Best Bird Watching Sites in Sikkim
Sikkim’s exceptional biodiversity landscape is home to over 22 restricted-range bird species, including at least 19 species endemic to the region and bird species not found anywhere else in the world. Its unique position on the map means that despite its small size, Sikkim, with over 550 species, has a bird list almost as diverse as that of Bhutan or Nepal.
Due to the progressive conservation policies of the government which are supported by the highly benign Buddhist religious beliefs of the locals, Sikkim has a very high percentage of its land under official protection as Protected Areas (PA) or Important Bird Areas ( IBA). The state provides legal protection to critical bird habitats through a network of 22 IBAs and an almost equal number of PAs.
Some key birding sites worth checking out across Sikkim are:
Rumtek Gompa and Fambong Lho Wildlife Sanctuary are rich in birds, with most of the forest species seen here.
Tsomgo / Changu Lake (3,800m) and Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary (3,300m) can be explored by bird watchers for high altitude Himalayan species.
South and West Sikkim
Pelling / Pemayangtse and the neighboring villages have several interesting birding trails to take.
Maenam Wildlife Sanctuary begins at around 200m and gradually ascends to 3000m at Maenam Top. This is a good site to research the tragopan satyr, blood pheasants, rusty bellied shortwing, among others.
Lake Khecheopalri is home to many waterfowl in addition to being the wintering habitat of the Black-necked Crane.
Places to visit include Yumthang, Lachung / Lachen, Chungthang and Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary (2,900 – 4,300 m).