The dew drops of the night on the ground is so beneficial to the plants and animals and for farming in this dry season, when the rain is not here and changing its patterns due to climate change that is happening naturally and accelerating fast by human activities.
And also walk in the morning, one might get little wet shoes but its so beautiful looking at the plants and trees and see the nature active- birds are calling, feeding, flying and singing, saying common words wake up and enjoy the best part of the day- morning!
Back here after some time! Reason for being not so regular-not so motivated in writing and also frequent out in nature. This post should have been before the earlier post, Tufted Duck.
Just got back from two wks Himalayan trekking journey after 2 years of Covid break! It was real mountain, real trekking on the hills and mountains combined with Chitwan national park visit. Definitely, it was great to be out for a longer time in the mountains and with nature.
We start a trip with 6 hours journey to Beshi Sahar, the “gateway” to famous Annapurna Circuit journey with a team of 9 people. Next day, another half day drive on dirt road brought us to Chame (the district headquarters of Manang), at an elevation of 2500m, by the glacier fed river Marsyangdi, located on the northern lap of Mount Annapurna 2 and Lamjung Himal. The afternoon was spent exploring around. It was nice overnight at hotel Karma still with the luxury of electricity and internet!
The next morning after a hearty breakfast, we set out on our 2 wks journey on foot. Crossed the suspension bridge after going through the official check point at Koto. It was wonderful to be out in fresh air, along the beautiful gorge of Phu river. The trail along the valley was easy with gentle climbs after crossing the river to its eastern bank. The rocky cliffs, waterfalls and river gorge were quite an impressive scenery. The trail continued and after 4 hours of walking, finally found a place to eat, a small tea shop. After tasty Dalbhat, we continued our journey along the valley for some time before making a short but steep climb, that brought us to a small village of Meta, that used to be just goths (livestocks shelter) in the past. It was a long and tiring first day of the trip, that took us almost 9 hours to trek but was very glad to have made it well. The warm dining room with famous Nepali Khukri rum made it just a great evening, making our tiredness a thing of the past! Hahaha…
Waking up in the chilly morning but with clear day, with clear view around was wonderful. I woke up early and explored around for birds and just found Hill and Snow Pigeons mainly. The sun also was so pleasant and warm. When others were up visited a couple of goths (Goat shelter) of the area with locals with a local.
After breakfast, we set out for our next destination Chyakhu, apparently in short distance from here. The trail went round to the west before it started following the valley, passing a couple of temporary settlements, before dropping to the dry river that and a short steep up brought us to the other side, leading to the wider valley of Chyakhu. This administrative place now has the Govt offices and bank. It was actually a place where people from Nar bring their livestocks up here in summer. It was a large settlement with stone houses with goat shelters but now looks like abandoned as people now are more into the tourism or moved down to the valley
And next day hike to Phu along the valley, passing Kyang and short steep climb to the gate, the trails ease out to the valley of Phu. Cross the bridge and just few minute walks brought us to the hotel at Phu, where we stayed 3 nights
The village of Phu (Phoo) surrounded by the barren but spectacular hills and mountain still has very traditional houses of stone that were almost invisible from a distance as they blend so well, with the surrounding. These settlements were created by just local materials of rocks, woods and clay- great eco-technology of the past, though some tinned roof and cement houses are appearing too. The village has Govt office and hotels with two main monasteries and new one is being built in the village itself.
The two full days were spent exploring around and tracking wildlife, mainly Snow Leopard and a hike to near the Himlung Himal, a famous 7000m high mountain of the area, was wonderful. I was amazed by this record of Grey-backed Shrike at this elevation of 4500m, the highest point, where they were breeding. I knew they migrate high up in the hills and mountain area for breeding but never saw them at this height and was great to hear the call and some that was more intense than what I used to hear them in winter while in Kathmandu.
After Phu, we retraced back to Chyakhu and trekked to Nar Gompa, where we used the hotel of monastery. It was nice spending time there with monks and in the monastery.
