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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Northeast India, 20 February - 9 March 2003,
Notes on Sites
Kaziranga National Park
Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary
Namdapha National Park
Systematic List of Birds
Systematic List of Mammals
This is an account of a 16 days trip to Assam & Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India from 20 February - 9 March 2003.
I was accompanied on the trip by my long-time friend Vital van Gorp and Peter Lobo, who was our guide for the whole period:
India is probably the only country in the world that can boast of harbouring as varied and rich a birdlife as it does. Home to well over a thousand species, of which about 100 are to be found only in India, this country is a veritable paradise for any birdwatcher and for Vital and me it was our fourth visit to India and it will certainly not be not our last.
In the extreme northeast of India lie the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Arunachal Pradesh is a remote mountainous state bordered to the east and south by Myanmar (Burma) and is still virtually unknown as far as birders concerned.
Harbouring a number of species only really shared with Myanmar, Arunachal Pradesh offers a readily accessible window to the eastern Himalayas and has probably the highest diversity of birds in the Oriental region.
We flew to New Delhi from Brussels via Vienna for € 750 with Austrian Airlines – service quite good and flight on time.
This flight took approximately 8 hours. The flight to Guwahati was with Air Sahara for € 440 return. The time difference with the Netherlands was 4½ hours.
The security around airports in India was remarkable. Two x-rays and metal detectors, hand luggage & body search and baggage identification!
You do need a visa for India, currently € 50. Arunachal Pradesh is still considered to be in a sensitive border area and can only be visited with a Restricted Area Permit (RAP), which is extremely difficult to obtain unless the visit is part of a tour organised through a recognised Indian travel agent. Gurudongma Tours & Treks took care of that. The cost of the Restricted Area Permit for Arunachal Pradesh was US$200 for our group.
The official currency of India is the rupee. Take travelling cheques with you or cash. The exchange rate at the bank in Guwahati was 4600 Rs to US$100.
FOOD AND DRINK
Many birdwatchers rule out third world destinations as options for holidays fearing strange food, language barriers, sickness, bugs, and galore and intense heat. They needn’t have any such reservations about Assam however.
Bottled mineral water is widely available, stick to this and bottled soft drinks or Dansberg Blue beer (630cl).
The Indian food is excellent and of a high standard.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Theft is really not a problem in Assam & Arunachal Pradesh. The people are very friendly, easy going and helpful. They smile and greet you and almost without exception respond to a greeting or smile. Only in the Digboi area we encountered less friendly people while birding along the road. We did not get permission to visit the forest administered by the Indian Oil Corporation, because it was too dangerous due to the presence of Assam separatists. During the last night of our stay in the IOC guesthouse in Digboi the separatists destroyed an oil installation only two kilometres from our hotel.
For vaccinations consult your own doctor for up to date advice. Generally you should be immunised or “topped up” against hepatitis A and B, Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio. In addition to this you are recommended to take Malaria tablets.
We had virtually no health problems and saw surprisingly few mosquitoes, the only real nuisance being loads of leeches in Namdapha National Park. Leeches are a real pest and you can pick them up not just in the forest but also in damp grass, often when you least expect it. Although there is no complete answer to the problem, as precaution wear long trousers tucked securely into your socks, use “leech” socks and spray insect repellent liberally on your clothing and shoes! If they do get on to you, you can simply flick or pull them off. They don't leave their head in you or cause infections.
English is a widespread lingua franca and the first language for many educated people. Nearly everywhere English will get you through.
Most birders visit Northeast India between November and February, which is the “dry “ season, though as Assam has the highest rainfall on earth there is perhaps no season that can genuinely be considered a dry season!
The weather was quite good throughout, with a few showers, but prolonged rain only at night and pleasant temperatures all the time. February/March is an ideal month as resident birds are in full song and most northern migrants are still present. It is best to do as much birding in the early morning as possible, as many species are less active in the afternoon.
A tape recorder and the "Birdsongs of Nepal” and “Birdsongs of the Himalaya“ by Scott Connop and the "Indian Bird Calls" by the Bombay Natural History Society are quite useful for drawing in birds. These tapes can be ordered at Wildsounds in England. E-mail: email@example.com.
With the help of the tape recorder we played the songs of a few birds. Sometimes we recorded the song or call and played it back again. A good torch is a must. A telescope is useful at rivers and very useful for viewing canopy species especially from roadsides. It is now very easy to telephone almost anywhere using the STD booths, available in all towns and villages.
TRANSPORT AND ROADS
Road conditions in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh vary, but are generally fairly good. The driving is entertaining unless you are the nervous type. Drivers use the horn the entire time even when the road is empty. The custom seems to be hoot and let the world know you are there.
NOMENCLATURE & TAXONOMY
I have decided to follow the English names of James F. Clements (Birds of the World, A CheckList, Fifth Edition, 2000).
The following list of birds we saw frequently and if you spend any sort of time in the right habitats you will too:
Little Cormorant, Little Egret, Indian Pond-Heron, Cattle Egret, Spot-billed Duck, Spotted Dove, Red-breasted Parakeet, Asian Palm-Swift, White-throated Kingfisher, Indian Roller, Lineated Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Scarlet Minivet, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, White-throated Bulbul, Blue Whistling-Thrush, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Common Stonechat, White-crested Laughingthrush, Silver-eared Mesia, Black-hooded Oriole, Grey-backed Shrike, Black Drongo, Ashy Drongo, House Crow, Large-billed Crow, Jungle Myna, Common Myna, Asian Pied Starling, Chestnut-tailed Starling, House Sparrow, Eurasian Tree Sparrow.
For a detailed report of species and numbers please refer to the systematic list at the end of this report.
