The "Cheer" Story
The Cheer Story
Vinayak is the village in Uttarakhand, Nestles in the high up on the mountains of Uttarakhand. The slopes of these mountains are very reach interms of high altitude biodiversity. Lot of species of rare pheasants and other birds are resident here.
Earlier night, It started raining very heavily with thunder storms as weather in the mountains changes without the warning. I was referring to the Bird Guide and reading about "Cheer" and suddenly electricity went off and darkness everywhere. I decided to sleep with the last thing on my mind that time was "Cheer" . With a hope to atleast able to see it the next day. Next day It was a cold morning as when we started from our lodge at Pangot in the morning with the 1st light. As we ere gaining altitude towards Vinayak temperature was just about Zero Degrees and to add to it was the wind on the top of the mountains. Fingers were numbed even inside 2 layers of woolen gloves. Objective was to search for elusive Pheasants found there. Amongst all, Koklaas pheasant is the one which can be seen easily compared to the rest including Cheer Pheasant. We drove and drove with scanning both side of the road but without any luck. Finally decided to try for Cheer Pheasant at Cheer Point where they were seen 2 days back.
As we reached Cheer point, good news came as few of the other guides there already spotted some 6 individuals deep down the valley on the other side of the ridge. I was so happy that we could at least see them. After watching them, all other groups started leaving the place. This is how they are seen .. far down deep in the valley.. Very few have actually seen them up close as these pheasants are very shy of any humans and disturbance of what so ever kind. As i was speaking to one of the guides, got the news that He apotted a pair of Yellow-throated Marten on the same ridge early in the morning. Yellow-throat Martens are known to feed on Cheer Pheasants.
Looking through the binoculars, looking at the pace with which these Cheer Pheasants were climbing up the on the ridge, i noticed a kind of hurry and discomfort in their actions.
I immediately figured out that this might be just because of those Martens that Cheers had noticed some danger and were climbing up. I looked at the ridge very carefully and thought of one place from where they might come on the road to cross and climb up further. I immediately took my whole team to the spot and decided to wait on the road. Now the long wait started. Some from the team started losing patience as wait was longer than expected. Somehow i knew that if there has to be some miracle which needs to be happen then it was the time ... I was asking them to be motionless as much as possible as these pheasants are known to be very very shy.
There the Male arrived .. all 10 Cameras started firing shutter at once...
Male was so so cautious he took every step with utmost care ... carefully observing any kind of danger for his family ... As he reached the other end, Female arrived ... and then another female.. Then another... followed by 2 Juveniles.
The whole crossing lasted for 5 minutes and we photographed this rarest of the pheasant up close at eye level with perfect Winter morning light ...
This was no more than the blessings of our dearest mother nature ... !!!
One of the most unbelievable encounters in the wild for me. !!
Cheer Pheasant (Catreus wallichii)
The cheer pheasant is a medium-sized montane pheasant in which sexual dimorphism is slight and in which both sexes have long, narrow occipital crests. A large red orbital skin area is present, and the plumage is generally grey to buffy, with black barring and spotting, and the highly graduated tail likewise is strongly barred with buff, black, and brown. The wing is rounded, with the tenth primary shorter than the first, and the sixth the longest. The tail is of 18 rectrices, with the central pair up to five times the length of the outermost pair. The tail moult is phasianine (centripetal). The tarsus is fairly long, and spurred in the male. A single species is recognized.
Distribution and population
In Nepal, it appears to be localised, occurring from the Baitadi district in the west, east to the Kali Gandaki River. The most important area in the country is Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve.In Pakistan, it may now only persist in the Jhelum Valley, where it is declining and has apparently disappeared from some areas; the most recent surveys found no evidence of it at Salkhala Game Reserve or Machiara National Park where it previously occurred.
Keywords: Cheer, Cheer Pheasant, Himalayan Birds, Indian Birds, Indian Wildlife, Pheasants, Sagar Gosavi
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