LADAKH (India)

Masque Thicksey

A Buddhist deity (Photo Danielle Joannès)

A few notes about the country

Those who are not interested in touristic information but are keen on birds, please click here.

Jetlag: India is three hours and a half  ahead of the time in France.


 Ladakh in the north of India


Part of our group

Ladakh.  A group of friends and I had booked a trip due to take place in Ladakh, in the north of India from the 9th to the 27th of June. This area is in the state of  Jammu - Kashmeer, bordering Pakistan, Tibet and China.  Leh, the capital citys lies in the Indus valley, right in the middle of the Himalayas at an alttitude of about 3500 m.  The weather is very cold in winter but temperatures are pleasant in summer and it is usually a dry country.  Yet, two months after we left, this area was flooded by exceptionally strong monsoon rains which drowned hundreds of people. 

Vallée de l'Indus

The Indus valley near Leh (Photo Danielle Joannès)

Ladakh is a place where meeting local people is really easy even if English is not as widespread as Hindi or other local languages.  People are poor there and you will find beggars but not as many as in the captial city, New-Dehli. There is no proper waste management in Ladakh but the streeets are not so filthy as in other places we visited in India. 

Road traffic.  You will find all sorts of roads, some of which are very good, but also dust roads full of potholes.  In town, you might find road signs but nobody takes heed of them and everybody blows their horns all the time, to warn pedestrians or to force their way through when they overtake. The lorries are usually beautifully decorated and often show a "Blow horn" sign painted at the back. Indians do not always drive very quickly but they are very reckless and I've never seen so many recently crashed vehicles as during this trip. You will find all  kinds of vehicles on the roads, overloaded cars, heavy lorries, tractors, bicycles, tricycles, motor rickshaws, coaches, motorbikes, you name them.  You also have to pay attention to the cows lying in the middle of the road, to monkeys, dogs, sheep and goats, and even elephants although this is not so common. 


Motor-rickshaws in Dehli (Photo Danielle Joannès)

Food and drinks.  We've had the opportunity to taste what was being served in trains and restaurants but except for some fruit we bought in local markets, we didn't dare to eat elsewhere than in establishments chosen by our travel agency.  The food was good but always more or less the same.  We ate a lot of lentils served with rice, chicken and chapati (excellent unleavened flatbread). Of course we only drank bottled water and thanks to these basic precautions nobody was ill.  

The trip.  

08 June.

As we had to take an early plane on the following day, we had decided to go to Roissy Airport one day in advance in order to sleep, as usual, in the Ibis hotel at Roissypôle.  This hotel is located right next to the VAL (for Light Automatic Vehicle) which enables you to reach any terminal for free in a jiffy. The hotel is still far too expensive if you take into account the smallness of the room.  If you don't have a good reason to go there, choose something else.

09 June.

We had a solid breakfast at the hotel with our friends Martine, Marie-Claire, Huguette and François and met the rest of the group at the airport.  There were 16 of us altogether with our French guide Lili-Anne.  The flight lasted 7 hours and 45 minutes and we landed at the international Indira Gandhi airport in New-Dehli. It was night but still very hot and we took a bus to our hotel.  This was my first visit to India and it came as a shock as soon as we left the airport.  I was expecting poverty and lack of hygiene but certainly not to that extent.  Whole families were sleeping on the sides of the road, the lucky ones on carts, close to the lorries and cars which were constantly hooting by.  I'm still wondering how those poor people managed to find some sleep.  The streets were littered all over and everything was devastated.  Even the beautiful  Jaypee Siddarth hotel looked as if it had been built in what looked like heaps of rubble.

A man holding a rifle was standing at the door, we were searched and our luggage X-rayed in the lobby.  I remembered that Muslim fundamentalists had attacked a hotel some time ago. I have to admit I didn't sleep very well knowing that a few hundred yards from there people were trying to do the same on the pavements.

10 June.

Three hours and a half after going to bed we had to get up to go to the railway station.  When we left the hotel, I saw my first Common Mynas, House Crows, Red-vented Bulbuls and Black Kites. While our bus found its way among the numerous motor rickshaws, I spotted about ten Indian Squirrels. There were cows walking about in the streets, feeding on the rubbish they could find easily everywhere. At the station, I saw an Indian Grey-Hornbill and a Rose-ringed Parakeet.

