Habitat: In the Nubra valley in Ladakh, these remarkable birds, summer and breed in the thickets of Sea Buckthorn Hippophae rhamnoides, interspersed with Willow Salix daphnoides. They prefer patches where arterial streamlets run through them, before joining the larger river.
Remarks: We came across a family with two recently fledged juveniles, who fed unaided but stayed close to the parents. At least two more pairs in the vicinity foraged in their territories. If undisturbed, and before the rays of the sun spread, they explored the external periphery of Sea Buckthorn. The birds were very agile, and their movements dextrous, as they flitted and worked their way, meticulously scanning along the clusters of unripe berries. They actively explored the cracks and crevices of branches through the dense cover, often doing a full circle, and hanging upside down as they gleaned insects, and even hovered at times. They once descended on a pile of chopped brushwood, and searched the split ends, and the length between the bark and hardwood. As the sun shone, they confined themselves to the cover of impenetrable foliage, more often heard than seen. They maintained contact calls, a long drawn and pleasant sounding ‘tsein’. Another foraging call ‘chit’-‘chit’, the tempo of which increased once with impending danger when a feral dog came by. - GA