Many thanks to Peter Lobo & General J.M. “Jimmy” Singh for taking care of all the ground arrangements needed for our visit to Namdapha. The success of the trip was greatly aided by the relations that Gurudongma Tours & Treks (General J.M. Singh) had with the authorities in Arunachal Pradesh and the Forest Department.
Also many thanks to Jon Hornbuckle for his excellent birding report.
James F. Clements. Birds
of the World. A Check List.
B. Grewal. A Photographic Guide to Birds of India and Nepal.
Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp. Birds of the Indian subcontinent.
Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp, Tim Inskipp. Birds of Nepal.
Krys Kazmierczak. A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.
Krys Kazmierczak & Raj Singh. A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India.
Michael Walters. Complete Checklist. Vogels van de Wereld.
Nigel Wheatley. Where to watch birds in Asia.
There are two excellent field guides for India:
Grimmett, Inskipp & Inskipp, a field guide-sized set of plates from their “Birds of the Indian subcontinent” tome with facing page id. text and range maps for all species, and Kazmierczak, A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent with paintings by my countryman Ber van Perlo, facing page id. text, and range maps for all species. Quite a lot of artists did the plates in Grimmett et al.; most of them have more artistic talent to van Perlo who did all the plates in Kazmierczak.
We found that Kazmierczak's text was consistently better and more focused on the key state-of-the-art id. characters, and it included vocalisations (missing from the field guide version of Grimmett; one must refer to their weighty volume for those details). And although the artistic talent in Grimmett et al. was more pleasing to the eye, time and again the van Perlo painting was more accurate. Finally, from a usage standpoint, the Kazmierczak was far superior with its English index as the last page, its shortcut to the groupings on each plate inside the front cover, the placement of range maps adjacent to the plates, and its normal Old World taxonomic arrangement. Thus, in the end, the Kazmierczak turned out to be the better field guide for India although one surely needs both guides for any visit. In many respects both guides are absolute necessities. Time and again it took the use of the combination of books to come up with the identification.
Krys Kazmierczak’s "A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India" is very useful at the planning stage.
REPORTS AND ARTICLES
Anwaruddin Choudbury, OBC Bulletin no. 25. The status
of the birds of Dibru-Saikhowa Sanctuary.
Jon Hornbuckle. Report on a birding trip to Northeast India, 17 February – 21 March 1998.
Henk Hendriks. Northeast India, March 7 – February 20 1998.
I relied heavily on the excellent report and incredibly detailed list of Jon Hornbuckle with Des Allen, Paul Holt and Krys Kazmierczak, which is available from OBC.
I use this software to keep track of the birds I have seen and to make lists of any country, labelling endemics and birds previously seen in that country, outside it, or both. BirdArea can produce checklists of the birds of any country of Clements’ world birds.
Again I cannot praise Gurudongma Tours & Treks enough - it was an absolutely fabulous trip without any significant difficulty - pulled off in a difficult and extremely bureaucratic country. Having Gurudongma Tours & Treks arrange our trip was by far the best decision we could have made.
February 20 Chaam * Brussels * Vienna * Delhi
February 21 Delhi * Guwahati
February 22 Guwahati * Kaziranga National Park
February 23 Kaziranga
February 24 Kaziranga
February 25 Kaziranga (incl. Panbari Forest)
February 26 Kaziranga * Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary
February 27 Dibru-Saikhowa
February 28 Dibru-Saikhowa
March 1 Guijan * Miao * Deban Village (Namdapha National Park)
March 2 Namdapha
March 3 Namdapha
March 4 Namdapha
March 5 Namdapha
March 6 Deban * Miao * Digboi
March 7 Digboi
March 8 Digboi * Dibrugarh * Delhi
March 9 Delhi * Vienna * Brussels * Chaam
NOTES ON SITES
The notes are only information supplementary to Krys Kazmierczak’s excellent “A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India”, the essential guide to the bird sites of India. For a detailed report of species and numbers please refer to the systematic list at the end of this report.
KAZIRANGA NATIONAL PARK
Accommodation: The Wild Grass Resort 5 kms east of Kohora is strongly recommended for comfort and convenience. They arrange for everything and can provide top class guides. Telephone no. 037626-62001,62805.
Kaziranga National Park is the premier mammal site in Assam and holds an excellent range of birds. Located on the south banks of the mighty Brahmaputra River in the far northeast of India, Assam, Kaziranga National Park covers an area of approximately 430 km2 with its mosaic of swamps, vast reed-beds, tall thickets of elephant grass and lowland subtropical forests making it the ideal habitat for the Indian Rhinoceros. Due to limitless poaching of this prehistoric survivor, the Kaziranga National Park was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1940.
Kaziranga's visiting season is from mid-November to early April months. During the monsoons, the Brahmaputra River bursts its banks, flooding the low-lying grasslands and causing animals to migrate from one area to another within the Kaziranga National Park.
We divided our visit between Kaziranga and the tea plantation behind the Wild Grass Resort. Each visit to the park includes an obligatory armed Forest Guard.
Inside the National Park elephant rides are available between 6.00 am and 7.00 am from Kohora. One ride is recommended to get a feel of the place and, if lucky, to get up close to the Bengal Florican, an endangered rarity. Various four-wheel drive vehicles are available to tour the three ranges. The Eastern Range at Agaratoli is about 30 kms away from Kohora. Factor in the travel time plus the fact that this is the longest trip inside the forest before you set off. The Western range at Baghori is the shortest run, but great for rhinos and buffaloes.
