Kashmir and Ladakh, India’s least-explored regions, especially for international birders and nature lovers, have lately become prominent wildlife-watching destinations. The unique geographical position of the area attracts birds in winter and during the migration periods in copious numbers. Kashmir’s Dachigam National Park, home to more than 150 species of birds, is a must-visit location for birders and bird photographers.
Our trip will also take you to the mystic Leh, now a union territory of India. We will scan valleys, ridges and grasslands in this Himalayan region for species such as Besra, Northern Goshawk, Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Himalayan Monal, Back-billed Magpie, Solitary Snipe, Tawny owl, White-throated Dipper, Red-billed Chough and Fire-fronted Serin. During our expedition, we may also encounter mammals, such as Hangul, Jackal, Langur, Leopard, and Yellow-Throated Martens.
Our tour begins at the Srinagar airport, where you will meet our staff, who will transfer you to one of the legendary houseboats in Dal Lake. In the afternoon, we will visit the Botanical Garden. Species likely to be spotted here are the Blue Whistling Thrush, Asian Brown Flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, Yellow-Breasted Greenfinch, Rusty-Tailed Flycatcher, Ultramarine Flycatcher, Chestnut-Bellied Rock Thrush, Himalayan Bulbul, Brown-Fronted Woodpecker and so on.
We will have an early morning drive towards Taglang La and Tsokar on day 9, looking for Upland and Himalayan Buzzards, Tibetan Snowcocks, Mangolian finches and other Eastern-Ladakh species. Additionally, rarities, like Tibetan Argali and Tibetan Partridges, are occasionally spotted here.
By afternoon, we will reach Thukje, the village at the edge of the Tsokar Marsh, where we will hopefully enjoy productive birding. Our prime targets are Black-Necked Cranes, Saker Falcons, Humes Groundpecker, Little Owl, Carrion Crow, Upland Buzzard, Crested Grebe, Sand Plover, and Northern Lapwings. In addition, the rare Scrub Warbler and Tibetan Partridges are seen near the Star-TSA Phukso Lake, at the far end of the valley. Finally, in the afternoon, we will witness flocks of the Tibetan Sandgrouse flying down in great numbers to the open planes around Thukje.
On the last day of the tour, we will have a half-day birding in Hanley followed by a 6- hour drive to Leh. We will reach Leh late in the evening.