Corbeau familier

House Crow

While waiting on the crowded and very noisy platforms, we were approached by beggars various times, some of them seriously handicapped but there were so many of them that we couldn't pay attention, which made us very uncomfortable.  In the end, the Shatabdi Express arrived and we left for Amritsar.  This train trip was very pleasant because we travelled with the local population.  We watched the dull landscape through the window and saw rubbish all along the tracks for over 200 km.  There is indeed a waste management problem in this country.  People were defecating side by side in the fields in the middle of pig herds and nobody was shocked.  I was however happy to find birds here and there, of course without being able to stop and watch them for some time.  There were numerous Cattle Egrets, Indian Pond-Herons, a River and a Red-wattled Lapwing, a Black-headed Ibis and several Black Drongos.  We reached the Ritz hotel in Amritsar early in the afternoon under the scorching sun.  Once I had left my luggage in the hotel I went out into the park hoping to find more birds.  This is where I saw my first Purple Sunbird and a Laughing Dove.

Vanneau indien

Red-wattled Lapwing

Late in the afternoon we went to the border with Pakistan to attend a very queer ceremony which takes place every day.  The Indians and the Pakistanis challenged one another singing, dancing (well, not the Pakistanis) and shouting nationalist slogans.  Soldiers who tried to look aggressive were parading and marching here and there.  In each country, they raised their flags, opened the border gates to shut them close a few minutes later.  The atmosphere was very much like that of a football match.  At the end of the show, because this is what it looked like,  two 'enemy soldiers" nevertheless shook hands and everybody returned home in a very loud pandemonium. To get a better idea of this, click here

11 June.

The first visit of the day was that of the Durgiana Temple where we had to take off our shoes, something we would have to do many more times. We then went to Jallian Walla Bagh, in a park in Amritsar.  This is a sad place where the British occupant opened fire at the population in 1919.  379 people died among the 1200 victims.  While visiting this memorial, we had the opportunity to see how charming and friendly the Indians are.  They will let you take a picture of them with pleasure or will ask you if they can take a picture of you, who have come from so far away to visit their country.  This was Penjab and the male Sikhs wearing their turbans and the women their trousers and tunics were very pleasant to look at.  In this park, I twitched a Black-rumped Flameback which landed on a tree nearby.  

We left this space of peace and quiet and came back to the noisy streets where people were walking briskly, often in the direction of the famous Golden Temple that we were going to visit.  This major religious place for the Sikhs is a jewel and we soon understood the importance of spirituality in this country.  People were queueing up under the scorching sun to visit this holy temple.  They started singing religious hymns which echoed from one huge white, gold-covered building to the other.  All in all, it was very moving. 

Temple d'Or

The Golden Temple (Photo Danielle Joannès)

The guide had asked us not to bring our bags with us so as not to lose time when we would be searched so we had no water.  The marble was burning under our bare feet and we soon became very thirsty because the temperature was above 40°C.  In the end, one member of the group collapsed but soon recovered.  Some people bathed to purify themselves in the basins in the middle of the huge yard while others were queueing up for a meal. Hundreds of voluntary workers were participating one way or another in the preparation of these meals that anybody could get for free. 

A Little Cormorant was posted at the top of a small marble building, seemingly indifferent to the pandemonium below.

Cormorant de Vieillot

Little Cormorant

After this visit, we returned to our hotel to get some food and rest.  I went out into the hotel park, staying in the shade as much as possible and this is how I saw a Coppersmith Barbet land on the top of a tree and several Rose-ringed Parakeets

Barbu plastron rouge

Coppersmith Barbet

In the evening, we returned to the Golden Temple to attend a colourful religious ceremony which moved us very much and which revealed to us the religious zeal of the Sikhs.  People were pushing one another to get near those who were privileged enough to carry some kind of a palanquin holding a Holy Book.  This was the sacred place where the Indians bloodily suppressed Sikhs who were fighting for an independent Penjab a few years before. There, just like anywhere else, politics and religion are not always compatible. 