Birds seen here during our trip:
Spot-billed Pelican, Little Cormorant, Darter, Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Indian Pond-Heron, Cattle Egret, Asian Openbill, Black Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Black-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant, Greater Adjutant, Black-headed Ibis, Greylag Goose, Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Cotton Pigmy-goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Eurasian Teal, Mallard, Spot-billed Duck, Northern Pintail, Garganey, Northern Shoveler, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Tufted Duck, Osprey, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Kite, Brahminy Kite, Pallas’ Fish-Eagle, Grey-headed Fish-Eagle, Indian Vulture, Himalayan Griffon, Short-toed Eagle, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Western Marsh-Harrier, Pallid Harrier, Pied Harrier, Shikra, White-eyed Buzzard, Indian Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Eurasian Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, Swamp Francolin, Red Junglefowl, Kalij Pheasant, White-breasted Waterhen, Purple Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Bronze-winged Jacana, Northern Lapwing, River Lapwing, Grey-headed Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, River Tern, Pale-capped Pigeon, Spotted Dove, Yellow-footed Pigeon, Green Imperial-Pigeon, Alexandrine Parakeet, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Collared Scops-Owl, Brown Fish-Owl, Asian Barred Owlet, Spotted Owlet, Savanna Nightjar, Himalayan Swiftlet, Asian Palm-Swift, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Green Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Oriental Pied-Hornbill, Lineated Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Grey-faced Woodpecker, Black-rumped Flameback, Rufous-winged Bushlark, Oriental Skylark, Plain Martin, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Oriental Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Rosy Pipit, Large Cuckoo-Shrike, Long-tailed Minivet, Short-billed Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Black-crested Bulbul, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, White-throated Bulbul, Black Bulbul, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Common Iora, Blue Whistling-Thrush, Scaly Thrush, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Ashy Prinia, Common Tailorbird, Dusky Warbler, Smoky Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Yellow-vented Warbler, Striated Grassbird, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Verditer Flycatcher, Small Niltava, Pale-chinned Blue-Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Siberian Rubythroat, Oriental Magpie-Robin, White-rumped Shama, Daurian Redstart, Black-naped Monarch, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, Abbott’s Babbler, White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, Striped Tit-Babbler, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Great Tit, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Purple Sunbird, Crimson Sunbird, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Black-hooded Oriole, Maroon Oriole, Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Brown Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike, Grey-backed Shrike, Black Drongo, Bronzed Drongo, Lesser Racked-tailed Drongo. Hair-crested Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Ashy Woodswallow, Rufous Treepie, Grey Treepie, House Crow, Large-billed Crow, Spot-winged Starling, Common Hill Myna, White-vented Myna, Jungle Myna, Common Myna, Asian Pied Starling, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Baya Weaver, White-rumped Munia.
DIBRU-SAIKHOWA WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Accommodation: The River Island Camp in the reserve, however just before we arrived at Dibru-Saikhowa the separatists had attacked a military camp in the neighbourhood and the police did not permit that foreigners would camp in the reserve.
We spent three nights in the house of our local guide and host Joynal Abedin in Guijan
The little known wildlife sanctuary of Dibru-Saikhowa is an area of grassland and swamp forest sandwiched between the Brahmaputra and Dibru rivers in the east of Assam.
Contained between these rivers, the park is a 340km2 reserve, which was set up with a view to protecting the grassland and swamp habitat on the flood plains of the Brahmaputra River.
It has numerous internal water channels & bodies, seasonally flooded forests, "beels", and grassy pockets. This makes it an interesting birding destination for rare specialised grass land and swamp forest birds such as the threatened Marsh Babbler, Jerdon's Babbler, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Swamp Prinia and Jerdon’s Bushchat.
Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is generally kept open for tourist from month of November to April or as notified by the National Park Authority. A written permission from the Park Authority for entering into the National Park is obligatory.
No entry after sunset and before sunrise is permitted in the Park. Guijan Ghat and Saikhowa Ghat are the two entry points for tourists.
Birds seen here during our trip:
Great Cormorant, Little Cormorant, Darter, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Indian Pond-Heron, Cattle Egret, Striated Heron, Little Bittern, Asian Openbill, Lesser Adjutant, Ruddy Shelduck, Eurasian Teal, Spot-billed Duck, Tufted Duck, Oriental Honey-buzzard, Black Kite, White-rumped Vulture, Indian Vulture, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Western Marsh-Harrier, Northern Harrier, Crested Goshawk, Shikra, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Buzzard, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Eurasian Kestrel, Swamp Francolin, White-breasted Waterhen, Greater Painted-Snipe, Red-wattled Lapwing, Pintail Snipe, Common Snipe, Spotted Redshank, Common Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Temminck’s Stint, Long-toed Stint, Great Black-headed Gull, Brown-headed Gull, Red-collared Dove, Spotted Dove, Yellow-footed Pigeon, Green Imperial-Pigeon, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Asian Drongo-Cuckoo, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Brown Hawk-Owl, Asian Barred Owlet, Jungle Owlet, Himalayan Swiftlet, Asian Palm-Swift, Stork-billed Kingfisher, White-throated Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Indian Roller, Lineated Barbet, Lesser Yellownape, Greater Yellownape, Grey-faced Woodpecker, Sand Lark, Plain Martin, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Richard’s Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Rosy Pipit, Rosy Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Common Iora, Blue Whistling-Thrush, Zitting Cisticola, Swamp Prinia, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Plain Prinia, Pale-footed Bush-Warbler, Grey-sided Bush-Warbler, Spotted Bush-Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Thick-billed Warbler, Common Tailorbird, Smoky Warbler, Grey-hooded Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Striated Grassbird, Little Pied Flycatcher, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Small Niltava, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Bluethroat, Oriental Magpie-Robin, White-rumped Shama, Daurian Redstart, Blue-fronted Redstart, Common Stonechat, White-tailed Stonechat, Jerdon’s Bushchat, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, Marsh Babbler, Striped Tit-Babbler, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Great Tit, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Oriental White-eye, Black-hooded Oriole, Long-tailed Shrike, Grey-backed Shrike, Black Drongo, Hair-crested Drongo, Green Magpie, Rufous Treepie, Large-billed Crow, Jungle Myna, Common Myna, Asian Pied Starling, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Streaked Weaver.
