A water redstart

If there was one uncommon bird which I was sure of seeing in Himachal Pradesh, it was the Plumbeous water redstart (Rhyacornis fuliginosa). Sure enough, the first time The Young Niece and I walked down to see the Falachan, I saw this bird sitting on a boulder on the bank of the river. I pointed out to her the chestnut tail and the slate blue of the male, and the black-and-white tail and gray spotted breast of the female. She learnt that the up-and-down wagging of the tail is another way to recognize the female and the juvenile.

I’d first seen it hopping around from stone to bank and back near a roadside stream in Bhutan. Since then I’ve seen it on every trip to the Himalayas. It seems that this bird does not mind humans, and goes about hunting insects in the air and on the ground near a river even close to habitation. It is altitude bound, being usually found between 2 and 4 Kilometers above sea level, but is common in this habitat.