Temple d'Or

The Golden Temple (Photo Danielle Joannès)

12 June.

We left for Dharamsala, the town where the Dalaï Lama fled to escape the Chinese repression.  Road traffic was terrible and the Indians drove  like mad.  From what I saw, I deduced that in India you have to blow your horn to let the lorry in front of you know that you want to overtake and also to chase pedestrians away. As there were many lorries to overtake and as you could find everything on the roads beside pedestrians, every blew their horns all the time. With a little bit of luck and also because drivers are used to this, we managed not get through unscathed, which was not the case for everybody if I judge by the number of wrecked cars we saw here and there. In spite of that, I spotted an Indian Grey-Hornbill on the way and 7 or 8 Jungle Babblers during a pause near Pathankot.  Although the temperature had climbed to 42°C I went out of the restaurant to have a better view of a couple of Purple Sunbirds feeding on the blossom of some tree.
I was sitting in the seat of a 4X4 vehicle when it just collapsed and although we were now packed like sardines we put on a brave face.  We finally reached Kanga where we saw a few Rhesus Monkeys walk about in the fort.  The view to the mountains overlooking the valley was very nice and while we visited the place a thunderstorm was threatening.  I spotted a Green-backed Tit, very similar to our Great Tit, though paler.  Two Egyptian Vultures were wheeling in the sky and I twitched my first White-eared Bulbul.

The road went up and up till we reached Dharamsala.  The atmosphere was quite different by then.  There were a lot of people in the streets, mainly Tibetan bonzes and it was much cooler.  From the Surya McLeod hotel, we had a splendid view to the valley which we shared with a Monkey  perched on the top of a conifer. These animals are really amazing.  In the evening, while we were having dinner, we learnt that the snow had blocked the mountain road that we were supposed to take to go to Ladakh.  The future looked bad.   

Dharamsala (Photo Danielle Joannès)

13 June.

We were in a mountainous area and I saw the first Common Ravens.  There were all sorts of corvids there and it was not always easy to distinguish all those black birds.  It was much easier to identify the Oriental Magpie-Robin, a black and white bird, very tame and very visible. I also saw a White-browed Fulvetta and a  Large-billed Crow before I went into town to vist the Tibetan museum and Tsuglagkhang, the place of residence of the Dalaï Lama. Our guide gave us a lot of information about the exiled Tibetan Government and we learned quite a few things about the culture of this oppressed people.  While visiting the temple of the  Norbulingka Institute, beautifully surrounded by large trees I saw a Spotted Laughingthrush and a Pale Blue-Flycatcher.

The news coming from Ladakh was bad: there were heavy rains in Leh and snow blocked the passes.  The airport was closed so we had to change our programme.

After lunch, we visited a tea factory and the church of St-John-in-the-Wilderness where Lord Elgin was buried.  In the nearby forest I saw my first Blue Whistling-Thrush.  Once back at the hotel, I took a walk in the town and left the crowd to go into a small wood where I found a couple of  Russet Sparrows and also a Spotted Dove.

14 June.

Just before going to the Tibetan museum and the Tibetan medicine school in Dharamsala, I twitched the Grey-hooded Warbler from the window of my hotel room.  Not far from those places, I also watched a Himalayan Bulbul for some time.  We then drove on and duriing a short pause I found a Great Barbet and two Alexandrine Parakeets.  This species looks a lot like the Rose-ringed Parakeet especially when you can't estimate its size. Fortunately, its cry is different.  We stopped at the Baijnath temple to have a look at the beautiful sculptures and we learned yet more things about the various religions of this huge country.

Baijnath (Photo Danielle Joannès)

Near Mandi, I had a good view of a Pied Bushchat on an electric wire. The Indians drove like mad, as usual, even in a poorly lit tunnel and although the road was full of potholes.  We were glad to reach the Regis Mayflower hotel without crashing into another vehicle especially as it was already well past 10 p.m. .

15 June.

We had had a resting night, the hotel was pleasant so we were in a good mood to visit the Hadimba Devi Temple, entirely made of wood.  We learned that we would not be able to take the pass to go to Ladakh as planned because the weather conditions had yet deteriorated. In spite of that, we decided to have a better view of the Himalayas and drove up the Solang Pass till we reached a barrier.  By the side of the roads we saw whole Indian families working to repair them.  Men were breaking up large stones with a hammer, women then carried them on their backs while very young children played in the dust. 

It was raining hard when we arrived in Naggar where we visited the Folk Art museum and the former fort which is now a very nice hotel.  We had a very pleasant view to the countryside around from there.  We then came across women and children working in the paddy fields and we were surprised to see cannabis plants growing everywhere at the side of the roads.    


Planting rice (Photo Danielle Joannès)

We were back in Manali in the evening but we had to move to another hotel because of the change of plan in our trip.  We went to the Holiday Home International Hotel which was fine considering the local conditions. 

