Western Tragopan at 5 metres

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Subject: Western Tragopan at 5 metres
From: "John" <>
Date: Mon, 28 Apr 2003 15:06:35 +1000
Hi all,
I'm just back from the 2 weeks in the Great Himalayan National Park in Himachal Pradesh, north west India.
We birded in the Tirthan Valley, in the south of the Park, whereas most birders go to the Sainj Valley.  The highlight of the trip was on the track northwest from Silth, at about 3000m when a male Western Tragopan, flew down the slope and landed on the path a mere 5 metres from me. For 5 seconds I was treated to an eye-filling view of his spiky black crest, scarlet face and nape, and flame-red breast.  There was a bright white spot in the middle of each of the black feathers on the breast.
I'll be doing a detailed report on all birds seen (I got 90% of the Northwestern Himalayan endemics and specialities) including detailed info on where Tragopans were seen and heard and at what altitudes and times.  It is not an area a group could visit as going up to Silth involves ascending 1000m on a 40 degree slope on a track that involves narrow zigzags. At least 8 calling males were heard at this site.  We also trekked up to Khorli Poi on the opposing north face of the valley.  Two calling males were there.  This involves a 1200 m hike up a track where the zigzags are a bit bigger than at Silth.
Late April is a good time to go, as all the pheasants were calling (though Chir only intermittently), and the leaves on the deciduous trees were still in bud.  If you come later, I suspect the Tragopans will have gone up higher and be much harder to reach; also it will be much harder to see other birds when the deciduous trees are fully clad with leaves.
4 Altai Accentors were another highlight.
John Penhallurick
Phone BH (61 2) 6201 2346 AH (61 2) 6258 5428
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