Ranges of Sohagi Barwa Wildlife Sanctuary
The Pakadi Range is the southwest range of Sohagi Barwa with an area of 6,459.50 ha. This range on the main Maharajganj road is in fact the gateway to the Sohagi Barwa Sanctuary and is well connected with Gorakhpur and Farenda. The range headquarters and the Forest Rest House are both situated at Pakadi Forest complex. The unique point of this range is that it can be visited throughout the year as there is a good forest road inside different beats of the Sanctuary. This range has six beats namely the Sadar-I, Sadar-II, Bhagwanpur, Jagpur, Mahalganj and Dhangrahwa. It also hosts a small wetland called Tedwa Taal.
This range is a good area to see drongos—the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus, the Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus as well as their other common cousins. The Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, a resident species here, is one of India’s best mimic and surprisingly this species is quite bold and conspicuous in this range, often seen around the campus gleaning for insects, lizards and invertebrates. Another highlight species of this range is the Crested Serpent-eagle Spilornis cheela, a species quite prominent here. During winters one can easily see the Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrine and other forest-dwelling species.
Laxmipur (Lachmipur) Range
This range in the north-central part of the Sanctuary has an excellent Forest Rest House at Tedhighat, although the range headquarters is at Laxmipur. This range with an area of 5,159.80 ha is further divided into four beats—Kewalpur, Achalgarh, Laxmipur and Tedhighat. Although there is a lot of disturbed forest in this range, many forest birds are seen throughout the year. Some of the easily sighted bird species in this range are the Indian Grey Hornbill Ocyceros birostris, Great Thick-knee Esacus recurvirostris, Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, Yellow-footed Green-pigeon Treron phoenicopterus, Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria, Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis, Jungle Owlet Glaucidium radiatum, Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis, Brown-headed Barbet Megalaima zeylanica and the Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense. There are six wetlands in this range namely the Dandoh Nalla, Bharto Naala, Khaserwa Taal, Sri Nagar Taal, Tandwahiya Taal and Dhekahi Taal. During winter if there is water, these wetlands are home to water birds, both resident and migratory, although not in significant numbers. Some of the common birds in these wetlands are the Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis, Little Cormorant Microcarbo niger, Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus, Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans, Indian Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha, White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus, Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus and sometimes the uncommon Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus.
North Chowk Range
This range in the northwestern part of the Sanctuary with an area of 5,599.70 ha is in true sense the real birding paradise of the Sohagi Barwa Wildlife Sanctuary. With the range headquarters at Chowk, this range is further divided into four beats namely Chouraha, Tedighat, Sekhuie and Ghodhawa. There is a Forest Rest House located in the core part of the range at Deibhar. There are four wetlands in this range namely the Singraina Taal, Koriahewa Taal, Raiyakhar Taal and Batora Taal. Out of these wetlands the Singraina Taal (N 27° 21’ 08.9” E 83° 33’ 25.3”) is the most promising birding area for the entire Sohagi Barwa Wildlife Sanctuary. According to the Management Plan of Sohagi Barwa Wildlife Sanctuary (2010-11 to 2019-20), this wetland is spread across a minimum area of 100 ha and extends up to a maximum of 500 ha.
Rahmani (1988) had reported hundreds of water birds from this wetland. During his visit in May 1988, Dr Rahmani had recorded the presence of 50 Sarus Crane, 400 Lesser Whistling-duck Dendrocygna javanica, Purple Swamphen Porphyrio [porphyrio] poliocephalus, Black-necked Stork Ephipporhynchus asiaticus, Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, Painted Stork Myteria leucocephala, Grey-headed Fish-eagle Icthyophaga ichthyaetusi and several other wetland species.
Despite the fact that this wetland remains covered by vegetation from time to time, during winters, it is full of migratory birds. During the present BNHS survey, the team recorded more than 150 species of migratory as well as resident water and woodland birds around this wetland. It is also noteworthy to mention that out of the 17 Threatened and Near Threatened species recorded from the Sohagi Barwa Wildlife Sanctuary, 10 species have been seen from the Singraina Taal area alone. Some of the prominent species with significant population at this wetland are the Sarus Crane, Lesser Adjutant, Black-necked Stork, Grey-headed Fish-eagle and Painted Stork. Apart from the Threatened species recorded, the BNHS team during the winters noted a minimum of 2,000 to 3,000 ducks and more than 500 waders. These include the Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus, Greylag Goose Anser anser, Lesser Whistling-duck Dendrocygna javanica, Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea, Comb or Knob-billed Duck Sarkidiornis melanotos, Common Teal Anas creca, Garganey Querquedula querguedula, Gadwall Mareca strepera, Eurasian Wigeon Mareca penelope, Northern Shoveler Spatula clypeata, Northern Pintail Anas acuta, Indian Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Red-crested Pochard Netta rufina and Cotton Teal or Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus. Among other water birds present in Singraina Taal, there were the Indian Black Ibis Pseudibis papillosa, Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus, Watercock Gallicrex cinerea, Purple Swamphen Porphyrio [porphyrio] poliocephalus, Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus, Eurasian Coot Fulica atra, Grey Heron Ardea cinerea, Purple Heron Ardea purpurea, Indian Pond-heron Ardeola grayii, Black-crowned Night-heron Nycticorax nycticorax, Black Bittern Dupetor flavicollis, Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus and the Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus.
