Birds, Birding Trips and Birdwatching Tours in West Bengal, india
In the northeastern part of India, nestled between the Bay of Bengal and the borders of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam, lies the culturally rich and densely populated state of West Bengal. With a diverse landscape encompassing the Darjeeling Himalayan hills, the Ganges delta, the Rarh region, and the coastal Sundarbans, it offers a unique blend of geographical features. For bird enthusiasts, the prime region for birding in West Bengal is the area comprising Sikkim and the adjacent parts of North Bengal, including Darjeeling and Kalimpong. This birding haven spans from Latitude 27 to 28 degrees North and Longitude 87 to 89 degrees East, characterized by a rugged strip of vertical mountainous terrain. Wedged between Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and the North Bengal Plains, this compact region, only 90km wide and 150km deep, boasts incredible biodiversity. The landscape ascends rapidly from near sea level to 8,500 meters, with the imposing Himalayan Range and its colossal spurs, Singelila and Chola, forming a protective horseshoe around the area. This unique topography, coupled with a climate ranging from tropical heat in the valleys to alpine cold in snowy regions, creates an exceptional habitat for a variety of bird species. With an average rainfall of 348cm, this region stands as the most humid part of the Himalayas, experiencing a dry season from November to March. The altitudinal zones transition from tropical to sub-tropical, temperate, and finally alpine, with just 10kms separating palm-filled valleys from perpetual snow in some places. This rapid shift in terrain contributes to a marked altitudinal zonation in humidity, rainfall, climate, and vegetation.
Renowned ornithologist Dr. Salim Ali has documented a remarkable 527 species of resident birds in this region, earning it the reputation of one of the world’s richest birding areas of its size. Beyond the resident species, migratory birds add to the avian diversity, with estimates suggesting that over 30% of the Indian Subcontinent’s bird species can be observed here. Key towns serving as gateways to this avian paradise include Gangtok in Sikkim, along with Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and Siliguri in North Bengal. The nearest airport, located near Siliguri in the plains, is Bagdogra, facilitating access to this birding haven.
Best Birdwatching Spots In And Around North bengal & kolkata
Nestled 35 km from Kalimpong, Lava is a premier birding destination in the region, accessible via a 1¼-hour drive. Situated at an elevation of 2100m, this former caravan halting place is now a quaint forest village surrounded by protected forests, including the remote Neora National Park. The area is a haven for bird watchers, offering rough roads, walking trails, and the chance to spot over 200 bird species in 4-5 days. Some sought-after birds include Satyr Tragopan, Ashy Wood-pigeon, and Red-faced Liocichla.
Connected to Lava by a 52 km forest road, the Samthar area, at an elevation of 1500m, is an undiscovered gem for birders. The journey takes you through Lolegaon and offers good birding opportunities. With interlocking ridges, deep valleys, and diverse flora, Samthar is a birding paradise waiting to be explored. Species like Pigmy Blue Flycatcher and Long-tailed Broadbills are found in this area, making it a great destination for those with a pioneering spirit.
The Sandakphu Ridge in the Singelila Range, located at 3,600m, offers a 5-8 day trek starting from Maneybhanjan, 30 km from Darjeeling. This trek provides excellent birding in Bamboo, Oak, and Rhododendron forests between 2,000m and 3,000m elevation. Bird species such as Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, and Collared Pygmy Owlet can be spotted, along with breathtaking views of Khangchen Dzonga and glimpses of Mount Everest. The trek also includes attractions like sunrise and sunset views and stays at the atmospheric Samthar Farm House.
Reserves of west bengal – East Himalayas Birding Tour
Nestled in the picturesque Dooars region of the Himalayan foothills, Gorumara National Park is a medium-sized sanctuary adorned with grasslands and lush forests. Renowned for its thriving population of Indian rhinoceros, the park boasts an impressive biodiversity, hosting fifty mammal species, 194 bird species, 22 reptile species, 7 turtle species, and a variety of macro and micro fauna. Among the avian residents are submontane forest birds such as the scarlet minivet, sunbird, Asian paradise flycatcher, spangled drongo, and Indian hornbill, making it a haven for bird enthusiasts. Additionally, Gorumara is part of the migratory bird flyway, welcoming rare species like the brahminy duck.
Jaldapara Sanctuary, spanning 26 sq. km, offers a habitat for the one-horned rhinoceros, elephants, sambhar, barking deer, and spotted deer. The journey to Jaldapara leads through the dense forests, Bengal Plains, and tea gardens to Madrihat, providing a scenic route for wildlife enthusiasts.
In the Neora Valley National Park, birdwatchers find a paradise, especially during winter, with rarities like the rufous-throated partridge, satyr tragopan, crimson-breasted woodpecker, and various other species inhabiting the semi-evergreen forests. Singalila National Park, situated at an altitude of over 7000 feet, is a birder’s delight with over 120 recorded species, including exotic finds like the scarlet minivet, blood pheasant, and Old World babblers.
