Assam Lingzey – Excellent Untapped Spot for Birding in Sikkim

Sikkim may be the second smallest state in India, but what it lacks in size it makes up with its rich flora and fauna. In this article, I will share with you one of my favorite spots for birding in Sikkim, which I uncovered by chance with my parents, earlier this year – Assam Lingzey!

What to expect at Assam Lingzey

Few outsiders may have heard of Assam Lingzey. This picturesque region is a bit isolated from the hustle and bustle of the capital Gangtok. That said, the area is full of beautiful villages surrounded by refreshing green forests with the mighty Kanchenjunga snow capped mountain range forming a spectacular backdrop.

Assam Lingzey

Spectacular landscape of Assam Lingzey

Assam Lingzey is also known for the best orchid farming in the entire Sikkim. The word “Lingzey” translates into a forest covered with Chilaune trees.

My dream experience began in the lovely Streamland Homestay, run by its genial owner Arun Rai and his charming family. As soon as we arrived at Pakyong airport, our host was waiting to whisk us away to his beautiful homestay, a scenic hour’s drive away.

This stunning drive gave me an excellent introduction to the region. As we got closer to Assam Lingzey, the greens became greener and the roads wrapped with small villages seemed right out of a fairytale. I couldn’t stop taking photos and videos throughout this refreshing ride.

assam lingzey villages

Cute colorful houses in villages enroute

My bird guide on this trip, which incidentally was meant just to spend time with my parents to celebrate the New Year, was Gureng Tamang, who knew my father from another birding trip in 2019, but at a different location. He was exceptionally talented and ensured we saw umpteen lifers. 

Birding routes in Assam Lingzey

Birding routes in Assam Lingzey

Birding at Assam Lingzey

Cute pair of Rose finch

Cute pair of Rose finch

 

The area around the homestay is a forest of rhododendrons, the nectar of which attracts many species like sunbirds, fulvetta and yuhinas. No sooner had I finished my lunch we headed for a short hike uphill guided by Arun Rai and Gureng.

birding in sikkim

Our birding area for the day

Our first spotting was the Asian barred owlet at a short distance from the lodge.

Asian barred owlet

Asian barred owlet

Soon our guide started pointing out laughing thrushes, barbets and the extremely rare Red Faced Lichola. A little further ahead, the Green-tailed sunbird sucking the nectar was a showstopper.

Green-tailed sunbird

Green-tailed sunbird giving us a proper show

As it happens, while birding in the Himalayas, the astounding number of species one can spot in a short time is mind blowing. We could hardly keep pace with our guide pointing out one different bird after another.

Himalayan bluetail

Himalayan bluetail perched atop a branch

The two hours we spent on the first afternoon resulted in over thirty birds and a couple of lifers such as, the Red Faced Lichola and the Slaty Backed Forktail.

Next morning at the crack of dawn we headed down the road towards a waterfall nearby. Needless to say, the rewards were outstanding. Our catch of the day were the three forktails, Little, Spotted and another Slaty Backed.

Spotted Forktail

Spotted Forktail “Spotted” by the gushing waters

The star attraction of the morning was the extremely rare Black-throated Prinia, a pair that kept us regaled for nearly fifteen minutes.

Black-throated Prinia

Black-throated Prinia – Star of the trip

Other beauties spotted were thrushes, warblers, tits, magpies, and the striking Greater yellownape woodpecker. In the end our two day bird count was around 70 species.

Greater yellownape woodpecker

The magnificent yellow crown of the Greater yellownape woodpecker

This was indeed a huge number for a small group of 3 unexpected birders who had little knowledge of the area and species found. If it wasn’t for our talented birding guide, we would have only spotted a handful and identified even fewer species.

Other stunning beauties birds of Assam Lingzey, Sikkim – 

Slender-billed scimitar babbler

Slender-billed scimitar babbler

Plumbeous water redstart

Plumbeous water redstart

Rusty-fronted Barwing

Rusty-fronted Barwing

Sikkim treecreeper

Sikkim treecreeper

Green-backed tit

Green-backed tit

Blue-fronted redstart

Blue-fronted redstart

Olive-backed pipit

Olive-backed pipit

Rufous-gorgeted flycatcher

Rufous-gorgeted flycatcher

Striated laughingthrush

Striated laughingthrush

Red-tailed minla

Red-tailed minla

Plumbeous Redstart Female

Plumbeous Redstart Female

Maroon-backed accentor

Maroon-backed accentor

Tip – Other natural wonders to enjoy in Sikkim are – Fambong Lho Wildlife sanctuary, Tsomgo lake and Yumthang valley of flowers

Streamland Homestay – Your base for birding at Assam Lingzey 

My description of the trip to Assam Lingzey would have been totally incomplete without enjoying a stay at this charming homestay. Located at a small height from the road, Streamland Homestay enjoys a scenic location in a peaceful area. It turned out to be the ideal place to stay and look for new birds and hear their chirping calls each morning.

streamland homestay Assam Lingzey sikkim

Streamland Homestay amidst lush greens

Room types:  The cozy cottage at Streamland Homestay has a spacious drawing room and two rooms that can accommodate a maximum of six guests. 

rooms at stream land

One of the cute rooms at Stream land

Amenities: The interiors are neat and fully equipped with all basic amenities like double bed, sofas, TV, attached bathroom with hot and cold water facility. The rooms open out to a large lush green lawn with garden umbrellas and a swing for the guests.

stream land homestay sikkim

Chilling with Coco (the in-house fur ball) at the swing

When visiting Assam Lingzey one must remember that it remains cold here throughout the year, so an umbrella and warm clothes are a must at any time of the year.

Stream land homestay

Stream land homestay

Tariff: Streamland Homestay serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with tea and snacks to its guests. Their dishes are mostly organic and home prepared as is the local liquor which they provide free on demand. For all this the charges are a very reasonable at 1500 INR per person per day.

For reservations contact Mr Arun Rai

Telephone: 83718 75088

stream land homestay sikkim

Mom with Mr Rai (homestay owner) outside Stream land

So have you visited Assam Lingzey in Sikkim for birding or is it on your list? If not, I would highly recommend vsiiting this pristing piece of paradise and you will surely want to live there forever. The calm, peace and natural beauty of this remote find was unparalleled in my umpteen visits to Sikkim.

10 Comments

  1. That spotted forktail looks so beautiful – I don’t think I have ever seen that bird before! Looks like a such a relaxing trip!

  2. Oh, I really love this article and I love them birds. Bird spotting must be amazing here!

  3. Beautiful

  4. How lovely are the birds! I want to do this too. I’m not an early riser but maybe I will do it one day for bird watching.

  5. Thankyou so much for exploring our Village, Assam Lingzey.
    It helps a lot to know about our Village.

    • Wow so happy to read that my article reached a local 🙂 thank you for your kind comment and hope you find these birds in your village.

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