Chakki Morh- The Birding Bliss
By Aaryan Bhalla
“Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.”
I had never been to Chakki Morh since I’m doing birding 2 years back. But a sudden call changed my expressions and excited me 😂😃 When the person on the line asked- “ Whether would you like to company me to go Chakki Morh and Bhojnagar birding tomorrow morning?…”
Answering- “Yes” in the full volume of Excitement! Chakki Mor as a mid-altitude habitat which is very interesting.
Chandigarh has the highest density of birdwatchers I have ever seen in a single city… in my life. I never thought that I would develop the hobby of bird watching during corona periods will give me some time to rejuvenate myself and give chance to explore new things and different hobbies even when many birds start flocking on trees and backyards nearby. And on the 28th of November 2021 with the grace of Mr. Lalit Mohan Bansal Sir and with Vishal Sharma Bhaiya. I first time visited Chakki Morh which is around 30 Km’s from Chandigarh.
We instantly planned 6 hours trip to this unseen gem. It is a tourist location for youngsters to hang out in natural landscapes and river beds also a hotspot for birders. It was for the first time I met them both. One of the best advantages of birding is that you get a chance to meet new people then along with happiness, and the spirits also increase.
We left early at 6, Please pardon me for squeezing in with this picture when we encountered a family of Indian grey langurs surviving the winter morning chills. They also have been a part of this trip and the temperature was so down that hands started shivering. but Besides several new guests came to like-
Along with A huge flock of Black-throated tits, Numerous Rufous treepies along with Grey treepies, Hundreds of Bulbuls, White-throated fantails, beyond a grey Bushchat, a black redstart female and a beautiful male of Crimson Sunbird which peek-a-boo and flew away.
At the stream- Chakki Morh Waterfall
As we reached the stream a grey wagtail welcomed us and a large flock of Red-billed blue magpies was also there quite common in upper altitudes. Also, we have 2 fixed winter migrants every year- White-capped Redstart and Plumbeous Water Redstart at this stream.
Two times in our way. Next time when we go to Chakki Morr stop at the first bridge at the stream… where we clicked redstarts, crested kingfisher, forktails where plenty number of birds come to keep their thirst cool …. Unfortunately, A cafe person beside is making another road from the road to his cafe. At the road level … that idiot has covered half portion of the stream … 😞 That’s how he is destroying our one of the great birding points at the starting route of Chakki.
Sometimes, with luck, you can also able to get Little Forktail and wallcreeper here. There at the waterfall, we met another birder- Mr. Navjot Singh, he has also contributed some of his pics to this article. He is also keen and a new person towards birding visited Tal Chappar recently.
There is a primary school where we could spot A pair of White Capped Bunting, and a Yellow Breasted GreenFinch, (Both Lifers) and Indian Robins were singing besides. Birds chirp in all directions as birds are most active around dawn and dusk.
As a matter of fact, Chakki Modh throws pleasant surprises, every now and then as well as the neighboring regions of the Bhojnagar and Jangeshu have mixed, coniferous, and pine forests. Unfortunately…… being destroyed by so-called development & connectivity with a lot of construction.🌹 The way the Environment & Habitat is!
Must work towards Habitat Conservation of these little birdies👍
Pine trees are being cut in an appreciable amount… so much of soil erosion and habitat loss….. like as same of our’s Sukhna lake. Already we lost our Nagar Van.... it is a shame that the birdwatchers have not been able to come together and object to this shameful display called the aviary. Birds should only remain in their natural habitat
The captive display has no role in bird welfare. Chakki Morh has gone the same way … birds’ll find some other place .. this is the attitude we actually have!
But as still That’s why these forests also offer refuge to a number of birds whether they are summer, passage, or winter Migrants. We were also in the hope of some common and resident birds but could not get one like — White-crested or Rufous-chinned Laughingthrushes, Slaty & Plum-headed parakeets. But, we discovered several unexplored birds which are some of the few we have tried to cover in this article.
The story of people who love nature…
While exploring the extraordinary beauties of chakki Morh, we headed further up the hills to stop at a roadside Dhaba managed by a local- Mr. Ishwar Singh Bhatia and his wife who manage the roadside Dhaba named ‘Ishwar Dhaba’ decided not to disturb these “beauties” of nature by letting them have the rice and pieces of the patty to their hearts’ content.
The couple was inspired by the birders who frequent the dhaba during their birding tours and also in the migration season of the birds offers a cup of tea and some yummy “paranthas” plus daily put feeds and water for the birds and have also set up perches. Birders set with their tripods waiting for birds and capturing them.
Sometimes you get nothing, but sometimes so much activity is there, that you are unable to think what to click and what not to? That's why Chakki morh is one of the best avian birding hotspots around the Chandigarh ISCR as Chandigarh comes between the Shivaliks and the cold Himalayas. Some of the species have already arrived and more are likely to in the coming months.
And we got a piece of bad news: RESIDENTIAL PLOTS FOR SALE IN HILLS!! which also means lots of traffic and disturbance. But still, Life moves on. Birding will stay aside. Let us be more proactive with govt, the forest department so that some little areas must be preserved, the appropriate amount of trees planted, etc.
Otherwise, we gonna have to be destroyed another good habitat too. This will be a big blow to the birds of chakki. Lots more traffic n cars can be expected! Very unfortunate. The habitat in Chakki Mor is being destroyed. Construction will go up as plots are on sale. It might take a few years but buying land and maintaining it for conservation is the most viable long-term solution.