DIGBOI IOC NATURE RESERVE
Accommodation: The Indian Oil Corporation Guesthouse is strongly recommended for comfort and convenience.
The oil town of Digboi in eastern Assam is a convenient last night’s stopover en route to or from Arunachal Pradesh.
Digboi, the site of India's first active oil field is now primarily a refining centre. The IOC has recently proposed a nature park surrounding the complex of old derricks and drilling platforms including the lowland forests and pools inside the park. Access must be requested from the IOC. We had bad luck, because in the week prior to our visit the Assam separatists had kidnapped a few people, amongst them a few Western people, so we did NOT get a permission to visit the forests.
Most of our time we spent at the golf-course near the guesthouse and we also walked a few hours on the (public) tarmac road along the IOC forest, where we did not see many birds.
Birds seen here during our trip:
Little Egret, Indian Pond-Heron, Cattle Egret, Pied Harrier, Besra, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, White-cheeked Partridge, White-breasted Waterhen, Red-wattled Lapwing, Solitary Snipe, Pintail Snipe, Spotted Dove, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Plaintive Cuckoo, Green-billed Malkoha, Greater Coucal, Collared Owlet, Asian Barred Owlet, Himalayan Swiftlet, White-throated Kingfisher, Indian Roller, Oriental Pied-Hornbill, Lineated Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Coppersmith Barbet, Rufous Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape, Grey-faced Woodpecker, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Blyth’s Pipit, Scarlet Minivet, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Red-whiskered, Red-vented Bulbul, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Common Iora, Blue Whistling-Thrush, Black-breasted Thrush, Dusky Thrush, Grey-breasted Prinia, Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler, Clamorous Reed-Warbler, Common Tailorbird, Smoky Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler, Blyth’s Leaf-Warbler, Striated Grassbird, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Common Stonechat, White-crested Laughingthrush, Chestnut-backed Laughingthrush, Great Tit, Sultan Tit, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Black-throated Sunbird, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Black-hooded Oriole, Brown Shrike, Long-tailed Shrike, Grey-backed Shrike, Ashy Drongo, Bronzed Drongo, Green Magpie, Collared Treepie, House Crow, Large-billed Crow, White-vented Myna, Jungle Myna, Common Myna, Asian Pied Starling, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, House Sparrow, Baya Weaver, White-rumped Munia, Nutmeg Mannikin.
NAMDAPHA TIGER RESERVE
Accommodation: The Forest Rest House at Deban (the only accommodation) and camping in tents in the jungle
The camps mentioned in Kazmierczak’s “A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India” (Hornbill, Haldibari & Bulbulia) are in bad shape, because poachers have set fire to the bamboo huts.
There are a few places to camp in the forest:
HORNBILL: Just 9kms from Deban, this is as the name suggests a homing ground for hornbills. Here flocks of these birds can be frequently spotted flying from one grove to another.
This picturesque camping spot, just 5 kms away from Deban, lies across the Noa-Dehing River and can be reached by boat. An overnight stay here is enjoyable experience in jungle camping.
This is an enchanting camping site overlooking a large aquifer and derives its name from its several natural springs.
Covering almost 2000km2, Namdapha, one of India’s largest National Parks, contains some of Asia’s most luxuriant and poorly explored forest and contains some of the region’s most sough-after birds.
Namdapha National Park is located a few kilometres away from Miao and along the turbulent Noa-Dehing River.
Namdapha was declared as Tiger Reserve by the Government in 1983. Namdapha harbours all four Asian large cats: Snow Leopard, Common Leopard, Clouded Leopard and Tiger; and Hoolock Gibbon and Asiatic Elephant.
Little known birds here include Grey Peacock-Pheasant,
White-cheeked Partridge, the diminutive Pied Falconet, Ward’s
Trogon, Oriental Bay-Owl, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Pale-headed
and Great Slaty Woodpeckers, Silver-breasted and Long-tailed Broadbills,
Blue-naped Pitta,Black-breasted Thrush, Sapphire Flycatcher, Collared
Treepie; Green Cochoa, Coral-billed&Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler,
Spotted Wren-Babbler; Rufous-necked, Chestnut-backed& Rufous-vented
Laughingthrushes, Black-browed & Rufous-headed Parrotbill, the
extremely localised Snowy-throated Babbler, Rufous-throated Fulvetta
and the aptly named Beautiful Nuthatch.
It is not frequented by birdwatchers due to its inaccessibility, however with proper planning, it is possible to enjoy this most unusual of the Indian National Parks. Though it has more tigers and other wildlife than many more famous reserves, it is so well preserved that it is actually difficult to see anything here. The only large animal we managed to see was a Large Indian Civet.
