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Thread: Bungkulung ….A pleasant treat to the eyes

  1. #1
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    Default Bungkulung ….A pleasant treat to the eyes

    It was around six o’clock in an early October morning; darkness was still prevailing in the thick forest covers of both sides of the Himalayan village road through which we were approaching slowly following a Green Magpie’s call. For the last fifteen minutes it literally kept us busy being unaware of the other movement in the forest. Suddenly some movements on a tree trunk just beside the bamboo bush we were searching for the magpie grabbed my attention. ‘Oh! This is a Hoary bellied squirrel’. Immediately the snap was taken and it revealed the ‘Orange’ hue on the belly instead of the ‘Hoary’. The excitement picked up. This was rather an ‘Orange bellied Himalayan Squirrel’, which made our first day nature walk at Bungkulung a really memorable one.

    (Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel)
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    Last edited by Samrat Sarkar; 16-12-2015 at 11:59 AM.

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    This lesser known, beautiful hamlet of Darjeeling district is just 50 km drive from Siliguri and is 15 km downhill drive from Mirik. Bungkulung is characterized by rising mountains, hilly terrains, woodlands, orange orchards, pineapple garden, along with paddy fields.

    Bungkulung is slowly gaining its popularity as a bird lover’s paradise though the number of actual species found here is still in unknown as the residents of the village are still unaware of their rich avifaunal treasure. Only one homestay run by Tara Rai and Kalpana Rai caters for basic foods and accommodation to the visitors.

    (Greater Yellow-nape Woodpecker)
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    The last October we could manage to add two more days with weekend and searched for some weekend gateways in Darjeeling hills. All the three members of our group finally voted for Bungkulung.

    During a couple of days' stay at Bungkulung we could sight the birds like Emerald Dove, Greater-Yellownape, Velvet fronted Nuthatch, Green Magpie, Common Stonechat, Hill Myna, Oriental Turtle Dove, Olive backed Pipit, Asian barred Owlet, Brown fish Owl, Grey Treepie, Scarlet Minivet, Blue bearded Bee-eater, Golden fronted Leaf-bird, Banded bay Cuckoo, Black winged Cuckoo-shrike, Lesser-necklaced Laughingthrush and very elusive Black Baza.

    Scarlet Minivets with their vibrant red and yellow colours were frequently sighted foraging in flocks high up in the forest canopy. In contrary, spotting a common Green Magpie or a small group of Lesser nacklaced Laughingthrush demanded a lot of patience as they had been rarely coming out of the scrubs and bushes; they had been foraging in. Their chatters and whistles and movements could be felt so clearly but having some decent shots of the birds demanded quite a bit of luck.

    Now, I must share my amazing experience with the sighting of the other very elusive ‘Black Baza’, not nearly a single one rather a small group of 6 to 7. We could watch them early in the morning for two consecutive days at the same tree parching on the bare branches of that very tall tree they were seen engaged in preening, sometimes looking for a prey and one of them was actually photographed while ‘regurgitating’. Some local people, when asked, said that they had noticed the birds earlier and perceived them as some species of jungle crow. Hence they were unable to enlighten us with specific information about these rare beauties.

    (Black Baza)
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    Another rarity which made our trip to Bungkulung a special one is the ‘Common Birdwing’ butterfly. We were really amazed to see this very gorgeous butterfly at every nook and corner in the forest, specially around shrubs and bushy jungle. According to IUCN Red list this Swallowtail butterfly is an endangered one and it can boasts of being one of the largest swallowtail butterflies in Asia and rapid habitat loss already have posed a threat to their survival. The Indian birthwort is facing rapid destruction due to conversion of forest area into agricultural land and due to depletion of the plants essential for their feeding and breeding.

    We left Bungkulung with the question in our mind that whether those Bazas were the residents of the forest or they were the passage migrants.

    Later we came to know that they left Bungkulung after one month of roosting in that tree.

    Narrated by Swagata Sarkar, Photographs by Samrat Sarkar

    (Lesser-necklaced Laughing-thrush)
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    A nice narrative and lovely photographs to support it. You had lot of good sightings. Wish to go there sometime . Thanks for sharing.

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    Stayed at a beautiful place, amongst yet simple hill people, wonderful images and crafty write-up. Never heard about Black Baza. Carry on Samrat Bhai........Thanks for sharing.SaktiWild

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    Thanks much Mrudul ji and Sakti da

    Samrat and Swagata

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    Nice to know you had good time at Bungkulung..... I haven't heard of this place but the north east has many such hidden treasures. Thattekad is kerala is a good place to see the black baza , but they mostly keep to the canopy and the upright crest is usually unmistakable even when not clearly seen.

    Nice write up, the black baza and lesser neck laced laughing thrush are rarities which will make any bird lover wish and yearn....

    TFS
    Roopak

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