Next morning explored the birds around in the early morning and after breakfast we took the steep and scenic trail to Nar, another large and main village of this area, more people and more houses built in similar way as in Phu. The landscape was more habitable, and we could see people busy in their farms and around, located just opposite to Pisang Peak.
The hotel we spend was also nice and only place with regular electricity, so we all managed to charge or phones and batteries well. Two night, we stayed there before the big day to Kangla pass.
The day we set out for pass and to Ngawal, we started walking very early at 5am through a beautiful valley with milder and gradual climb before the serious climb to the pass of 5320m. The trail towards the pass had some snow on the trail. So finally we made to the top well in 6-7 hours of time with all the rests we made. It was great being and feeling out there and could feel and see the victory on the people’s face, that was great feeling for me too. We celebrated there for some time and made to Ngawal through a very steep down hill trail. Later when we looked towards the pass, the weather was not so pleasant and looked not easy but important we all did it well! Hurray team!
Ngawal at 3600m was just very pleasant after the higher elevation we stayed and Manang the famous town on the one of the top ten trekking trails of the world, (once listed) over the Throngla was luxury, better food and accommodation. We did stay one extra day and explored the area tracking Snow leopard and other wildlife.
For me, it was wonderful to see some birds specially Siberian Duck (Ruddy Shelduck) that some pairs, now stay there throughout the year, breed and do not migrate. Tibetan Blackbird, split from Eurasian Blackbird at Manang, was the other highlight.
And finally we drove back to Beshi Sahar and travelled to Chitwan for our main wildlife safari, that was wonderful. The wildlife and birds that got my list are here as:
It’s not usual to see this Duck here, this time of the year. This is migratory waterfowl that we usually see them in winter season. Thy breed in Eurasia and winters in Asia and many par parts of Europe and has been recorded in many other parts of the world.
This Tufted Duck, beautiful male duck has been here in one of lake in Kathmandu since last months, enjoying just by itself though another migratory duck- Northern Shovler joined it for just a day and was not seen later. The reason, why it’s here could be simply due to the health issues or could be many. It could have lost its orientation for some time, resting due to some health issue, or it is trying to adopt due to the climate change. Many other species that believed to be seen are being recorded in unexpected places and habitat.
Whatever the reason, it’s always great to see them around. Thanks for your visit Tufted Duck and be happy!
Summer migrants are here and busy raising their family. The cat and mouse game of Asian Koel and Crows is an amazing sight. It’s interesting to see how Koel managed to lay their eggs on Crow’s nest, while being chased by crows. Eventually accepting the nature’s way and raise the Koel.
And most of our wintering birds are gone back to their breeding home though some late migrants are still here, just this one majestic Steppe Eagle that I found on by birding at Chovar area.
In a quick visit to Chitwan while I was staying in, Into The Wild Resort near the national park, managed to get down to the river Rapti and enjoyed the walk in its northern bank. This river drains the Chitwan valley, an important wetland of the valley, most important forms the northern boundary of Chitwan national park, one of the finest and first national parks of the country. The nature parks holds the major wildlife and extremely rich in natural biodiversity, including bird population
It was nice walking in the morning and evening, both in different prospective that I enjoyed really well.
Found this beautiful Crow, that had a bit longer upper beak than the lower one. I have come across in other birds also but seen more on House Crows, that we have here. In some Crows, earlier, I have also seen the cross-bill, weird! It seems like these birds are doing okay with their health so far, that we have seen. However, they could or must have serious issue on their health, that we have not seen or surveyed. It is said that this deformation is called AKD (Avian Keratin Disorder). The reason behind this disorder has many factors such as food and contaminated nutrients, bacteria, environments and other diseases.
What ever the reason is, they must have a discomfort in feeding, preening and other activities that they do with their beak. It could and probably is a threat to their survival due to the slow starvation.
The nature, hope has its own way to sort this out.
Visited Taudah today, the one and only natural lake of Kathmandu valley today, hoping to see some migratory birds. The lake looked beautiful without many people around (weekend is crowded) but was empty and calm. After some wait we saw only four Common Teal (Green-winged) landing on the lake, only migratory waterfowl, still around but all others including Cormorants were gone. It seemed a bit early for all the departures this year!