The Sundarbans National Park, a Tiger Reserve and Biosphere Reserve, is a rich ecosystem on the Ganges Delta, home to over 400 tigers and abundant birdlife. The Mayurjharna Elephant Reserve has seen an increase in the elephant population, while the Buxa Tiger Reserve in the Buxa Hills shelters tigers, elephants, gaur, and a diverse range of birds and reptiles.
Wildlife sanctuaries like Ballabhpur, Bethuadahari, Bibhutibhushan, Chapramari, Mahananda, Raiganj (Kulik Bird Sanctuary), and Senchal contribute to the conservation efforts in West Bengal, offering habitats for various species, from blackbucks and deer to langurs and migratory birds. Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary, established in 1915, stands as one of the oldest sanctuaries in India, housing high-altitude animals and serving as a crucial water source for Darjeeling.
SUGGEST ITINERARY –
Nestled in the serene village of Latpanchar, perched at the highest point of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary in the Himalayan foothills of northern Bengal, our Short Birding Tours promise an immersive experience into the avian wonders of this enchanting sanctuary. Spanning 159 sq. km between the Teesta and Mahananda rivers, the sanctuary boasts a diverse range of wildlife, with a particular emphasis on its rich avifauna. A staggering 200 bird species call this sanctuary home, and the crown jewel of sightings is the Rufous-necked Hornbill during its nesting season. Thanks to dedicated conservation efforts, these rare beauties have thrived, making them the highlight of our Latpanchar Short Birding Tours. With an altitudinal range from 500 feet to 4500 feet, Latpanchar offers a strategic vantage point. Each day, we descend to different elevations within the sanctuary, revealing a myriad of bird species native to North and Northeast India. The bird checklist reads like a who’s who of avian wonders, featuring Rufous-necked Hornbill, Red-headed Trogon, Wreathed Hornbill, and many more. As we explore the well-curated birding trails, you may encounter the majestic Black Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Himalayan Griffon, Collared Falconet, and Black Baza among the birds of prey. Five days of birding in Latpanchar promise a delightful array of sightings, ensuring an unforgettable journey through the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary.
While the Bengal Tiger remains elusive, the sanctuary may reveal glimpses of its other inhabitants during our excursions. Join us for a birding adventure that captures the essence of Latpanchar’s natural wonders and the breathtaking landscapes of the Himalayas.
- Day 1:Jalpaiguri – Latpanchar
- Day 2:Birdwatching in Latpanchar
- Day 3:Birdwatching in Latpanchar
- Day 4:Birdwatching in Latpanchar
- Day 5:Latpanchar – Jalpaiguri (Departure)
Nestled amidst the serene landscapes, Latpanchar has evolved into a sought-after retreat for those seeking refuge from the bustling atmosphere of Darjeeling. The burgeoning popularity has spurred the growth of the hospitality sector in the area, offering a range of lodging options. From cozy home-stays that provide a glimpse into local life to a handful of luxury accommodations, we’ve handpicked comfortable lodgings that deliver quality service without breaking the bank. When it comes to meals, the remote setting of Latpanchar may limit the culinary variety, but worry not—you’ll enjoy three wholesome meals a day. Whether you lean towards vegetarian or meat-based fare, our menu has you covered. Breakfast and dinner unfold at the hotel or resort, while lunch is a field affair, optimizing time for birding. Cap off your meals with delightful Bengali sweet dishes, prepared with both flavor and hygiene in mind.
Embarking on birding trails through the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, ranging from 500 to 4500 feet in altitude, expect gentle slopes rather than strenuous climbs. Long walks in forested hills await, demanding a bit of legwork while lugging your birding gear and personal belongings. For longer distances around Latpanchar, a convenient cab service is at your disposal. For those craving more adventure, consider extending your tour with wildlife safaris into the heart of the Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. Opt for a tiger safari or an Asiatic Black Bear safari, delving deeper into the sanctuary’s lush forests. Express your interest in this extension, and we’ll make the necessary arrangements for an enriched experience.
Planning your visit? Aim for the period between October and May for the best birding opportunities. While Bengal’s summer brings heat and humidity, winter embraces cooler temperatures, sometimes plunging into single digits. Ensure you pack accordingly, with layers and a quality raincoat for the occasional surprise shower. To kickstart your Latpanchar birding adventure, journey to Jalpaiguri, our starting point. The nearest airport is in Bagdogra, a mere 45 km away. While a few international flights land there, those arriving from abroad can first touch down in Delhi or Kolkata and then catch a connecting flight to Bagdogra. From Bagdogra, a taxi ride to Jalpaiguri awaits, where our representative will greet you and chauffeur you to Latpanchar.