North East India

27 March – 11 April 2019

Introduction

This long-awaited Waveney Bird Club tour of the Assam and Arunachal Predesh Districts in NE India took some organising. India Nature Tourism Pvt. Ltd., acted as our ground agents and the pre-tour planning and arrangements went almost without a hitch. However, obtaining Indian Visas for the whole party was far from straight forward and there was a last-minute change that meant that Leio, our preferred guide, would miss the first few days of the tour due to family matters. Instead, we would have the services of Lokesh for the first day and then Lobsang from 28th March until 2nd April! We would follow the itinerary of previous tours to that region.

The highlight of the tour had nothing to do with wildlife as Mervyn and Fiona had been married only two weeks previous, so what a way to spend their honeymoon?

Arrangements had been made for the newlyweds to receive a blessing from Tibetan Monks in a Buddhist Monastery. This was to be kept secret from the bride but, this proved far too difficult, so she was given time to prepare! The tour party were invited to witness this memorable event and very much looked forward to being part of the day.

Our party consisted of: Steve Piotrowski, Eric (D’Weasel) Patrick, Dick Walden, Ali Risborough, Roger Walsh, Mervyn Jones, Fiona Smith, John Garbutt, Carol Elliott, Ivan Clark, Ernie Lucking, Will Brame, Mark Broughton and Vivienne Broughton.

Outline daily schedule:

27-March arrival and then half-day birding at Sultanpur NP
28-March flight from Delhi at 05.20h arriving Guwahati 07.25h, then birding at Baragaon landfill site then a long drive to Nameri NP, birding the park access road on arrival
29-March full day at Nameri NP, morning within the reserve and then afternoon rafting along the Jia Bhorelli River
30-March drive from Nameri NP to Dirang, birding en-route in Tippi, Sessa, Rupa and then Sangthi Valley
31-March Dirang; birding along drive up to and down from Sela Pass and within the pass itself
01-April Dirang; birding along the Mandala Road to Mandala Pass followed by Mervyn and Fiona’s wedding blessing and then back to Mandala Road
02-April Dirang; birding again on Mandala Road followed by drive to Lama Camp, Eaglenest WLS, birding at Aloo Bari
03-April full day around Lama Camp, Eaglenest WLS; birding down to Aloo Bari and then above Lama
04-April drive from Lama Camp to Bompu Camp, birding at Eaglenest Pass, Sunderview and Bompu
05-April full day around Bompu Camp, Eaglenest WLS; birding in lower elevations below Bompu down to Khellong
06-April birding at Sessni before driving from Bompu Camp, over Eaglenest Pass and back to Lama Camp
07-April drive from Eaglenest WLS to Kaziranga NP via Mazbat and Orang
08-April full day at Kaziranga NP; morning and afternoon jeep drives (Central range / Eastern range)
09-April full day at Kaziranga NP; tea gardens, morning and afternoon jeep drives (Central range / Western range)
10-April tea gardens then drive to Guwahati via Deepor Beel, flight from Guwahati at 15.25h arriving Delhi 1805h
11-April flight from Delhi to London

Wednesday 27 March – Steve Piotrowski

Our initiation to Indian birds at Saltanbur National Park

Some considerable travelling for all of us, but none more so than for Mervyn, Fiona and Ivan who had already driven from North Wales to Bungay, Suffolk, and then onto Heathrow by minibus with fellow passengers from Waveney Bird Club. The long overnight British Airways flight was made longer by the requirement to avoid the troubled airspace near Kashmir to New Delhi.

We were pleased to meet Lokesh on our delayed arrival at New Delhi Airport, but our prolonged flight meant that we would miss the opportunity to explore the Basai wetlands. On leaving the airport, a Yellow-wattled Lapwing was spotted feeding on a roadside verge. This was a surprise find and proved to be the only one for the trip. The streets of New Delhi were choked with traffic, but as we laboriously manoeuvred our way through, the journey was brightened by D’Weasel, in particular, who yelled out bird names of those he had claimed to have seen from the bus window! House Crows, Common Mynas, House Sparrows, Eurasian Collared Doves, Ring-necked Parakeets and Red-wattled Lapwings were numerous and swirling Black Kites (day-total 100) gracefully hunted amongst Little Swifts overhead. Lokesh spotted an Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark as we passed a roadside grassy area and Green Bee-eaters were plentiful.

Sultanpur National Park was still on our itinerary and we arrived in time to order a late lunch at the park restaurant. Whilst lunch was being prepared, the gardens adjacent to the park were explored. Indian Hoopoe, Lineated and Coppersmith Barbets were soon on our list and then Indian Paradise Flycatcher, Black Drongo, Spotted Dove, Jungle Babbler, Oriental Magpie Robin and Purple Sunbird. A woodpecker species took some hunting down, but was eventually well seen and identified as Black-rumped Flameback. At least 30 Grey-throated Martins and a single Red-rumped Swallow were hunting over the lakes and we could see Glossy Ibis (six) and Painted Stork (40) from our vantage point that overlooked the lakes. We couldn’t wait to get in there! However, it was lunch first and we all enjoyed a vegetarian curry, the first of many for the tour.

As we queued at the park entrance, the tour bird list was rapidly gaining momentum. However, timewise, we up against it as the park closed at 4.30 p.m., and it had already gone 2 p.m. Once in the park, the number of water birds in particular was mind boggling and we managed to accrue an amazing number of species as well as familiarising ourselves with Indian birds. Some of the families would have been new to many of us! The scrubby hedges along the bunds were searched and we were pleased to find several Chiffchaffs, Oriental White-eyes, Humes Leaf and Greenish Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatchers and Common Tailorbirds, but the prize was roosting Spotted Owlet first one and two - a wonderful sight! Other star birds included a pair of displaying Sarus Cranes, two unexpected White-tailed Lapwings and three colourful Indian Treepies.

D’Weasel, the tour scribe, was busy scribbling in his notebook and we gathered a very impressive list. Water birds included: 12 Knob-billed Ducks, 50 Garganey, 60 Northern Shoveler, 60 Gadwall,, 20 Eurasian Wigeon, 12 Indian Spot-billed Duck, ten Northern Pintails, 50 Eurasian Teal, two Common Pochards, two Tufted Ducks, 20 Little Grebe, 42 Asian Openbills, single Black-necked Stork, ten Black-necked and two Red-necked Ibises, single Eurasian Spoonbill, two Black-crowned Night Herons, 20 Indian Pond Herons, ten Eastern Cattle Egrets, six Grey Herons, four Purple Herons, ten Great Egrets, 25 Intermediate Egreta, two Little Egrets, 20 Little Cormorants, four White-breasted Moorhens, 500 Grey-headed Swamphens, 150 Common Moorhens, 50 Eurasian Coots, 30 Black-winged Stilts, two Ruff, single Common Snipe, 25 Wood and single Green Sandpipers, four Spotted Redshanks and four Common Greenshanks. At least five White-throated Kingfishers were noted as were our first Red-vented and Red-whiskered Bulbuls. At the water’s edge, we found both Ashy and Plain Pirinias. A Shikra, perched in a low tree, was one of four raptors noted including Greater Spotted and Booted Eagles, Western Marsh Harrier and Black-winged Kite. Mammals included several Five-striped Squirrels and on the islands small groups of Asia’s biggest antelope the Nilgai, or Blue Bull as it is sometimes known, were admired by us all.

A key target at this site was the Sind Sparrow, so we spend part of the afternoon searching for this bird. Lokesh led us to an area where he had seen breeding birds previously and we didn’t take long to find the birds including some nesting pairs. The species is also known as the Sind Jungle or Rufous-backed Sparrow, is slightly smaller than the House Sparrow, has a short and narrow black bib, grey crown and rufous back and it frequents watery environments.
With time ticking by, Lokesh became anxious as the park was to close very soon, but there were still birds to be found? Hurriedly, we moved onto a bund that stretched into the lake where three Pheasant-tailed Jacanas, our first Oriental Darter, a pair of Greylag Geese, a Little Ringed Plover, a very showy Water Rail and several superb Citrine Wagtails, were seen. A group of five Indian Peafowls feeding on one of the islands proved to be the only ones of the tour. In a scrubby corner, we found an Indian Robin, a family group of six Large Grey Babblers, a Common Woodshrike and three Olive-backed Pipits. We had heard several Common Hawk Cuckoos, so we were pleased to find one perched in a large tree. Our time was up and we left the park well satisfied with our afternoon’s work. However, it was not all over yet as a flock of 12 Bar-headed Geese flew over.

Once again, we negotiated our way through the traffic. There were some strange U-turns but we eventually arrived at the Shanthi Palace Hotel, which was close to the airport to be well placed for tomorrow’s early flight to Guwahati. We all enjoyed a wonderful dinner, then the log and an early night for all!

Click on images to enlarge

Spotted Owlet
Painted Storks
Nilgai

Thursday 28 March – Mervyn Jones

The long drive to Nameri

We tumbled out of our hotel beds at dark o’ clock to muster in the hotel reception at 2.45 am for the short hop by bus to Delhi airport to connect with an internal flight to Guwahati in Assam. Even in the wee small hours, the roads were thronged with traffic. This city never stops, and the volume of traffic appeared undiminished even at 3 am.

The check-in process was remarkably straightforward as a group, and the security screening reassuringly thorough. So thorough, in fact, that as we began the flight boarding process we found we were one short in number! D’Weasel had been espied a few minutes earlier being hurriedly escorted away from the queue, so as to be reunited sooner than expected with his hold-luggage in which (oh no!) a battery had been discovered in his alarm clock. Tut tut! I wonder if any of our team were breathing a sigh of relief as our batteries had not been discovered? I didn’t make the same mistake on the flight back.

We were blessed with clear skies and good weather as we took off and then onward throughout the two hours 20 minutes flight, and Fiona and I were fortunate to be on the port side of the IndiGo Airbus A320 as we flew east, affording us stunning views of the snow-capped high-Himalaya. Having had the good fortune previously of trekking in the Himalaya of Nepal, this was a completely unexpected and hugely welcome aerial perspective of the highest mountains on earth, pristine white and glistening in the light of the rising sun. Truly majestic!

We were met at Guwahati airport by our second local guide, Lobsang, and his team of four drivers, and whisked off to a most welcome breakfast buffet at a nearby hotel. We were finally in Assam, the land of tea and tigers!

And so the birding began at what appeared to be the biggest rubbish tip on the planet – Baragaon landfill site on the outskirts of Guwahati. This was the city’s municipal tip, ‘workplace’, and doubtless home to many dozens of people who eke a living from recycling items from the truck loads of rubbish unloaded in an almost constant stream onto the mountains of festering, stinking, and smoking detritus strewn across dozens of acres. But, and it was a big but, it is also home and lifeline to the scavenging and opportunistic Greater Adjutant (an estimated 350 present), now lost from most of its range and restricted to a few sites in the Assam valley. We saw them in good numbers, along with the smaller Lesser Adjutant, while above and around them the air was full of Cinereous Vultures, Black Kites and Cattle Egrets.

A high-pitch “chic” call delivered consistently from deep in boggy vegetation, adjacent to the rubbish tip, was thought by Lokesh to be a species of laughingthrush, but by experienced members of the group who had travelled extensively in Asia to be a Black Francolin. Other birds of interest included a Rosy and Paddyfield Pipits, Plain Perinia and Striated Grassbird.

Then followed a four-plus hours’ (210-km) drive to Nameri National Park, broken by a stop to witness the extraordinary spectacle of some 300 Indian Flying Foxes near their tree roost, lumbering and yet graceful at the same time while in flight. Two enormous raptors circling overhead were identified at White-rumped Vultures.

Thence to our very pleasant en-suite “tented” accommodation at EcoCamp Nameri, a cluster of glamping-type tents in a forest glade with its own restaurant and al fresco dining room. An opportunity to stretch cramped legs after the first of what were to be many long drives, and to soak-in the sounds and scents of the tropics. Asian elephants are in good numbers in the area, lending some anticipation to an afternoon walk we all made along a track through the forest and bush to the banks of the beautiful Jia Bhorelli River, with its backdrop of low hills. We caught up with a seldom seen and critically-endangered Pygmy Hog, and so the birds list started in earnest. Waders, kingfishers, hirundines, bulbuls, mynas, and parakeets to name but a few, but among my early favourites were the mighty Great and Wreathed Hornbills, a stunning Greater Flameback and an Orange-bellied Leafbird. A Great Stone-curlew, a Ruddy Shelduck and two River Lapwings were spotted on a rock-strewn sandbank and a pair of River Terns patrolled the river. A pair of Goosanders flying downriver was somewhat unexpected. D’Weasel’s claim of a Sand Martin, amongst the Grey-throated Martin flocks, was boohooed, but its identification was later confirmed from a photograph taken by Will!

Lobsang was anxious that we returned to the Eco-camp before it got too dark as there were elephants about and noted our first Chestnut-tailed Starlings and good numbers of Oriental Turtle Doves, Blue-throated Barbets, Hill Mynas and Green Imperial Pigeons on the way back. We had much to reflect upon that sultry evening over beer and supper. Perfect!

Whilst the rest of us were supping beer, Fiona said that she had heard an owl calling in the forest behind her tent. We played a selection of calls and she identified her bird as a Brown Hawk Owl. Lobsang wasn’t optimistic about our chances of locating it by torchlight, but we were not deterred and ventured into the forest, soon locating the perched owl for all to see. This was one of three Brown Hawk Owls calling that night.

Asian Openbill
Greater Adjutant

Friday 29 March – Roger Walsh

White-water rafting and those thieving monkeys

We rose at 4 45 a.m., all busy getting ready for a welcome cuppa, when the shout came across the camp…. Great Hornbill was showing at the top of a nearby tree. Many of us enjoyed excellent views of the monster new bird before it took off enabling us to enjoy its impressive wingspan, black sub-terminal band and raucous calls. Managing to tear ourselves away from the increasing number of birds that were appearing around the camp, we ate breakfast before jumping into the jeeps for the short drive down to the Jia Bhorelli River.

