Meghalaya

Hill Myna Gracula religiosa ©Spencer Wright - Creative Commons Website
Birding Meghalaya

Birding in the Clouds – Who is wearing a green coat, sitting on a clouded hill? Well, she’s Meghalaya, one of India’s greener states and popularly known as Home Of The Clouds. Being comparatively wetter and colder than its neighbours in the North Eastern corner of the Republic of India, has brought distinction to this hilly province as the Scotland of the East. From lush green coniferous forests to bamboo thickets, from limestone caves to rippling waterfalls, from miles of hilly croplands to forbidden jungles the very diversity makes this a unique realm. This fog-shrouded land is also home to the wettest place on earth (Mawsynram), besides sheltering a plethora of wonders. The conjunction of three distinct hill ranges Khasi, Garo and Jayantia, amid forests, scintillating streams, untamed hills, mountain lakes, tree covered slopes and green valleys, make it a panoramic destination that has a bewitching appeal. The undiscovered delights of Meghalaya are divine blessings for both its guests and host.With a geographical area of 22,42,900 hectares, Meghalaya harbours diversity in all senses, be it topography, be it vegetation, be it climatic condition or be it people & their cultures. The forests of Meghalaya i.e. Sub-Tropical Pine, Sub-Tropical Broadleaf, Tropical Wet Evergreen, Tropical Semi-Evergreen and Tropical Moist Deciduous Forest fall under two different Bio-geographic zones. Sacred groves of both the Khasi and the Garo hills areas are yet another significant forest type, which is a haven for a variety of life forms. Meghalaya in simple words can be called nature’s treasure house; the variety in life forms that it houses and the exquisite landscape is self-explanatory. Be it orchids, be it mammals, or be it birds, the diversity is unparalleled. Mammals include; Lesser Panda, Indian Bison, Serow, Sloth Bear, Binturong, Clouded Leopard, Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Slow Loris, Golden Cat, Hoolock Gibbon, etc. Of 1200 different species of orchids found in India, 300 types are only found in Meghalaya, besides hundreds other wild varieties of plant including the rare insect eating Pitcher Plant Nepenthes khasiana.

There are about seven protected areas in the state; out of which, two are National Parks and the other five are Wildlife Sanctuaries. Which together with a few other relatively unexplored areas, provide shelter to a magnificent bird life. Ten such areas are rich with avifauna: Mawphlang Sacred Grove, Balpakram Complex, Nokrek Biosphere Reserve including Nokrek National Park, Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary, Norpuh Reserve Forests, Riat Khwan – Umiaum, Saipung & Upper Shillong, Cherapunjee cliffs. The Gorges and Sacred Groves have been identified by Birdlife International, UK as Important Bird Areas. A few of the most noteworthy bird species are: Palla’s Fish Eagle Haliaeetus leucorphus, Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni, Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis, Wood Snipe Gallinago nemoricola, Purple Wood Pigeon Columba punicea, Slender-billed Babbler Turdoides longirostris, Marsh Babbler Pellorneum palustre, Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bangelensis, Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga, Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis, Tawny-breasted Wren Warbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus, Darter Anhinga melanogaster, Lesser Grey-headed Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus, Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus, White-cheeked Hill Partridge Arborophila atrogularis, Blyth’s Trogopan Trogopan blythii, Great Pied Hornbill Buceros bicornis, Brown Hornbill Anorrhinus tickelli, Greater Adjutant Leptotilos dubius, Blyth’s Kingfisher Alcedo Hercules, Grey Sibia Heterophasia gracilis, Rusty-capped Fulvetta Alcippe dubia, Crested Finchbill Spizixos canifrons, etc. There is always the chance of a rare glimpse of White-winged Duck Cairina scutulata in the Balpakram area, although recent records are very rare. To watch Dark-rumped Swift (Khasi Hills Swift) Apus acuticauda, try trekking to the cliffs of Khasi hills, Cherapunjee, Lyetkynsew or the Nohkallikai waterfalls.

Contributors
  • Pranab J Patar

    | pronab_2k@yahoo.co.in

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 685

    (As at December 2018)

    State Bird: Hill Myna Gracula religiosa

Useful Reading

  • * Field Guides & Bird Song

    For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering India as a whole - please see the main India page of Fatbirder ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • A Pocket Guide to the Birds of Meghalaya

    By Anwaruddin Choudhury | Gibbon Books | 2014 | Paperback | 160 pages, 63 colour photos and colour illustrations, 60 b/w illustrations, 24 b/w maps | ISBN: 9789380652030 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Reserves

Abbreviations Key

  • NP Balphakram

    InformationSatellite View
    This park has been established in the west Garo Hill district in an area of 220sq km. The nearest town is William Nagar about 15km…
  • NP Nokrek

    InformationSatellite View
    Nokrek has a remnant population of the Red panda that has generated curiosity across the world and it is also an important habitat of the Asian elephants.
Guides & Tour Operators


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  • Arunachal Birding Tours - Meghalaya Birding

    Tour Operator
    Meghalaya is situated in a transition zone with bird fauna composed of species belonging to several faunal elements. Many species belong to western Indian fauna, while others represent south-eastern, Indo-Chinese or Indo-Malayan fauna...
  • Indian Holiday Pvt. Ltd.

    Tour Operator
    Opt for this 8 nights and 9 days Birding in Assam and Meghalaya tour, if you want to enjoy bird watching at some of the greatest locations...
Trip Reports


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  • 2016 [05 May] - Mike Moore

    PDF Report
    Back in 2001, I spent six months traveling throughout India. However, the furthest east I was able to travel was to Sikkim and West Bengal. I had always wanted to return to India and explore areas further east, and I finally got around to it 15 years later, entering Meghalaya after spending one month in Bangladesh.
  • 2017 [04 April] - Mans Grundsten

    PDF Report
    After having birded widely across Asia for the last decade it has become clear for me that Eastern Himalayas is the main focal p
  • 2018 [04 April] - Craig Robson

    PDF Report
    2018 saw a completely new Birdquest itinerary for this remote northeast corner of the Indian subcontinent.Our epic journey lasted nearly a month, and saw us amass a huge total of 530 species. The pre-tour extension to the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya started us off well, with Dark-rumped Swift and Tawny-breasted WrenBabbler.
Other Links
  • Meghalaya

    Webpage
    Meghalaya is a small North-east Indian state sandwiched between Assam & Bangladesh “Meghalaya” means “The Abode of Clouds” Sanskrit. It is a hilly strip in the eastern part of the country about 300 km long (east-west) and 100 km wide, with a total area of about 22,429 km
  • The Birds of Meghalaya

    Facebook Page
    In the forests of Meghalaya, specially in lower altitudes, multifarious species of birds are found in abundance. Magpie-Robin is a favourite bird to be seen in this bird kingdom.

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