Team-BHP > Travelogues


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 24th October 2020, 22:53   #1
Newbie
 
ramnath_77's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Pune
Posts: 13
Thanked: 61 Times
Default A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

This is my first travelogue post on T-BHP. Hence pardon me in case of any mistakes. This trip happened just before the lockdown hit us in March.

Background
Ever since i got addicted to Bird photography, i always wanted to visit Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary and the hills around Latpanchor/Kurseong in West Bengal. The region is extremely rich in avifauna. The opportunity to photograph some of these beauties is too tempting to ignore for a long time.
I usually take help of a local birding guide when visiting such places. Their knowledge of local terrain/landscapes, deciding the right season to travel etc helps increase the chances of sighting and eventually better photographs.

Based on the feedback from our local expert (Debu), my friend and me decided to make the trip in the 1st week of March around Holi. Plan was to cover Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary over 3 days and Latpanchor over 2 days.
Flights from Pune to Bagdogra and back were booked. Hotel in Siliguri and a homestay in Latpanchor was booked.
Spent a few days researching about the various species found in the place, spoke to other friends who had already been there to understand and prepare for challenges from a photography perspective.

The journey
The D-day finally arrived and after a red-eye flight (via Bangalore), we finally reached Bagdogra on the morning of 6th March. Debu was waiting for us at the airport. After a quick tea/breakfast, we headed straight to Mahananda wildlife sanctuary as Debu advised us to check-in to the hotel later in the evening after full day birding. Although we were a bit tired, the lush green forests and chirping of birds took away all our stress. Over the next 3 days, we ended up seeing and photographing quite a few species (some of which are endemic to the region). Let the pictures do the talking

Here are a few images from Mahananda

Bluecapped Rock Thrush
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-bluecapped-rock-thrush.jpg

Blue-bearded Bee eater
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-blue-bearded-bee-eater-1.jpg

Blue-bearded Bee eater
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-blue-bearded-bee-eater-2.jpg

Collared Falconet. One of the world's smallest raptors
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-collared-falconet.jpg

Collared Owlett
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-collared-owlett.jpg

Portrait of a Common Green Magpie
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-common-green-magpie-portrait.jpg

Crimson Sunbird
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-crimson-sunbird.jpg

Orange-bellied Leafbird (female)
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-orangebellied-leafbird-female.jpg

Orange-bellied Leafbird (male)
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-orangebellied-leafbird-male.jpg

Scarlet Minivet
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-scarlet-minivet.jpg

A pair of Chetnut Headed Bee eaters
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-chestnut-headed-bee-eater-pair.jpg

Long-tailed Broadbill (fondly referred to as the Helmet bird).
This was one of my target species for the trip. Was pretty happy to get this guy
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-long-tailed-broadbill-1.jpg

A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-long-tailed-broadbill-2.jpg

A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-long-tailed-broadbill-3.jpg


After spending 3 wonderful days at Mahananda, we proceeded to the small hill town of Latpanchor for the 2nd leg of our trip. Latpanchor is an extremely beautiful small little town on the hills. It is in the Kurseong division of Darjeeling district. We stayed at Kripa Homestay which was one of the newest in the place. The location was amazing and the views of the mountains were mesmerizing.

Here are some of the residents of Latpanchor

Chestnut-bellied Rockthrush (female)
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-chestnut-bellied-rockthrush-female.jpg

Common Redstart (female)
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-common-redstart-female.jpg

Moutain Hawk Eagle. Pardon the image quality as this guy was quite far
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-mountain-hawk-eagle.jpg

White-browed Scimitar Babbler
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-whilebrowed-scimitar-babbler.jpg

Rufous-necked Hornbill (female). One of the most famous residents of Latpanchor. We missed the male
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-rufous-necked-hornbill.jpg

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird (male). One of the most colourful birds of the region
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-mrs.-goulds-sunbird-1.jpg

A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-mrs.-goulds-sunbird-2.jpg

Mrs. Gould's Sunbird (female)
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-mrs.-goulds-sunbird-female.jpg

The tour ended on a high after getting one of the most sought after species of the place. The Red-Headed Trogon. Although not a good image by any stretch of imagination, i was thrilled to see this guy and capture it.
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-red-headed-trogon2.jpg

The homestay at Latpanchor where we stayed.
A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar-kripa-homestay.jpg

That brought down the curtains on one of the best birding trips that i have been on till date. We bid goodbye to the hosts at Latpanchor and headed to Bagdogra for our return flight back home.