Once there, we split into two groups to board narrow canoes to be paddled across the icy blue, fast-flowing river to the nature reserve on the far side. The landing point was some way downstream of the launching point as the strong currently swiftly swept us down river. It was obvious that, during floods, this river expands its width significantly on its journey to join the Brahmaputra River some 30 kilometres away. At the landing point, we were joined by two armed guards who accompaned us through this tiger and elephant-rich area. A total of 20 River Lapwings, six Ruddy Shelducks and 12 Great Stone-curlews were watched along the shoreline. River Terns (12 in total) were still patrolling the river and then a flock of terns crossing the river were later identified from photographs as Black-bellied Terns.

Trying our very best not to get distracted by the amazing birds that were appearing on all sides – some of us enjoyed brief views of a flushed Sand Lark. A Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker was spotted in a bankside tree and then, as we crossed the water, another elegant River Tern zoomed by.

A two-kilometre walk through the forest then ensued and our frustrated guide, Lobsang, endeavoured to keep a fast-paced walk to get to some stagnant ponds left by the flooded river to find one of the world’s rarest and most elusive waterbirds – the White-winged Duck. This secretive species is only known to feed at night and the concern was that if we would be too late, it may have wandered into cover for the day. With so many new birds in almost every tree, some of us were lagging, so our procession was quite strung out. We gingerly krept through the forest understorey to view the algae-covered ponds and were soon rewarded with a prolonged viewing of a single dusk. Everyone was able to get great views through the scopes and photographers maneuvered to find angles that allowed an unrestricted view. Eventually, it waddled out of the pool and slowly disappeared into the forest behind. This was definitely one of the range-restricted species that we were very keen to see and we weren’t disappointed. No wonder the Indian state of Assam had chosen the White-winged Duck as their national bird! Our guide had only seen four different individuals out of a known population of around fifteen in North East India. It is now critically endangered.

After about forty minutes of viewing, we turned back for a more leisurely birding walk back to the river crossing. We had time to stop for each and every bird and new species for most people came thick and fast – Pale Blue Flycatcher, a perched Peregrine eating its prey, Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Striated Heron and the first of many Verditer Flycatchers. Whilst the first boatload was being ferried across the river some of us watched an Osprey catch a large fish, whilst Grey-throated Martins hawked all around us. Then the boatman came back to collect us and the return journey felt so tranquil and appropriate, gliding across the river in a local built canoe.

Lunch was served in the covered outdoor eating area and consisted of a delicious curry that was much needed by one and all. We all had an hour or so downtime and after another brief look around the campsite, most of us found somewhere to rest, snooze and recuperate from the full on pace of the previous days travel and birding. Steve P continued his lifelong habit of losing things when he hung his freshly rinsed out underpants on the washing line. No sooner had he turned his back than the boss of a troop of Capped Langur Monkeys moved in and stole them!

After lunch, it was time to dive back into the jeeps for a half hour drive upriver to a spot where we were to go white-water rafting. In fairness, it was a fairly tame journey back down to Nameri Eco Camp, which was just as well considering the value of optics in each boat, not to mentioned the combined weight in a few! Many of the group were surprised at how pleasurable it was to drift downriver and see what species popped up after each bend and twist along this fabulous waterway. Perched in a tree was a Grey-headed Fish-Eagle, along the boulder-strewn river, over 65 Small Pratincoles tried to stay invisible, a Pygmy Flycatcher showed to most, a flock of Lesser Whistling Ducks tucked up an Oxbow were almost missed, a herd of Indian Elephants were seen crashing down a slope to find a pool of water; the flash of yellow revealing not another flower, but the head of a Citrine Wagtail. Constant companions were the Himalayan Swiftlets and Asian Palm Swifts flying overhead. Other waders spotted on the downstream journey included Red-wattled Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Common and Green Sandpipers and Greenshank. Only Mervyn managed to spot our main quarry, an Ibisbill, the rest of us taken swiftly down river before having a chance to get onto it!

A few hours later, we climbed out of the boats weary from seemingly doing nothing but sit and watch birds ready for a short walk back to the camp. We added more interesting species to our list including Dusky Warbler, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Green Imperial Pigeons, Oriental White-eye and Chestnut-tailed Starlings.

Arriving back in camp just as it was turning dark gave us no choice of finding anything else interesting…….. except for Steve’s missing underpants on the lawn! Somebody suggested that the monkey didn’t steal them for himself as they were far too big, but they would have been good for his mate Jumbo the elephant! Another fabulous curry and Indian beer followed, but there was no late night joy in seeing the owls from last night or any Nightjars during our night walk!.

Great Hornbill
Great Stone-curlew
Small Pratincole
Capped Langur

Saturday 30 March – Will Brame

The move to higher altitudes

The loud, repetitive song of Asian Koel signalled our early-morning alarm call and most of us were up again exploring the Eco-camp gardens before enjoying another hearty breakfast. The large flock of Red-breasted Parakeets were again feeding on blossoming high trees, two Oriental Dollerbirds and several Black-headed Orioles were perched in the treetops, the pair of Great Hornbills were still in residence, many Blue-throated Barbets were singing and both Golden and Black-rumped Flamebacks were logged. Those laundry-stealing Langurs were swinging around in the trees occasionally stopping to stare at us – knowingly!

After breakfast, we packed our bags and set off for the long drive to the small town of Dirang, situated high in the Eastern Himalayas, where we would be based for the next three days. The six-hour, 160-km journey would be broken up by frequent stops at different elevations as we ascended the hills in the search for new birds.

There wasn’t too much of a delay as we crossed the state border into Arunachal Pradesh and roadside stops further on our route produced a good selection of birds. Our first stop at Tippi revealed: Black-throated Sunbird, Striated Yuhina, Yellow-bellied, Yellow-vented and Lemon-rumped Warblers, Pygmy Wren-Babbler (heard only), Blue-winged and Orange-breasted Leafbirds, Black Bulbul, Streaked Spiderhunter, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Black-chinned Yahina and three flamboyant Silver-eared Mesias. As we were scouring trees and scrubs, a Black Eagle appeared overhead giving good views as it flew majestically along a ridge.

Although disrupted by noisy roadworks, our next stop at Sessa was also rewarding. We weaved in and out of road-workers’ huts to gain access to the steep valley slopes and the gushing river below. Here we located a huge feeding flock that included our first Great Barbets, Long-tailed and Rufous-backed Sibias, Mountain Bulbuls, Long-tailed Minivets, our first Sultan Tit (what a spectacular bird), Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, a Small Niltava and White-browed Shrike-Babblers. We walked the road uphill where we would be collected by the jeeps and logged: Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Grey Treepie, Ashy Drongo, River Chat and a Slaty-backed Forktail.

Our lunch stop was at a small café-type restaurant in the military town of Tenga Market. We were able to watch our food being cooked and enjoyed our hottest curry of the tour - too hot for team wimps! Soon another customer’s curry was sizzling away in the wok that signalled a sudden spate of coughing followed by smarting eyes as green chillies were being seered – even the most seasoned vindaloo-scoffers may have struggled to eat that one!

Just outside Tenga Market, a roadside stop overlooking the river at Rupa gave us another chance for Ibisbills. Again no luck, but we did see River Lapwings, more Plumbous Redstarts and River Chats, a Hodgson’s Redstart and two Long-tailed Shrikes.

We reached Dirang in late-afternoon, but drove on a further 10 km to the Sangthi Valley. A lone Bar-headed Goose was flushed as the bus pulled into a parking spot from where we followed the river downstream looking again for Ibisbill. There were more River Lapwings and we eventually found a breeding pair of Long-billed Plovers, which was also a target for this spot. A raptor which flew low over the valley and then perched in small trees gave us an identification challenge, but was eventually determined to be a Himalayan Buzzard.

It was well after dark before we reached the Hotel Pemaling where we would be staying and there was quite a lot of room changes before the staff got things right. Two male birders sleeping together in a double bed is not always desirable! However, after another scrumptious dinner, the log and a couple of beers, we retired to our beds ready for tomorrow’s early start. A Grey Nightjar was heard calling as we listened from our hotel balconies.

Long-billed Plover

Sunday 31 March – Eric “D’Weasal” Patrick

Altitude sickness strikes

It was a very early start for the drive up to Sela Pass, a high-altitude mountain pass (elevation 4,200m) located on the border between the Tawang and West Kameng Districts of Arunachal Pradesh. The summit overlooks Sela Lake, which is sacred in Tibetan Buddhism. We left our hotel in Dirang at 3.30 a.m., so we would arrive at first light. Because of the high altitude, a nice, calm, sunny day was needed – what was not wanted is windy, snowy, blizzard conditions, so what awaited us at the top? You’ve guessed it – a complete white out! It was also very misty, so we spent only a short amount of time birding around the pass itself in search of mountain-top specialities. Despite these harsh conditions, we did manage to locate a good numbers of alpine birds – both Plain and Brant’s Mountain Finches and there were huge flocks of Grandalas flying in and out of the mist. Unfortunately, due to snow and wind all the birds were flighty and very mobile! Other big highlights that were very much sought after were Blood Pheasants and we managed to pick out 11 in total and some very well. We also noted both White-throated and Blue-fronted Redstarts, several Snow Pigeons, Himilayan White-browed Rosefinches, Spot-winged Grosbeaks, Alpine Accentor, and blisteringly bright and very showy Fire-tailed Sunbirds. The other big speciality that we were all hoping to see was Himalayan Monal. Despite us spending hours scanning the vegetated and rocky slopes, this bird proved very elusive with only Roger getting a brief view of a male! Despite me standing directly beside him and looking right down his eyeline, neither I nor anyone else managed to get a view as it had managed to skulk behind a ridge. A surprise amongst other species seen was a very obliging Solitary Snipe feeding in a pool by the road.

The conditions were not improving with frequent heavy snow showers driving us back to the landrovers at times. It wasn’t very warm either and we were all grateful of those extra layers. The altitude was also taking its toll amongst some of the party including the hardened altitude trekers such as Steve, who feeling unwell and was out of the race for some time and Ernie who was vomiting, so it was in some ways a relief to head down to lower levels. The roadside birding was interrupted by a tea stop at Saaten where a flock of Black-faced Laughingthrushes and six Blue Whistling Thrushes were foraging amongst some rubbish. Steve had gone to a bumby toilet which was down a slippery slope and when called he thought that we were joking about the birds. The birds than became elusive but he eventually got onto them. There was then a further stop at Moncamp where the highlights were a superb Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Grey Bushchat and a couple of Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers that stole the show! The final stop was for a highly targetted bird (for me at least). We stopped at a highly improbable looking site by a rubbish heap and surprisingly produced the goods. A pair of Black-tailed Crakes were feeding and showing very well.

With such a long day tiredness was beinging to strike and the itinerary had said that we woul return to Dirang in late-afternoon in compensation for the early start! So back to the hotel we would go but this didn’t go without a hitch as one of the landrovers broke down on route. However, it was soon fixed and we returned for a welcome cuppa and a shower followed by our evening meal, blog, beer and then bed.

Grandala
Mrs Gould's Sunbird
Solitary Snipe

Monday 1 April – Fiona Jones (nee Smith) and Mervyn Jones

Wedding Day Bliss and spin those wheels D’Weasel!

Up with the lark (and the myna) for an ascent by jeeps up the Mandala Road high above Dirang, The maximum height we reached was some 3,700 metres. This was to be our second wedding day! After a restless night on a thin mattress on a hard board, Fiona put some chair cushions on the bed beneath the sheet and opted to forgo the early birding and to get instead some (much needed) beauty sleep before her marriage blessing. She slept until 9am (luxury!) and then spent the morning on the veranda of the hotel that overlooked Dirang. There were good views of the expansive hillside Buddhist monastery, Thupsung Dharge Ling, further down the valley where they were to have their afternoon ceremony. This also gave her the chance to re-charge her batteries and to prepare for this very special afternoon. Mervyn has written the birding part of this blog on both their behalves.

Thickly forested on their flanks and yet thinner in foliage at height, the peaks were wreathed in thick, swirling cloud. The reds, pinks and whites of flowering rhododendron and magnolia offered periodic splashes of colour amidst the gloom. The fire-ravaged landscape was Tolkeinesque, with jagged, long-ago-charred and decaying tree trunks jutting above dense thickets of bamboo, all draped in mosses and grey monochrome in the mist. Lone domesticated yaks peered balefully towards us through the drizzle.

It was 28 killomtres to our first stop, which was a small village full of sawmills and we were pleased to find a pair of Yellow-billed Blue Magpies noisily announcing their presence from some hut roofs. These were quickly followed by Green-tailed and Fire-tailed Sunbirds that seemed to be everywhere at this altitude! An Alpine Thrush was seen all too briefly by some as it perched on a log and a mixed flock of Spotted and Black-faced Laughingthrushes were watched making their way through the trees. Further on, a Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher performed well as did Gold-naped and Crimson-browed Finches. Other birds noted were Beautiful Sibia, Rufous-vented and Stripe-throated Yahinas, Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, White-tailed Nuthatch, Rufous-winged Fulvetta and Rufous-capped Babbler. The main target at the tops was the magnificent Fire-tailed Myzornis, a most beautiful montane warbler that inhabits moist sub-tropical scrub at high altitudes. We searched for some time and eventually all of us scored except D’Weasel who was more than a little miffed at his misfortune!

We came across a feeding flock of thrushes that had been forced down after being caught in the mist whilst on passage through the mountaintops. These included: Eye-browed, Black-throated, Red-throated and Dusky Thrushes, all clustered in and around an alpine meadow, along with five impressive-looking White-collared Blackbirds. As the low clouds drifted in and out, it was all happening, first a Spotted Nutcracker announced its presence with is grating calls and then a Buff-barred Warbler was found.

With a half a day’s birding under our belts, the team returned to our hotel for the main event of the day. After a quick lunch, both Mervyn and Fiona were the last out of the hotel to be welcomed by our birding chums, guides and drivers, to the tune of “here comes the bride”, all waiting in neatly lined-up cars. A wedding procession!

Another guide, acting as interpreter, led the wedding party to the temple and we had time to take in all its splendour while we awaited the monks, who are Tibetan Buddhist by tradition. The Dalai Lama commissioned the building of the temple and first visited the construction site in 2009. Architect Thupten Rinpoche then oversaw its construction and considered it the biggest accomplishment of his life. There were 1,000 Buddha statues, a wheel of life mural, and a representation of the Dalai Lama on the throne where he sat for the consecration of the site.

