Home for 310 bird species, the Ladakh area is marked by the diversity of its avifauna. Lying close to the Palearctic-Oriental regions and also sharing some features of the Tibetan biome, this Trans-Himalayan area lies in the Jammu & Kashmir states in the northwest corner of India and is bounded by the Himalaya and the Karakoram ranges. Starting from 2,750m over sea level and going up to ,7600m, Ladakh lies in the rain shadow of the mountain ranges. The landscape is desolate and barren and winter temperatures drop to (-)40°C. The uniqueness of the land has resulted in Ladakh being home to some birds which are not found anywhere else in India.
Topographically, the whole area is mountainous with three parallel ranges of the Himalaya - the Zanskar, the Ladakh and the Karakoram. Between these ranges, the Shayok, Indus and Zanskar rivers flow and most of the population lives in valleys of these rivers.
Vegetation is extremely sparse in Ladakh except along streambeds and wetlands, on high slopes, and in irrigated places.
The Ladakh area holds many species which are very hard to find elsewhere in India. Sought after birds include Chukar, Himalayan and Tibetan Snowcocks, Tibetan Partridge, Pallid Scops Owl, Eurasian Nightjar, Hill Pigeon, European Turtle Dove, Black-necked Crane, Corn Crake, Tibetan Sandgrouse, Solitary Snipe, Little Gull, Upland Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Saker Falcon, Great Bittern, Lesser Grey Shrike, Black-billed Magpie, Hume's Groundpecker, Eurasian Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush, White-throated Dipper, Song Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, Common Redstart, Rufous-backed Redstart, White-crowned Penduline Tit, Long-billed Bush Warbler, Sedge Warbler, White-browed Tit-Warbler, Garden Warbler, Barred Warbler, Tibetan Lark, Oriental Skylark, Horned Lark, Tibetan Snowfinch, Plain-backed Snowfinch, Red-throated Pipit, 6 species of accentors, Brambling, Twite, Eurasian Linnet, Brandt's Mountain Finch, Mongolian Finch, Great Rosefinch, Red-mantled Rosefinch, Yellowhammer, Pine Bunting and Reed Bunting.
How to reach
By bus/taxi from Srinagar, Kashmir on the 430km Srinagar - Leh Highway (open June - Nov.) or from Manali,Himachal Pradesh on the 470kms Manali-Leh Road (July-Sep.).
By air from Srinagar, Jammu, Chandigarh and New Delhi
Where to stay
Many hotels/lodges to choose from. Heavily booked in season between July - September.
Season: June to September.
Birds and Mammals of Ladakh (ISBN 019565714-4) by Otto Pfister - Indispensable!
A Birdwatcher's Guide to India by Krys Kazmierczak
Ladakh - a high-altitude melting -pot ~ Otto Pfister; BirdingASIA 1, June 2004
Place to be: Ladakh ~ Otto Pfister; Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXIV No.4, August 2004