This trip introduced me to the amazing avifauna of the North East region although i realize this is only the tip of the iceberg considering the sheer variety found in the higher altitudes of the region. I witnessed the challenges of capturing these birds (eg. lack of good light as the action happens mostly under the high canopy, the birds are quite skittish due to which i missed quite a few shots as i wasnt quick enough etc). However the sheer variety of species that i got to see gave me a lot of joy. I definitely look forward to make more trips to the region once the pandemic settles down.
ramnath_77 is offline   (43) Thanks
Old 25th October 2020, 00:36   #2
Newbie
 
Rangy62's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Dubai/Bangalore
Posts: 11
Thanked: 11 Times
Default re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Nice write up! Yes I would recommend going up further and higher eg Zuluk, Lachen etc.
Rangy62 is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 25th October 2020, 11:54   #3
Newbie
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Cochin
Posts: 13
Thanked: 18 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

@ramnath_77

Thank you for sharing beautiful shots of your birding at Latpanchor. All the birds are so colorful. Since you mentioned that most of the action happens in the upper canopy, which lens did you use? Are the images heavily cropped?

Matter of fact, your images is prompting me to visit these spots, hopefully once the Pandemic is under control, I will visit the spots.

Can you mention in some more detail about the region and the guides that you used?

Thank you once again

~ Issac
snappysam is offline  
Old 25th October 2020, 12:09   #4
BHPian
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 118
Thanked: 193 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Hey Ramnath_77...thanks for the wonderful photographs. They are really sharp and colours are beautiful What gear did you use - lens, tripod etc? How did you get in touch with local birding guides. What was your schedule like on the days you went photographing- early mornings and evenings or all day?
Again, nice pictures.
docsr is offline  
Old 25th October 2020, 13:03   #5
Newbie
 
ramnath_77's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Pune
Posts: 13
Thanked: 61 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangy62 View Post
Nice write up! Yes I would recommend going up further and higher eg Zuluk, Lachen etc.
Thanks @Rangy62. Yes Lachen is definitely on the To do list alongwith Eagle's Nest (Arunachal), Lava/Rishyop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snappysam View Post
@ramnath_77

Thank you for sharing beautiful shots of your birding at Latpanchor. All the birds are so colorful. Since you mentioned that most of the action happens in the upper canopy, which lens did you use? Are the images heavily cropped?

Matter of fact, your images is prompting me to visit these spots, hopefully once the Pandemic is under control, I will visit the spots.

Can you mention in some more detail about the region and the guides that you used?

Thank you once again

~ Issac
Thank you @snappysam. I used Nikkor 600FL lens. While the action does happen in the upper canopy, the idea is always to wait for them to come down to get them at eye level and shoot. Most of my images are around 30-40% cropped.
In terms of the guide, i took help from a guy by name Debapratim Saha (who is based in Siliguri). There are few other guys as well including PeterBeck who is based out of Rongtong. Many of these guys are active on Facebook.
The main birding trail in Mahananda is the road that goes from Siliguri to Darjeeling via Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary (WLS) passinig via Rongtong.
The road runs parallel to the Narrow-guage train track from Siliguri to Darjeeling.
Will be more than happy to share further details once you start planning your trip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by docsr View Post
Hey Ramnath_77...thanks for the wonderful photographs. They are really sharp and colours are beautiful What gear did you use - lens, tripod etc? How did you get in touch with local birding guides. What was your schedule like on the days you went photographing- early mornings and evenings or all day?
Again, nice pictures.
Thanks @docsr for liking the images. I used a Nikon D500 with a Nikkor 600 FL lens. I did use a tripod with Gimbal head. To be honest, in many of the situations i had to handhold since the action was fast and i had very little time to setup my tripod. I have mentioned about the local guides in my response above.
The schedule was quite hectic. We would leave the hotel by 6am and get back in the evening around 7pm and break for lunch/tea/breakfast as required. Latpanchor was slightly relaxed. We would return back after the morning session around 11.30 and leave for post noon session after 2pm.
ramnath_77 is offline   (2) Thanks
Old 25th October 2020, 19:14   #6
Senior - BHPian
 
sridhu's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Bangalore
Posts: 1,066
Thanked: 1,815 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Excellent photos

What gear do you use?
sridhu is offline  
Old 25th October 2020, 19:29   #7
Newbie
 
Rangy62's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Dubai/Bangalore
Posts: 11
Thanked: 11 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Quote:
Originally Posted by docsr View Post
Hey Ramnath_77...thanks for the wonderful photographs. They are really sharp and colours are beautiful What gear did you use - lens, tripod etc? How did you get in touch with local birding guides. What was your schedule like on the days you went photographing- early mornings and evenings or all day?
Again, nice pictures.
I usually contact Lakpa of Blackbird tours. He is very good for birding. He is based out out of Sikkim but can guide you all over North East.
Rangy62 is offline  
Old 25th October 2020, 19:39   #8
BHPian
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Solapur
Posts: 107
Thanked: 273 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramnath_77 View Post
This is my first travelogue post on T-BHP. Hence pardon me in case of any mistakes. This trip happened just before the lockdown hit us in March.
Excellent location, excellent photography. I must say those are some really amazing shots you have clicked.
You must consider uploading them on Shutterstock website. Which camera you are using?
gjnnbagal is offline  
Old 25th October 2020, 20:53   #9
Newbie
 
ramnath_77's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Pune
Posts: 13
Thanked: 61 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Quote:
Originally Posted by sridhu View Post
Excellent photos