The temple is set above the village of Dirang in an area that had once been a region of Tibet and many Tibetan refugees have relocated to the area over the decades. The village is tucked away in the Himalayas and is only accessible via sometimes-treacherous mountain roads, which we can indeed attest to!

The monastery itself focuses on educating lay-people in Buddhist scripture and practice. At five p.m. each day, all the public are invited in. The temple was named by the Dalai Lama and it means ‘place of flourishing of the Buddha’s speech’. The Dalai Lama consecrated the temple on 5th April 2017 and more than 20,000 people attended to hear his teaching. Every Tibetan monastery has a special guest room at the top reserved for the Dalai Lama and this is where he stayed.

On entering the temple, all us birders were on our best behaviour, respectfully removing our shoes at the entrance. The temple was a riot of colour, adornments, and decoration and there were offerings and candles all around. Whilst patiently awaiting the two monks, the birders could not resist a bit of nature investigation and identified a couple of the temple moths. With the arrival of the two monks, the ceremony began and we all gathered, Mervyn and Fiona kneeling to one side of the monks and the others kneeling opposite.

Silence descended and the monks began their gentle chanting, very mesmerising, until (oh no!) the gentle ring tones of a mobile phone began. All were glancing furtively around to see who the ‘offender’ might be and then we saw the head monk reached into his robes to discreetly turn the phone off, whilst not skipping a beat of the chant. Modern Buddhism at its best!

The ‘bride and groom’ were then invited to stand before the altar to be presented with male and female silk ceremonial scarfs (they were different lengths) and a very special, original, and very old, coin from Tibet (the giving of coins being traditional to wedding ceremonies). Bowing to the monks we received their blessing. On concluding the ceremony, the monks gathered with the interpreter to have a chat with us. Mervyn was able to formulate several rational questions, but Fiona was pretty speechless by then. Such an emotional, and truly unique, occasion!

As if all of this wasn’t enough, Kathy and Steve had a further surprise in store for us. Once the monks had retired, and as we stood in front of the altar, Fiona was given a small dish by Steve and each of our birding companions came forward with an offering of a coin and a blessing. We were also given some traditional prayer flags! We were all quite emotional by then so it was time to call it a day and get back to birding for the afternoon! What a truly extraordinary day. This was the stuff of memories and an occasion that Mervyn and Fiona will cherish forever.

On our way out of the monastery, we passed prayer wheels and it is a tradition to spin these and make a wish. We all followed the tradition and we could hear D’Weasel chanting Fire-tailed Myzornus with every spin.

We retraced our steps on the Mandala Road to continue birding and a perched Common Cuckoo in one of the gardens was the first new bird for the afternoon and soon followed by a bird flock that hosted: Little Pied Flycatcher, Grey-hooded and Lemon-rumped Warblers, Whiskered Yahina and Golden Babbler. Further up the road, we were pleased to find three Bhutan Laughingthrushes and then a pair of Rufous-breasted Accentors. A Crested Goshawk passed over and then another huge mixed flock of laughingthrushes, this time consisting of White-throated and Spotted. A group of skulking Grey-sided Laughingthrushes slowly made their way through the roadside vegetation. We assembled by a gulley as Lokesh had heard a Streak-throated Scimiter Babbler in the undergrowth. It took some time to appear, but eventually it came out for all to see. Other birds noted included: Black-faced Warbler, Golden-breasted Fulvetta and Black-chinned Yuhina.

It was almost dark before we returned to our Hotel Pemaling, where we enjoyed dinner, log and then to bed.

Tuesday 2 April – Mark and Vivienne Broughton

On to Eaglenest

We took an early breakfast at Hotel Pemalang Dirang ready for more birding along the Mandala road before transferring to Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary. This mountain road climbs to 2,074m and we stopped to admire spectacular views over the Mandala birding lodge and the snow-capped mountains beyond. On the drive up to the pass, a large flock of White-throated Laughingthrushes and a few Spotted Laughingthrushes flew across the road. In the forest, the highlights were Gold-naped Finch, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, displaying Bar-winged Wren Babbler, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Spotted Nutcracker and Fire-tailed Myzornis for those who had missed it the previous day.

We then drove via Bomdila to the military town of Tenga Market for lunch where we said goodbye to Lobsang, our guide for the first few days and Leio then took over for the rest of the trip. After lunch we headed uphill to Eaglenest wildlife sanctuary Lama Camp at an altitude of 2,374 metres, but first stopping for some roadside birding on the Tenga Market Road just above the town. Here we picked up Himalayan Greenfinch, Grey Bushchat and Mountain Tailorbird.

After settling into our tents at the camp we birded along the road down and then onto a narrow trail at Aloo Bhari that runs downhill deep into the forest. Our main target here was Bugun Liocichla (Liocichla bugunorum), a recently discovered and highly-localised endemic named after the Bugun tribe that inhabits these communal forests. It was difficult birding with large mixed flocks moving through the forest. The group spread out along the trail. There was no sign of the Liocichia, but we were heartened by the news that several had been seen a few days earlier and there’s always tomorrow! The afternoon highlights were: Scaly-breasted Wren Babbler, Rusty-fronted Barwing, White-throated Fantail, Bay and Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers, Brown-throated Treecreeper and Blue-winged Laughingthrush.

The accommodation at the camp was basic, but the dining room has electricity in the evening and a good wood burner. Several of the party found the nights uncomfortably cold at Lama Camp, which was after all at an elevation of 2,350 metres, and resorted to sleeping fully clothed.

Bar-winged Wren Babbler
Monastery below the Mandala road

Wednesday 3 April – Ivan Clark

Hide and Seek with Blyth’s Tragopan

After a rather cold first night at Lama Camp, we awoke to the calls of Grey Nightjar flying overhead and a small party of Olive-backed Pipits feeding just before the camp. A welcome cup of coffee put a bit of life back into us all and we headed down for our first trek of the day. A quick roadside stop, revealed Ward’s Trogon for most of us and as we arrived at our parking spot a group of Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes passed through. Our first trek was a repeat of yesterday evening’s walk at Aloo Bhari but, not surprisingly, produced additional species which included: Maroon-backed Accentor, Black-faced Warbler, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, Ashy Bulbul, Rufous-bellied and Dajeeling Woodpeckers, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Himalayan Bluetail, Yellow-browed Tit, plus Grey-headed, Red-headed and Brown Bullfinches.

We returned to Lama Camp for lunch but the birding didn’t stop. A superb Mrs Gould’s Sunbird delighted the photographers amongst our party and then a superb Himalayan Cutia was seen followed by an equally stunning Black-eared Shrike Babbler.

The target bird of the afternoon was Blyth’s Tragopan, which proved to be very elusive. Eventually, one gave itself up in a most extraordinary way! We could hear our bird coming closer and closer as it slowly made its way up the forest slope towards the road. We stationed ourselves and intensely focused our attention on a section of road that we thought it would walk over. Ernie then said quietly “what’s that bird behind us” and with that we all swung in unison the full 180 degrees to view the Tragopan standing in the middle of the road. Our sudden movement startled the bird and it flew immediately upwards and into vegetation. Sadly, it was missed by some of our party.

During our afternoon walk, Mark spotted a small passerine amongst some thick foliage that offered 10-15 minutes observation. He was unable to identify this bird, but one member of the party suggested that it may have been a species of “Hoodwink”? Though not uncommon “Hoodwinks” have tested the identification skills of the best ornithologists and despite thousands of sightings no specimen has ever been obtained! For further reading, see Meiklejohn’s paper published in Bird Notes c.1950 “The Hoodwink” (Hoodwinkus spurious). Lama Camp offered some superb species including: Hoary-throated and Streak-throated Barwings, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler, Pygmy Blue Flycatcher and Rufous- breasted Accentor.

An excellent day’s birding was had by all. This is the life!

Green-tailed Sunbird

Thursday 4 April – Ali Risborough

Changing camps

A Mountain Scops Owl was calling throughout the night from the hills surrounding the camp also three Grey Nightjar in flight, then it was tea and biscuits before a pre-breakfast visit to Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve, for our last chance of one of the tour’s target birds the Bugun Liocichla. The species was only discovered in 1995 and described as a new species in 2006. A group of photographers stationed on the trail bode well as they had seen one only a few minutes previous. We eventually found two-three birds in a roving flock of Laughingthrushes and Barwings in difficult viewing conditions distantly on the forested hillside. Some of our group were lucky to see at least one bird perched, but most of us had to be satisfied with flight views and silohettes only. There was about 30 other bird species seen so overall a very good start to the day.

Back at Lama Camp (Bugun name Sharuwa Lyap), the Bugan tribe call the general area Sitava after a holy mountain peak. With the vans loaded, we now made our way to Bompu Camp some 22 kilometres on the other side of the mountain going over Eaglenest Pass (2,790 metres). Our first stop was for a Yellow-rumped Honeyguide that obligingly perched near a huge bee’s nest attached to a nearby rockface. Our next stop was at the pass itself (Bugun name Lachhan Pham) where a passing bird flock included the very rare White-browed Fulvetta.

We stopped for lunch at Sundervie (Centre View) at a height of 2,545 metres. During the early afternoon, we birded the Trogon trail and met another bird group as they were leaving. Our hopes of our target bird Ward’s Trogan diminished and we failed to connect, but did see Rufous-capped Babbler, Large-billed Warbler, Rufous-winged Fulveta, Yellow-bellied Fantail, another short stop late afternoon we found Mountain Tailor Bird and Rufous-fronted Wren Babbler. We arrived at the camp at 5.30 p.m. hours for tea and biscuits before we settled into our tents for a two night stay, that is after our captain and first mate “yours truly’s” tents were cleared of Leeches.

Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher
Yellow-rumped Honeyguide

Friday 5 April – Richard Walden

From Bompu Camp to Sessni and beyond

Early morning starts had become the norm on this trip and this morning was no exception, tour members gathering in the early morning gloom for tea and biscuits. Today's plan was to bird our way down the road from Bompu camp towards the village of Doimara, this was the route used by the Dalai Lama in 1959 when he fled from Tibet. The first good bird of the day was a Scaly Thrush on the road just below the camp, best views were reserved for group members in the first vehicle as the bird hopped away. Further down the road at another stop a Spotted Elachura was heard but refused to show itself, however a further disappointment was to follow quite quickly when, whilst watching a mixed feeding flock, Sanjay the lead driver heard a Beautiful Nuthatch, but the only views obtained were of a rapidly disappearing silhouette.

Leeches can be a problem in some areas and during the morning both Roger and myself found ourselves playing host, Roger's went undetected for some time and it was only the blood soaking his trousers that made him aware of his uninvited guest. Elephant dung was encountered frequently along the road but one fresh pile which was still warm brought a worried look to our guide’s face, the pungent smell of Elephant was evident and our guide decided that the animal responsible was still very close and ordered a rapid retreat to the safety of the vehicles. Lunch was then taken near a ranger post, Maroon Oriole was added to the trip list whilst enjoying a tasty meal prepared at the camp and transported with us.

During the afternoon the slow journey back up the road was undertaken, which was unsurfaced and often bone jarringly rough. Suddenly, the lead jeep in which the guide was travelling started to turn around on a narrow track quickly followed by the other three. Apparently two French birders and their guide that we had recently passed were watching a Beautiful Nuthatch back down the track. The race was on and we drove back down considerably faster than we had just driven up! On arrival, we were greeted with “you should have been here two minutes ago” – such deflating news! Using his phone the French birder’s guide played the call, which was almost instantly replied to from high in the canopy. Unbelievably, a Beautiful Nuthatch then flew across the track and landed in a tree on the slope below us, the group were then treated to very prolonged views of this bird perched in full view. Needless to say dinner and beers that evening was a very happy affair with this sought after bird well and truly 'in the bag'.

Beautiful Nuthatch

Saturday 6 April – John Garbutt and Carol Elliott

Back to Lama Camp

We made another early start at 4:15 a.m. for tea and coffee at Bompu Camp in the Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary within the eastern Himalaya range. The effort was worth it solely for the beautiful sunrise at 4:45 for our 5:00 a.m. departure for the downhill journey to Lama Camp, also in Eaglenest. There had been no running water and limited electricity so I couldn’t charge my power store. There was no radio, T.V. or Wi-fi, so we were out of touch with the world, but felt confident that “Teresa Mayhem” had not achieved anything regarding “B-wrecksit” whilst we were away!

We were all as chirpy as the Large Hawk-Cuckoo that called nearby, although it was still very chilly. The lead vehicle (a Mahindra Xylo 4x4 five-seater) set off with our guide Leio, followed by our group’s three other vehicles. The morning was spent exploring the forest slopes below Bompu Camp before tackling the very bumpy single-tracked road across Eaglenest Pass and then downhill to Lama Camp. Occasionally, we passed groups of road workers (mainly female) who had the job of breaking stones with hammers so construct different gradings to form a smoother road surface. During the whole day, hardly any other vehicles were encounter!.

A roadside stop at 5:25 a.m. revealed another a bright yellow Sultan Tit along with Streaked Spiderhunter, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, a bright red Grey-chinned Minivet and Short-billed Minivet, Himalayan Cutia, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Blue-throated Barbet, Verditer Flycatcher, Hume’s Leaf Warbler and Striated Laughingthrush. Two Himalayan Yellow-throated Martens – like large weasels or stoats – were noted as they crashed through the trees. We walked past some Indian Elephant droppings that were probably deposited during the night, then some Elephant footprints that were certainly fresh because they had not been driven over.

At our next stop, we found a White-spectacled Warbler, two Rufous-throated Hill Partridges, Grey-hooded Warbler and White-naped Yuhina. Walking on we passed more very warm Indian Elephant droppings, so they weren’t far away! And, although we never saw any on these roads, we later walked passed some damage that Elephants had caused to roadside trees and bushes during the night. I asked Leio what we should do if we came across Elephants – he gave a single word answer: “RUN” - because the adults can be very protective when there are calves nearby. Next we found Golden-throated Barbet, Grey-chinned Minivet again, Grey-cheeked Warbler and three more Martens. We heard a Mountain Imperial Pigeon calling nearby, but saw Pale-chinned Flycatcher, Blue-winged Leafbird, White-throated Fantail, Hume’s Leaf Warbler and Sultan Tit again. Possibly the “bird of the week” was a Beautiful Nuthatch, followed by a pair of Red-headed Trogons and a Grey-hooded Warbler.

