Great Himalayan National Park   ~ in search of western tragopan


"Great Himalayan National Park" also known as GHNP is a world heritage site situated near Kullu, Himachal Pradesh.
The park is famous for the very rarely seen and photographed The western tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus) which inhabits this place.
My expedition was also planned to get a glimpse of this elusive bird, but apart from hearing it on all days, I could only get a fleeting glimpse of it flying across.
The treacherous trek of two days to reach to its dense vegetation and all the wait throughout the day to wait for it come in sight was not rewarded in photograph this time. Though, a fleeting glimpse and its call still echo in my mind.

I was able to capture some of the birds and landscapes on my time there, here is a glimpse of the beautiful park that GHNP is !
I can't thank enough for BTCA, GHNP for all the help in arranging this trip.

Equipment: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm,Canon 300mm, Canon 500mm, Canon 1.4 TC (Broke in this trip after a fall), Tripod


ghnp entry gate

After almost uphill climb for 4-5 hours, we reach the gates of GHNP camp. The roaring tirthan river by its side and the chirping of birds, with no cell phone signal and only canopy of trees, this is gateway to heaven ! Our camp was further ahead from here and we have to march on...


GHNP tirthan river landscape

The otherwise roaring tirthan river ( you really have to shout to call out each other here) was sometimes looking all so beautiful in glowing sunset light and its meandering flow.


The whiskered yuhina (Yuhina flavicollis)

The whiskered yuhina (Yuhina flavicollis) calling out by the trail side. Such beauties gave me a superb well required break on the treacherous trek uphill.


The plumbeous water redstart (Rhyacornis fuliginosa)

The plumbeous water redstart (Rhyacornis fuliginosa) female waits patiently on the rocks in the river trying to catch insects flying around.


The Himalayan woodpecker (Dendrocopos himalayensis)

The Himalayan woodpecker (Dendrocopos himalayensis) was a constant companion playing calls and flying around while I have to patiently stay motionless at the same place for longtime.


Gray langur

A troup of Gray langur was always present near our campsite for 3-4 days. As I have was waiting at the same place, the langurs would pop up from anyplace nearby me and scare the hell out of me.


Orange-flanked Bush Robin (Tarsiger cyanurus pallidior)

Orange-flanked Bush Robin was quite an active bird seen around. But, it took a while it came close in the shooting range and I could get a photograph of it.


GHNP landscape hail rain

Being in himalayas, you have to be prepared for hell of a weather change within minutes. After a super sunshine though the day, the dark clouds emerged from nowhere and all "hail" broke lose. The entire earth was covered in white sheet of hails. While I comfortably sat in a tent seeping my maggie, this is what was outside.


The chestnut-headed tesia (Cettia castaneocoronata)

The chestnut-headed tesia calling out loud. The loud here means really loud. The whole forest would come to see who this guy is calling. And, here it is! A tiny winy fellow, hardly to be seen in the undergrowth and moss, calling it continuously at the top of its voice. Those who have heard it, know what I mean here.


GHNP landscape tree sun

Due to the precarious place where we stayed, the sun was always late to shine through here coming up from behind the hill. But, when it came atop, the whole trees would become lively, bathed in gold and the chirping of birds would never stop !


The Himalayan goral (Naemorhedus goral)

The Himalayan goral is one of the most elusive mammals from himalayas. Hardly seen, but I was fortunate for few very close encounters. Once it had ran straight towards me, but as I was hiding behind a rock, could not photograph it. Later in a day, I could see it oblivious to my presence grazing around.


The scaly-breasted wren-babbler or scaly-breasted cupwing (Pnoepyga albiventer)

The scaly-breasted wren-babbler, a tailless bird, looks cute and small but have a call that would deafen your ears. It would compete with Tesia sometimes and both would make a cacophony in the quite forest. It would jump all around you but so restless that it would vanish even before you reach for your camera.


The collared owlet (Glaucidium brodiei)

The collared owlet, this tiny owlet was sitting in front of me while I was photographing other birds near a very faint stream. The small birds like tits, warbles, minivets all gathered together to mob it which I had almost missed. I was so moved by the sudden commotion, was wondering why every other bird is visiting this tree and calling out so loud. Finally, all small birds made it fly out of the place, they chased it down and made sure it left the place altogether.


The long-tailed minivet (Pericrocotus ethologus)

The long-tailed minivet in the habitat.


The Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impejanus)

The Himalayan monal was all time seen flying around and landed just at arms distance couple of times. But, even if u bat your eyelid, it would take off. It was with great difficulty, that I could finally managed an image in the last hour of the last day. This fella, landed closeby, ran up the hill and posed from atop in half an hour drama.


The Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impejanus)

The Himalayan monal that landed close-by to me. Hid behind a rock, inspecting a foreign object (thats me) before resuming its grazing activity. The joy had no bound, when I could accurately focus on it and could get one manageable photograph of this highly colorful beauty.


GHNP landscape tree mushroom

GHNP is famous for mushrooms and some mushroom are highly prized. You would encounter a few villagers daily in search of the mushrooms that I am told are sold for almost 10,000 Rs. a kg in the market. Though, the mushrooms you see here are not those.


The blue whistling thrush (Myophonus caeruleus)

The blue whistling thrush, rightly called so for its very melodious song throughout our trek and stay in the park.


The brown dipper (Cinclus pallasii)

The brown dipper, commonly seen in the middle of the rivers, standing on a rock and within a flash jumping in the roaring stream deep inside the cold waters for feeding. It was fun to watch its antics and the interaction of a couple here.


GHNP tirthan river landscape

The roaring tirthan river had a calming effect after a very tough trek that came to an end. Sitting by its side, singing songs, sipping hot tea and having a great time in one of the most beautiful parks of India !!




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