16 June.

We moved on and when we stopped for a short pause, I spotted a Variable Wheatear and a Black Redstart.  I had some trouble admitting this latter species was the same as the one we have in France because it looked so different.  It looked more like a Common Redstart but my guidebook confirmed this difference. 

Rougequeue noir

Black Redstart

The road was winding through very high mountains and on the top of one of them I saw a Himalayan Griffon which I recognized thanks to its almost white wing coverts.  We stopped for a while at a local market where we bought buy very beautiful fruit.  On a tree close by I saw 6 parakeets among which several Plum-headed Parakeets

Perruche à tête prune

Plum-headed Parakeets: a female on the left and two males on the right

We went through the tunnel we had used two days before and drove as far as Rewalsar to visit a few temples and walk around a small lake.  This little town was very pleasant, all the more so as the rain had stopped, and the stroll we took between all those colourful temples was very exotic to our eyes. The hairdresser was working almost on the pavement and Rhesus Monkeys were jumping from one roof to another, watching out for stray dogs that would chase them whenever they could.

Macaques rhésus

Rhesus Monkeys (Photo Danielle Joannès)

People were friendly as usual and I could easily talk with a Sikh whom I recognized as such at his blue turban and white garments.  He tried to convince me Sikhism was far superior to Hindhuism.  Although it took us some time to tie a scarf on our heads and take our shoes off, the visit of this temple was very quick.  When we returned to Mandi, from the terrace of the Munish Resort hotel overlooking the valley, I saw three Alexandrine Parakeets, about ten Rose-ringed Parakeets, an Oriental Magpie-Robin, a Purple Sunbird, a Pied Bushchat and several Pale Martins

17 June.

We then had to return to Chandighar as the pass leading to Ladakh was still blocked by the snow.  While waiting for the drivers to load our luggage onto the roofs of the cars, I saw the same birds I had seen the day before but I was also very lucky to see a bird adorned with a splendid long russet tail.  The Fire-tailed Sunbird is indeed named appropriately.  There was also a Laughing Dove nearby and a Booted Eagle was wheeling high in the sky. 

Shama Dayal

Oriental Magpie-Robin

We were crossing a mountainous area and we lost a lot of time because of road repairs.  Hundreds of lorries emitting heavy black smoke were crawling along at 5 km/h and were put to a severe test.  Many of them had broken down and a few drivers were lying under the engine in the middle of the road, trying to repair them.  We finally made it to the Chandighar railway station where we once more took the Shatabdi Express to Dehli.  Our luggage was carefully checked by security services.  This time we got on a more modern train and the service on board was very good.  Of course, you have to like spicy meals.  As opposed to many other Indian places we had travelled across, Chandighar is a nice city, with long clean avenues.  It was very hot again and we would have liked to take a refreshing shower.  It was almost midnight when we arrived at the Saptagiri hotel in Dehli.  Although the surroundings looked shabby, the hotel was very clean. We were sorry we had to leave it at 4.30 a.m. after a very short night and a quick breakfast. 

18 June.

We went to the airport very early in the morning and I was lucky enough to see a Yellow-wattled Lapwing.  The temperature was already 34°C at 6.30 a.m. but we knew it would be cooler in Ladakh.  I had a very good seat near a window and as the sky had cleared up I had a splendid view to the Himalayas below.  The Kuchok Bakula Rimpoche airport lies at an altitude of 3800 m so we were careful not to make any violent efforts, something which we would have regretted at once. We were welcomed in a traditional manner at the Noble House hotel in Leh, the capital city, and we had a nice cup of tea in the garden.  I heard a Mountain Chiffchaff, the first of a long series, and admired the mountains surrounding us.  We lay in bed for a large part of the morning in order to get accustomed to the altitude.  In the afternoon, we went out of town to visit the Shanti Stupa and the monastery of  Samkar which both tower upon the city.  Our local guide was of Tibetan origin and very friendly and helpful.


Leh (Photo Danielle Joannès)

19 June.

We had got used to the altitude without any problem and after breakfast we visited the Palace of Stock and the monastery of Matho.  We were also lucky enough to be able to attend a local festival, which had not been planned, and were pleased to see the participants wearing their traditional costumes.  The women's headdresses were just magnificent and we walked about among the local people and made contacts with them very easily.  A real pleasure.