The tracks had been cut into extremely steep, tree-lined hillsides with many “hairpin” bends and few safety barriers to protect us from sheer drops of hundreds of feet. As we walked ahead, we occasionally saw or heard our four vehicles that were stalking us! Apart from that, there was just the sound of the birds, the rustling of the trees and the frequent, excitable chatter when our group found a new or beautiful bird. Due to the steepness of the hillsides, there were frequent rockfalls, particularly after heavy rain so, sometimes, the roads were impassable and, due to the steepness, the rocks may have fallen onto perhaps four roads below!

Next we found more Orange-bellied Leafbirds and a Large Niltava, but needed to return to our vehicles by 7:30 a.m. for a short drive to our breakfast site beside the road. Was it really over two hours since we set off? As usual, our al fresco breakfast was served from the bonnets of our vehicles but, where was Dick? He was normally the first person to get us hands into the breakfast boxes, but this time we had overdone the birding and been him left behind – had his companions not noticed? We then saw his worried face hurridly making its way down the slope towards the breakfast stop – no worries Dick there’s still a few bits left!

Before leaving the breakfast site at 8:10 a.m., we had a group photo taken plus another one of our Guide with the four drivers, and a distant view of a tree-lined valley behind. We soon passed some further rock falls caused by the one that we had already passed on the higher road.

After 15 minutes, we stopped to photograph a Mountain Hawk-Eagle that helpfully stayed perched in view for several minutes and then flushed some Rufous-throated Hill Partridges from the road, before spotting a group of Scarlet Finches.

A further stop at 9:05 a.m., located Long-tailed Sibia, Silver-eared Mesia, Black-throated Sunbird, Red-tailed and Blue-winged Minlas, Striated Bulbul, Golden-throated Barbet, Scarlet Finch again, Slaty-backed Tesia, a Rufous-necked Hornbill flew by, and Himalayan Swiftlets were overhead with at least one Nepal House Martin.

Another Rufous-necked Hornbill gave us a good flypast, then a “Sparrowhawk-like” Besra and a Mountain Hawk-Eagle was soaring overhead. Small Niltava, Streaked Spiderhunter, a dead Bronze Skink, which had been flattened on the road, were added to our list and a Chestnut Tiger Butterfly fluttered by.

At 11:00 a.m., we were back in the vehicles, but soon stopped for a Common Emerald Dove, before returning to Bompu Camp for lunch to get packed ready for our return journey across Eaglenest Pass to Lama Camp. For a change, we had Pasta with our Curry – all of which were excellent and totally vegetarian at both Camps. Whilst the rest of us were loading the vans, D’Weasel and Roger sneaked away returning with beaming smiles claiming that they had gleaned excellent views of the normally-skulking Brown-flanked Bush Warbler. The rest of the team groaned!

At 12:45 p.m., we set off for Lama Camp and during the journey heard Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler, but saw Yellow-vented and Chestnut-crowned Warblers, Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Beautiful Sibia, Yellow-cheeked Tit, a pair of Ward’s Trogon, Green-crowned (Golden-spectacled) Warbler, a Collared Owlet was heard. Again, we would climb to Eaglenest Pass and, as we reached the summit, a Himalayan Serow (a goat-antelope native to the eastern Himalayas and eastern and southeastern Bangladesh) was spotted making its way down a rocky slope. Although seen by some, the majority of the party failed to get onto the beast. Further on, we came close to seeing a Temminck’s Tragopan, but it moved away from us further into the undergrowth.

After the long drive, we arrived at Lama Camp at 17:35 p.m., so our day was more than 12 hours in length as dusk fell. We thought it was all over apart from the daily log of sightings, dinner and sleep but off we went in an unsuccessful attempt to find Hodgson’s Frogmouth. A Grey Nightjar was calling close to Lama Camp on our return at 19:30 p.m. for the log, dinner and sleep.

Sunday 7 April – John Garbutt and Carol Elliott

Landslide diversion

The day started at 4:00 a.m. in Lama Camp, Eaglenest WLS, with the Grey Nightjar still calling from the night before. Within the hour, we had tea or coffee, but it was a gloomy outlook and raining very heavily for the first time on our holiday. Leaving Lama Camp for the last time at 5.45 a.m., we strarted the long drive from the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and back into Assam where we would cross the mighty Brahmaputra River.

An early stop to overlook gardens viewable from the Tenga Market Road revealed Red-vented Bulbul, Barred Cuckoo-dove, Rufous-necked and Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes, Common Rosefinch, Scarlet Minivet, Blue Rock Thrush, Long-tailed Shrike, the first good views for some of Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler and Grey-winged Blackbird.

A comfort break in Tenga Market allowed views of Oriental White-eye and a White-capped (Water) Redstart. Lieo then suggested that we take a gamble as he thought it highly probable that the heavy overnight and early-morning rain would cause landslides on the most direct route and our journey could be further complicated by roadworks! So, from the military town of Tenga Market, we took the longer road to Orang and would skip our scheduled lunchtime stop back at the eco-camp at Nameri. This would result is a later than planned arrival into Kasiranga, but could save a considerable amount of time and stress if the main route became blocked!

At 9:30 we stopped for snacks and a drink in a café where all the cooking and water heating was produced from a wood fire. We purchased some crisps with each packet having the appearance of small balloons having been manufactured at a lower level and then expanded due to the lower atmospheric pressure at our higher altitude. Something else that was low was the price – just 10 Rupees or 12p a packet, so why do we pay so much more in the UK?

We encountered a interesting bird wave at our next roadside stop just after Ankling that included: Chestnut-bellied and Blue-capped Rock Thrushes, Silver-eared Mesia, a “Winter Wren-sized” Speckled Piculet, Grey-hooded Warbler, Long-tailed Minivet, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Black-throated Bushtit, Nepal Fulvetta, Grey-throated and Golden Babblers, Blue Whistling Thrush, Lesser Yellownape and Ashy Woodswallow

Our arrival at the border post encouraged a few locals to make contact and one decided to tell us about the birds he had seen locally! From here, we could see rooftops of buildings that were in the adjacent country of Bhutan, just a few hundred metres away and across a tributary of the Brahmaputra River. Although Arunachal Pradesh and Assam are both states within India, the bureaucracy took some time to complete and, for security reasons, we were asked not to take photographs. However, the delay enabled time to see Oriental Pied Honrbill, Blue-tailed Bee-eater, Spotted Dove, White-throated Kingfisher, Barn and Striated Swallows, Great (White-vented) Myna, Oriental Magpie-robin, Common and Pied Myna (Asian Pied Starling), Black Drongo and Baya Weaver.

As we decended the mountains onto the Assam Plains, a hillside stop near Mozbat produced a flock of 12 White-rumped Munias. Our next stop was for lunch at a busy restaurant at Orang, which was surrounded by a very flat floodplain landscape. While waiting, we took the opportunity to look at the varied selection of birds including: Indian Pond Heron, Paddyfield Pipit, Large Cuckooshrike, Grey-throated and Asian House Martins, Striated Swallow, House Sparrow, Ashy Woodswallow, Eastern Jungle Crow and White-throated Kingfisher. Lieo became a little irriated as firstly the group was relunctant to stop birding and take their seats in the restaurant and, secondly, perhaps as a punishment, Indian clientele arriving after us were being served first! Well, it was a Sunday and the place was packed!

Further birds seen along the road near the town of Tezpur and the enormous Brahmaputra River yielded Woolly-necked Stork, Oriental Magpie-robin, Yellow-footed Green-pigeon, Fulvous Whistling Duck (from the bridge) and Large-billed Crow. This mighty river flows from high in the Tibetan Himalyas (there it is named Yarlung Zangbo) to join the Ganges west of Dhalka in Bangledesh and then on into the Bay of Bengal. We also stopped to view a busy roosting site of Indian Flying Foxes.

As we neared Kaziranga, we found ourselves in endless queues of traffic with numerous police road blocks where goods were meticulously checked. However, as the National Park was directly to our left-hand side, we were treated to a prelude of the animals that would become a familiar sight over the next few days. There were gasps of excitement as we passed small groups of Asian Elephants and then saw our first group of Indian One-horned Rhinoceroses, Hog Deer and Barasingha (Swamp Deer).

After a long day, we went back in time to the days of the Empire when we arrived at the Wildgrass Lodge – some guests might regard it just as a property from another era, but we found the old-fashioned politeness of the staff, the grounds and the accommodation to be very pleasantly different and we enjoyed the fact that each room key fob appeared to show two Arabic numbers … ours was 404, which looks like 808 in Bengali numerals. The Lodge is situated near the centre of the vast Kaziranga National Park where we would spend the next three days.

Monday 8 April – Mark and Vivienne Broughton

Mammals a plenty

After a comfortable night at Wildgrass Lodge, there was pre-breakfast birding in the grounds which got us off to a good start with Black Hooded Oriole, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater and Changeable Hawk Eagle. After breakfast, we set off in our open topped safari jeeps for Kaziranga National Park Eastern range. The park is a UNESCO world heritage site covering 430 square kilometres (166 square miles) on the flood plain of the Brahmaputra River. It is home to two thirds of the world population of Indian One-horned Rhinoceros.

Unfortunately, as we waited for the reserve opening time at 7:30 a.m., the rain started and we had to cover the open-topped jeeps, making birding quite tricky. We had views of Greater One-horned Rhinoceros, Asian Elephant, Water Buffalo, Wild Boar, Hog Deer, Swap Deer and Rhesus Macaques. We were allowed out of the vehicles at a tower, so could climb and get good views over the swampy reserve. As well as the more familiar waders and ducks, we saw Spotted Owlet, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Red Junglefowl, Griffon Vulture, Indian Spotted Eagle, Spot-billed Pelican, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, White-breasted Waterhen, Northern and Grey-headed Lapwings, Bronze-winged Jacana, Whiskered Tern, Brown Fish Owl, Streak-throated Woodpecker and Kalij Pheasant. The owls and eagles were much easier to spot than in the UK.

We returned to Wildgrass for lunch (deep fried cauliflower was very good) with views of Yellow-vented and Scarlet-backed Flowerpeckers in the garden, then it was back into the jeeps for a tour of the central range. We stopped at the Daflong Tower and had excellent views of a huge family of Smooth-coated Otters. The new sightings for the afternoon included Crested Honey Buzzard, Red-headed Vulture, Temminck’s Stint, Greater Coucal, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Puff-throated Babbler, Red-throated Flycatcher and Golden-fronted Leafbird. We heard many Swamp Francolins as we drove away from the tower, but D’Weasel was the only team member to spot one!

This proved to be a marvellous day with 26 new birds, bringing our trip list of those seen and heard up to 430 with just the one full day’s birding to come.

Oriental Darter
Blue-throated Barbet
Black-necked Stork
Brown Fish Owl

Tuesday 9 April – Ernie Lucking

Tiger, tiger burning bright, but where are you?

A 5.00 a.m., a pre-breakfast walk around the hotel grounds revealed a total of 13 bird species, including a superb Asian Barred Owlet, but no new birds were added to our trip list. Breakfast was served at 6.00 a.m. and then it was into the open-topped jeeps ready for our second day in Kaziranga National Park.

Lieo had news from Park Rangers that two Tigers were attending a kill, so the idea was to spend the whole day at Kaziranga’s central range. However, we first searched an area of woodland, adjacent to vast tea gardens, renowned for Blue-naped Pittas. However, with such a large group, it was difficult to maintain the necessary silence for this skulky species to show, so we were out of luck with one heard by some, but none seen!

As with the previous day, our time spent in the park was limited to 8.30 a.m. (an hour after the official park opening time) and again in the afternoon from 2.00 until 5.00 p.m. Our plan was to spend as much time as possible in the park, popping back to Wildgrass Lodge for lunch and then returning for the afternoon. Although we knew that our chances of actually seeing Tiger were slim, this was too good of an opportunity to miss!

We learnt that the corpse of a Water Buffalo was lying close to a tower hide, so we made this our first and prolonged stop. Unfortunately, our view of the carcass was blocked by a tall copse and, although we couldn’s see it; the air was full of the putrid smell of rotting flesh! Excitedly, we scanned every gap from the high platform and were optimism that soon we would glimpse this magnificent beast! However, this was not to be and despite extensive efforts we failed but, with time on our side, we remained hopeful that one would show during late-morning or afternoon!

Will, Viv and Fiona had a sighting of a Slender-billed Oriole, but the bird soon disappeared into a group of trees and didn’t show again, so missed by most of our party. A shout of “harrier” diverted our attention to an area of grassland in the opposite direction from where we were focussed. Its identity was soon determined as a male Pied Harrier that was quartering the area and slowly coming towards us. It was soon joined by a second bird. Its black head, mantle, back, upper-breast, median coverts and primaries contrasting sharply with pure white forewings and underparts and pale grey wings and tail makes this harrier the most attractive of all raptors and one of the best birds seen during the whole tour? A group of Swamp Francolins were seen as we began our descent from the hide and we all gained excellent views. A Siberian Rubythroat sang from the opposite side of the track, but it failed to reveal itself despite an exhaustive search.

Venturing on to an area of woodland, we were attracted by the delightful, melodious song of a White-rumped Shama. The bird performed well for us, its glossy black head, back, wings and long graduated tail contrasting with a chestnut belly, white rump and undertail coverts making this one of the most handsome of the small forest thrushes. A huge Bengal Monitor Lizard was admired at is lay basking in the sun beside a pool and, further on, we found a Ruby-cheeked Sunbird amongst a feeding flock of other sunbirds, another striking bird and a welcome addition to the trip list!

On our return to Wildgrass Lodge for lunch, we were pleased to find two Finn’s Weavers amongst a flock of Baya’s Weavers.

Lunch was taken and then it was a quick return to Kaziranga’s central range for our last chance of Tiger. We slowly made our way along the bumpy tracks, stopping to scan the grassland on numerous occasions. Tiger, tiger burning bright – but where are you?

An Abbot’s Babbler became another bird that was heard but not seen and a return to Daflong Tower found the area packed with Indian tourists. Our visit there failed to reveal much, although we did manage superb views of a Golden-headed Cisticola. A mystery creature swimming across the lake had us guessing for a while, was it a line of otters or what? It turned out to be a two-metre long Asian Water Monitor, the world’s second heaviest lizard (after Komodo Dragon) and, if we thought the Indian Monitor was big, this was enormous?

