View Full Version : The magnificent necklace!!!!

Samrat Sarkar
29-12-2015, 02:39 PM
“Chhoto Penga”, this is what the bengali name of the bird is. But I never dreamed of sighting this bird enywhere in any jungle of west bengal. I have heard the chirping of this bird along with its bigger counterpart, i,e, “Boro Penga” or Greater Necklaced Laughing-thrush invery lowly lit bushes of some deep forests in Manas. This time it is no other than Bungkulung where we have arrived in search of these birds. And this seems to be never a ending search. They are very much unwilling to come in the open out of the dense forest.

I combed the hilly area along serpentine and bushy footpaths with the gigantic lens on my shoulder in search of these birds for two square days. All of a suddenI heard faint chirping of the birds and guessed that they will be not less than ten in number. Being excited i moved on along the damp foot trails infested with ieeches, mosquitos, spiders and being stung by small tree branches with a hope to sight them. The next moment it became all quiet. They are expert in camouflaging in the dry leaves and small branches of trees to such an extent that it is hardly possible to spot them. And however best you try not to let them feel your presence, they somehow become aware that you are there. At that moment their tendency is to remain quiet. And at that situation you have no choice other than waiting surreptitiously. They collect their food generally from damp and dense bushes under thick coverings created by large tree tops. That is where they move around as well. In some exceptional instances and when they see no danger around, they come out over the bushes as when they desperately pursue some insects. That is only when it is possible to spot them clearly. I have gathered all these experiences following them in the forest hours after hours for two whole days from dawn to dusk.

Samrat Sarkar
29-12-2015, 02:43 PM
They are endemic not only to West Bengal but also to the damp and dense bushes created in the evergreen forests in the foothills of all the north-east Himalayas in India. But they are not that common compared to the other birds. I have visited many forests of north-east India including the Manas on the part of Assam and Kaziranga many times. But I can confidently say that the best place to spot them is only Bunkulung. Bunkulung is a small human settlement near Mirik in the District of Darjeeling, West Bengal. It is about 750 to 800 meters higher than the MSL. I visited this place in the first week of October this year[2015]. That was after the end of their breeding season. As the breeding season ends they move around in a flock numbering about 20 to 25. But during the breeding season, that is, in between March and October they are seen in smaller flocks or in pairs.

Samrat Sarkar
29-12-2015, 02:47 PM
Like all other Laughing-thrushes they also forage very close to the ground. They build their nests also not higher than four meters above the ground. The founder of the Indian National Congress Allan Octavian Hume has mentioned in his book “Nests and Eggs of Indian Birds” in the year 1889 these facts on the nests and the shape of the eggs of these "Chhoto Pengas". Their nests are very much similar to those of the "Baro Pengas" and are like large bowls built by dry tree roots, bamboo leaves and slender tree branches. They lay about three to five eggs at a time and are greenish blue in colour. The Cuckoos sometimes lay eggs in their nests when opportunity favours.

(In wide frame)

Samrat Sarkar
29-12-2015, 02:49 PM
The "Chhoto Pengas" are always busy, just like the Jungle Babblers.. They move forward in the ground jumping in joint feet. It is really funny viewing them moving across the roads; At first one will enter a small bush on the other side of the road with a small and brisk flight, and then the others will follow it in quick successions. At first viewing I was very much confused whether they were Greater Necklaced Laughing-thrush or not. There is only one dissimilarity between them; the Lesser one has yellow iris and the Greater one has it black.

Mrudul Godbole
31-12-2015, 02:58 PM
Nice photographs of the Lesser Necklaced Laughing-thrush. Thanks for sharing this detailed information on their habitat and behaviour.