Could it be the weather, the sudden change of rise in mercury in the valley, a climatic factor, they have to go already this time. Well, looks like something like that! We humans are contributing the change in the natural habitat of birds and wildlife and fuelling the action of climate change fast! When are we going to learn!
Anyway it was nice to see some regular birds like Black-Crowned Night heron, Cattle Egret, Pond Heron, Common and Jungle Myna. It was also delightful to see some remaining Steppe Eagle soaring around, and they will soon migrate too.
Hoping they will be back in the fall. See you again!
The beauty of nature, this bird-Blue Whistling Thrush (Myophonus caeruleus) derives its name due to its human like whistling song. One of my favourite bird of song-that I have heard many times when I am near the creeks, streams and rivers.
It is said and seen Sparrows that live with the human or habitat created by human are having challenging time to survive due to many human factors such as habitat, lack of food, pesticides, even though they are trying their best to be around and fascinating us.
Back to nature, back to Prakriti Resort at Haibung beside the Shivapuri national park, short stay but enjoyed being out there after a year, with many beautiful birds. The sunrise was amazing too with Moon in the night till morning!
Anas creca is Common Teal, also called Green-winged and Eurasian Teal
And in Nepal it is known as विजुलागैरो (Bijulagairo)
Listed as LC (the least concern) in its status, probably common in many parts of the world mainly in Europe, that is good.
It is not same here. Once we used to see many hundreds of them in Kathmandu valley, but now hardly hundreds of them are migrating, and the number is going down. Its one of smaller Duck that arrives early in the season, and it’s always great to see them around.
Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis is truly Himalayan vulture, native to the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau.
Recently, it was wonderful to see them soaring in Kathmandu valley. These curious individuals are mainly young/juvenile vulture that spends their winter time exploring out of their breeding ground in the mountains of Nepal.
I was not sure of writing this encounter while on a river trip in the wild west Nepal. I think the writing motivation is down and have been a bit occupied with the routine, however got this courage now to tell the story of our encounter with gentle giant in the wild.
The river Babai where we were floating down in every anticipation and really looking for the glimpse of wildlife that might cross our ways. The animal tracts of big cat, elephants and many others animals were already exciting to explore along the soft side of the river. I was also enjoying birds as they were the most and seen and heard almost everywhere.
While floating down, we were told that the boat before us has seen the elephant just disappearing in the jungle. We all stopped and started searching around after getting out of the boat. I was not sure if we should be doing this or the right things to do considering the facts of our safety, so I stayed in the boat with other few people, say we will look into the other side.
Just, when everyone were waiting to see if anything appears somewhere nearby, on the other side of the river barely 60 meters from us, appeared a huge tusker, who felt little hesitant when he saw us on the other side. And we felt that we were on its way, and luckily we moved downstream. He just came to the bank and looked relax and had gallons of drink.
That was a great sigh of relief, and we saw it slowly crossing the river and disappeared in the jungle other side.
I thought that was close! And what if this elephant was aggressive as some tends to be when they see the human in the wild as we had many such cases in the past, when they are in “Musth” condition. He could have easily taken over us as they can but being a gentle giant, it just tried to warn us and moved on.
It was a great experience of being in the wild, in the nature, so much exciting most of the time!
Go to the nature, but please be aware of the natural law and enjoy the nature!
It was a great way to start the year with a hike in nature, that was on our weekend. This was birding and hiking. We cover more distance, trying not to miss the birds that we come across along the way.
It takes longer than just birding or birdwatching we do, from dawn till dusk or even later. It’s like serious birding, covering longer distance, and it was some 16k we did both way even after cutting the trail short. Arrived home around 8pm, just to have dinner and sleep.