Today’s mammal list included: Asian Elephant, Rhesus Macaque, Water Buffalo, Greater One-horned Rhino, Swamp Deer, Hog Deer, Wild Boar, but sadly no TIGER!

On arrival back at the hotel, we found that at long last our shower had been fixed, as this was the first working shower we had since our hotel in Delhi (the day we arrived in India). As i am just a softy and not as hard as Will, who seemed to enjoy the cold buckets and trickles of cold water from the previous 12 days, it was a great relief to bathe in hot water.

The evening meal was once again excellent, but a sure sign of too much curry at the beginning of the tour showed by plates being only half covered compared with all plates full to the brim during the first few days. This was all except D’Weasel of course whose plate is only half full after he has scoffed from it and from anybody else’s plate who may have become momentarily distracted!

Asian Barred Owlet
Black Drongo
Pallas's Fish Eagle
Pied Harrier
Stork-billed Kingfisher

Wednesday 10 April – Mervyn Jones

Our stressful drive back to Guwahati

A ‘lie-in’ (a relative term in the context of this holiday) after Fiona and I decided to forego the early morning meander in the hotel grounds and nearby tea plantation. Pre-breakfast birding for some revealed a few interesting species and Steve at last saw a Thick-billed Warbler, a species that had eluded him on many a tour of The Orient! However, the bird of the morning was a Crimson Sunbird, the only one to be seen on the tour.

Bags were packed ready for the long road journey back to Guwahati and a connecting flight to Delhi. Breakfast, and then all-aboard a rusting, bone-shaker of an old minibus that doubtless had many decades of tales to tell of the passengers it had carried. No less characterful were its crew members, an impassive middle-aged driver who drove resolutely through all traffic hazards without blinking an eye, and a teenaged or early-twenties young man who was like a coiled-spring throughout and who regaled the driver (and the rest of us) with an endless stream of verbiage for the entire stiflingly-hot journey. He scarcely drew breath for hours on end, and should have been on television and not in the cab of a bus.

The journey was dogged by mishap and failing mechanics and the engine eventually overheated as the bus ground its way up a particularly high incline on the approach to Guwahati. Several litres of water collected from a nearby stream and a sweaty pause later, and we were back on the road! We then encountered the school rush-hour near a large military base on the outskirts of Guwahati with attendant streams of traffic from all directions bottlenecking right in our path. Worse, an enormous traffic jam caused by roadworks then held us up yet again, with the clock inexorably ticking down on our flight check-in time.

It was all hands to the pump when we arrived at Guwahati airport with minutes to spare. We formed a chain to offload the bus and then a mad dash to the entrance where – inevitably – the clammy hand of bureaucracy and document-checking conspired still further to delay us before we eventually gained entry and dashed to the nearest IndiGo desk. We weren’t done yet, but at least they knew we were there. Security checks, again not without hiccups, and, minutes later, we were boarding and airborne. Phew!

We were taken by bus once again to the Ashanthi Palace Hotel near Delhi airport and enjoyed a superbly relaxing evening and a delicious self-service dinner. It was early to bed for most of us, although some made the most of some particularly good live music in the hotel. It was another dark o’clock start the following morning to catch our BA flight back to the UK.

Thursday 11 April – Steve Piotrowski

Our last Supper

We rose bright and early for our morning flight home, but it was birding all the way as the bus made its way to the airport. Our transfer driver arrived on time and we were soon at the airport awaiting our flight home. A Shikra and a Crested Honey Buzzard was spotted overhead and there were the usual flocks of Ring-necked Pararkeets. The last bird to be added to the trip list was a Bank Myna which was spotted feeding on a pavement and four Crag Martins were spotted amongst other hyrundines at the airport.

List of species recorded – Steve Piotrowski and Eric (D’Weasel) Patrick):

BIRDS:

ANSERIFORMES: Anatidae

1. Fulvous Whistling Duck Dendrocygna bicolor

Flocks of 50 from bridge over River Brahmaputra at Sonitpur 7-April and 4-8 at Kaziranga 8/9-April

2. Lesser Whistling Duck Dendrocygna javanica

Flock of 55 Jia Bhorelli River 29-March

3. Bar-headed Goose Anser indicus

Flock of 12 at Sultanpur 27-March, single Sangthi Valley 30-March

4. Greylag Goose

Pair at Sultanpur 27-March

5. Knob-billed Duck

12 at Sultanpur 27-March

6. Common Shelduck

Two on Jia Bhorelli River 29-March

7. Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea

Seen on several occasions along the Jia Bhorelli River at Nameri NP 28/29-March, Sela Pass 31-March, Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

8. White-winged Duck Asarcornis scutulata

Good and prolonged views of a single individual at a secluded forest pool in Nameri NP 29-March

9. Cotton Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus

5 birds seen in Kaziranga NP’s Eastern range 8-April

10. Garganey Spatula querquedula

40 at Sultanpur 27-March and 5 Eastern range of Kaziranga NP on 8-April

11. Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata

60 at Sultanpur 2-March and up to 10 Eastern range of Kaziranga NP on 8/9-April

12. Gadwall Anas strepera

60 at Sultanpur 27-March and 30 Eastern range of Kaziranga NP on 8-April

13. Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope

20 at Sultanpur 27-March and up to 50 Eastern range of Kaziranga NP on 8/9-April

14. Indian Spot-billed Duck Anas poecilorhyncha

12 at Sultanpur 27-March and up to 60 Eastern range of Kaziranga NP on 8/9-April

15. Northern Pintail Anas acuta

10 at Sultanpur 27-March and up to 12 Eastern range of Kaziranga NP on 8-April

16. Eurasian Teal Anas crecca

50 at Sultanpur 27-March and up to 12 Kaziranga 8/9-april

17. Common Pochard Aythya ferina

2 at Sultanpur 27-March

18. Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula

2 at Sultanpur 27-March

19. Common Merganser Mergus merganser

Up to three seen along the Jia Bhorelli in Nameri NP 28/29-March

GALLIFORMES: Phasianidae

20. Black Francolin Francolinus francolinus

At least 1 calling Baragaon landfill site 28-March

21. Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis *

Up to 7 birds feeding in the Central range of Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

22. Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola

Up to 3 heard daily 1-7 April, but none seen

23. Rufous-throated Partridge Arborophila rufogularis

Four seen along the road below Bompu Camp in Eaglenest WLS on 6-April, heard on several occasions

24. Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus

Good views of 11 separate individuals below Sela Pass on 31-March

25. Blyth’s Tragopan Tragopan blythii

Single male and another heard on road below Lama Camp 3-April

26. Temminck’s Tragopan Tragopan temminckii (H)

Heard at Eaglenest Pass 2 & 6-April

27. Himalayan Monal Lophophorus impejanus

Single obsever record 31-March

28. Red Junglefowl Gallus gallus

Several seen at at Kaziranga NP, heard regularly

29. Kalij Pheasant Lophura leucomelanus

2 birds were seen below Bompu Camp in Eaglenest WLS 5-April and 2 Kaziranga NP 8-April

30. Grey Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron bicalcaratum

At least four heard along the road below Bompu Camp in Eaglenest WLS on 5-April

PODICIPEDIFORMES: Podicipedidae

31. Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

20 at Sultanpur 27-March and 2 Eastern range of Kaziranga NP on 8-April

32. Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus

Pair on Jia Bhorelli River 29/30-March

CICONIIFORMES: Ciconiidae

33. Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

40 at Sultanpur 27-March

34. Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans

42 at Sultanpur 27-March and flocks of 100 at other lowland sites

35. Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus

Up to four seen by Brahmaputra River 7-April and up to 6 Kaziranga 8/9-April

36. Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus

Single at Sultanpur 27-March and 6 Kaziranga 8/9-April

37. Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus

Seen at Baragaon Landfill Site and elsewhere in the Assam Plains

38. Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius

350 at Baragaon Landfill Site in Guwahati on 28-March

PELECANIFORMES: Threskiornithidae

39. Black-headed Ibis Threskiornis melanocephalus

10 at Sultanpur 27-March and 20 Eastern range of Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

40. Red-necked Ibis Pseudibis papilosa

2 at Sultanpur 27-March

41. Glossy Ibis Plegadis Falcinellus

6 at Sultanpur 27-March and ten Eastern range of Kaziranga NP on 8-April

42. Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia

Single at Sultanpur 29-March

PELECANIFORMES: Ardeidae

43. Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

2 at Sultanpur 27-March

44. Striated Heron Butorides striata

Single Jia Bhorelli River 29-March

45. Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii

Widespread in the lowlands plains

46. Eastern Cattle Egret Bubulcus coromandus

Widespread in the lowland plains

47. Grey Heron Ardea cinerea

Common at Sultanpur and Kaziranga NP

48. Purple Heron Ardea purpurea

4 Sultanpur 27-March, single over Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP on 28-March, a few individuals in Kaziranga 8/9-April

49. Great Egret Egretta alba

10 Sultanpur 27-March, two Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP on 28/29-March, up to 20 Kaziranga 8/9-April

50. Intermediate Egret Egretta intermedia

25 Sultanpur 27-March, 3 Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP on 29-March, up to 50 in Kaziranga 8/9-April

51. Little Egret Egretta garzetta

2 Sultanpur 28-March, up to 25 Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP 28-March, up to 20 Kaziranga 7/8-April

PELECANIFORMES: Pelecanidae

52. Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis

Up to 12 Kaziranga 8/9-April

SULIFORMES: Phalacrocoracidae

53. Little Cormorant Phalacrocorax niger

30 Sultanpur 27-March, 10 Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP on 28729-March, up to 200 Kaziranga 8/10-April

54. Indian Cormorant Phalacrocorax fuscicollis

Single Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP on 29-March, up to 10 Kaziranga 8/9-April

55. Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo

Up to 20 Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP on 28/29-March

SULIFORMES: Anhingidae

56. Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster

One Sultanpur 27-March, up to 25 in Kaziranga 8/10-April

ACCIPTRIFORMES: Pandionidae

57. Western Osprey Pandion haliaetus

4 Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP on 29-March and two Kaziranga 8-April

ACCIPTRIFORMES: Accipitridae

58. Black-winged Kite Elanus caeruleus

Single Sultanpur 27-March, 1-2 Kaziranga 8/9-April

59. Crested Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhyncus

2-3 daily at Kaziranga 7/10-April

60. White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis

Two over village en route to Nameri 28-March

61. Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus

Single seen in the Eastern range of Kaziranga NP 8-April

62. Red-headed Vulture Sarcogyps calvus

4 seen in the Eastern range of Kaziranga NP 8-April

63. Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus

Single at Baragaon Landfill Site in Guwahati on 28-March

64. Crested Serpent Eagle Spilornis cheela

Two over Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP on 29-March and up to 5 daily at Eaglenest

65. Changeable Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus *

Singles Wildgrass and Tea Plantations at Kaziranga 9/10-April

66. Mountain Hawk-Eagle Nisaetus nipalensis

Up to 2 at Eaglenest and Tenga Market to Orang road 6/7-April

67. Rufous-bellied Eagle Lophotriorchis kienerii

2 Eaglenest 5-April

68. Black Eagle Ictinaetus malaiensis

Singles at Tippi 30-March and Bompu Camp 6-April

69. Indian Spotted Eagle Clanga hastata (*)

Seen only at Kaziranga NP 8-April

70. Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga cheeta

Singles Sultanpur 27-March and Kaziranga 9-April

71. Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus

Single Sultanpur 27-March

72. Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus

Singles Nameri NP 29/30, Eaglenest WLS  5/6-April

73. Shikra Accipiter badius

Up to 6 Sultanpur 27-March, 2 Nameri 28-March, single Eaglenest WLS and 2 Kaziranga 8/10-april

74. Besra Accipiter virgatus

Single below Bompu Camp, Eaglenest WLS 6-April

75. Western Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus

2 Nameri NP 28-March

76. Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus

Single Kaziranga NP 8-April

77. Pied Harrier Circus melanateucas

Two Kaziranga NP 9-April

78. Black Kite Milvus migrans

100 over Delhi and Sultanpur 27-March 30 Baragaon garbage dump in Guwahati 28-March and up to 30 Kaziranga 

79. Pallas’s Fish-eagle Haliaeetus leucoryphus

At least 4 individuals Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

80. Grey-headed Fish-eagle Haliaeetus ichthyaetus

Single Nameri NP 29-March, up to five Kaziranga on 9/10-April

81. Himalayan Buzzard Buteo burmanicus

Singles Sangthi Valley 30-March and Sela Pass 31-March

GRUIFORMES: Rallidae

82. Water Rail Rallus aquaticus

One showed well at Sultanpur 27-March

83. White-breasted Waterhen Amaurornis phoenicurus

Common in the plains

84. Black-tailed Crake Porzana bicolor

Two birds seen on 31-March in a marshy area near Dirang

85. Grey-headed Swamphen (Purple Swamphen) Porphyrio poliocephalus

c.50 at Sultanpur 27-March and 4 Eastern range of Kaziranga NP on 9-April

86. Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus

150 at Sultanpur 27-March

87. Eurasian Coot Fulica atra

50 at Sultanpur 27-March

GRUIFORMES: Gruldea

88. Sarus Crane Antigone antigone

A pair at Sultanpur 27-March

CHARADRIIFORMES: Burhinidae

89. Great Stone-curlew Esacus recurvirostris

Single at Nameri NP 28-March and 12 on 29-March

CHARADRIIFORMES: Recurvirostridae

90. Ibisbill Iidorhyncha struthersii

Single observer record 29-March

CHARADRIIFORMES: Recurvirostridae

91. Black-winged Stilt Himontopus himontopus

30 at Sultanpur 27-March

CHARADRIIFORMES: Charadriidae

92. Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

2 Eastern Range, Kaziranga 8-April

93. River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii *

Up to 20 Nameri NP 28/29-March and singles Rupa and Sangthi Valley 30-March

94. Yellow-wattled Lapwing Vanellus malabaricus

Single on grass verge ouside Delhi Airport 27-April

95. Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus

Single Eastern Range, Kaziranga NP 8-April

96. Red-wattled Lapwing Vanellus indicus

Common in the plains

97. White-tailed Lapwing Vanellus leucurus

2 Sultanpur 27-March

98. Long-billed Plover Charadrius placidus

5 birds seen in Sangthi Valley on 30-March

99. Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius

Up to 4 28/29-March

CHARADRIIFORMES: Jacanidae

100. Pheasant-tailed Jacana Hydrophasianus chirurgus

3 at Sultanpur 27-March and 20 Kaziranga 9-April

101. Bronze-winged Jacana Metopidius indicus

Up to 6 Kaziranga 8 to 10-April

CHARADRIIFORMES: Scolopacidae

102. Ruff Calidris pugnax

3 at Sultanpur 28-March and 20 Kaziranga 8-April

103. Temminck’s Stint Calidris temminckii

Uo to 12 Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

104. Solitary Snipe Gallinago solitaria

A single bird feeding in marshy pool at Sela Pass 31-March

105. Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago

Single Sultanpur 27-March

106. Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa

Two Sultanpur 27-March, single Kaziranga 8-April

107. Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos

A few at Nameri NP, 2 in Sangthi Valley 30-March and around pond edges in Kaziranga NP

108. Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus

Single Sultanpur 27-March, up to five Nameri 28 & 29-March, Sangthi Valley 30-March  and a few at Kaziranga NP

109. Common Redshank Tringa tetanus

Up to 20 at Kaziranga NP

110. Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola

25 at Sultanpur 27-March and up to 4 Kaziranga 8/9-April

111. Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus

4 at Sultanpur 27-March and up to 6 at Kaziranga 8/9-April

112. Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia

4 at Sultanpur 27-March, 6 Nameri NP 29-March and up to 5 Kaziranga 8/9-April

CHARADRIIFORMES: Glareolidae

113. Small Pratincole Glareola lactea

A few flocks of up 65 birds along the Jia Bhorelli River at Nameri NP 29-March

CHARADRIIFORMES: Laridae

114. River Tern Sterna aurantia

Up to 12 seen along the Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP 28/29-March

115. Black-bellied Tern Sterna acuticaudata

6 flying over Jia Bhorelli River 29-March were thought to be of this species and later confirmed from photographs

116. Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida

Single Kaziranga 8-April

COLUMBIFORMES: Columbidae

117. Feral Pigeon Columba livia

Common and widespread throughout all lowland urban areas

118. Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota

Up to 15 Sela Pass 31-March

119. Speckled Wood Pigeon Columba hodgsonii

Single Bompu Camp, Eaglenest 5-April

120. Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis

Small flocks at Nameri NP and around Dirang

121. Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto

Around 40 noted in and around Delhi

122. Red Turtle (Collared) Dove Streptopelia tranquebarica

Up to eight in Kaziranga NP and Tea Plantations 9 & 10-April

123. Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis

Common in and around Delhi, Nameri NP and Kaziranga

124. Laughing Dove Spilopelia senegalensis

Single in Delhi 27-March

125. Barred Cuckoo-dove Macropygia unchall

A few seen from boat along Jia Bhorelli River 29-March and another Tenga Market Roadf 7-April

126. Common Emerald Dove Chalcophaps indica

A few birds seen in Eaglenest WLS and at Kaziranga NP

127. Yellow-footed Green-pigeon Treron phoenicopterus

Commonly seen in Nameri NP and Kaziranga NP

128. Pin-tailed Green-pigeon Treron apicauda

8 Eaglenest 5-April

129. Wedge-tailed Green-pigeon Treron sphenurus

5 in Nameri NP 29-March

130. Green Imperial Pigeon Ducula aenea

Up to 20 Nameri NP 28/29-March and small flocks daily in Kaziranga NP

131. Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia

A few seen in Eaglenest WLS

CUCULIFORMES: Cuculidae

132. Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis

2 Sultanpur 27-March and up to 3 Kaziranga 8/9-April

133. Lesser Coucal Centropus bengalensis

4 Kaziranga NP on 9-April

134. Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis

2 in Nameri 30-March and single Kaziranga 8-April

135. Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus

Seen regularly in Nameri NP and Kaziranga

136. Large Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides

Heard daily in Eaglenest WLS

137. Common Hawk-Cuckoo Hierococcyx varius *

Singles Sulyanbur 27-March and Wildgrass 10-April

138. Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus

Up to 3 in tea gardens adjacent to Wildgrass

139. Common Cuckoo (Eurasian Cuckoo) Cuculus canorus

Seen Mandela Road 1-April

STRIGIFORMES: Strigidae

140. Mountain Scops Owl Otus spilocephalus (H)

Called all night at Eaglenest WLS around Lama Camp

141. Collared Scops Owl Otus lettia

Heard Eaglesnest Pass

142. Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zeylonensis

A pair Eastern range at Kaziranga NP 8-April

143. Himalayan Owl (Himalayan Wood Owl) Strix nivicolum (H)

Heard at Lama Camp in Eaglenest WLS 3/4-April

144. Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei

Sseveral heard daily at Eaglenest WLS

145. Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides

Up to four seen daily Kaziranga NP

146. Spotted Owlet Athene brama

A pair seen at Sultanpur 27-March and another pair Kaziranga NP 8-April

147. Brown Hawk-Owl Ninox scutulata

3 seen at Nameri NP on 28-March, also heard in Kaziranga NP

CAPRIMULGIFORMES: Caprimulgidae

148. Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus jotaka

Seen well at Lama Camp at Eaglenest WLS, heard daily there and also at Dirang

APODIFORMES: Apodidae

149. Himalayan Swiftlet Aerodramus brevirostris

Up to 12 over Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP 28 to 30-March and 30  at Eaglenest WLS 6-April

150. Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis

20 below Bompu Camp, Eagenest WLS 5-April

151. Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis

A few seen on the drive between Guwahati and Nameri NP and Kaziranga

152. Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba

At least two with Silver-backed Needletails 5-April

153. Little Swift Apus affinis

10 over Delhi 27-March

154. House Swift Apus nipalensis

Up to 10 Kaziranga 10-April

TROGONIFORMES: Trogonidae

155. Red-headed Trogon Harpactes erythrocephalus

2 at Eaglenest WLS below Bompu Camp on 6-April

156. Ward’s Trogon Harpactes wardi E

1 below Sunderview 2-April and 2 on trogan trail Eaglenest WLS 6-April

CORACIIFORMES: Coraciidae

157. Indian Roller (Black-billed Roller) Coracias benghalensis affinis

A common bird seen throughout the lowlands

158. Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis

Up to 4 Eco=Centre, Nameri NP 29/30-March

CORACIIFORMES: Alcedinidae

159. Stork-billed Kingfisher Pelargopsis capensis

2 Kaziranga 8/9-April

160. White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis

A common kingfisher in the plains

161. Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis

Commonly seen

162. Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis

Up to 20 Nameri NP and 4-6  Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

CORACIFORMES: Meropidae

163. Green Bee-eater Merops orientalis

20 Delhi/Sultanpur area 27-March, 10 in Nameri NP, and on all days in Kaziranga NP

164. Blue-tailed Bee-eater Merops philippinus

Up to 8 daily Kaziranga NP and Tea Plantations

165. Chestnut-headed Bee-eater Merops leschenaulti

Common in Nameri NP and Kaziranga NP

BUCEROTIFORMES: Upupidae

166. Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops

Regularly seen throughout the trip

BUCEROTIFORMES: Bucerotidae

167. Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis

Up to five seen in around Eco-Camp, Nameri NP and single in Kaziranga NP

168. Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris

Daily at Kaziranga NP inlcuding 6 on 8-April

169. Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis

Up to 3 Eaglenest 5/6-April

170. Wreathed Hornbill Rhyticeros undulatus

Up to 24 at Nameri NP 28-March

PICIFORMES: Megalaimidae

171. Great Barbet Psilopogon virens

Heard and several seen in and around Eaglenest WLS below Lama Camp and below Bompu Camp

172. Lineated Barbet Psilopogon lineatus

4 Sultanpur 27-March and 3 Eco-Camp and inside Nameri NP, also common in Kaziranga NP

173. Golden-throated Barbet Psilopogon franklinii

Single birds seen in Eaglenest WLS below Bompu Camp on most days

174. Blue-throated Barbet Psilopogon asiaticus

A common species in the plains

175. Coppersmith Barbet Psilopogon haemacephalus

Seen regularly in the plains

PICIFORMES: Indicatorridae

176. Yellow-rumped Honeyguide Indicator xanthonotus

Single stalking bee’s nest at Eaglenest Pass 4-April

PICIFORMES: Picidae

177. Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus

Singles below Bompu Camp, Eaglenest WLS, 5-April & Ankling 7-April

178. Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipicus canicapillus

2 in Nameri NP 29-March and 5 Kaziranga NP 8-April

179. Rufous-bellied Woodpecker Dendrocopos hyperythrus

2 daily Aloo Bari, EagleNest WLS 2 to 4-April

180. Fulvous-breasted (Pied) Woodpecker Dendrocopos macei (*)

One Aloo Bari, EagleNest WLS 5-April

181. Darjeeling (Pied) Woodpecker Dendrocopos darjellensis

One Aloo Bari, EagleNest WLS 3-April

182. Greater Yellownape Chrysophlegma flavinucha

Singles Nameri and below Sesni

183. Lesser Yellownape Picus c. chlorolophus

1-2 below Bompu Camp, Eaglenest WLS, 5 & 7-April

184. Streak-throated Woodpecker Picus xanthopygaeus

Single Kaziranga 8-April

185. Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus

Up to 2 Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

186. Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense *

2 Sultanpur 27-March and singles Nameri 29/30-March

187. Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus

Up to 5 Nameri NP 28/30-March

188. Pale-headed Woodpecker Gecinulus grantia

2 Eaglenest WLS 5-April

189. Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis

Heard many times in Eaglenest WLS, one view on 2-April

FALCONIFORMES: Falconidae

190. Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus

Singles Namera 28/29-March

191. Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrines calidus

Two Nameri NP 29-March

PSITTACIFORMES: Psittaculidae

192. Blossom-headed (Rosy-headed) Parakeet Psittacula roseata

Up to 5 in the Central range Kaziranga NP 8-April

193. Red-breasted Parakeet Psittacula alexandri

A common parakeet in Nameri NP and Kaziranga NP

194. Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria

Up to 3 at Kaziranga NP 8/10-April

195. Rose-ringed Parakeet Psittacula krameri

A common bird in both urban (e.g. Delhi centre) and lowland rural environments

PASSERIFORMES: Pittidae

196. Blue-naped Pitta Hydrornis nipalensis

Heard Eastern range Kaziranga 9-April

PASSERIFORMES: Tephrodornithidae

197. Large Woodshrike Tephrodornis virgatus

3 below Bompu Camp, Eaglenest WLS, 5 April

198. Common Woodshrike Tephrodornis pondicerianus

2 Sultanpur 27-March and 3 Kaziranga NP 9-April

PASSERIFORMES: Artamidae

199. Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus

Up to 10 Nameri NP 28/29-March and 2-3 Kaziranga NP 7/10-April

PASSERIFORMES: Aegithinidae

200. Common Iora Aegithina tiphia

A few birds seen in Nameri NP and again in Kaziranga NP

PASSERIFORMES: Campephagidae

201. Large Cuckooshrike Coracina macei

Daily in Kaziranga NP 9/10-April, single Orang 4-April

202. Black-winged Cuckooshrike Coracina melaschistos

2 Nameri NP 29-April, 1-2 Aloo Bari 3/4-April and single in Tea Plantations 10-April

203. Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris

Up to 5 below Bompu Camp in Eaglenest WLS 3 & 6-April

204. Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus

15 on forest-slopes Sessan and Rupa 30-March and up to 4 Kaziranga 4 to 7-April

205. Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris

Pairs Moncamp 31-March, and Eaglesnest WLS 2 & 6-April

206. Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus speciosus

20 Nameri NP 29-March, single Eaglenest 2-April and up to 7 Kaziranga 8/9-April

PASSERIFORMES: Laniidae

207. Brown Shrike Lanius c. cristatus

Up to 3 around Nameri NP 28-March, 2 Mandala Road 1-April and 3 Kaziranga 8-April

208. Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach tricolor

4 Rupa 30-March and up to 8 Kaziranga 7 to 9-April

209. Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus

Up to 2 Nameri 28-March and single around tea gardens at Kaziranga 8/9 April

PASSERIFORMES: Vireonidae

210. Blyth’s (Himalayan) Shrike-babbler Pteruthius aeralatus

6 around Dirang 31-March and 2 daily at Eaglenest WLS 2 to 6-April

211. Black-eared Shrike-babbler Pteruthius melanotis

Up to 3 seen daily around Lama Camp 3 to 6-April

PASSERIFORMES: Oriolidae

212. Indian Golden Oriole Oriolus kundoo

Single Sultanpur 27-March

213. Slender-billed Oriole Oriolus tenuirostris

Single observer record at Kaziranga NP 9-April

214. Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus

Up to 10 at Nameri NP and daily Kaziranga NP

215. Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii

Up to 3 daily Eaglenest WLS and Kaziranga NP

PASSERIFORMES: Dicruridae

216. Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus

Common Sultanpur 27-March and as a roadside species in lowland habitats between Guwahati and Nameri NP and in and around Kaziranga

217. Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus

A common forest drongo

218. Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus

Up to 10 Eaglenest 5 to 6-April

219. Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer

Two Sessa 30-March and up to 3 Eaglesnest 5/6-April

220. Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus

Up to 3 Kaziranga NP and around tea gardens 8 to 10-April

PASSERIFORMES: Rhipiduridae

221. White-throated Fantail Rhipidura albicollis

Up to 4 Eaglenest WLS 2 to 6-April

PASSERIFORMES: Monarchidae

222. Black-naped Blue Monarch Hypothymis azurea

2 Eaglenest WLS 6-April

223. Asian Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone paradise

White-form male Sultanpur 27-March

PASSERIFORMES: Corvidae

224. Yellow-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa flavirostris

Up to 4 Mandala Road 1/2-April

225. Common Green Magpie Cissa chinensis

Up to 4 below Bompu Camp in Eaglenest WLS 6-April

226. Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda

3 Sultanpur 27-March and up to 8 daily at Kaziranga 8 to 11-April

227. Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae

Single Sessa 30-March and 6 Eaglenest WLS 5-April

228. Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes

2 seen at Mandala 1/2 April and 3 above Lama Camp 6-April

229. Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

A flock of 20 over Sela Pass 31-March

230. House Crow Corvus splendens

Daily counts of up to 200 in Delhi/Sultanpur and Guwahati areas 27/28-March and 10/11 April

231. Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos

Up to 12 at sites around Dirang 30-March to 2-April

232. Eastern Jungle Crow Corvus levaillantii

Flocks of up to 30 daily around Namera and Kaziranga

PASSERIFORMES: Stenostiridae

233. Yellow-bellied Fantail Chelidorhynx hypoxantha

Regularly seen around Eaglenest WLS 3 to 6-April

234. Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis

One Ramcamp 31-March and regularly seen around Eaglenest WLS 2 to 6-April

PASSERIFORMES: Paridae

235. Yellow-browed Tit Sylviparus modestus

Single Mandala Road 1-April and up to 10 Eaglenest WLS 3 to 9-April

236. Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea

4 Sessa 30-March, up to 4 Eaglenest WLS 5/6-April

237. Coal Tit Parus ater

A small flock of 10 birds Sela Pass 31-March and 6 Mandala Road 1-April

238. Grey-crested Tit Parus dichrous

Single Sela Pass 31-March and 2 Mandala Road 1-April

239. Cinereous Tit (Great Tit) Parus cinereus

3 Nameri NP 28-March, single Mandala Road 1- April and up to 4 daily within Kaziranga NP

240. Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus

2 Mandala Road 1-April and 4 Eaglesnest WLS 3-April 

241. Yellow-cheeked Tit Parus spilonotus

1-2 Eaglenest WLS 3 to 6-April

PASSERIFORMES: Alaudidae

242. Sand Lark Alaudala raytal

Single observer record on riverside sandbanks at Nameri NP 29-March

242. Ashy-crowned Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix griseus

One in an area of roadside scrub near Sultanpur 27-March

PASSERIFORMES: Pycnonotidae

243. Striated Bulbul Pycnonotus striatus

Up to 8 daily Eaglenest WLS 4 to 6-April

244. Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus flaviventris

4 Nameri NP 29-March and 6 Mandala Road 1-April

245. Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus

A common bulbul in the plains

246. Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer

A common bulbul, seen throughout the trip on most days

247. White-throated Bulbul Alophoixus flaveolus

2 Sessa 30-March and 6 Eaglesnest 5-April

248. Mountain Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii

2 Sessa 30-March

249. Himalayan (Black) Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus

Good numbers seen in Arunachal Pradesh

PASSERIFORMES: Hirundinidae

250. Grey-throated Martin Riparia chinensis

A few seen along the Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP, and at Kaziranga NP

251. Sand Martin Riparia riparia

One amongst Grey-throated Martins on the Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP

252. Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica

Singles Nameri NP and up to 100 daily in Kaziranga NP

253. Eurasian Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris

Singles Nameri NP 29-March and Delhi Airport 11-April

254. Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus

2 Orang 7-April

255. Nepal House Martin Delichon nipalense

10 Eaglenest WLS 6-April

256. Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica

Single Sultanpur 27-March and 2 Nameri 29-March

257. Striated Swallow Hirundo striolata *

Up to 30 on drive from Eaglenest WLS to Kaziranga and singles in Kaziranga NP 9/10 April

PASSERIFORMES: Pnoepygidae

258. Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga albiventer

Single Mandala Road 3-April

259. Pygmy Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga pusilla

Heard Tippi 30-April and Eaglenest WLS 5/6-April

PASSERIFORMES: Cettiidae

260. Yellow-bellied Warbler Abroscopus superciliaris

2 Tippi 30-April

261. Rufous-faced Warbler Abroscopus albogularis

2 Eaglenest WLS 5-April

262. Black-faced Warbler Abroscopus schisticeps

5 Mandala Road 1-April and up to 20 daily Eaglenest WLS below Lama Camp and around Bompu Camp 2/4-April

263. Mountain Tailorbird Phyllergates cuculatus (H)

Singles Tenga Market Road 2-April and below Bompu Camp 4/5-April

264. Brown-flanked (Strong-footed) Bush Warbler Horornis fortipes

Heard at Aloo Bari 3/4-April and seen at Bompu Camp, Eaglenest WLS 6-April and above Tenga Market 7-April

265. Hume’s (Yellowish-bellied) Bush Warbler Horornis brunnescns

Heard Aloo Bari, Eaglenest WLS 2/3-April

266. Himalayan Aberrant Bush Warbler Horornis flavolivacea

Heard Bompu Camp, Eaglenest WLS 4-April

267. Slaty-bellied Tesia Tesia olivea

Single Eaglenest 6-April

268. Chestnut-headed Tesia Cettia castaneocoronata

3 seen Eaglenest 4-April

PASSERIFORMES: Aegithalidae

269. Black-throated Bushtit (Black-throated Tit) Aegithalos concinnus

2 Ramcamp 31-March, 2 along the Mandala Road 1-April, 6 within Eaglenest WLS and 4 Ankling 7-April

PASSERIFORMES: Phylloscopidae

270. Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis

3 Sultanpur 27-March

271. Dusky Warbler Phylloscopus fuscatus

1-2 Nameri NP 28/29-March, and again in Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

272. Tickell’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus affinis

3 birds at Nameri NP 28/29-March and again at Kaziranga NP 9-April

273. Buff-barred (Orange-barred) Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher

A relatively common warbler at higher elevations seen Mandala Road and Eaglenest WLS

274. Ashy-throated (Grey-faced) Warbler Phylloscopus maculipennis

Up to 12 Eaglenest 2 to 4-April

275. Lemon-rumped Warbler Phylloscopus chloronotus

Up to 3 along Mandala road and daily Aloo Bari

276. Hume's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus humei

Single Sultanpur 27-March, Nameri 29/30-March and up 20 Eaglenest 5 to 7-March

277. Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus t. trochiloides

2 Sultanpur 27-March

278. Large-billed Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris

Heard Madala Road, 2-April

279. Blyth’s Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides

Up to 2 Mandala Road 1/2 April

280. Yellow-vented Warbler Phylloscopus cantator E

2 Sessa 30-March

281. Grey-hooded Warbler Phylloscopus xanthoschistos

2 Mandala Road 1-Apriland 1-2 Eaglenest WLS 4 tp 7-April

282. White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis

2 Eaglenest WLS 4-April

283. Green-crowned (Golden-spectacled) Warbler Seicercus burkii

1-2 Eaglenest WLS 4 to 7-April

284. Grey-cheeked Warbler Seicercus poliogenys

1-2 Eaglenest WLS 6/7-April

285. Chestnut-crowned Warbler Seicercus castaniceps

1-2 Eaglenest WLS 4/6-April

PASSERIFORMES: Acrocephalidae

286. Thick-billed Warbler Arundinax aedon

Heard Nameri NP 29-March, 3 Kaziranga Tea Gardens 10-April

PASSERIFORMES: Locustellidae

287. Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris

2 Baragaon landfill site 28-March and up to 6 Kaziranga 8/9-April

PASSERIFORMES: Cisticolidae

288. Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exillis

Single seen and others heard Kaziranga NP 9-April

289. Ashy Prinia Prinia socialis

Single Saltanbur 27-March

290. Plain Prinia Prinia inornata

Single Saltanbur 27-March and Bazagoan Landfill 28-March

291. Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius

Up to 6 at Saltanbur, Namera, Eaglenest and Kaziranga

PASSERIFORMES: Timaliidae

292. Large Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus hypoleucos

One (part of a flock) seen in reedbed at below Bompu Camp, Eaglenest WLS 4-April

293. Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis

Seen and heard Moncamp, along Mandala Road and at Eaglenest WLS

294. Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus superciliaris (H)

One seen well along Mandala Road 2-April

295. Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler Spelaeornis caudatus E

Heard and seen regularly at Eaglesnest WLS

296. Bar-winged Wren-Babbler Spelaeornis troglodytoides (H)

One showed well along Mandala Road 2-April

293. Grey-throated Babbler Stachyris nigriceps

Up to 3 Ankling 7-April

297. Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyridopsis ruficeps

Up to 6 seen Mandala Road and Eaglenest WLS 

298. Golden Babbler Stachyridopsis chrysaea

1-2 Mandala Road, Eaglenest and Ankling 7-April

299. Pin-striped Tit-Babbler Macronous gularis

2 Nameri NP 29-March

300. Chestnut-capped Babbler Timalia pileata

2 Kaziranga NP 8-April

301. Large Grey Babbler Turdoides malcolmi

6 Sultanpur 27-March

PASSERIFORMES: Pellorneidae

302. Yellow-throated Fulvetta Alcippe cinerea

Up to 10 Eaglenest WLS 4/5-April

303. Rufous-winged Fulvetta Alcippe castaneceps

8 around Lama Camp 4-April

304. Rufous-throated Fulvetta Alcippe rufogularis

One along Mandala Road 1-April

305. Nepal Fulvetta Alcippe nipalensis

Up to 6 Eaglenest WLS 5-April and 2 Ankling 7-April

306. Long-billed Wren-Babbler Rimator malacoptilus

1 Eaglenest WLS 5-April

307. Abbott’s Babbler Malacocincla abbotti

Heard Kazinranga 9-April

308. Puff-throated Babbler Pellorneum ruficeps

3 heard Nameri 29-March and 1-2 seen Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

PASSERIFORMES: Leiothrichidae

309. Jungle Babbler Turdoides striata *

10 Sultanpur 27-March

310. White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus

Heard Nameri 28-March and serveral heard below Bompu Camp 6-April

311. Spotted Laughingthrush Garrulax ocellatus

Up to 6 Mandala Road 1/2 -April

312. White-throated Laughingthrush Garrulax albogularis

7 on descent from Sela Pass 31-March and flocks of up to 70 birds on Mandala Road 1/2-April

313. Rufous-necked Laughingthrush Garrulax ruficollis

Flock of 6 Tenga Market Road 7-April and 5 in the tea gardens at Kaziranga 10-April

314. Grey-sided Laughingthrush Dryonastes caerulatus

6 along Mandala Road 1-April and 2 Aloo Bari 3-April

315. Striated Laughingthrush Garrulax striatus

2 Eaglenest WLS 4-April

316. Bhutan (Streaked) Laughingthrush Trochalopteron imbricatum (*)

3 Mandala Road 1-April, again in Eaglenest WLS 3/4-April

317. Blue-winged Laughingthrush Trochalopteron squamatum

Up to 8  birds showed well in the hills on 3-April and at Aloo Bari

318. Black-faced Laughingthrush Trochalopteron affine

3 Saatan 31-March, six along Mandala Road, 1-April 20 Aloo Bari 3/4 -April

319. Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush Trochalopteron erythrocephalum

Flocks of up to 30 Aloo Bari, Eaglenest WLS 3/5-April and 12 Tenga Market Road 7-April

320. Himalayan Cutia Cutia nipalensis

2 Lama Camp, Eaglenest WLS 3-April and up to 10 below Bompu Camp 5/6-April

321. Blue-winged Minla Minla cyanouroptera

Up to 20 below Bompu Camp 5/6-April

322. Bar-throated (Chestnut-tailed) Minla Minla strigula

Up to 20 Eaglenest WLS 3/6-April

323. Red-tailed Minla Minla ignotincta

Up to 10 Eaglenest WLS 4/6-April

324. Bugun Liocichla Liocichla bugunorum E

1-3 Aloo Bari 3/4-April

325. Rusty-fronted Barwing Actinodura egertoni

4 Aloo Bari 3-April and up to 16 elsewhere in Eaglenest WLS 4/6-April

326. Hoary-throated Barwing Actinodura nipalensis E

Up to 5 daily Eaglenest WLS 3/5-April

327. Streak-throated Barwing Actinodura waldeni E

8 Eaglenest WLS 3-April

328. Silver-eared Mesia Leiothrix argentauris

3 Tippi 30-March, and up to 10 daily in Eaglenest WLS 5/7-April

329. Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea

2 below Bompu Camp 5-April

330. Rufous-backed Sibia Heterophasia annectens

2 Sessa 30-April and 2 below Bompu Camp 5-April

331. Beautiful Sibia Heterophasia pulchella E

Flocks of up to 20 along Mandala Road and daily Eaglenest WLS 1 to 6-April

332. Long-tailed Sibia Heterophasia picaoides

Flocks of up to 15 Sessa and Eaglenest WLS

PASSERIFORMES: Sylviidae

333. Lesser Whitethroat Sylvia curruca

Single Sultanpur NP 27-March

334. Fire-tailed Myzornis Myzornis pyrrhoura

Single Mandala Road 1-April, and 6 Eaglenest Pass 4-April

335. Golden-breasted Fulvetta Lioparus chrysotis

10 Manala Road 1-April and 2 2-April, 2 Eaglenest WLS 4-April and 10 7-April

336. White-browed Fulvetta Fulvetta vinipectus

2 Eaglenest Pass 4-April

337. Brown-throated Fulvetta Alcippe ludlowi E

10 Mandala Road 1-April

338. White-breasted (Greater Rufous-headed) Parrotbill Psittiparus ruficeps

8 at Aloo Bari 3-April, single 4-April

PASSERIFORMES: Zosteropidae

339. Striated Yuhina Yuhina castaniceps

6 Tippi 30-March and up to 10 Eaglenest WLS 5/7-April

340. White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri E

4 Eaglenest WLS 6-April

341. Whiskered Yuhina Yuhina flavicollis

1 Mandala Road 1-April and up to 10 in Eaglenest WLS 4/6-April

342. Stripe-throated Yuhina Yuhina gularis

15 Mandala road 1/2-April, and up to 20 Eaglenest WLS 4/6-April

343. Rufous-vented Yuhina Yuhina occipitalis

Flocks of 20 Mandala Road 1/2-April and up to 10 Eaglenest WLS 4/6-April

344. Black-chinned Yuhina Yuhina nigrimenta

2 Tippi 30-March, 14 Mandala Road 1-April and single Eaglenest 5-April

345. Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus

A common resident in the region

PASSERIFORMES: Irenidae

346. Asian Fairy-bluebird Irena puella

3 Nameri NP 29-April

PASSERIFORMES: Elachuridae

347. Spotted Elachura (Spotted Wren-babbler) Elachura formosa *

Heard below Lama Camp 5/6 April

PASSERIFORMES: Troglodytidae

348. Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes

Singles Sultanpur 27-April, 2 Sela Pass 31-March and Mandala Road 1- April

PASSERIFORMES: Sittidae

349. Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Sitta cinnamoventris

4 Nameri 29-April, 2 Sessa 30-April and singles Eaglenest 5/7-April

350. White-tailed Nuthatch Sitta himalayensis

Singles Mandala Road 1/3-April

351. Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis

Single Nameri NP 9-April and Kaziranga 9-April 

352. Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa

Exceptional views of two birds Eaglesnest 5/6-April

PASSERIFORMES: Tichodromidae

353. Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria

Single observer record of single crossing the road below Sela Pass 31-March

PASSERIFORMES: Certhiidae

354. Hodgson’s Treecreeper Certhia hodgsoni

Up to 3 Eaglenest WLS 3/4-April

355. Sikkim (Brown-throated) Treecreeper Certhia discolor

1-2 Eaglenest WLS 2/4-April

PASSERIFORMES: Sturnidae

356. Common Hill Myna Gracula religiosa

A common species in Nameri NP

357. Great (White-vented) Myna Acridotheres grandis

Single Nameri NP 28-March and relatively common Kaziranga NP

358. Jungle Myna Acridotheres fuscus

Common in lowland plains

359. Bank Myna Acridotheres ginginianus

10 in Delhi 11-April

360. Common Myna Acridotheres tristis

Very common in lowland plains

361. Pied Myna (Asian Pied Starling) Gracupica contra

Common in lowland plains

362. Chestnut-tailed (Grey-headed) Starling Sturnia malabarica

Common in lowland plains

PASSERIFORMES: Turdidae

363. Orange-headed Thrush Geokichla citrina

Singles Nameri 29-March and Eaglenest WLS 4-April

364. Alpine Thrush Zoothera mollissima

3 Mandala Road 1-April and 1 Eaglenest Pass 4-April

365. Long-tailed Thrush Zoothera dixoni

3 Mandala Road 1-April

366. Scaly Thrush Zoothera dauma

1 Bompu Camp in Eaglenest WLS 5-April

367. Grandala Grandala coelicolor

Flocks of 60 Sela Pass 31-April

368. White-collared Blackbird Turdus albocinctus

5 Sela Pass 31-March, 4 Mandala Road 1-April and single Eaglenest 4-April

369. Grey-winged Blackbird Turdus boulboul

3 Mandala Road 1-April, 2 Eaglenest 5-April and 3 Tezpur 7-April

370. Eyebrowed Thrush Turdus obscurus

1-2 Mandala Road 1/2-April

371. Black-throated Thrush Turdus atrogularis

Up to 8 Mandala Road 1/2-April

372. Red-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis

Up to 8 Mandala Road 1/2-April

373. Dusky Thrush Turdus eunomus

3 at Mandala on 1-April

374. Purple Cochoa Cochoa purpurea

2 below Bompu Camp, Eaglenest 5-April

PASSERIFORMES: Muscicapidae

375. Oriental Magpie-robin Copsychus saularis

Common and widespread in the plains

376. White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus

1-2 Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

377. Pale Blue Flycatcher Cyornis unicolor

1-2 daily Nameri 29/30-March and 1 Dirang 31-March

378. Pale-chinned Flycatcher Cyornis poliogenys

Single Kaziranga NP 6-April

379. Large Niltava Niltava grandis

1-2 Eaglenest WLS 4/6-April

380. Small Niltava Niltava macgrigoriae

1 Sessa 30-March and 2 Eaglenest WLS 6-April

381. Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus

Common and widespread

382. Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope

Heard Kaziranga 9-April

383. White-tailed (Blue) Robin Myiomela leucura H

Heard calling Eaglenest WLS 5-April

384. Himalayan Bluetail Tarsiger rufilatus

Singles Aloo Bari 3-April and Eaglenest WLS 6-April

385. Golden Bush Robin Tarsiger chrysaeus

Heard Eaglenest Pass 5-April

386. Slaty-backed Forktail Enicurus schistaceus

Singles Sessa 30-March

387. Indian Robin Saxicoloides fulicatus

5 Sultanpur 27-March

388. Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus

6 Saaten and 3 Sella Pass 31-March, 2 Mandala Road 1-April and single Eaglenest WTS 7-April

389. Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata

Singles Mandala Road 1/2-April, Eaglenest WLS 4/6-April

390. Red-breasted) Flycatcher Ficedula parva

4 Sultanpur 27-March

391. Taiga (Red-throated) Flycatcher Ficedula albicilla

A common bird in Nameri NP and Kaziranga NP

392. Little Pied Flycatcher Ficedula westermanni

2 Mandala Road 1- April

393. Pygmy Blue Flycatcher Muscicapella hodgsoni

Singles Nameri 29-March, Ramcamp 31-March and Eaglesnest WLS 3-April

394. Black Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros rufiventris

Commonly seen in lowland areas, less regular in the hills

395. Hodgson’s Redstart Phoenicurus hodgsoni

2 Rupa 30-March

396. White-throated Redstart Phoenicurus schisticeps

2 Sela Pass 31-March

397. Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis

8 Sela Pass 31-March, 1/2 Mandala Road 1/2-April and another Eaglenest Pass 6-April

398. Plumbeous Water Redstart Phoenicurus fuliginosa

Common along rivers in the plains and in Sangthi Valley

399. White-capped Redstart Phoenicurus leucocephalus

Common along the Jia Bhorelli River in Nameri NP, Sangthi Valley and other river sites

400. Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius

2 Nameri NP 29/30-March and a single near Tenga Market 7-April

401. Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris

Up to 3 Eaglenest WLS 5/7-April

402. Blue-capped Rock Thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus *

Single Ankling 7-April

403. Siberian Stonechat Saxicola maurus

A common bird in grasslands of the lowlands

404. Pied Bushchat Saxicola caprata

Singles Sultanpur 27-March and Eaglenest WTS 7-April

405. Grey Bushchat Saxicola ferreus

2 Moncamp 31-April, singles Eaglenest WTS 2/3-April and Tenga Market Road 7-April

PASSERIFORMES: Cinclidae

406. White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus

Single Sela Pass 31-March

PASSERIFORMES: Chloropseidae

407. Blue-winged Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis

One Tippi 30-March and another Eaglenest 6-April

408. Golden-fronted Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons

2 Nameri 28-March and Tippi 30-March and 3 Kazaringa 8-April

409. Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii

Single Nameri 29-March, 2 Tippi 30-March  and 10 Eaglenest 6-April

PASSERIFORMES: Dicaeidae

410. Yellow-vented Flowerpecker Dicaeum chrysorrheum

2-3 Kazaringa 8/10-April

411. Plain Flowerpecker Dicaeum minullum

3 Nameri NP 29-March and 2 Kazaringa 8-April

412. Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus

2 Eaglenest 1 to 3-April

413. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker Dicaeum cruentatum

Singles Nameri 29/30-April and 6 Kaziranga NP 8-April

PASSERIFORMES: Nectariniidae

414. Ruby-cheeked Sunbird Chalcoparia singalensis

2 Kaziranga NP 9-April

415. Purple Sunbird Chalcoparia asiaticus

10 Sultanpur 27-March and 4 Kazinranga 8/9-April

416. Mrs Gould’s Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae

4 Moncamp 31-March and above Lama Camp 3-April

417. Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis

A common sunbird at high altitudes

418. Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata

3 Tippi 30-March and 4 Eaglenest WLS 5/6 April

419. Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja

Single in tea gardens 10-April

420. Fire-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga ignicauda

Day totals of up to 30 Sela Pass and Mandala Road 31-March to 2-April and 2 Eaglenest 4-April

421. Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna

2 Tippi 30-March and 2-3 Eaglenest WLS 5/7-April

PASSERIFORMES: Passeridae

422. House Sparrow Passer domesticus

Common in Kaziranga NP

423. Sind Sparrow Passer pyrrhonotus

6 Sultanpur 27-March

423. Russet (Cinnamon) Sparrow Passer rutilans

Common around Dirang and in Kaziranga NP

424. Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus

Common and widespread

PASSERIFORMES: Ploceidae

425. Baya Weaver Ploceus p. philippinus

15 Orang 7-April, flocks of up to 10 Kaziranga NP 8/10 April

426. Finn’s Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus

2 Kazaringa 9-April

PASSERIFORMES: Estrildidae

427. White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata

12 Mazbat 7-April

428. Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata

Up to 8 Kaziranga NP 9/10-April

429. Chestnut Munia Lonchura atricapilla

2 Kaziranga NP 9-April

PASSERIFORMES: Prunellidae

430. Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris

4 Sela Pass 31-March

431. Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata

2 Mandala Road 1-April, up to 3 Eaglenest WLS 3/7-April

432. Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata

Single Aloo Bari 3-April

PASSERIFORMES: Motacillidae

433. Eastern Yellow Wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis

Up to 6 individuals seen in Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

434. Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola

3 Sultanpur 27-March, 4 Nameri 29-March and up to 10 in Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

435. Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea

1 seen in Nameri NP, 1 in Sangthi Valley, and a couple in Kaziranga NP 8/10-April

436. White Wagtail Motacilla alba alboides

Commonly seen at most sites

437. Richard’s Pipit Anthus richardi

1-2 Nameri NP 28/29-March

438. Paddyfield Pipit Anthus rufulus

3 Nameri 28-March, 4 Nameri 29-March and up to 12 in Kaziranga NP 7/10-April

439. Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni

3 Sultanpur 27-March, 6 Sela Pass 31-March, 6 Mandala Road 1-April, up to 6 Eaglenest WLS and 6 daily Kaziranga NP 8/9-April

440. Rosy Pipit Anthus roseatus

1 Baragaon landfill site 28-March, 3 below Sela Pass 31-March and 3 in tea gardens, Kaziranga, 10-April

441. Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus

2 Lama Camp 3-April

PASSERIFORMES: Fringillidae

442. Spot-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas melanozanthos

7 Sela Pass 31-March

443. White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes

2 Sela Pass 31-March

444. Brown Bullfinch Pyrrhula nipalenis

3 Aloo Bari 3-April

445. Red-headed Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythrocephala

2 Aloo Bari 3-April

446. Grey-headed Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythaca (*)

Up to 8 Aloo Bari 3/4-April

447. Blanford’s Rosefinch Carpodacus rubescens

9 Bompu Camp, Eaglenest WLS 5-April

448. Gold-naped Finch Pyrrhoplectes epauletta

Up to 10 along the Mandala Road 1/2-April

449. Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola

Flocks of up to 300 Sela Pass 31-March

450. Brandt’s Mountain Finch Leucosticte brandti

Flocks of up to 10 Sela Pass 31-March

451. Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus

4 Aloo Bari 4-April and single Tenga Market Road 7-April

452. Scarlet Finch Carpodacus sipahi

Up to 10 Eaglenest WLS 3/6-April

453. Himalayan White-browed Rosefinch Carpodacus thura

30 below Sela Pass 31-March

454. Crimson-browed Finch Carpodacus subhimachala

1 Mandala Road 1-April

455. Yellow-breasted (Himalayan) Greenfinch Chloris spinoides

8 Tenga Market Road 2-April

456. Tibetan Serin (Tibetan Siskin) Spinus thibetanus

5 Eaglenest WLS 4-April

PASSERIFORMES: Emberizidae

457. Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla

Single Khellong 5-April

MAMMALS:

CHIROPTERA: Pteropodidae

1. Indian Flying Fox Pteropus giganteus

Huge roost seen on route from Guwahati to Namera 28-March, seen in flight at dusk in Kaziranga NP and another roost at Orang 7-April

PRIMATES: Cercopithecidae

2. Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta

Seen in small numbers along the road while driving from Guwahati to Nameri and common at Kaziranga

3. Arunachal Macaque Macaca munzala E

One small troop seen at Eaglenest WLS 5-April

4. Capped Langur Trachypithecus pileatus

Seen around Eco Camp at Nameri NP

CARNIVORA: Mustelidae

5. Himalayan Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula

Seen along the Mandala road, and in Eaglenest WLS on three occasions

6. Smooth Indian (Smooth-coated) Otter Lutrogale perspicillata

Two family groups of up to 30 individuals seen in Kaziranga NP

HERPESTIDAE: mongooses

7. Small Indian Mongoose Herpestes javanicus

Single observer record of single Delhi 27-March

PROBOSCIDEA: Elephantidae

8. Indian Elephant (Asian Elephant) Elephas maximus indicus

Small herd seen from rafts on the Jia Bhorelli River 29-March, numerous throughout Kaziranga NP

PERISSODACTYLA: Rhinocerotidae

9. Indian (Greater One-horned) Rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis *

Ubiquitous resident of Kaziranga NP, excellent views of numerous individuals on all jeep drives

ARTIODACTYLA: Suidae

10. Pygmy Hog Porcula salvania

One crossed the path at Nameri 28-March

11. Indian Boar (Wild Boar) Sus scrofa cristatus

A reasonable number seen on jeep drives around Kaziranga NP

ARTIODACTYLA: Cervidae

12. Hog Deer Axis porcinus

A common deer seen in large numbers at Kaziranga NP

13. Barasingha (Swamp Deer) Cervus duvauceli *

Seen in large numbers in Kaziranga NP

14. Indian Muntjac (Barking Deer) Muntiacus muntjak

Heard Nameri 29-March

BOVIDAE: Artiodactyla

15. Mithun Bos frontalis

1 Lama Summit ?-April

16. Wild Buffalo Bubalus arnee

Seen in large numbers throughout Kaziranga NP

17. Nilgai Boselaphus tragocamelus

30 at Sultanpur 27-March

18. Himalayan Serow Capricornis thar

1 Eaglenest Pass 6-April

RODENTIA: Sciuridae

19. Northern Palm Squirrel Funambulus pennantii

Several Sultanpur 27-March

20. Pallas’s (Red-bellied Tree) Squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus

1 seen at Aloo Bari 4-April

21. Irrawaddy (Hoary-bellied Himalayan) Squirrel Callosciurus pygerythrus

A few seen in Nameri NP, daily Eaglenest WLS and again in Kaziranga NP

22. Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel Dremomys lokriah

A few seen at Eaglenest WLS

23. Himalayan Striped Squirrel Tamiops mcclellandii

Seen in Eaglenest WLS

REPTILES:

SQUAMATA: Varanidae

1. Asian Water Monitor Varanus salvator

1 Swimming over lake Kaziranga NP 9-April

2. Bengal Monitor

1 Kaziranga 9-April