Being in the field of wildlife photography since past 8 years and after spending most of the time doing birding within 250kms, it is hard to get any new habitation. However, one fine day, I saw a friend's post on Facebook with the location "Chakki Mod". I started wondering where is it, when and how can I go? I called my friend and asked about these details. To my amazement, found that this place is just 5-6 hours from New Delhi and less than an hour from Chandigarh. I instantly planned a one-day trip to this unseen gem.
Delhi – Chandigarh
Since I was travelling alone, I took a train from Delhi and it took me around 5 hours to reach Chandigarh. There, I stayed with Mr Jatinder Vijh who is a very senior person and have ages of experience in birding.
The Birding Day
The Chakki Mod – Bhoj Nagar is a 12-15kms long route which has various birding spots and Chakki mod is a small place in Solan, Himachal Pradesh, situated at a distance of 30 km from Chandigarh. We started our journey at 5:15 in the morning and it took us around an hour to reach there. As soon as we reached there, we saw a pair of Jungle Fowl and a number of Red-Billed Leotherix along with Sparrows and Bulbuls. Since it was too early to get good light for photography, we just saw and enjoy their chirping.
The Dog and the Monkey
Recently Red chimney of Chakki Mod came in highlight and that too not because of birding, but because of this female dog who is not just saving this little monkey from other dogs, also feeding him. This is something which many people are unable to understand. Though, everyone wants this monkey to stay safe as other dogs try to attack it every now and then.
After capturing that bitch and the monkey, we went towards the bridge in search of Crested Kingfisher. We were lucky that we saw two of them along with Plumbeous water and White Capped Redstarts.
We continued our birding for an hour or so and took our first break at Ishwar dhaba. This tea point is a birding hotspot as people put grains for the birds there and they come to eat that. We captured various birds like Cinereous tit, Leotherix, Bulbuls, and Magpie, etc there.
At around 1:00 pm and capturing birds like yellow-bellied fantail, rufous-breasted accentor, black-chinned babbler, white-throated fantail, and many other birds, we took a halt at Sharma tent house for a quick Maggie and tea break.
There is a primary school at the walking distance from the tent house which is a great place to capture red-billed blue magpies, great barbets, and owlets, etc.
After taking an hour's break, we left for the final point which is Bhoj-Nagar. We reached there at around 4:00 pm while doing on-the-way birding and it proved to be the best birding session of the day. Here, I got five lifers (birds which I captured for the first time) which are White-capped bunting, Fire-breasted flower-pecker, Red-fronted serin, Fire-tailed sunbird, and European Goldfinch.
This whole area and the entire belt of Chakki mod – Bhoj Nagar is rich in terms of Flora and Fauna and one can easily spend a full day here.
We started our return journey at around 5:00 pm and reached Chakki mod at sunset. We stopped here to have the last tea of the trip and captured the beautiful sunset. At around 7:00 pm, we reached Chandigarh and I took the late-night bus for Delhi.
This one-day trip was worth all the efforts and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Mr Jatinder Vijh. He, besides helping with my stay by inviting me to his place, enlightened me with his immense knowledge about birds and habitat. He is like a celebrity in the whole area and people love him.