It was a beautiful day through a beautiful forest to the hilltop at Chap Kharka from the base of Godawari. Birds like Grey-hooded Warbler, Black-throated and Himalayan Black-lored Tits, White-tailed Robin, Grey-sided Laughingthrush and raptors from the top (Himalayan Vulture, Steppe Eagle and Bonelli’s Eagle and on the way down Maroon-backed Accentor and many were amazing
It was beautiful sunny today, that I thoroughly enjoyed on the top of Boson Hill, on my second Steppe Eagle count day. The mountains view were exceptional today. Kathmandu valley is surrounded by rolling hills and getting up any of these hills or from some points of the valley floor offers a view of the mountains on a clear day. Many mountains view even they are not so close can be seen, including the highest mountain on Earth – Mount Everest, that I saw today. Among many snow-capped beauty that are seen, here are some major peaks
Langtang peak is the nearest mountain peak from the capital and is located in Langtang national park- one of the popular destinations of trekking and birding and wildlife tours
Himalchuli- peak of mountain, is located in Gorkha district
Annapurna II is the second-highest mountain of Annapurna massive in the north of Pokhara. The area of trekking is called Annapurna – one of the most trekking destination in Nepal
Ganesh Himal, named after elephant-headed god Ganesh as the peaks from one point looks like the trunk of an elephant, beautiful, next to Langtang peaks
Did this short walk at Ichhangu for birds on last weekend (Saturday), that turned out to be nice fun meeting and birding with other like-minded people, mostly students of forestry and environment with other some regular weekend walkers.
Ichhangu, just east of Swoyambhu stupa use to be the one of the main hub of flower supply of the valley. We do still see some parts with beautiful flowers, however, most parts of the area are rapidly getting urbanized. This means we are losing, yet another good birding site, bird and biodiversity site will be gone soon, unfortunately. The fate of nature in human hands that is more destructive than the saving!
And after Ichhangu, visited Ranibari and got this Orange-headed Thrush still hanging around. They are mainly here in summer as a summer visitor, though it’s always great to see them. Many birds are doing this, seen and now establishing themselves in other season too, mostly probably the climate change is making them so. Climate change is also the natural process, but human is just making it fast and worse!
Hope these beautiful creatures can still be seen and found for the time immemorial with human!
While exploring the birds in the outskirts of Kathmandu valley, it’s wonderful to come out to the countryside and able to see these few remaining traditional and beautiful Boson village, located to the south, not far from the down town of crowded city of Kathmandu.
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is ठुलो जलेवा (Jalewa) in Nepal is back in Kathmandu and many other parts of the country.
This migratory bird is one of the early arrival and recently saw eight individuals in one and only natural lake of Kathmandu valley. This small lake or pond as some might also call is endangered due to the human activities and soon becoming unsustainable habitat for many Waterfowl and other water birds, that used to migrate and winter here. The number of migratory birds has really gone down, unfortunately.
It’s wonderful to see them back again this year too and hope. It gives so much of joy to be being around them
Welcome back friends! Enjoy your stay here and be safe!
Here’s some beautiful avian life from Mustang- the trans-himalayan region of Nepal. The desert like landscapes with scarce food source and harsh climate does make it feel like the area can support and hold many beautiful birds.
However, it’s wonderful habitat for many rare and highland birds. The area encompass the Annapurna Conservation area, so the wildlife of the area is protected, making it a good refuse at least for or during the suitable season.
Within the area where I was stationed for a week time, allowed me to explore the area and enjoy and see many beautiful rare species that are usually up here at this elevation of 3500 m or higher.
At the same time it was incredible to see the migrating birds that are here for short period to migrate down when the winter advance, and they migrate up here and to Tibet and beyond in summer through this migrating route or flyway!
Some highlights for me were- White-browed Tit Babbler, Golden Eagle, Chukar Partridge and Tibetan Snowcock, Fire-fronted Serin, Golden Eagle, Bearded Vulture, Alpine Accentor, White-throated Redstart, Beautiful Rosefinch and Red-throated Thrush.
Mustang, the trans-himalayan districts of Nepal that borders with the Tibet, used to be a kingdom of its own, even within the kingdom of Nepal once. It was extremely remote and inaccessible, also not permitted to the foreign visitors.