Costumes Ladakh

Local costumes (Photo Danielle Joannès)

We returned to Leh for lunch then visited the Ancient Palace which is visible miles around.  The architects of this huge building followed the methods of construction used in Tibet at that time, just like for the famous Potala Palace in Lhassa, which was built about fifty years later.  

20 June.

We first visited the monastery of Spithuk where we had the opportunity to see how the bonzes composed a mandala.  This extraordinary piece of art is the result of  many hours of meticulous work using  powders of different colours.  Once it has been blessed by the bonzes it will be destroyed which might be a way of proving that nothing lasts in this world.  We then went to the Palace of Shey, built right on top of a hill.  As there was a small lake there, I skipped the visit and did some birdwatching.  I was lucky because I saw a couple of Eurasian Hobbies hunting insects at a short distance. There was also a couple of Citrine Wagtails close by.  On the lake, there were a few common birds and a Lesser Whistling-Duck.   

Enfants au Ladakh

Small kids at the roadside

We moved on to the Palace of Thicksey which also looks like the Potala in Tibet.  The countryside was breath-taking: the plain was greyish beige, the bottom of the valleys vivid green, the mountains striped green and brown, the mountain tops white with snow and the deep blue sky was dotted with little white clouds.    


The palace of Thicksey (Photo Danielle Joannès)

Thanks to our local guide we had the rare privilege of visiting one of the residences of the Dalai Lama.  Of course, this had not been planned but we took advantage of this opportunity to walk about freely in this house.  

21 June.

We spent most of that day at the Hemis Festival which is a kind of very colourful public ceremony aimed at chasing away evil spirits.  It took place in a monastery and had attracted a large crowd.  The local inhabitants wore their regional costumes which were already surprising for us but they looked very plain compared with the extraordinary garments and masks worn by the participants in this festival.


Hemis Festival (Photo Danielle Joannès)

There were a series of very slow dances in an inner yard, to the sound of horns and little tic-tac drums and people were sitting all around, right to the roof of the monastery.

Costume Hemis

Dancer at the Hemis Festival (Photo Danielle Joannès)

Once the show was over we tried to leave the place without being trampled by the crowd who pushed and pressed us unceremoniously.  We avoided falling several times and in the end managed to find the cars which had been parked below the monastery. 

22 June.

We left Leh for two days and would then sleep under a tent at a high altitude.  After visiting the monastery of Phyang in the middle of very beautiful mountains we drove on in our 4X4 vehicles.


The Phyang area (Photo Danielle Joannès)

We were travelling high in the mountains and the birds I could see then were very different from the ones I had seen in the plain.  There were numerous Alpine and Red-billed Choughs and Northern Wheatears were standing erect on the rocks.  We moved on and visited the monastery of Likir and the temple in Alchi.  After seeing so many temples we were beginning to have a better understanding of the various religions of this huge country.

Chocard à bec jaune

Alpine Chough

We arrived at the camp in Uletokpo located above one of the banks of the Indus, the river which two months later was going to flood this area and Pakistan.  Our tents looked like yurts and had been set up on concrete basements.  It was not as comfortable as in a hotel but we never felt cold under our blankets.  In the evening, I went down to the river bank and saw a few Oriental Turtle-Doves, Blue Whistling-Thrushes and 6 Fire-fronted Serins.  The local guide showed us Blue Sheep feeding high up in the mountains and I missed my telescope.  

Indus et Zanskar

The confluence of the Indus and the Zanskar (Photo Danielle Joannès)

23 June.

I got up very early hoping to find a few birds in this new location and it proved a good idea. I was able to see in very good conditions a Chukar singing on a ridge and very soon Blue Whistling-Thrushes, Alpine Choughs and an Oriental Turtle-Dove.  While scanning the mountains I found 5 Blue Sheep feeding in the scree.  Later that day, we went to the monastery of Lamayuru located in a grandiose setting.  Not far from there we saw a few Yaks and Dzohs, that is to say hybrids of cows and yaks.

Arrenga siffleur

Blue Whistling-Thrush

Perdrix choukar


To compensate for our not being able to go to the passes as planned, we were proposed to drive up to the Fotula Pass which culminates at 4108 m, and we accepted with much pleasure.  

