We drove overnight from Agra to Pangot, a small village in the foothills of the Himalayas. Our journey took substantially longer as a result of a thick fog which descended upon us on the outskirts of Delhi, and remained with us until daybreak. We were dropped off some distance from Nature Drops, our accommodation, as a result of the poor road, so it wasn’t until late morning that we finally all got settled in.
We were dropped off in an area of thick woodland; a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees. TDJ and JAB walked off to find our lodgings and request they come and pick up our luggage, whilst the rest of us birded the woodland near to the road. Even while we waited we got a sense of the birding that was to follow; with extended periods lacking birds, but good numbers of different species coming through in waves.
Once we were all settled in at Nature Drops four of us headed out for a walk up the valley. We chose to walk back from our digs towards Pangot. Most of our birding was done in open arable land with patches of open woodland on either side. After a kilometre and half or so we re-entered the thicker woodland we had been in earlier. The new birding area provided us with ample new species, in a wide variety of forms. Our walk took up the remainder of the afternoon, but gave us an insight into the birding that could be expected from Pangot.
Our evening took unexpected turn when TDJ was summoned by park authorities for putting out a camera trap for the woodland wildlife. It was all resolved amicably but made for a somewhat entertaining twist.
Kalij Pheasant - Given how abundant they were on the roadside as we drove up, it was a bit disappointing not being able to see any of these very smart pheasants in and around the accommodation. The males were really stunning birds, structured more like an extravagant partridge than a pheasant.
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher - One of the more unusual species on our first day, we found a rather dapper male deep in a wooded valley, which we had followed because it had a small stream which we thought might provide birds. As it happened we only saw two birds following said path but this one alone made it worth it. The other was an adult male Himalayan Bluetail. Not much more needs to be said there.
Black-headed Jay - Good numbers of this very smart corvid were seen during our afternoon. They moved around the valley in small, very vocal flocks.
Pangot: Blue Whistling Thrush, Rufous-bellied Rock Thrush, Kalij Pheasant, Himalayan Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Brown-fronted Woodpecker, Bar-tailed Creeper, Green-backed Tit, Rufous Sibia, White-tailed Nuthatch, Grey-hooded Warbler, Eurasian Jay, Black-throated Tit, Buff-barred Warbler, Himalayan Bluetail, Spangled Drongo, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Streaked Laughingthrush, Besra, Steppe Eagle, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Blue-fronted Redstart, Blue-capped Redstart, Jungle Babbler, Black-headed Jay, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Striated Laughingthrush, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Black-chinned Babbler, Grey-backed Shrike, Rufous-gorgeted flycatcher, Russet Sparrow, Grey Bushchat, Striated Prinia, Indian Black Eagle, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Myna, Hanuman Langur, Rhesus Macaque, Himalayan Agama,