And it’s open now to the international visitors with some strict regulation of high entrance fees and in organized way. This area is one of the jewel of the country. The amazing land scapes with weather beaten cliffs and fragile Himalayan ecosystem, with very less rainfall and barren Tibetan like landscapes. The pure Buddhist districts of the country is culturally rich, that is shown from the way of life and the practice people are still doing.
When I was desperate to escape out of Kathmandu, got this opportunity to visit the Demoiselle Crane survey site at Samar and surrounding areas, but the travel to the area was quite a challenging and memorable as I had to travel by bus and jeep through many landslides and Kaligandagi gorge, deepest in the world as both side has two Himalayan giants both over 8000 m high (Annapurna one and Dhaulagiri peaks). However, the scenery with many beautiful waterfalls, mountain streams, towering hills and mountains are spectacular, that I enjoyed well.
After arriving, I joined another person who was already stationed there for the survey. Stayed in local hotel, (still intact culturally and with the family), used to seek the birds and other wildlife for a week. I missed the Crane this time, but the birding around was very enjoyable. Saw many birds, some are very rare and local to this area, some on their migrating journey down to south
I have to get back there in time again in future, hopefully next year!
So Dogs and Crow do have festivals! Kag (Crow) Tihar and Kukur (Dog) Tihar!
We are now celebrating the festival of lights, one of the festival that I love too. The decoration of lights and other colourful decoration, even though the traditional touch seems lost already, however it is a quite a beautiful festival time after Dashain festival.
This festival of lights is celebrated for 5 days, commemorating the crow, dog, cow, oxen, mountains, goddess of wealth laxmi and brothers and sisters. Isn’t this nice! It’s great to see human honouring the nature, though wish we are always respectful to nature, not just for a day!
Just to keep in touch as I have been out for some time- with a trip that I desperately needed to be out of Kathmandu and festival and other things has kept me busy. And hope to be back in touch again soon.
Escaped out to Godawari, my favourite place for birding and nature exploration walk, on the 9th day (mahanavami) of the festival, we call Dashain or Vijaya Dashami in Nepal. Visited this place after 6 months, and it was wonderful. I enjoyed a lot of being out there. Godawari, on the base of Phulchauki hill, the highest valley rim 2760 m, is located to the southern outskirts of Kathmandu. Godawari and Phulchauki hill is a unique habitat for birdlife and other biodiversity, not just for Kathmandu valley but for the whole country.
Godawari and Phulchauki is not just poplar site for nature lover, students, birdwatcher, nature photographers and ornithologist but getting extremely popular for the locals, who mainly visits in weekends and other holiday time. So visiting these days or time, you will also bump with many other non nature enthusiasts, who may just go to the top to see the Mountain View or to the shrines and taking pictures. The hill top is great for panoramic Himalayan view and one could even see the Mount Everest on a very clear day in the eastern horizon. The view of rolling hills around, rising in the north to the snow-clad mountains, is just a dramatic view too. So must visit hill for you once you are here!
This beautiful area is an important Bird Area (IBA) in the country with some 300 plus birdlife. Among, which, many birds species are iconic species, national threatened and globally important birds. Some of these species are Himalayan Cutia, Hoary-throated Barwing, Grey-sided Laughingthrush, Grey-chinned and Short-billed Minivet, Parrotbills and Himalayan Vulture etc. This forest, I that hope to be in the protected area is managed by the community only that has both pros and cons of conservation of the birds here.
Talking about by birding there, the first part right after starting in the beginning and second part after some time was just great to have recorded only sixty species though we have a record of well over hundred in a whole day in this very area. Some highlights of the day were a pair of Small Niltava, Small Racket-tailed and Hair-crested Drongo, Eurasian Jay, Blue-beared Bee-eater, White-throated and Striated Laughingthrush, Nepal Fulveta, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker. Other species that I wished to see were Red-headed Trogon, Green Magpie and some forest raptors such as Mountain Hawk Eagle and Crested Serpent Eagle, but for next time, hahaha!! And Warbler, still up in the higher area and other early migratory birds, has to be next time, even though most birdwatcher as me is greedy to see and get the glimpse of many birds including the rarities all the time.