Birds seen here during our trip:
Great Cormorant, Little Egret, Indian Pond-Heron, White-winged Duck, Common Merganser, Pallid Harrier, Pied Harrier, Black Eagle, Rufous-bellied Eagle, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Pied Falconet, White-cheeked Partridge, Kalij Pheasant, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Ibisbill, Small Pratincole, River Lapwing, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Spotted Dove, Pin-tailed Pigeon, Mountain Imperial-Pigeon, Common Hawk-Cuckoo, Mountain Scops-Owl, Jungle Owlet, Jungle Nightjar, Himalayan Swiftlet, Red-headed Trogon, Crested Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Indian Roller, Dollarbird, Great Hornbill, Brown Hornbill, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Great Barbet, Lineated Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet, White-browed Piculet, Lesser Yellownape, Greater Yellownape, Grey-faced Woodpecker, Greater Flameback, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Bay Woodpecker, Long-tailed Broadbill, Blue-naped Pitta, Rufous-winged Bushlark, Plain Martin, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Olive-backed Pipit, Large Cuckoo-Shrike, Black-winged Cuckoo-Shrike, Short-billed Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Red-whiskered, Red-vented Bulbul, White-throated Bulbul, Black Bulbul, Blue-winged Leafbird, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Common Iora, Blue Whistling-Thrush, Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Lesser Shortwing, Zitting Cisticola, White-browed Shortwing, Swamp Prinia, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Tickell’s Leaf-Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Large-billed Leaf-Warbler, Blyth’s Leaf-Warbler, Grey-hooded Warbler, Grey-cheeked Warbler, White-spectacled Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Rufous-faced Warbler, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Striated Grassbird, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Sapphire Flycatcher, Large Niltava, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Pale-blue Flycatcher, Pygmy Blue-Flycatcher, Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher, Red-flanked Bluetail, White-capped Redstart, Plumbeous Redstart, White-tailed Robin, Blue-fronted Robin, Slaty-backed Forktail, Green Cochoa, Common Stonechat, Yellow-bellied Fantail, White-throated Fantail, White-crested Laughingthrush, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Rufous-vented Laughingthrush, Spot-throated Babbler, Red-billed Scimitarbill, Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Streaked Wren-Babbler, Pygmy-Wren-Babbler, Golden Babbler, Grey-throated Babbler, Snowy-throated Babbler, Silver-eared Mesia, Red-billed Leiothrix, Black-headed Shrike-Babbler, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, White-hooded Babbler, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Red-tailed Minla, Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Rufous-throated Fulvetta, Nepal Fulvetta, Beautiful Sibia, Long-tailed Sibia, Striated Yuhina, Whiskered Yuhina, Black-chinned Yuhina, White-bellied Yuhina, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Yellow-browed Tit, Sultan Tit, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Beautiful Nuthatch, Black-throated Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter, Plain Flowerpecker, Black-hooded Oriole, Maroon Oriole, Grey-backed Shrike, Ashy Drongo, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Green Magpie, Grey Treepie, Collared Treepie, Large-billed Crow, White-vented Myna, Jungle Myna, Common Myna, Asian Pied Starling, Chestnut-tailed Starling.
Thursday 20 February
Our trip started with an Austria Airlines flight from Brussels via Vienna to Delhi. We landed at the airport around midnight (3½ hours time difference with the Netherlands), where Major General (Retired) Shandy Gupta already was waiting for us. We were transferred to Harry’s Guesthouse, where we spent the night.
Friday 21 February
Next morning we left Delhi at 10.30 for our three hours spectacular flight along the southern flank of the Himalayas to Guwahati, the bustling hub of northeast India in Assam. Peter Lobo was waiting for us at the airport. En route to our hotel in Guwahati we had our first lifer of the trip, a grotesque Greater Adjutant languidly flapping across the highway, one of the world’s rarest storks.
After we had put our luggage in the plush Raj Mahal Hotel in dusty, noisy Guwahati we had enough time to visit the local fish market, where we had excellent views of 23 huge Greater Adjutants, picking through the rubbish. We then drove to a marshy area in the centre of the town and here we spent the rest of the afternoon noting amongst others White-breasted Waterhen, Dark-throated Thrush, Common Tailorbird, Brown Shrike and White-vented Myna.
Saturday 22 February
After a refreshing night’s sleep at the Raj Mahal Hotel we started early on our second day and after a quick visit to the fish market, counting no less than 45 Greater Adjutants, we headed eastwards to Kaziranga.
An easy crossing of Assam afforded us some birding time and amongst the numerous tea plantations there were roadside paddies and marshes producing amongst others Black-headed Ibis, Woolly-necked Stork, Lesser Adjutant and Black-shouldered Kite. A coffee stop was notable for Purple Sunbird and we also had good views of an acrobatic male Pied Harrier quartering a stubble field.
In the early afternoon we arrived at Kaziranga and checked into our very comfortable rooms in the Wild Grass Lodge.
After a late lunch we ventured out from our hotel to the nearby tea estate. Quite a variety of birds frequented this attractive area amongst them Red Junglefowl, Asian Barred Owlet, Lineated Barbet, Smoky Warbler, Rosy Pipit, Large Cuckoo-shrike, Daurian Redstart, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush and Striped Tit-Babbler.
Sunday 23 February
After a comfortable night at the lodge we had a pre-breakfast excursion in the tea plantation. Here we added Yellow-footed Pigeon, Black-rumped Flameback, Scaly Thrush, a group of noisy Rufous-necked Laughingthrushes, Crimson Sunbird, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and Black-hooded Oriole to our trip list. Best of all however was the telescope view of a beautiful male Siberian Rubythroat in the top of the tea bushes, which turned out to be the only one on our trip.
After breakfast we headed by open-topped jeep and an armed guard to the little-visited eastern range of Kaziranga, probably the most attractive area of the reserve and certainly the most productive for birding.
Sohola Beel, a large shallow wetland, was teeming with large flocks of waterfowl. Wintering Bar-headed Geese made up the bulk of these flocks but there were also plenty of ducks, including Cotton Pygmy-geese and Ferruginous Ducks, however we did not find our “target duck”, Falcated Duck.
On the lake were groups of the localised and endangered Spot-billed Pelicans and along the edge were small groups of wintering Grey-headed Lapwings and further back, in the first trees, both the majestic Pallas's and Grey-headed Fish Eagles and a Peregrine Falcon. We also had good views of a soaring White-eyed Buzzard, Greater Spotted Eagle and Imperial Eagle.
