Category Archives: Birding

Excursions from Camp Sparrow, Jeolikote, Nainital

Camp Sparrow is an eco-sustainable camp located in the lush green Himalayas amidst the thick jungles of Jeolikote, a small town near Nainital. It is an extraordinary place for nature lovers and those who would like to experience something out of the regular city life. This region also flaunts around 200 species of birds making bird watching activities quite popular. Camp also facilitates birdwatching activities and tours. You can take up activities like exploring nature trails, easy hiking, bird-watching during your stay at the camp. Or even just chill around in the lawn, campfire, stream nearby and the backyard of the camp area which are in themself a rejuvenation.

The favorable location of Camp midway between Kathgodam (nearest railhead) and Nainital, one can visit many places around, making Camp Sparrow a base.

Other places around the Nainital and Camp which can be visited on a day’s excursion also include-

Nainital

This is the most commonly visited and the best hill station around the region. Nainital is located at about 17 km from Jeolikote making it hardly a journey of 20 to 30 mins to reach the city. There are various viewpoints in Nainital such as Tiffen top, Himalaya Darshan, Snow viewpoint and others. Famous temples such as Hanuman Garhi and Naina Devi temple. Not to miss the most important part of the Nainital trip – boating in the Naini Lake. Apart from these, there are other places near Nainital to visit also.

Bhimtal

Yet another lake city at proximity from Nainital offering wide adventure activities to the tourists. Bhimtal not only a beautiful city but has some pretty cafes. Activities like water zorbing, paragliding and others can be enjoyed on a day’s excursion at ease. Naukuchiatal, is further half an hour’s drive from Bhimtal is another town with a Lake and beautiful landscape views. It also offers adventure activities. This takes about half an hour to forty-five minutes from Camp Sparrow.

Sattal

Known for seven lakes around the town from which it derives the name Sattal is one of the places near Nainital you must visit. This is a hotspot among birdwatchers and photographers. There are varied species of resident and migratory birds that are worth a tour under the proper guidance. This Lake also offers some adventure activities like Banana boat ride, regular boating, and others which attracts many tourists. This takes about half an hour to forty-five minutes from Camp sparrow too

Mukteshwar

This another adventure hub nearest to Nainital offering a variety of activities such as mountain or rock climbing, camping, hiking, and trekking. There are also beautiful scenic viewpoints and temples which you can visit while on your excursion around Camp Sparrow, Nainital.

  • Kainchi Dham Temple is well known for being visited by celebrities and common people alike.
  • Pangot and Kilbury Sanctuary which is a high altitude hotspot for the birds.
  • Almora, Ranikhet places for beautiful views and picnics.

Let’s Help Build Some Homes!Camp Sparrow- Plantation Drive.

How many trees we would have cut down to build our homes? Weren’t they homes to many before us? How many jungles we would have scrapped down for our infrastructures like schools, roads, hospitals and what not? There used to live many more wildlife in harmony unlike humans. Some or the other way we are all guilty of it. Few of us feel it while a few do not. So, take this opportunity to give back to the nature what we have been exploiting from years now. Let us act upon the climate change, let us do what best can be done to save and flourish the existing forest and also let it increase. Healthier forests, purer air, purer water, safer cities and towns so that wild have their homes to stay within and we have ours. 

Visit the page- “Camp Sparrow, Plantation Drive” to take part !

Kalij Pheasants – Our backyard Neighbours!

We are named Kalij Pheasants by our Human friends. We are a family of five who live in the neighbourhood of Camp Sparrow. But resident all around the Himalyan region . Inclusive of males and two females in total, looking and foraging around for food. Every day, we reach backyard of Camp Sparrow in the evening times around 5.30 PM looking for some food and water. Sometimes even during early morning hours we are there with the very first rays of sunlight reaching the ground. But we are very shy creatures and run away the moment we sense humans walking by or any moments or voices similar. Only camouflaged people sitting in silence for a little longer without much bodily moments will be able to sight us. You can come by and visit us. Make sure not to disturb us so that you get to sight us in our most natural behaviour. 

Essentials of Birding!

Anyone and everyone can develop a passion for bird watching / birding. This is a kind of interest people usually find boring until they start doing it. It is a very beneficial and easy activity to pick up with some pretty basic essentials. 

Binoculars– You can watch the birds through a naked eye for sure. But binoculors help a lot in observing the birds, their moments, behaviour. It Is so fun and interesting at times. 

