June 23, 2016 Titash Chakrabarti

Birding Okhrey | Hilley| Varsey |West Sikkim| Gorkhey | North Bengal|

Verditer Flycatcher (male)


  1. Titas Kar – A doctor by profession and a passionate birdwatcher and stargazer.
  2. Aritra Guha – A doctor by profession and a passionate birdwatcher.
  3. Priyabrata Banerjee – A teacher by profession and a very good musician.
  4. Titash Chakrabarti – Exploration leader with RockyFeet

Day 0, 5th May 2016

Weather:Partially cloudy. Heavy rainfall after Sunset.

Waypoints: NJP to Jorethang on a shared vehicle and Jorethang to Okhrey on a hired vehicle.

We started birding enroute Okhrey from Jorethang. The first real sightings were of a pair of Green-billed Malkohas and a Grey Treepie. We reached our quaint destination in the afternoon. We explored the trails in and around Okhrey and added quite a few mountain species like Rufous Sibias, Green-backed Tits, Verditer Flycatchers, Oriental Turtle Doves to our checklist.

Day 1, 6th May 2016

Weather:Cloudy with occasional drizzles. Clouds cleared at night.

Waypoints:Okhrey to Hilley drop on a hired vehicle and a 5.5 km hike up to Varsey.

Fog hindered our morning birding session to some extent though we could still find quite a few birds and all new ones for the first timers. Red-billed Leoithrixes, Grey Bushchats, Blue whistling thrushes to name a few commoners. After taking a drop to Hilley, 11 kms away, we started our 5 km hike to Varsey through the Varsey Rhododendron Sanctuary.

The Satyr Tragopan provided an elusive glimpse before vanishing into the bamboo thickets in the fog.

As we were setting up our camp for the night, the clouds parted and Mt. Khangchendzonga came in view. Other notable peaks were Mt. Kabrus, Mt. Pandim and Mt. Kumbhakarna.

The sky cleared at night to our astonishment and galaxies opened up all around us.


Day 2, 7th May 2016

Weather:Mostly clear. Cloud cover in late afternoon.

Waypoints:20 kms hike down from Varsey to Gorkhey via Ribdhi and Bhareng.

We started early as we had to cover almost 20 kms to Gorkhey (Singalila National Park). We trekked down to Hilley again and took village trails through Ribdhi and Bhareng. We reached Gorkhey in the evening crossing the Rammamkhola and into North Bengal, with a lot of birds added to our collection viz. Scaly Thrush, Sacrlet Minivets, Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird etc.

It was an exhausting walk and we were satisfied to the core.

Gorkhey is a part of Singalila National Park and a peaceful village by the Rammamkhola which provided us with opportunities to catch the Water Redstarts in action.


Day 3, 8th May 2016

Weather: Mostly clear. Heavy rainfall in the afternoon at Jorethang.

Waypoints:5 kms hike up to Bhareng from Gorkhey. Hired vehicle to Jorethang from Bhareng. Shared vehicle to NJP from Jorethang.

The final day’s walk involved hiking upto Bhareng again for 5 kms. On the Sikkim bank of Rammamkhola, Eurasian Jays and Yellow-billed Blue Magpies in flight created unforgettable birding memories. We reached Bhareng in an hour and a half where our vehicle was already waiting to carry us to Jorethang. On the way, at Sombarey a flock of White-crested Laughingthrushes rounded off our trip on a high.

Bird Checklist

  1. Himalayan Bulbul
  2. Red-vented Bulbul
  3. Spotted Dove
  4. Oriental Turtle Dove
  5. Rock Pigeon
  6. Spangled or Hair-crested Drongo
  7. Bronzed Drongo
  8. Ashy Drongo
  9. Eurasian Tree Sparrow
  10. Barn Swallow
  11. Unidentified Swift
  12. Scaly Thrush
  13. Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush
  14. Blue Whistling Thrush
  15. Striated Laughingthrush
  16. Streaked Laughingthrush
  17. Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush
  18. Spotted Laughingthrush
  19. White-crested Laughingthrush
  20. Green-tailed Sunbird
  21. Fire-tailed Sunbird
  22. Gould’s Sunbird
  23. Common Hawk Cuckoo
  24. Eurasian Cuckoo
  25. Lesser Coucal
  26. Green-billed Malkoha
  27. Grey Treepie
  28. Yellow billed Blue Magpie
  29. Eurasian Jay
  30. Common Raven
  31. Satyr Tragopan
  32. Hill Partridge
  33. Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
  34. Verditer Flycatcher
  35. Chestnut-headed Tesia
  36. Grey Wagtail
  37. Yellow-bellied Fantail
  38. Spotted Forktail
  39. Unidentified Pipit
  40. Long tailed Shrike
  41. White-capped Water Redstart
  42. Plumbeous Water Redstart
  43. Unidentified Robin (Black bird with a white crown)
  44. Grey Bushchat
  45. Rufous Sibia
  46. Red-billed Leoithrix
  47. White-browed Fulvetta
  48. Scarlet Minivet
  49. Great Tit
  50. Green-backed Tit
  51. Black-throated Tit
  52. Unidentified Warbler species (at least 2)
  53. Unidentified Eagle in flight

Apart from the birds, two mammals’ endemic to the Himalayans were also spotted, viz. Yellow-throated Marten and Hoary-bellied Himalayan Squirrel.


Constellation Checklist

  1. Leo
  2. Canis Major
  3. Cancer
  4. Virgo
  5. Gemini
  6. Bootes
  7. Ursa major
  8. Draco
  9. Corvus
  10. Corona Borealis
  11. Hercules
  12. Hydra

And many more……

Constellations were identified by Dr. Titas Kar on Day 1.


Thanks for your patient reading. Cheers!!

Pin Parvati Pass The Itinerary
Birding the Neighbourhood
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About the Author

Titash Chakrabarti
Titash Chakrabarti Musician.Birdwatcher.Traveler.Dreamer.

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