The Woodpeckers and Barbets
The area after the Ishwar Dhaba is very good for woodpeckers and Barbets where there are abundant pine trees. In my guess, There are almost 10 types of woodpeckers which chakki morh arrives all of them! This female grey-headed woodpecker was identified by me and was very near to us when it gave us a good couple of shots and flew away.
Both these 2 barbets are resident and This Great barbet is largest of the all barbets is colorful can be seen at upper altitudes. A Blue-throated Barbet was also there besides but couldn’t come out for a good photo.
This yellownape woodpecker was so busy eating feed off of larvae of wood-boring insects that have invaded the bark of an already distressed pine tree. Because, Woodpeckers are attracted to wood-boring beetles, termites, carpenter ants, caterpillars, and spiders. The light was so low that we waited for the best shot because it stood there only while we could hear its digging noise.
Heading up to Bhojnagar- Rare Sightings!!
As we could not get much at Chakki Morh we headed more up at Bhojnagar. there we had two rare sightings- 2 Himalayan Griffon vultures, and a Flock of Black-headed Jays.
Generally, Jays can be sighted at Dagshai, but we were really surprised to see them here. I observed something very high and knew would is not a Black Kite definitely due to the different wingspan and fingers visible.
A very large Himalayan Griffon Vulture was also now added to my ever-lasting long bird's list. This was a Splendid shot. Many claps for this one. An endangered species and of the heaviest birds found in the Himalayas. I was always there in its hope and finally! It was here.
With that also spotted a couple of Great barbets, So many Grey-breasted Prinias, Indian Robins, Also a Yellow-eyed Babbler rambling in the tomato fields. We met a person waiting for the greenfinches in bhojnagar, and were surprised to know we observed it near the school down. And he was waiting for them previous 3 hours. So, this shows it's your patience and on your luck, that the bird will be encountered with you.
Even Russet sparrows were also seen for the first time ever by me although they are totally resident and can be spotted at upper altitudes. A bright supercilium on the head differs it from the House sparrow.
Animals and birds have a stupendously advanced sense of smell compared to us, That means that when you throw food out, it’s basically a neon light to all sorts of animals. This includes seemingly innocuous scraps such as fruit peels or chips which we can see in the picture above…
While on our another trip to Chakki Morh- Bhojnagar road on the 16th of February on a gazetted holiday with Mr. Lalit Mohan Bansal sir, Subhash Sapru sir. The traffic till the afternoon was less so a fair amount of birds — all in all, an okay session only.
Missed some otherwise expected species. But, we were surprised to get the- Peregrine Falcon (The fastest flying bird on the planet), and a Eurasian Sparrowhawk at different timings at bhojnagar, along with the magnificent White Created Laughingthrushes at Ishwar’s Dhaba.
Going back we observed a couple of long-tailed minivets, Himalayan Prinias, A flock of Rufous Sibias listening for its song, was pleasant-sounding, numerous Brown rock chats, Grey treepies near the temple, Leiothrix, House Sparrows and Himalayan bulbuls came out when we offered them some chanas to eat.
A grey Bushchat (Male) was singing a variety of beautiful songs when we noticed the bird peeking in a car window and this perch was just indeed! The colors of both bird and car were the same… Isn’t it?
There are a lot of trees of Bombax ceiba on the route of this area. All birds love to feed on these trees that’s why also named the Magnetic tree. Not as yet. The flowering season begins in the last week of Feb. As spring has started flowers have started blooming!!
While driving in the hills and through the forest areas, be alert and cautious. Give way to wildlife crossing the road. When we were on our way back home. We spotted lots of Khalij Pheasants pleasantly crossing the road. I am happy that my first visit to Chakki Morh was awesome. We all are lucky for this year’s ultra-cold winter. Getting all these birds down in Chandigarh and other surrounding areas.
The बाबे of Chakki Morh: Finally! Came here…
We were in the hope of exclusive fire-tailed Sunbird but however, bhojnagar disappointed us! but, then the time for evening Birding started, when the stunning White-crested laughing thrushes to have their snacks in the evening at Ishwars tea stall, generally they are a tough nut to crack!!... We waited for them for almost 15 minutes and our efforts were made very honest and they bring the sweet fruit!! Small pieces of rice were being offered to them, and hopefully, they came to have them.
We recorded almost 65+ species in a day, and 45 on other day which was very important to us as a determined effort…We took pains to successfully sight of various lifer species in different areas of the Chakki Modh-Bhojpur Road that day which were seen for the first time ever! The checklist was long with many lifers. We had both the trips fruitful and really enjoyed it a lot. Both the people are kind-hearted and wonderful. Birding has really given me a lot.
In Conclusion, I would like to end my article with beautiful poetry penned down by Vishal Bhaiya!… He is also a good poet besides a Birder.
Wearing a cap with
A pair of jungle boots
Singing of birds
deep inside the woods
Holding a camera
hearing all the calls
rising towards the truth
away from the false
In each step
I was going deep
got more than
what I believe
Got a flock of birds
singing for me
No more sick
phone calls ringing for me
Curiosity in me to know
more about birds
What’s going inside me
I can not express in words
I ask u why?
so much pollution
I can’t see the sky
Say the truth
Don’t choose the lie
remember one day
we all have to die
let's join our hands,
it's not too late!
it's about our Wildlife
Save Birds, Save Wildlife…
May you hear the bird song forever!! Happy Birding
All pictures courtesy and Credits: Respected Mr. Lalit Mohan Bansal sir, Subhash Sapru sir, Vishal Sharma, and Mr. Navjot Singh.
eBird Checklist - 28 Nov 2021 - Chakki Morh - 68 species (+2 other taxa)
Click the link and see, Submitted by Aaryan bhalla.
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