In some of the surrounding areas with Cane Calmus spp and short height mixed forest patches, there is a high density of the resident population of the White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus, Pin-striped Tit-babbler Mixornis gularis and the Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica.
South Chowk Range
The South Chowk Range bordering North Chowk, having its headquarters at Chowk is spread over an area of 5,089.40 ha. This range is further divided into four beats namely Khosta, Nathnagar, Kusamhwa and Barsaina and is also home to four wetlands —Saurdahawa Taal, Matauha Taal and Pidari Taal. Among these wetlands, the Pidari Taal is home to two threatened species namely the Sarus Crane and the Lesser Adjutant, both seen throughout the year in this small wetland apart from commoner water birds such as egret, herons and water rails. In the Riparian forest surrounding Pidari Taal, any casual visitor can easily see four species of kingfishers around this wetland especially the Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis, White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis, Lesser Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis and Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis.
The Kushmahwa Forest Rest House here is an ideal location for any birdwatcher. With nature trails from this Rest House in four directions and the availability of the place throughout the year, the place is a visitor’s delight as it offers new birds in all seasons. For instance, apart from the common birds, the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo is heard everywhere and one can see a good density of Blue-naped Monarch Hypothymis auzrea, Asian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi, Red-breasted Flycatcher Ficedula parva, Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae and Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonesis throughout the area, depending on seasons. The Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus and Indian Peafowl Pavo cristatus are resident breeders around the Forest Rest House.
If one is keen to see nocturnal bird-of-preys apart from the nightjars, the Common Barn-owl Tyto alba, Spotted Owlet Athene brama, Jungle Owlet Glaucidium radiatum, Indian Eagle-owl Bubo bengalensis, Forest Eagle-owl Ketupa nipalensis and Brown Fish-owl Ketupa zeylonensis can be spotted with little effort in this range. Most of the owl species breed in the forest areas of the Sanctuary around the nallahs.
One can also expect to see diverse woodpeckers here: Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla, Indian Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos nanus, Yellowfronted Pied Woodpecker Dendrocopos mahrattensis, Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus, Himalayan Flameback Dinopium shorii, Blackrumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense, and Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus. The Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris may be a bonus species for seasoned birders. The fruiting Ficus trees and bridges over the nallahs are all ideal bird watching locations in this range. Although not many bird species are found in the Sal Forest, the patches of mixed forest are host to mixed hunting parties of various bird species such as the Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus, Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus, Small Minivet Pericroootus cinnamomeus and the Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianusi, besides warbler and tits.
Madhwalia (Madhaulia) Range
This northern range of the Sohagi Barwa Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most beautiful parts of the Sanctuary. This range, spread over an area of 8,091.70 ha with its headquarters in Nichlaul, has perhaps the best Forest Rest House in the Sanctuary. This range is divided into six beats namely Dudharai, Basoli, Manikapur, Ganeshpur and Madhwalia. It contains one wetland, Thuthari Taal, and a prominent grassland at Manikapur.
As the aim of the present study was to look out for the Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis and Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis, the BNHS team searched most of the larger grasslands including Manikapur with a probable habitat for these species in various seasons. Despite best efforts, we could not locate either of the species. Nevertheless, we recorded more than 20 grassland birds such as the White-eyed Buzzard Butastur teesa, Bengal Bushlark Mirafra assamicai and Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis from the Manikapur grassland. The wooded grasslands fading into the forests makes this range a diverse habitat for birds despite the fact that there is constant disturbance from livestock grazing and grass collection.
In this area one can see seven species of shrikes namely the ‘Black-headed’ Longtailed Shrike Lanius schach tricolor, ‘Rufous-backed’ Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach erythronotusi, Great Grey Shrike Lanis excubitor lahtora, Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus, Brown Shrike Lanis cristatus cristatus, Isabelline Shrike Lanius isabellinus and Bay-backed Shrike Lanius vittatus.