In the afternoon we visited the western part of the reserve. The elephant grass was rather long here and large areas were burned off this time of year. Despite the fire and the smoke we saw many birds amongst them Black-necked Stork, the vociferous Swamp Francolin, Kalij Pheasant, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, Green Imperial-Pigeon, Greater Coucal, Savanna Nightjar, Chestnut-capped Babbler and a large group of the very restricted-range species, Spot-winged Starling.
Large mammals were everywhere in Kaziranga and we had great views of Indian Rhinoceros, Asiatic Elephant, Wild Water Buffalo, Swamp Deer and Hog Deer. We came across an Indian Rhinoceros by the roadside – just a wonderful photo opportunity - although our guard warned us not to approach the rhino too closely. To emphasise his words he showed us his horrible scars from a rhino attack three years ago.
Monday 24 February
Up at dawn and on our way to the central part of Kaziranga for our ride on an elephant. The mahout (driver) could rotate his elephant in whatever direction we requested for better viewing. Binoculars could be focused on birds with surprising ease from the back of this huge beast, which would stand motionless on command. Nonetheless the elephant ride was a great disappointment, because despite intensive searching in the long grassland we did not see the Bengal Florican, although a guest at the Wild Grass Lodge had told me during dinner, that he had seen no less than 7 birds that day!
We spent most of the day in the central part of the reserve seeing a large variety of birds, especially in the area along the Brahmaputra River. The parade of birds was impressive and amongst the many birds seen were Lesser Adjutant, Brahminy Kite, Short-toed Eagle, River Lapwing, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Green-billed Malkoha, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Bengal Bushlark, Oriental Skylark, Large Cuckoo-shrike, Yellow-bellied & Ashy Prinia, Striated Grassbird, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch and Black-hooded Oriole.
The last hour of the day we again spent at the tea estate adding White-throated Bulbul, Puff-throated Babbler, White-browed Scimitarbill, Grey Treepie and Crimson Sunbird to our bird list.
During dinner I leafed through the lodge’s diary and read that a few years ago someone saw three tigers in two days and even managed to film them! Again I got the feeling that we were just a bunch of suckers.
Tuesday 25 February
A morning visit to nearby Panbari Forest proved rather fruitful. Working the forest edge bordering tea estates, we made short sorties inside the forest, each time finding something new. The forest reserve gave us a whole new set of species, such as Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, a brightly-patterned Yellow-vented Warbler (my second bird ever), Small Niltava, Pale-chinned Blue-Flycatcher, White-tailed Robin, Abbott’s Babbler and Asian Fairy-Bluebird. A group of the evocative-sounding Hoolock Gibbons, the only ape of India, and a group of Capped Langurs were in full view in the treetops.
In the afternoon we again headed to the eastern range in a last desperate effort to find the Bengal Florican. Many of the birds here were of course the same ones as seen on our first visit, but inevitably we found several new ones amongst them the recently split Indian Spotted Eagle and Pale-capped Pigeon.
However our search for the target birds Bengal Florican and Falcated Duck proved to be a fruitless search. The weather & bird gods definitely did not smile for the rest of the day and in the late afternoon a pall of thick, impenetrable clouds came in and then consistent heavy rain sabotaged further birding, driving us back to the Wild Grass Lodge and a little disheartened we left Kaziranga.
Wednesday 26 February
The following day was largely a travelling day as we headed for Dibrugarh in the east of Assam. After a short shop in this town, sending a few E-mails to Holland & Belgium, we arrived at 14.00 hours in the small village of Guijan, where we met our local guide Joynal Abedin.
With a vibrating motorised boat Joynal escorted us across the Dibru to the Dibru-Saikhowa Reserve. We had a late lunch at his birding camp (local style huts) on the river island and here we saw our first Sand Larks.
The late afternoon was spent checking the extensive grasslands along the Dibru River near Guijan and we hit the jackpot immediately because amongst the birds we saw there were White-tailed Stonechat and Jerdon's Babbler.
When we returned to Guijan, Joynal told us that the police refused to give us permission to camp on the island, because there had been an attack by separatists on a nearby army post. We spent the night at Joynal's house in Guijan.
Thursday 27 February
The following day we ventured into the heart of Dibru-Saikhowa in search of the very elusive Marsh Babbler. To get to this bird it was necessary to do some hard-bottom wading, and the removal of trousers was required, as the water was almost thigh deep. In this area we saw our only Jerdon’s Bushchat of the trip, a bird I had only seen once, many years ago in northern Thailand. We also saw a few shorebirds here with Spotted & Common Greenshanks, a few Temminck’s Stints and a single Long-toed Stint. Wintering Bush-Warblers included Pale-footed, Grey-sided and Spotted, as well as a few Smoky Warblers.
Then we explored the elephant grass and here a singing Marsh Babbler was playing hide-and-seek amongst the large grass tussocks and we also saw the distinctive localised Swamp Prinia. We had a warm lunch in a camp of the forest guards.
After a short siesta we made a stroll in the forest and most noteworthy of the birds encountered here were Red-headed Trogon, Grey-hooded Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Small Niltava, Green Magpie and Greater & Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush.
Friday 28 February
At 5.30 we were transported by boat to another part of the Dibru-Saikhowa WS. All morning we checked the long grass but couldn't locate our quarry, the much sought-after Black-breasted Parrotbill. Things looked bleak, nothing was calling and desperately we followed Joynal back and forth in the long grass. Perhaps they were not singing yet?
We did get our first looks at Thick-billed Warbler, another Jerdon’s Babbler and mixed flocks of Rosy and Olive-backed Pipits were also good. In the afternoon we made another try and although Joynal had told us he that he had never dipped the Parrotbill here, we did NOT find the bird, our second major dip. I should have known: Murphy’s Law.
