Wildlife at Makkumath, Garhwal
Discover incredible birding spots of India with our senior birder Tarun.
Makku Math is a small sanctuary located in the Garhwal sector of Uttarakhand. It is quite easy to reach from Delhi. An overnight train journey of about 7 hours will take you to Haridwar from the capital city, and then another day trip to Makku Math. It is spread across a geographical area of about 970 Km² in the two districts of Chamoli and Rudraprayag of Uttarakhand. Home to innumerable species of flora and fauna, Makku Math offers every birder a haven of winged friends.
Being the third of the “Pancha Kedar” spots, it is a popular pilgrimage spot in the lap of higher Himalayas. Mesmerizing views of the snow peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul, and Chowkhamba make it special for every visitor. In addition, it is also an important bird-watching destination for wildlife enthusiasts. There are quite a few eco-huts available for stay, however they offer only basic amenities unlike lavish hotels.
It was afternoon time. We met a variety of birds at Makku Math within a short period of time. After 3 pm, bird activity increases a lot here. On one side there were some Scarlet Finch (027 & 027A) both male and female, while on other trees we spotted Scarlet Minivet (028) and Spot-winged Grosbeak (029).
Out of many varieties of finches, Scarlet Finch is remarkable in colour from the others. The male birds are strikingly red and the females are Olive green in colour. They move in flocks and prefer to sit on the open perches. The bird is available over entire eastern Himalayas.
This is a small passerine bird of Minivet family. The males are bright red and black and the females are beautiful yellow and black in colour. They are the birds of lower Himalayas and moves in flock from one tree to another and prefer to sit on the highest perches of the trees.
It’s a bird of the Finch family and is a resident of the Hiamlayas at lower altitude. Both the male and female are same coloured composition, yellow and black but the colour distribution is different. This bird prefger to stay inside foliage of the broadlived temperate forest.
After walking through the road inside the forest for some ten minutes, suddenly a patch came were a number of different bird calls started coming from all the sides. At the tip of a leafless branch, a Eurasian Cuckoo (022) was singing whereas the entire forest was booming with the sound of Great Barbets (023).
Eurasian cuckoo also known as Common Cuckoo is a summer migrant to Asia and in winter it arrives Africa. They lay eggs in other birds nest and can mimic calls of some species of birds. They eat mainly caterpillars and sometimes eggs and chicks of other birds.
A big size (20-21cm) bird was sitting over a Rhododendron flower – Variegated Laughing Thrush (024) and inside was a Rufous Sibia (025). Out of nowhere, a Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike (026) appeared there, for a few seconds though. However, the bird was not expected there as it is a bird of much higher altitude.
This is a bird of Northern India and mainly Uttarakhand. This flock mover bird moves from one tree to another and they are mainly associated with the Rhododendrons while there is the flowering time.
Just under the tree on a distant rock, there was a bird on it and it was a migratory bird Eurasian Wryneck (031). A variety of woodpecker but its camouflage was terrific. A group of Khaleej Pheasant (032) also crossed our road.
The sun was about to set. The light became scarce and just on our way back to the homestay, we noticed an unnatural movement in the tree. Can’t believe, it was a Black-faced Warbler(030). A bright yellow colored bird with a black patch on the face and it was so beautiful.
Lastly, spotting some rare mountain mammals like Barking Deer (31B), Himalayan Thar, Himalayan Langoor and Pica was icing on the cake. While the valley thrives with Rhododendron in the summer, on the other hand it turns into Switzerland of the East in winter. Due to its varying attractions, Makku Math attracts international tourists throughout the year. The birds here move from tree to tree in search of food and often found in abundance. Seasonal flowers and ripening of fruits are the biggest reasons of bird congregation in nearby Duggal Bhitta valley. Our final expedition was to Duggal Bhitta, scheduled for an early morning tomorrow. Time for a night halt now.