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The Birder’s Guide to Birdwatching in Kasol, Kanawar Sanctuary

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

Are you an avid birdwatcher? If so, you're probably no stranger to the beauty that nature has to offer. But do you know about Kasol and Kanawar Sanctuary? It is indeed a paradise for birdwatchers, and a perfect spot for a weekend getaway (or longer!).


I have lived here in Kasol for about three years now and have been exploring Birding since then. So here are a few tips for exploring birding in Kasol, from my own experience.


Introduction to Kanawar Sanctuary

Kanwar Wildlife Sanctuary, located near Kasol in Himachal Pradesh, has a rich history dating back to ancient times. The region was initially inhabited by indigenous communities who practiced traditional methods of agriculture and animal husbandry. Later, the area came under the control of various ruling dynasties, including the Mughals, Sikhs, and British.

During the British colonial era, the region was used as a hunting ground for the ruling elite. The indiscriminate hunting of animals, including several endangered species, led to a significant decline in their populations. As a result, in 1954, the government of India declared Kanwar a wildlife sanctuary to protect and conserve the region's rich biodiversity.

Since then, the sanctuary has become a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, researchers, and tourists. In recent years, the government of Himachal Pradesh has undertaken several initiatives to promote eco-tourism in the region while ensuring the preservation of its fragile ecosystem.

With its unique natural beauty and rich cultural heritage, Kanwar Wildlife Sanctuary remains a vital component of Himachal Pradesh's natural and cultural heritage.


As a birder, you're sure to appreciate the rich biodiversity found in this sanctuary. Located in Kasol this sanctuary is home to over 50 species of birds, along with an array of wild animals and flora. From the Himalayan Monal and Khalij pheasant to the Indian scops owl and paradise flycatcher, there's an incredible variety of birds that can be spotted here.



Best Time to Visit Kanawar Sanctuary

The most ideal period for birdwatching in Kanawar is between March - June, November and February. Aside from migratory birds, you'll also spot a wide range of resident species like Indian White-eye, Forest owl, Scary Breasted Munia, Turtle Dove, Spot-winged Gros Beaked just to name a few!


So if you're looking for an unforgettable bird watching experience, plan your visit around this timeframe!




Most Commonly seen Birds in Kanawar Sanctuary

Kanawar Sanctuary is home to numerous species of birds and provides the perfect opportunity to spot some of the most commonly seen ones! Here are some of the avian beauty that you can expect to see while birdwatching in Kanawar Sanctuary:

  1. Jujurana (Western Tragopan)

  2. Khalij Pheasant

  3. Yellow-Billed Magpie

  4. The Great Barbet

  5. Verditer Fly Catcher

  6. Aqua Marine Fly Catcher

  7. Rose Finch

  8. Eurasian Hoopie

  9. Griffon Vultures

  10. Scaly bellied Woodpecker


Best Cameras

When it comes to bird photography, the camera that suits you best depends on your experience level. If you're new to photography and have mostly been taking snapshots with your phone, a "bridge" camera is a good starting point. These cameras have integrated body-lens designs that are perfect for those transitioning from birdwatching to bird photography.


For those with some photography experience but are new to bird photography, a DX crop sensor body with a solid zoom lens can be a good choice. It's also important to research the best focal length for bird photography.


If you're a serious enthusiast looking to capture every photographic opportunity, from still birds to those in flight, then you should consider Canon or Nikon cameras with lenses ranging from 400mm to 800mm. Both DSLR and mirrorless full-frame options are worth considering.




Birdwatching Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts

If you’re a budding birdwatcher, the vast biodiversity of Kasol and Kanawar Sanctuary can be at once exhilarating and intimidating. To make the most of your bird watching experience, there are some do’s and don’ts you have to keep in mind.


Do’s:

  1. Respect the birds and their natural habitat - don’t disrupt their natural nesting activities like building nests or collecting feathers. Give them space so that they feel safe to observe their environment without disturbances.

  2. Stay on designated trails and paths to avoid disturbing nests and habitat.

  3. Keep a safe distance from the birds to avoid stressing them.

  4. Use binoculars or a spotting scope to observe birds without getting too close.

  5. Take care not to damage vegetation or disturb other wildlife.

  6. Learn about the birds you're observing, including their behaviors, calls, and habitats.

  7. Keep cell phones away

Don'ts:

  1. Don't play bird calls or use playback devices to attract birds, as this can disrupt their natural behavior and cause stress.

  2. Don't approach nesting sites or disturb bird nests.

  3. Don't litter or leave any trace behind.

  4. Don't feed the birds or leave food out, as this can alter their natural behaviors and diets.

  5. Don't use flash photography, as this can harm birds' eyesight and disrupt their natural behavior.

  6. Don't make loud noises or sudden movements that can startle or scare birds away.

  7. Don't touch or attempt to handle birds, as this can harm them and is often illegal.

  8. Leave no trace - keep the sanctuary clean


P.S - Respect other wildlife – remember that birds are part of a larger ecosystem that includes other animals too! So be aware of other species like reptiles when exploring Kanawar Sanctuary.


Conclusion

Whether you’re a beginner or an avid birder, a visit to Kanawar Sanctuary in Kasol, Himachal Pradesh offers a chance to observe some of the rare species of birds. With the perfect blend of natural beauty and exceptional birds, this region is a paradise for birdwatchers.


The locals here are friendly and welcoming and the accommodations range from budget to upscale. The beauty of the Himalayas, the tranquility of the forest, and the calls of the exotic birds make Kanawar Sanctuary in Kasol a truly unique experience.


Enjoy a peaceful time in the rustic charm of Kasol while you take in the colorful beauty of the Tragopan and other bird species.


For more pictures : Follow me at @flightandsight


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