Capped Pygmy Woodpecker

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.

Yellow-Breasted Greenfinch
Yellow-Breasted Greenfinch male
Yellow-Breasted Greenfinch female

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.

Brown-Fronted Woodpecker
Brown-Fronted Woodpecker male
Himalayan Woodpecker female
Himalayan Woodpecker female

Green-Backed Tits, Cinerous Tits and Streaked Laughingthrushes were also pretty common there.

Green-Backed Tit
Green-Backed Tit adult
Green-Backed Tit
Green-Backed Tit
Green-Backed Tit juvenile

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.

Azure Sapphire
Azure Sapphire
Azure Sapphire
Common Copper
Common Copper
Himalayan Bath White
Himalayan Bath White
Common Argus
Common Argus
Common Beak butterfly
Common Beak
Himalayan Common Beak
Plain Marbled Skipper
Plain Marbled Skipper
Common Five-Ring
Common Five-Ring

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.

Himalayan Woodpecker male
Himalayan Woodpecker male
Yellow-Breasted Greenfinch
Yellow-Breasted Greenfinch
Blue-Whistling Thrush
Blue Whistling-Thrush
Immature Egyptian Vulture
Egyptian Vulture

To be continued…

~Arjun Basandrai