Fotula pass

The road leading to the Fotula Pass (Photo Danielle Joannès)

The road was very bad, winding all the way above impressive precipices but the scenery was just fantastic.  We sometimes had to give way to military convoys heading for the border with Pakistan but we had plenty of time.  We returned by the same road and visited the monastery of Rizong and a female bonze school both located on a mountain side at the end of a valley. Their living conditions are hard but at least their families will no longer have to provide for them.  They get up early and go to bed late.  It was really something to hear them chanting their psalms at the top of their voices, sitting on the ground.

In the evening at the camp,  the Blue Sheep were still at the same place.  

24 June.

Once more I got up very early and saw the same birds as the previous day.  We returned to Leh and on the way, not far from Saspol, I spotted 3 Hill Pigeons and a Eurasian Hoopoe.  At the fort of Basco, overlooking a nice valley, a Golden Eagle flew over us and in the Nimmu region, I saw a Booted Eagle and many Red-billed Choughs.  When we were back in the Leh area we stopped to have a closer glance at the Indus.  A military lorry which came far too fast almost ran us over and skidded on the road, to stop only a few inches from the ravine.  

Aigle royal

Golden Eagle

Crave à bec rouge

Red-billed Chough

Back at the hotel I was at last happy to have a good view of a Mountain Chiffchaff.  This enabled me to check that if both birds have a very similar song, they do look different.  

25 June.

We took the plane back to Dehli and security checks at the airport were very strict.  All the bags had had to be emptied, camera cases opened and we were searched three times from head to toe.  We had been informed that extra batteries would be confiscated so we had left them in our luggage.  The government was obviously afraid terrorists might carry out a bomb attack as they did in a hotel in Dehli a few years ago.  The weather was much worse than on the way to Leh and we did not see a single summit on the flight back.  

Martin triste

Common Mynas

The heat was suffocating again in the capital and as we went to the same hotel again, I saw the same birds.  We made a quick visit of the town and I spotted a White-bellied Woodpecker from the bus but nothing new apart this.  We were dripping with sweat in the national museum and tried to find a place under the fans to get some fresh air but to no avail.  We were glad to go back to our air-conditioned hotel.  

26 June.

That was our last day in India and it was devoted to seeing other religious buildings.  I was beginning to get tired of them but the buildings were magnificient.  We visited the Jamma Masjid Mosque, which had not been planned, and I wished I had remained in the bus because that was the only place where we felt we were not welcome.  A few young people were very rude and even threatening.  Fortunately, an elderly and obviously influent man stopped them but the atmosphere was no longer the same.    

Again we saw a lot of miserable people on the pavements and there was still as much litter everywhere.  The only positive aspect was that this drew hundreds of Black Kites above this area.  The National Handicrafts and Handloom Museum was a highlight and everything we saw was a work of art. The air was hot and humid and obviously the monsoon was on its way.  Just like the day before, we remained stuck under the fans, which was a bad idea as I fell ill a few days later.   

We then moved on and visited the Hindu temple of Birla which is absolutely magnificent as regards colour and architecture.  

Temple de Birla

Hindu temple of Birla

Gurudwara Sisganj, the Sikh temple, is also a must.  Sitting on the floor, we had the opportunity to attend a religious ceremony where we heard very moving religious hymns.

Temple sikh

The Sikh temple of Gurudwara Sisganj

We then went to the airport where we thought we could spend our last rupees but this proved impossible as shopkeepers would accept only US dollars.

27 June.

We left just after midnight and arrived in Paris 8 h 40 later.  Never had I found France so clean and wealthy. 


This lists follows the order of "Birds of Northern India by Richard Grimmett and Tim Inskipp,  published by Help Field Guides (2003). It's a good guide, very handy on the field.  There is another bigger one which I had been offered (thanks again to Marie-Paule and Marie-Chantal), which I had studied before leaving.  This book, "Birds & Mammals of Ladakh" by Otto Pfister is published by Oxford (2004).  It's a very good book with photos instead of drawings. 