A team also recorded a total of nine species of doves and pigeons: the commonly found Blue Rock Pigeon Columba livia, Oriental Turtle-dove Streptopelia oreintalis, Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis, Red Collared-dove Streptopelia tranquebarica, Spotted Dove Spilopelia chinensis, Eurasian Collared-dove Streptopelia decaocto, Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica, Yellow-footed Green-pigeon Treron p. phoenicopterus and the rarely seen Orange-breasted Green-pigeon Treron bicinctus.
The parakeet population is also very good in this range. On a winter morning one can see hundreds of Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri on the way to Manikapur from the Ganeshpur beat. The Near Threatened Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria breeds in this range and the Plum-headed Parakeet Psittacula cyanocephala is also seen in most months. The two fantail species namely the White-browed Fantail Rhipidura aureola and White-throated Fantail Rhipidura albicollis are found in the wild mango plantation here. With the onset of summer, the Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei and Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus can be seen or heard everywhere. The population of Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris is also very good in the Mugger-nallah area, which is also home to the Mugger.
The Nichlaul range covering an area of 6,823.10 ha is divided into six beats—Nichlaul, Doma-1, Doma-2, Baithwalia, Chargaha and Siswa. This range is blessed with six small and large wetlands—Gudgudiya Taal, Chandamani Taal, Jhawai Taal, Manjhariya Taal, Darginia Taal and Choti Gandak River and two Forest Rest Houses at Nichlaul and Doma. The Darginia Taal and Chandamani Taal in this range are also home to mugger, fishes and a variety of raptors.
The forests near the Doma Forest Rest House is also a good place for a variety of birds. Some of the birds-of-prey easily seen during winters in this range are the Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus, Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, Oriental Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus, White-eyed Buzzard Butastur teesa, Crested Serpent-eagle Spilornis cheela, Short-toed Eagle Circaetus gallicus, Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatusi, Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga and Changeable Hawk-eagle Nisaetus limnaeetus. Along the wetlands there is also a good population of lapwings such as the commonly seen Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus, Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus (in drier areas), Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus to the Near Threatened River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii.
The easternmost range of the Sohagi Barwa Wildlife Sanctuary covering an area of 1,996.90 ha has only one beat—Sheopur. One has to travel via Nepal and cross Valmiki Tiger Reserve to reach this range headquarters at Sohagi Barwa village. The name Sohagi Barwa for this Sanctuary comes from this village but no one knows or can tell exactly the meaning and the story behind choosing this village name for this Sanctuary.
This range has much disturbed forest due to high biotic pressure. Therefore one is likely to encounter more common than rarer forest bird species. Some uncommon species that may be seen in this range include the Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus, Sirkeer Malkoha Taccocua leschenaultia, Lesser Coucal Gentropus bengalensis, Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula, Bengal Bushlark Mirafra assamica, Ashy-crowned Finch-lark Eremopterix grisea and Grey-throated Sand-martin Riparia chinensis.
The lack of Forest Rest House in this range, and also the presence of the well-managed Valmiki Tiger Reserve in the vicinity with better overnight stay and food facilities makes this human-dominated range a less preferred choice for tourists as a birding destination.
|S. No.||Name of the Range||Total Area(Ha)    ||Range Head Quarter    ||District||Range HQ Coordinates||Distance from Division HQ (Maharajganj)|
|1.||Pakadi||6459.50||Pakadi||Maharajganj    ||N 27° 07’ 11.0” E 83° 28’ 44.1”        ||8 km|
|2.||Laxmipur||5,159.80||Laxmipur||Maharajganj||N 27° 15’ 35.0” E 83° 24’ 34.8”||38 km|
|3.||North Chowk||5,599.70||Chouk or Chowk||Maharajganj||N 27° 14’ 51.0” E 83° 34’ 25.5”||15 km|
|4.||South Chowk||5,089.40||Chowk||Maharajganj||N 27° 14’ 51.4” E 83° 34’ 22.8”||15 km|
|5.||Madhwalia||8,091.70||Nichlaul||Maharajganj||N 27° 18’ 30.4” E 83° 43’ 41.7”||28 km|
|6.||Nichlaul||6,823.10||Nichlaul||Maharajganj||N 27° 18’ 30.4” E 83° 43’ 41.7”||28 km|
|7.||Sheopur||1,996.90||Sohagi Barwa||Maharajganj||N 27° 17’ 12.6” E 83° 53’ 33.1”||28 km|
|Total Area of core zone    ||39,220.10|