It was a crispy cold December day. I was on an assignment, to photograph the Forest Rest Houses of Uttarakhand. After photographing the Janaki Chatti Forest Rest House I had decided to trek up to Yamunotri. Although the pilgrimage season was over and the shrine would be closed, I was curious to visit the source of the mighty Yamuna.
After a long and steady walk I was at the highest point of the trail. The track passes through a very old oak forest, crosses a ridge and then descends to the Yamunotri shrine. The forest was silent and the birding had been quite slow.
Just as I reached the top, I suddenly found myself in the midst of a mixed hunting party of about two dozen birds. The party consisted of Spot Winged Tits (Parus melanolophus), Rufous Vented Tits (Parus rubidiventris), Grey Crested Tits (Parus dichrous), a Eurasian Creeper (Certhia familiaris), a Himalayan Woodpecker (Dendrocopos himalayensis) and, last but not the least, three White Throated Tits (Aegithalos niveogularis). I had seen glimpses of the elusive White-throated Tits but never from this close. The hunting party stayed in the area for about 20 minutes and then moved on as suddenly as it had appeared.
I continued on to the Yamunotri Temple. On the way back, at the same spot where I had encountered the mixed hunting party on the way up, I came across a flock of 16 White Throated Tits (Aegithalos niveogularis). This flock stayed with me for fifteen minutes and, if anything, it was even more confiding that the mixed hunting party.
In all the years of birding in the Himalayas I had got a glimpse of the White Throated Tits only twice earlier. This rare chance encounter with these elusive high altitude tits is still fresh in my mind. In this painting I have tried to capture the essence of this experience and share it with you.
You can read more about this magical encounter by clicking on this link: http://somendras.com/?p=1180
The White Throated Tits – a Painting
Acrylic on canvas 15″ x 18″
Closeups of some details of this painting.