Some Birds of Kashmir
In July 1987, I spent 3 weeks in Kashmir on a group tour/trek organized by the Youth
Hostel Association. We spent a week in Sonmarg and the rest of the time
in Ladakh. Because of the nature of the trip, there was not much time to devote to
proper bird-watching. Most of the sightings below had to be picked up while
struggling to keep up with the group, or from the window of a bouncing bus!
For a complete look at the birds of Ladakh, see Otto Pfister's
- Blackcrowned Night Heron (52)
Srinagar. Flying around Dal Lake in afternoon.
- Pariah Kite (133) Srinagar.
- Egyptian Vulture (187) Srinagar.
- Lammergeier (188) Sonmarg. Pair soaring along side of cliff.
- Common Kestrel (222) Leh.
- Snow Pigeon (513) Sonmarg. Group of 4 flying overhead.
- Hill Pigeon (515) Kargil-Leh highway. Somewhat common.
- Blue Rock Pigeon (516) Kargil.
- Small Blue Kingfisher (722) Banihal.
- Whitebreasted Kingfisher (735)
- Hoopoe (763) Sonmarg. Seemed very common around our
campsite at first, but later it appeared to be just one very active bird!
- Golden Oriole (952) Saspaul.
- Black Drongo (963) Jammu-Srinagar highway.
- Common Myna (1006) Jammu-Srinagar highway.
- Common Starling (1007) Srinagar. Adult feeding young of full
size but immature plumage.
- Whiterumped Magpie (1029) Kargil.
- Yellowbilled Chough (1045) Sonmarg, Zoji La.
- House Crow (1049) Srinagar.
- Eurasian Jackdaw (1053) Qaziganj, Srinagar.
- Jungle Crow (1054) Jammu-Srinagar highway, Sonmarg.
- Common Raven (1059) Sonmarg, Zoji La, Leh.
- Redbreasted Flycatcher (1412) Sonmarg
- Black Redstart (1671) Panikher-Parkachik.
- Plumbeous Redstart (1679) Sonmarg.
- Common Stonechat (1697) Sonmarg.
- Whitecapped Redstart (1716)
Sonmarg, Panikher (bank of Suru river).
- Blue Whistling Thrush (1729) Sonmarg. Subspecies
temminckii - single row of white spots on wing. In bushes along stream.
- Grey Tit (1794) Banihal, Srinagar.
- Yellow Wagtail (1875) Sonmarg.
- Yellowheaded Wagtail (1883)
Sonmarg (Blackbacked), Kargil, Parkachik.
- Grey Wagtail (1884) Sonmarg, Zoji La.
- White Wagtail (1886) Sonmarg.
- House Sparrow (1938) Jammu-Srinagar highway, Srinagar,
- Eurasian Tree Sparrow (1942) Sonmarg (very common).
- Black and Yellow Grosbeak (1982) Sonmarg.
- Eurasian Goldfinch (1989) Srinagar.
In bushes, near ground, attacking purplish flowers.
- Goldfronted Finch (1998) Kargil-Leh
highway, Saspaul (in grain fields).
- Common Rosefinch (2010) Parkachik,
- Rock Bunting (2051) Sonmarg.
Various birds were seen too briefly to be identified. I was also handicapped by
not having a field guide with me, and identifications had to be made days later in
bookstores, from my notes. Here are some of them. (I have given what seem to
me the most likely species and quotes from my notes.) I am including these in
the hope of getting more expert opinion from some chance reader!
- Blue Rock Thrush. "Small sober blue
bird on electric pole" on Kargil-Panikher road, seen from bus.
- Blue-fronted Redstart. "Glossy blue bird with orangeish underparts."
Drawing shows blue chin, and apparently underparts entirely orange (no white). Chat
sized. Sitting on electricity lines crossing road, in Stok.
- Golden Eagle. "Pariah + , colour burnt brown in uneven light and
dark patches, tail ending in broad black band." Soaring above ridge near
- Himalayan Griffon. Zoji La pass.
Of correct colour scheme, but not safely distinguished from Longbilled Vulture.
- Brownfronted or Himalayan Woodpecker.
"A small woodpecker with spotted black and white back.
Brief glimpse but continuous chuck, chuck,...
call heard for a long time." Sonmarg.
- Eurasian or Oriental Cuckoo. (hepatic female or juvenile) "A
koel-sized, cuckoo like bird: long tail, pointed wings. White below. Orangeish
brown tail, back, and wings. Light greyish brown head, face, chin." Bank of canal
near Panikher. Initially on ground, then flew into bush.
- Some kind of Mountain Finch! "Pair of sparrow-sized birds,
streaked black and brown above, barred black and white on tail, white
underparts, white eyebrow. Kept flying into a small
crack in a tree and reappearing with some white stuff in their beaks."