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Ladakh Diaries Part 9: Lamayuru

Lamayuru is one of the most ancient monasteries in Ladakh, the oldest surviving structure dating to the 11 th century CE. What makes this monastery particularly fascinating, is its location, amidst what is today called the “moonscape”, for the spectacular natural rock formations, which truly are “out of the world”! As per legend , there once existed a huge lake in this area, populated only by the Nagas (serpents). It was prophesized that there would be a great monastery built here. This prophecy came true when the great acharya Naropa (756-1041 CE) arrived. He emptied the lake, meditated for many years inside a cave, and built the first monastery here. The present structure is a new one, built around the cave where Acharya Naropa is said to have meditated. This legend seems to fit well with the geological formations seen in the area, which suggest this was a paleo-lake, which disappeared around 1000 years ago. Lamayuru is about 130 km from Leh , and the Indus River flows along th

Some Unexpected Birding in West Sikkim

“Amma, there is a black, white and red bird!” Samhith exclaimed. He had just ventured to the river , which flowed through the Club Mahindra’s property at Baiguney, Sikkim, and was excited to have seen a bird without me! Shankar, returning after a long walk, said he had seen the bird too. That left me, the only enthusiastic birder among the three of us, to have not seen the bird, during my short walk to the river bed. That had to be rectified, so off I went to the river again, and there it was, sitting on a rock, as if waiting for me.

White Capped Water Redstart



That was the first time I saw the White Capped Water Redstart, though we saw it often over the next few days. Sitting by the river was an incredibly peaceful experience, one which made our stay at Baiguney even more memorable. The turquoise blue of the water, the rounded stones, and the utter silence are still with me as I sit and write this post.



A flock of birds flew past, and others pecked around for food on the other bank, too far to be captured with my camera. A movement captured my attention, and there was a small bird quite near me, frolicking in the water. It didn’t seem to be disturbed by my presence, and soon I realized that it wasn’t the only one. There were three of the same kind, all happily dipping into the water, and emerging every now and then to peck among the rocks…

Plumbeous Water Redstart


These were the Plumbeous Water Redstarts, getting their name from their colour which resembles lead (anything containing lead is referred to as plumbeous), and the photo above is my favourite among all those I clicked of the bird.

Plumbeous Water Redstart


One of the birds on the other bank came towards the river, and I managed to get a click, though this is the best I could do in the fading light.

Slaty-Backed Forktail


I had assumed it to be a wagtail, but a closer look told me that it could possibly be a Slaty –Backed Forktail!

A Hill Myna alighted on a stone nearby, and though we had seen many of these before, I had to click it again!

Hill Myna


Later,  when we visited Khecheopalri Lake, we spotted another variety of redstart – the Blue Fronted Redstart….

Blue Fronted Redstart


…And another bird, which I haven’t been able to identify….



As well as these ducks, which I haven’t been able to identify either…



I hadn’t planned on doing any birding on my Sikkim trip. It was meant to be a family holiday after all, and we visited all the usual places tourists do. Which is why, spotting these birds, all of which were new to me, only made the trip even more memorable!



Information:
  • We saw most of these birds during our stay at the Club Mahindra’s Baiguney Resort. The property stretches to the banks of the Rangeet river, and it is possible to walk to the river, and in winter, when the flow is less, sit on the rocks on the river bed.
  • Khecheopalri Lake is the other place where we saw birds without making any effort. I have written a detailed post on the lake here


Comments

  1. Wah! I had photographed the redstarts in Rajaji. Nice to see the, here again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Param. I have seen redstarts during my visit to Corbett, but this time I had a much better look as well as some decent photos.

      Delete
  2. Great shots
    But I would like to add some little things,hope U won`t mind
    1.The Bird U identified as Myna is a Blue Whistling Thrush
    2.Bard in the Bamboo pole is probably a Olive-backed Pipit
    3.The Duck was a great catch-it`s a Common Merganser.Yet to see one myself.
    Great sightings 7 shots.
    TFS
    regards
    Partha Sen
    Kolkata,Westbengal
    15.10.2015

    ReplyDelete

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