Monday, 13 May 2013

8th April – Dhurr

We resisted getting up early for the dawn scenes this morning for two reasons, one, the valley sides around us meant the sun would take a while to light up the area, and two, because I wanted to ensure I was recovered and feeling better after yesterday.
We put it down to altitude sickness, the symptom being tiredness, and loss of appetite, both of which I had.  I woke up though feeling much better, and got up at around 6.30, one hour lye in.  By now the sun was up, and the sky was clear and a lovely blue.  A Cuckoo called away down the valley, and in the trees around the house were Yellow-bellied Greenfinches, Long-tailed Shrikes on the wires, and a flock of Black-throated Tits calling like our Long-tailed Tits from the bushes.

We both ate a good breakfast, but were accompanied by loads of flies, I don’t know what the attraction of the house was, but they seemed to be everywhere.  After breakfast we set off for a walk down to the river.  The initial route took us through the back of the village, and into a clearing.  There was a flock of White-throated Laughing Thrushes, and we stopped to watch them.  As well as the thrushes there was a small flycatcher in a tree.  It was grey, with a white throat, and white orbital ring.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get a picture, but checking later I was happy it was a female Slaty-grey Flycatcher.
We walked down through more rhododendrons, and finally came down onto the road.  From here we walked along towards the distant villages.  Streams came down the side of the mountains, and at one stream we came across a male Plumbeous Water Redstart.  It posed nicely with the stream blurred behind it.

We left the road and took the path down to the village, we walked through the village where the we found the villagers taking part in their domestic chores.  This little dog was very vocal, while the little boy was really doing a good job on the dishes.

It was a very pleasant walk through the fields of the village, there was also plenty of flowers, and with these came more butterflies, whites Red Admirals, and even a few Coppers were seen.  The walk took us on and downhill, on yet another zigzag path, as we descended we could hear rushing water.  Finally the path came out at the bottom to a bridge across beautiful turquoise green water.  This was the Pindar River, and is a glacial river as was evident from the water colour.  It flows out of the Pindari Glacier high up in the mountain range. 

As we looked downstream Yash Pal picked out a Brown Dipper on the distant rocks.  As we watched it would fly off the rock and fly out low across the water, and then plunge in, disappearing under water, only to pop up a little further down river.

Dippers the world over all demonstrate the same behaviour, they dip, and they patrol an area, so if they get too far down river, then they fly back up, and start all over again.  That is exactly what this one did, and as a result it came closer, and sat on the rock beneath us.

We found at least four dippers on this stretch of the river, two on either side of the bridge.  There was also a pair of White-capped Water Redstarts, and a male Plumbeous Water Redstart.  The river was strewn with huge boulders that showed clearly the power of the water flowing through here.  This boulder having large portion carved and ground out by the rocks and water.

We crossed the river, and walked along the sandy beach of the other side, butterflies were everywhere, there was a couple of Windmills that moved through and a lovely green swallowtail butterfly, which was identified later as a Glassy Bluebottle.  As is the case with Swallowtails they just kept on going.
We sat on the rocks and watched the water.  Himalayan Agma lizards were sunning on the rocks, and could also be seen chasing each other around the rocks.  Himalayan Griffon Vultures soared above the valley, and at one time a Mountain Hawk Eagle drifted across.

Another river joined the Pindar, this was not coming off the glacier, and you could see the difference in the water colour.
As I stood looking up the tributary, I noticed a large raptor gliding from behind the ridge and out over us.  It looked very different from the vultures, and when I got on I could see the diamond shaped tail, and kite like flight, and knew immediately this was the bird I had been hoping for, a Lammergeier.  Unfortunately it continued on over my head and above a tree, and I couldn’t get the camera on to it, but I had seen it, and seen it well.

We waited to see if it would return, but it didn’t, the only birds to show were more griffin vultures.  We reluctantly had to leave the river, and we walked back across the bridge, and then back up hill.  We did not go back through the village, but walked straight up the path towards the road, and then back to the guest house. 
The afternoon was spent sitting on the terrace, enjoying the sunshine, reading and providing entertainment for a little boy that was fascinated by us, and would stand close looking over our shoulders, or bend to try and look through the binoculars on the table.  If we made the effort to help him, he would back away.
This evening we were to have a treat, our hosts were going to cook chicken for us.  As the sun dropped, and the cold air returned we retreated into the dining room, and warmed up around the fire.  The chicken was presented to us, and we eagerly took a leg.  However it was so tough we could not get the meat off the bone, and had to resort to the sauce and rice instead.  It must have been a very old boiler. 
The hot water bottles arrived, and off we went to bed.  After tonight we had one village left, the adventure was beginning to go quickly.  Today had been a quiet day, which was probably a good thing, allowing us (or me) to recover from the exertions of the tough walks over the last two days.

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