Field Guide– If you are serious about continuing the activity, a field guide is very much essential. Though it is a traditional way of referring to bird names, it is lot more user friendly, even in this era of applications and software.   

Notepad– This again is a traditional way of noting down the names and numbers of birds observed. But is the best practice, obviously it can be entered into the electronical database for a better record. 

Camouflaged outfits– Said that need not dress up in camouflaged prints top to bottom, can opt for colours like green, brown, grey and such dull colours. It’s just that flashy colours draw birds and wildlife away, which won’t benefit your birdwatching I suppose. 

That’s all Folks, you are ready to go birding!! 


Add-ons which will help in getting better at birding. 

Camera– Yes, few believe a camera is essential for birdwatching but trust me just watching them so colourful, so playful itself is mesmerizing at times. Not everything can be recorded or captured. 

Guide– It is helpful in identifying birds especially at regions you are not much aware of. Having said that it is not necessary to always hire an expert guide who charges a lot. Your friends and relatives or someone who is knowledgeable. 

E-bird account– This not just helps you stay updated with checklists, but also helps in cross-checking with identities of those which you aren’t sure of. 

Social Group of Birders- Having a group of friends with similar interests is always fun. May it be in real life, on social medias to exchange ideas and views or anywhere for that matter. 

Birding has so many benefits- it is fun, relaxing, develops responsibility towards nature, improves your eyesight, listening skills, patience and many more such attributes. So, start birding start discovering.  

Birds and Birders’ Workshop #2

In a Span of 3 days and 6 birding walks, “Birds and Birders’ Workshop #2” (25th to 28th of April) has observed a total of 114 bird species in the hotspots of Jeolikote,Pangot,Sattal,Chaffi.
This being the season for nesting and mating, ethical practice of biring was followed to observe the birds and their behaviour.

Stay updated with our FB page of “Camp Sparrow”-
https://www.facebook.com/campsparrow.jeolikote/ and Group- “Birds and Birders”-
https://www.facebook.com/groups/328926354382767/ for updates regarding the workshops similar to this or others.


Checklist-

Jungle Babbler
Rusty Cheeked Scimitar Babbler
White Browed Scimitar Babbler
Black Chined Babbler
Great Babbler
Blue Throated Barbet
Chestnut Headed Beeeater
Grey Winged Blackbird
Himalayan Bulbul
Red Vented Bulbul
Black Bulbul
Ashy Bulbul
Mountain Bulbul
Black Crested Bulbul
Grey Bushchat
Common Hawk Cuckoo
Himalayan Cuckoo
Large Billed Crow
Black Winged Cuckooshrike
Oriental Dove
Spotted Dovve
Asian Emerald Dove
Ashy Drongo
Hair Crested Drongo
Bronzed Drongo
Hawk Eagle
White Throated Fantail
Common Rosefinch
Greater Flameback
Fire Breasted Flowerpecker
Gray Headed Canary Flycatcher
Tickell Blue Flycatcher
Ultramarine Flycatcher
Verdieter Flycatcher
Paradise Flycatcher
Slaty Backed Forktail
Black Francolin
Red Jungle Fowl
Common Kestrel
Common Kingfisher
White Throated Kingfisher
Crested Kingfisher
Black Kite
Red- Wattled Lapwing
White Throated Laughingthrush
White Crested Laughingthrush
Straited Laughingthrush
Streaked Laughingthrush
Rufous Chinned Laughingthrush
Orange Bellied Leafbird
Golden Fronted Leafbird
Red Billed Leothrix
Red Billed Blue Magpie
Common Green Magpie
Scarlet Minivet
Rosy Minivet
Long Tailedd Minivet
Blue Winged Minla
Common Myna
Bank Myna
Jungle Myna
Rufous Bellied Niltava
Chestnut Bellied Nuthatch
White Cheecked Nuthatch
Bar Tailed Treecreeper
Collared Owlet
Asian Barred Owlet
Plum Headed Parakeet
Slaty Headed Parakeet
Rufous Throated Partridge
Khalij Pheasant
Cheer Pheasant
Wedge Tailed Green Pigeon
Rock Pigeon
Upland Pipit
Ultramarine Flycatcher
Jungle Prinia
Straited Prinia
Oriental Magpie Robin
White Browed Bush Robin
Rufous Sibia
Russet Sparrow
House Sparrow
Chestnut Tailed Starling
Black Throated Sunbird
Crimson Sunbird
Barn Swallow
Blue Whistlingthrush
Tickell Thrush
Scaly Thrush
Dark Side Thrush
Cinereous Tit
Black Lored Tit
Great Backed Tit
Grey Treepie
Griffon Vulture
Grey Wagtail
Greenish Warbler
Grey Hooded Warbler
Oriental White Eye
Brown Fronted Woodpecker
Fulvous Breasted Woodpecker
Greater Yellownape
Grey Headed Woodpecker
Himalayan Woodpecker
Golden Fronted Pygmy
Whiskered Yuhina
Brown Wood Owl
Rufous Turtle Dove
Blue Capped Rockthrush
Black Headed Jay
Spotted Forktail
Koklass Pheasant
Eurasian Jay