Amongst the birds we did see today were Striated Heron, White-rumped Vulture, Swamp Francolin, Zitting Cisticola, Blue-fronted Redstart, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, Marsh Babbler, Striped Tit-Babbler and Asian Drongo-Cuckoo.
Very disappointed and in a gloomy mood we returned to Guijan.
It rained heavily during the night, but again the skies were clear when we left Guijan at 7.00. Namdapha was our destination today. The tarmac road to the border was scarred by many potholes and we had to drive very slowly. At the border with Arunachal Pradesh we had to wait, but soon the inevitable paperwork was complete and we were heading off south to Namdapha. At mid-afternoon we arrived at the tiger reserve and a stop along the stony Noa-Dihing River added Common Merganser and Crested Kingfisher to our list. On arrival at the forest rest house in Deban, we were given a warm welcome and hot tea by our hosts, and after suitable sustenance and refreshment we were back in the field to work out our first forest trails enabling us to get a first taste of Namdapha.
The forest echoed with the voices of Sultan Tits and White-crested Laughingthrushes and we eagerly started exploring the forest. Most noteworthy of the birds we encountered here were Great Barbet, Ashy Bulbul, White-browed Shortwing, the beautiful Sapphire Flycatcher, large groups of Silver-eared Mesias, many Streaked Spiderhunters and best of all in a small area of bamboo a Collared Treepie.
The last hour of the day strolling along the riverbank revealed a White-capped Redstart and a very bad flight view of what I thought was probably an Ibisbill.
Sunday 2 March
We slept well and woke up to a bright day with clear sunshine. In the company of seven porters, a guide, a cook and two elephants from the forest department, we crossed the Noa-Dihing River and were in another world. The forest here was amazing with huge trees and ideal, broad, flat jeep-width trails. Japang, our guide, told us that this trail cut straight through the 2000 km2 of untamed jungle. The forest was alive with the sounds of birds, very noisy Hoolock Gibbons and it was also loaded with leeches.
The habitat was superb and the area was very birdy and produced some excellent birds. The dense undergrowth was evidently Tesia heaven and with the help of my tape recorder we managed to see both Grey-bellied and Slaty. Other highlights were good numbers of Great Hornbills, Brown Hornbill, Mountain Imperial-Pigeon, Bay Woodpecker, Golden-fronted & Blue-winged Leafbird, Rufous-faced Warbler, Nepal Fulvetta, Rufous-throated Fulvetta, Large Niltava and Grey-throated Babbler. After a late lunch at Haldibari we continued towards the next camp.
We were used to the noisy Hoolock Gibbons now, as we trudged steadily. Occasionally the trail drew near the river, the view becoming increasingly impressive as we slowly climbed higher up the valley.
Here among many other species we found Blue-bearded Bee-eater, White-spectacled Warbler, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Yellow-browed Tit and a flowering Bombax tree, which attracted large numbers of Long-tailed Sibias and Blue-throated Barbets. We also heard, but couldn’t draw out a White-cheeked Partridge and several Blue-naped Pittas. All afternoon we checked the huge epiphyte- and moss-covered gargantuan trees and already on our first day in the forest we were lucky enough to see the Beautiful Nuthatch, the most gorgeous of the nuthatches.
On our arrival at Hornbill, our second camp, we were greeted by the sight of our neatly erected tents (complete with a clean latrine tent) and helped ourselves to a cool beer by the campfire, while the meals that our crew turned out were incredible. This was to be a daily routine.
Monday 3 March
The next day we continued further into the welcoming depths of the forest, another four kilometres to Bulbulia, where we camped for the following two nights. Everybody had encounters with the leeches, but I had far more leeches crawling over my khaki leech guards than the others had, there was definitely something wrong with my shoelaces or my blood. I watched a porter impassively flick a few leeches from his foot with the tip of a machete, as he relaxed silently after several hours of trudging with the heaviest of the packs.
Highlights of our stroll to Bulbulia included a few noisy Long-tailed Broadbills, a beautiful male Rusty-bellied Shortwing, White-tailed Robin, Slaty-backed Forktail, a flock of more than 10 Rusty-fronted Barwings, Red-tailed Minla, Black-chinned Yuhina and Striated Yuhina.
Japang showed us the tracks of a tiger, but our chances seeing one were not good. Namdapha wasn't like Ranthambore or something, where the tigers practically posed for me in 1988.
It was past 5.00 when we reached the hot spring and mud-volcano of Bulbulia Camp (950m). The porters chained the elephants on the trees and erected our sleeping tents and made a campfire complete with folding chairs and tables.
I fell asleep within minutes of crawling into my sleeping bag. My sleep was heavy, dreamless and deathlike and when I awoke, I awoke instantly, completely alert and heard a Mountain Scops-Owl and a Jungle Nightjar calling.
Tuesday 4 March
Today was probably the best birding day of the whole trip. The break of dawn found us walking to Ranijheel.
In the early morning hours we added an ample array of Namdapha specialities to our list amongst them Pin-tailed Pigeon, Rufous-necked Hornbill, White-browed Piculet, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Pale Blue-Flycatcher, Red-billed Leiothrix, Rufous-vented Laughingthrush, Black-headed & White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Beautiful Sibia, Rufous-headed Parrotbill and again the Beautiful Nuthatch.
However, the undoubted highlight of the day was a superb White-winged Duck at the pool in Ranijheel, perhaps Northeastern India’s highest ornithological prize.