What gear do you use?
Quote:
Originally Posted by gjnnbagal View Post
Excellent location, excellent photography. I must say those are some really amazing shots you have clicked.
You must consider uploading them on Shutterstock website. Which camera you are using?
Thanks @sridhu and @gjnnbagal.
I usually use Nikon D850 and the Nikkor 600 FL lens. Occasionally i do carry the Nikon D500 (usually borrowed from a friend) to enhance the reach
ramnath_77 is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 26th October 2020, 13:14   #10
Newbie
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 14
Thanked: 16 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Hi Ramnath_77,

These are really well shot pictures. I did try my hand at photography when visiting Tadoba -Andhari Tiger reserve but failed miserably. We were so focused on spotting the big cat that we failed to notice the beautiful birds surrounding us. You really need to have a keen eye for this. Also i wanted to understand what are references incase you are unable to identify certain species of birds?
InsaneSpeed is offline  
Old 26th October 2020, 17:08   #11
Newbie
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Cochin
Posts: 13
Thanked: 18 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Quote:
Originally Posted by ramnath_77 View Post
Thanks @Rangy62. Yes Lachen is definitely on the To do list alongwith Eagle's Nest (Arunachal), Lava/Rishyop.


Will be more than happy to share further details once you start planning your trip.
Thanks Ramnath_77

You should use the DX Mode in D850. Gives you more resolution than D500, way better low-light performance than D500 and when coupled with Image Area Masking in the OVF, D850 will have Focus points right up to the frames' edge. All you lose is the frame rate of the D500. All else is much better in the D840.

Try it out sometime
snappysam is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 26th October 2020, 20:17   #12
Newbie
 
ramnath_77's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Pune
Posts: 13
Thanked: 61 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Quote:
Originally Posted by InsaneSpeed View Post
Hi Ramnath_77,

These are really well shot pictures. I did try my hand at photography when visiting Tadoba -Andhari Tiger reserve but failed miserably. We were so focused on spotting the big cat that we failed to notice the beautiful birds surrounding us. You really need to have a keen eye for this. Also i wanted to understand what are references incase you are unable to identify certain species of birds?
Thanks for liking the images @InsaneSpeed. It is quite natural to get swayed by the big cats that we forget to notice the other forest dwellers. Thats the auro of the Tigers/Leopards for you.
As for the bird identification, i usually refer to "Birds of Indian Subcontinent" by Caron Inskipp & Richard Grimmett. Alternatively i post images on a few closed groups in Facebook and seek expert advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snappysam View Post
Thanks Ramnath_77

You should use the DX Mode in D850. Gives you more resolution than D500, way better low-light performance than D500 and when coupled with Image Area Masking in the OVF, D850 will have Focus points right up to the frames' edge. All you lose is the frame rate of the D500. All else is much better in the D840.

Try it out sometime
Thanks @snappysam. I have tried this previously but personally never liked the results. Similarly i have never been convinced with the results with a 1.4 Tele Converter and hence have not been using them either.
Having said that, i do find the autofocus of D850 slightly slow to my liking when it comes to BIF. I always prefer D500 for its speed.
ramnath_77 is offline   (1) Thanks
Old 27th October 2020, 09:21   #13
Newbie
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Greater Noida
Posts: 22
Thanked: 8 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Thanks ramnath_77, superb photos, excellent write-up.

I had been drawn to Latpanchor - as its name spread far and wide as a birding paradise - in November last year. Unfortunately, we couldn't stay there as we had pre-booking at Mongpong. Moreover, we drove from Santalekhola, thereby missing the best time of morning to watch the birds. Ruefully we realised, we had to stay in Latpanchor to do bird watching. We just can't drive down - or rather up, so far as the terrain goes - there from any place and hope to be there in early morning hours.

Your post compensated that lost opportunity to some extent! Thanks again.
Subroto is offline  
Old 27th October 2020, 15:05   #14
BHPian
 
Deadpool's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Kolkata
Posts: 61
Thanked: 437 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

Excellent bird photography, well focused with right blend of exposure and contrast. Thanks for sharing those colorful pictures with us.

You should consider uploading them in some photography website.
Deadpool is online now  
Old 27th October 2020, 20:19   #15
Newbie
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Mumbai
Posts: 13
Thanked: 15 Times
Default Re: A trip to Birder's paradise - Mahananda & Latpanchar

What a fantastic trip you had. Thank you for sharing these pictures.
manonsong is offline  
Reply

Most Viewed
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Team-BHP.com
Proudly powered by E2E Networks