01ChukarAlectoris chukarSeen a few times in Ladakh, in rocky places. 
02Lesser Whistling-DuckDendrocygna javanicaSeen in Shey, at an elevation of  3800 m.
03MallardAnas platyrhynchosA few hybrids in Shey.
04White-bellied WoodpeckerDryocopus javensisSeen once in Dehli.
05Black-rumped FlamebackDinopium benghalenseSeen once in Dehli.
06Great BarbetMegalaima virensSeen twice.  Seemed to nest in Dharamsala.
07Coppersmith BarbetMegalaima haemacephalaSeen once in Dharamsala.
08Indian Grey-HornbillOcyceros birostrisSeen once in Dehli.
09Eurasian HoopoeUpupa epopsSeen various times in Ladakh.
10Alexandrine ParakeetPsittacula eupatriaA rather common species, sometimes difficult to distinguish from the Rose-ringed Parakeet when you can't assess its size. 
11Rose-ringed ParakeetPsittacula krameriA common species.
12Plum-headed ParakeetPsittacula cyanocephalaA small group near a local market.
13Common SwiftApus apusNot many.
14 Rock Dove Columba livia Very common in urban areas and also in cliffs.
15 Hill Pigeon Columba rupestris A small group high up in the mountains.
16 Oriental Turtle-Dove Streptopelia orientalis A common species in Ladakh.
17Laughing DoveStreptopelia senegalensisA few individuals.
18 Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis Not many.
19 Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto A common bird in the Amritsar area.
20 Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Seen in Shey, at a high elevation.
21 Common Coot Fulica atra Seen in Shey, at a high elevation.
22 Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus At the airport in Dehli.
23 River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii Two birds near Dehli.
24 Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus Common in the Dehli area.
25 Black Kite Milvus migrans Very common, especially in cities.
26 Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus Seen several times.
27 Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis Two birds over a ridge near Mandi.
28 Shikra Accipiter badius Seen several times.
29 Eurasian Sparrow-Hawk Accipiter nisus Seen once.
30 Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos One bird wheeling over the fort of Basco.
31 Booted Eagle Hieraetus pennatus Seen several times.
32 Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
Two birds catching insects in Shey.
33 Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger A few birds among which one in the precincts of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
34 Little Egret Egretta garzetta Very common.
35 Grey Heron Ardea cinerea Some.
36 Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis Very common.
37 Indian Pond-Heron Ardeola grayii Rather common.
38 Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus
Seen a few times.
39 Black-billed Magpie Pica pica Common but seen only in Ladakh.
40 Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax Common in Ladakh.
41 Alpine Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus Common in Ladakh.
42 House Crow Corvus splendens
Very common.
43 Carrion Crow Corvus corone Common.
44 Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos Rather common.
45 Common Raven Corvus corax Common indeed.
46 Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Very common.
47 Blue Whistling-Thrush Myophonus caeruleus Rather common at high elevations.
48Pale Blue-FlycatcherCyornis unicolorSeen several times.
49Oriental Magpie-RobinCopsychus saularisCommon.
50Black RedstartPhoenicurus ochruros phoenicuroidesCommon but different subspecies from the one we find in Western Europe.
51 Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe Common at high elevations.
52 Variable Wheatear Oenanthe picata Seen once only near Manali.
53 Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata Rather common.
54 Common Myna Acridotheres tristis Very common indeed.
55 Coal Tit Parus ater Not many.  At high elevations.
56 Great tit Parus major Not many.  In Ladakh.
57 Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus
Some in Ladakh.
58 Pale Martin Riparia diluta Rather common.
59 Crag Martin Hirundo rupestris Some.
60 Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica Not many.
61 House Martin Delichon urbica
Not many.
62 White-eared Bulbul Pycnonotus leucotis A few birds.
63 Himalayan Bulbul Pycnonotus  leucogenys Common.
64 Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer Very common.
65 Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca Seen once only, in Ladakh
66 Mountain Chiffchaff Phylloscopus sindianus Could be heard everywhere in Ladakh.
67Grey-hooded WarblerSeicercus xanthoschistosOne bird in Dharamsala.
68Spotted LaughingthrushGarrulax ocellatusTwo birds in Dharamsala.
69Jungle BabblerTurdoides striatusOnly a small group.
70White-browed FulvettaAlcippe vinipectusOne bird in Dharamsala.  It reminded me of a Chaffinch.
71Purple SunbirdNectarinia asiaticaVery common.
72Fire-tailed SunbirdAethopyga ignicaudaOne bird in Mandi.

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus Common.
74 Russet Sparrow Passer rutilans A few birds in Dharamsala.
75 Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola Two birds in Shey.
76 Firet-fronted Serin Serinus pusillus A few groups in Uletokpo, at high elevations.
77 Rock Bunting Emberiza cia A male in the Solang Pass.



A mask representing Kali (Photo Danielle Joannès)

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