At midday, the skies became overcast again and the light faded quickly, followed by heavy rain and wind. Luckily it did not last long and a short while later we returned to the bamboo zone. A large bamboo bird-wave contained a Black-browed Parrotbill, Red-billed & Coral-billed Scimitar-Babblers, Snowy-throated Babblers, White-hooded Babblers and Long-tailed Broadbills.
Our shoes were soaked and the conditions were beginning to tell on our bodies. When we returned at the camp, we started to dry out our shoes and wet kits over the fire in our camp. We had a delicious meal with rice cooked inside bamboo stems over an ordinary campfire and fresh fish caught by the porters in the small stream near the camp.
Wednesday 5 March
At the break of dawn we were exploring the jungle again, while one of the porters was searching for an escaped elephant.
We spent most of our time between Bulbulia and Hornbill and although it was our fifth day in the tiger reserve we added quite a few birds to our list.
A real treat en route was watching a male Blue-fronted Robin creeping amongst the leaf litter, a bird we had dipped last year at Lava in West Bengal. Long-tailed Broadbills were actually common, a pair of Pied Falconets was sitting in the treetops and we were treated to a spectacular flying display by the two. A Pale Blue-Flycatcher and Pygmy Blue-Flycatcher and a Streaked Wren-Babbler gave excellent views, with perseverance.
Other goodies we encountered were Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Spot-throated Babbler, Golden Babbler and White-bellied Yuhina. In the late afternoon we were back in Deban Village.
Thursday 6 March
The break of dawn found us on the tracks in the forest surrounding Deban. One of the first birds we saw was an adult Rufous-bellied Eagle flying across the Noa-Dihing River. Nearby the rest house several Olive-backed Pipits allowed excellent views on the ground. Further searching produced a good variety of birds including Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike, Black Bulbul, Lesser Shortwing, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Beautiful Sibia and best of all a Green Cochoa.
All too soon our time at Namdapha ended and we had to leave this pristine forest. We made a stop near the entrance of the reserve and walked the 500 metres across the fields to the Noa–Dihing River. I desperately needed the Ibisbill and this was my last chance. Strolling through the fields we saw our only Dollarbird of the trip, a few Bengal Bushlarks and a Swamp Prinia. We also had good views of a flock of more than 150 Small Pratincoles on the exposed sandbars.
Vital and I had to wade through a tributary river (and got soaking wet) before we found a feeding group of five Ibisbills. This time I had a good look at these wintering Himalayan specialities.
Hereafter we headed to Miao, got tea at Japang’s home and then left Arunachal Pradesh. On the long drive towards Digboi a couple of stops added Emerald Dove to our trip list.
We arrived after dark at the Indian oil complex in Digboi. Here we checked into a nice accommodation, the IOC Guesthouse.
Friday 7 March
In the early morning we headed to the head office of the IOC. We did not get permission to enter the complex, because they could not supply enough police protection and we returned very disappointed to the guesthouse.
We then spent most of our time on the nearby golf-course. We explored the small valleys with secondary forest and amongst the birds seen here were White-cheeked Partridge, Plaintive Cuckoo, Eurasian Hoopoe, Dark-throated Thrush, Clamorous Reed-Warbler and Black-hooded Oriole.
Following lunch we headed to the IOC forest and after a long talk with an officer we got permission to make a short walk with armed guards in the forest. It was hot and we did not see many birds. Amongst the birds seen were Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Rufous Woodpecker, White-crested Laughingthrush, Chestnut-backed Laughingthrush, Sultan Tit, Collared Treepie and Baya Weaver.
The last hours of the day we spent in the marshy area between the golf-course and the railway. This area produced Pintail Snipes; a group of Blyth’s Pipits, a beautiful male Black-breasted Thrush, Dark-throated Thrush, Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler and Striated Grassbird. However, the undoubted highlight of the day was a Solitary Snipe flying away only two metres before our feet. When we returned to our hotel a pair of Collared Owlets was roosting in a tree at the entrance of our hotel complex.
Saturday/Sunday 8/9 March
During the night Assam separatists had attacked the refinery in Digboi and black smoke was all over town. When we headed to the IOC forest we saw flames of more than 100 metres height at the IOC complex.
We made a short stroll at the same area as yesterday, but did not see anything special there.
After breakfast we made another stroll in the marshy area between the railway and the golf-course and most noteworthy of the birds seen were Pintail Snipe, Besra, both Black-breasted & Dusky Thrush, Dark-throated Thrush and a group of Grey-breasted Prinias, the last addition to our birdlist.
We then left the burning oil installations of Digboi and reluctantly we eventually headed back to Dibrugarh for our Air Sahara flight to Delhi. In the mid-afternoon we arrived at Dibrugarh and flew via Guwahati to Delhi. In India's capital we had dinner with the daughter and son-in-law of General Gupta.
In the middle of the night we said goodbye to India, returning after a very long stopover at Vienna in Brussels at 18.00 hours, where Willemien and Riet were waiting for us.
For Vital and me the highlight of the trip was the trek through the wonderfully undisturbed forests of Namdapha National Park. Amongst a host of good birds seen in Northeast India, highlights for me were Greater Adjutant, White-winged Duck, Ibisbill, Dusky Thrush, Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Swamp Prinia, Blue-fronted Robin, Marsh Babbler, Jerdon’s Babbler and Beautiful Nuthatch. We had a fairly successful trip and all in all we saw most of our target species, however we still failed to find a bunch of good birds, e.g. White-bellied Heron, Bengal Florican, Blyth’s Kingfisher, Ward’s Trogon and Black-breasted & Grey-headed Parrotbill.
We recorded 354 species of birds during our 16-day trip, including some of the most sought-after birds in Northeast India and I finished the trip with 54 lifers.
Full bird and Mammal list
Chaam, 20 April 2003,
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4861 AH Chaam
Telephone: (031) – 161 – 491327