Steppe Eagle

Contributed by Ashish Singh via FB gorup- “Birds and Birders”

Shot this beautiful raptor up close in Lansdowne,Uttarakhand during a short trip in March 2019. 
The steppe eagle like all eagles,belongs to the family of Accipitridae. Steppe eagle’s diet is largely fresh carrion of all kinds, but it kills rodents and other small mammals up to the size of a hare, and birds up to the size of partridges. It also steals food from other raptors.
A crop in throat allows Steppe eagle to store food for several hours before it moves down to the stomach.

The Scaly Bellied Woodpecker.

-contributed by Shuvadip Som (member of facebook group Birds and Birders)

It was early morning and I had checked in a resort in Binsar, just an evening earlier and I was too tired after traveling the zigzag 120 kms from Kathgodam.  
The fast and continuous tap-tap-tap sound woke me up. Took a look outside my window and saw this beauty. My camera was ready, shot immediately. Incidentally, this is my first bird Photography before brushing my teeth … Lol. 
And the best part this guy was just 9-10 metres away from me, see exact details below. 

Name – The Scaly Bellied Woodpecker 

Location – Binsar, near Almora, Uttarakhand 

DoP – 05/04/2019 (April – 2019) 

EXIF – 1/2000, f/6.3, ISO1600 at 550 mm 

Places of Interest near Jeolikote-Nainital!

This surely is a destination to visit for any age group or for people with varied kind of interests. After bountiful of nature and birds in Jeolikote, you can head around for more natural or man-made wonders.

Nainital, Bhimtal, Sattal, Naukuchiatal and Mukteshwar are the nearest excursions from the town which are famous for their natural beauty along with the lakes making it amazingly picturesque. In addition to this they are also famous for some adventure activities like trekking, rock climbing, rappelling or some water sports.  

Nature and wildlife enthusiasts? Pangot- Killbury sanctuary, Jim Corbett national park, Almora, Kausani, Ranikhet,Bageshwar and many more are the places of interest near Nainital. Then comes the pilgrimage destinations which is a must visit in Uttarakhand, known as Dev Bhoomi in itself.  So, Jageshwar, Kaichi Dam, Hanumangarh, Pitoragarh, Rishikesh are all definetely worth a visit. 

Basic, Raw and Natural is what we believe in!

Lifestyle in cities these days are mundane and routine. Even while people look for something different all they end up doing is party or eat something unhealthy. Why don’t you try something out of the box, get out of comfort zones, get adventurous, seek out and learn new skills.

Camp Sparrow believes in basic, raw and natural kind of lifestyle.  Pull yourself out of comfort zones,feel the dramatic conditions of the mountains by choosing to stay in the tents. Earthbag houses give out a feel of raw and natural with all the basic amenities yet not losing out on comfort levels. New skills can be acquired by bird watching and taking up nature walks to connect to the nature. Food we serve is freshly cooked and basic with a hint of local cuisine. So, Camp Sparrow neither burns a hole in your pocket nor on your appetite. Try the place so admirable with prices so affordable. 

Lakes of Kumaon!

Waterbodies in the mountains are always scenic. May it be a stream flowing or a lake that is calm and still. They are like add on accessories to the existing beauty of the place. While you are in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, it is a must to visit these Lakes or so called “tals”. Nainital, Bhimtal, Sattal, Naukuchiatal
and Krupatal are all within a proximity to each other. Lakes and rivers have always attracted birds, wildlife and civilizations alike. They are one of the major reasons these areas are rich in bird life too. This has led to flocking of birdwatchers and photographers in numbers. Jeolikote Is one such town which has a stream of its own flowing through in addition to being in proximity with these lakes. Jeolikote is in a seclusion yet rich in civilization and nature going hand in hand!!