The Tirthan river originates from the main Himalayan range, flows through the Great Himalayan National Park(GHNP) and then meets the Beas river near Larji, Aut. The Tirthan valley is a favorite destination for many travelers who instead of a popular commercial place like Manali, look for an offbeat place to spend their holiday quietly in the lap of nature. The valley is also popular among tourists who visit GHNP for trekking, bird watching, wildlife research etc.
There are not many hotels or resorts in this valley. However, there are many homestays available in this area which provide all basic facilities including internet connectivity as well. While going to GHNP, we stayed one night at one of these homely places by the river Tirthan and found some time in the afternoon for birding around this valley.
We photographed a lonely bar headed goose by the Tirthan river which according to the locals is the first sighting of this kind in past many years. Tirthan valley is rich in birds and one can easily find species like Grey treepie, Red and Yellow-billed blue magpie, Black-throated tit, White capped redstart, Plumbeous redstart, Brown dipper etc.
Other common birds which we saw around the homestay are Grey headed warbler, Spotted forktail, Little forktail, Streaked laughingthrush Himalayan bulbul, Russet sparrow, Rose-ringed parakeet, Large-billed crow, Blue-whistling thrush, Green-backed tit, Rock bunting etc.
While walking up the stream towards GHNP, we also saw few species of Yuhina, Himalayan Black bulbul, Striated laughingthrush, Scaly-bellied woodpecker, Grey-headed woodpecker, Great barbet, an Asian barred owlet, Common rose-finch,Pink-browed rose-finch, a flock of Snow Pigeon, a Scaly breasted wren babbler as well as few Bearded vultures (Lammergeier as known earlier) flying high over the mountains.
A Yellow-bellied fantail entertained us for some moments but due to poor light we couldn’t get any good picture. So was the case with a Bar-tailed tree-creeper near the GHNP gate. As our primary business was trekking, we had less time in hand for the avian buffet. The following Lemon-rumped warbler, however, gave us a good opportunity to shoot.
From Goshaini, a small town in this valley and connected by a motor-able road, till Kharongcha Gate, the entry gate to GHNP, is the best place for birding. One can cover this 9 km distance on foot in a single day, stay a night near the gate and return the next day.
My suggestion: do not forget to carry your own stuff including tents or hire local porters as you will not find any stay/food arrangements in that area.
Attached here is a comprehensive list of birds found in this area including GHNP. Bird List of the GHNP. Courtesy – Mr. Ankit Sood, Sunshine Himalaya.
On a lighter note, the birds in the area are quite shy despite the fact that they are quite familiar with human habitat. Moreover, light is a constraint as far as photography is concerned. However, for a birder carrying a good pair of binoculars, will help explore better as the place has great potential.
Recounting My Trekking Experience Inside GHNP:
Great Himalayan National Park: Breaking into my first Trekking Shoe: