Cherrapunjee also known as SOHRA (in local language) is better known as the wettest place on earth for the extensively heavy rainfall that the place experiences throughout the year. It has an average rainfall of 11718.4 mm annually approximately. Located in the north-east state of Meghalaya in India, Cherrapunjee has a rich historical heritage and was the first British outpost in this part of the country. It is situated at an altitude of 1300 metres above sea level and is 56kms away from the state capital of Shillong to the south.
WHY BIRDING in Laitkynsew, Cherrapunjee ??
Meghalaya as a state happens to be located ideally in a transit zone which experiences a varied flora & fauna. It has the perfect mix of Indian, Indo- Chinese, Indo – Malayan fauna. Geographically if one looks into Meghalaya, it will be found that the place has a mixture of hills, plain grasslands, cultivations, bamboo growths, secondary growths, deep valleys, boulder filled streams, waterfalls, barren plateau.
Laitkynsew is a village to the south – west of Cherrapunjee which has diverese landscape & in nutshell contains all the geographical attributes of Meghalaya. Thus, here the altitude varies from 200m above sea level in the valley to 1200m approximately on the plateau. This has led to far more homogeneous composition of fauna and thereby the birds one can find varies with altitude and habitat.
The place is more interesting since a varied local fauna is restricted to the hill tracts of the khasi hills where Laitkynsew is located. Some of the birds are endemic to the region i.e. they are not found anywhere else in India while most of them move around in south-western China and North Myanmar. The birds mainly include a rich variety of high rainfall loving birds restricted to the southern slopes of Khasi hills. They have a montane distribution.
The most important and interesting component of birdlife here includes the migrating birds from nesting grounds further north from Himalayas, Tibet, China or even Siberia. many of the birds are wintering i.e. spending a considerable amount of time here while others are visiting this place on their way to further south in Thailand.
The coexistence of such varied geographical conditions makes Meghalaya & particularly the southern khasi hills a perfect place for bird watching. Laitkynsew happens to be located exactly on the southern flank of the Khasi hills.
One can spot more than 150 different species of birds in this area over a period of 7 days if the jungle paths are taken and passed through with patience.
Some noticeable bird species found are as follows:-
HOW TO REACH Barapani lake & Laitkynsew ??
Easily accessible from Guwahati. From airport & railway station one can hire taxis to Barapani lake & Cherrapunjee market.
It is a 2.5 hr drive to Barapani & 4 – 5 hour drive to Cherrapunjee from Guwahati. Barapani falls on route to Cherrapunjee.
From Cherrapunjee market one needs to hire a local taxi to go to Laitkynsew village which is approximately 10kms away from the market.
SPECIAL CATCH :
Where to stay in Laitkynsew ??
Cherrapunjee holiday resort which is a family run business is an optional stay which is located exactly in middle of Laitkynsew and is itself a very good destination for bird watching. One can find a minimum of 20 different species on the resort campus over a period of 3 days.
There are other home stays available on way to double decker root bridge which is an economical option.
There is also an option for guest houses near the homestays which are run by the village panchayat on way to double decker root bridge.
Where to stay in Barapani ??
Orchid lake resort is an optional stay whose compound is itself a good birding destination. few guest houses are also present along the lake. one can also stay in Shillong which is 15 kms away & where a lot of budget hotels are present.
SPECIAL CATCH :
In Barapani lake, the complete surroundings of the lake is good for birding while the more concentration of birds is around Orchid lake resort and water sports complex where one gets a good 400m walk along both sides of which there are good birding opportunities.
In Laitkynsew & Cherrapunjee the complete place is suitable for birding. However there are some noticeable treks which one can undertake to get a good look at the birdlife present here.
- Trek to Double decker living root bridge – 7 hrs walking up & down hill. one an see commanding views of valleys on route.
- Trek to Umkar living root bridge – up & down 3km walk from the Cherrapunjee holiday resort grounds.
- Trek to Umunoi living root bridge – up & down 4 km walkfrom the Cherrapunjee holiday resort grounds.
- Village walk to Laikynsew view point.
- David Scot pony tail trek – named after David Scot, the political agent of the British empire who constructed this pony trail from the Sylhet plains in Bangladesh to the Brahmaputra valley in Assam across the Khasi hills. The trail starts at the foothills of Laitkynsew proceeds to Sohra. the trail from the resort takes one upto Mawshamok village.
- Mawkdok valley view point.
Birding trails in Barapani & Cherrapunjee :-
Hotels in Cherrapunjee have good range of cuisines but if one lives in a homestay noodles, maggi, biscuits are the options. The villagers have to climb up 3 hrs to the market which is operational 3 times in a week only. One can also eat rice in the homestays. Pork meat & chicken is available in plenty.
Some more bird species found in the region are as follows:-
SPECIAL CATCH :
QUICK REFERENCE MAP:-
Locals speak English majorly and the Local Khasi language. Hindi is also spoken by few. Christian population is dominant in this part.
- Grey Sibia
- Rufous-necked laughingthrush
- Spotted dove
- Red-vented bulbul
- Chestnut-tailed starling
- Ashy drongo
- Common stonechat
- Oriental white eye
- Golen fronted leafbird
- Little-pied flycatcher
- Chestnut-headed bee eater
- Crested finchbill
- Rosy minivet
- Orange-bellied leafbird
- Maroon oriole
- Common myna
- Ashy bulbul
- Blu-winged siva
- Plumbous water redstart
- Asian brown flycatcher
- Golden oriole
- White-rumped shama.
- Blue-throated barbet
- Bar-winged flycatcher shrike
- Short-billed minivet
- Black crested bulbul
- Flavescent bulbul
- Black bulbul
- Mountain bulbul
- Green-backed tit
- Olive-backed pipit
- Russet Sparrow
Hope birders will find the information useful and explore this unexplored part of the country……
My next blog on Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary…click below for reading the same….