Anyway, it was a day well spent, even exploring some new corners and nooks of the area that was ignored or never thought of exploring.
Met my birding friends (Jaya and Sworup) at Sim – the starting point. Located to the southern fringe of the Kathmandu city beyond Tribhuvan University area, I took some 40 minute bike to reach at this place called Sim.
The main reason for this birding, even right after Global Bird Weekend – one I had to collect the location coordinate for the Steppe Eagle count in Kathmandu valley, that Bird Conservation Nepal is doing soon, and anticipating the arrival, sight of Steppe Eagle and other migratory raptors, even though it’s a bit early as previous record has been later in the Oct and early Nov in the valley and also to explore the Spiny Babbler our only endemic birds of the country. It’s always great to be out in nature, for birds even though, not attending an important office work, wasn’t that great! Loved this, hahaha!
As soon as we started, got the attention of some birds on a tree, located some 100 m and there saw the Grey-backed Shrike, that has already settled well after it has migrated to the valley, one of the early passerine migrants. Right next to Shrike, could see the Rufous Treepie with Common Myna and Spotted Doves flying into that tree. The Cinereous Tit, also showed its presence nearby. Taking the trail in our right, near the pheasant farm, flocks of Black Bulbul, probably the most numerous around today, that was seen and heard everywhere we walked. Himalayan Bulbul and Red-vented Bulbul were also recorded. Continuing on an easy path before starting the climb through the forest, a Common Tailor bird danced on our way with their very strong call, that was nice.
On our climb in the forest, Jayaji pointed out a raptor looking bird, not in a good view though but later while flying around, saw this individual- hepatic, female Common Cuckoo, interesting rufous morph Cuckoo. The trail emerged out to a farmland and cleared hillside for the cultivation. It is sad to see these clearings, driving the birds and other biodiversity, to disappear soon. That is the human nature!
The Himalayan Prinia and Common Rosefinch were on the sight, with an unconfirmed Warble moving inside the thickets of the upper canopy of the tree nearby. And there! Looking high above the hill, we could see some raptor soaring. Bingo, one was a Himalayan Buzzard, my first sight of this season though I have been told that it has been recorded a couple of days earlier. But I was just excited to see it for the first time of this autumn. And with the HB, we saw the Booted Eagle and few Black and Black-eared Kite (probably). This made my day, though, still hoped to see the Steppe Eagle. On the trailside wire, a juvenile Dark-sided Flycatcher entertained us for some time and later saw a Common Kestrel soaring and disappearing, just before our arrival at the top of the Boson Hill. Another small raptor, Accipiter was seen flying out across the hill
After arriving at Boson Hill top, recorded some location site, that I will be using to monitor or count of Steppe Eagle in Nov. We also enjoyed a beautiful day, beautiful views with snow clad mountains in the northern horizon, on the opposite side. There we also had a little tea break before coming down and rapping up our fantastic birding day.
We did hear the endemic bird and with record of some sixty-six species of birds on our bag, that was a great list for some, but I am never satisfied and always wished seen more and rare ones. A hungry birder I am, hahaha!!
Happy birding and enjoy the birds in their natural habitat, not in a cage!
It’s the time of the greatest event of Bird’s life- migration for survival, for food, for favourable weather and the just natural instinct to move out for some time! What ever is the reason, it’s beautiful and magical events to enjoy them, that I have been waiting for.
To mark this event, the world is celebrating the migratory bird day, the Global bird weekend. I also managed to get a few hours in the morning birding into the nearby woods and along the farmland, the southern edge of Shivapuri national park.
It was great and glad I was out. The highlight of this day was a family of Spotted Owlet, just made my day, and nearby beautiful and noisy Rose-ringed/Ring-necked Parakeet was wonderful.
Managed to see just over 30 species and enjoyed being out in nature also with the flowers and butterflies.
Just before wrapping up my walk down the Boson to Sim on our weekend (Saturday in Nepal), just taking a detour on the side, found this mysterious bird that was well camouflaged even on the bare branch of a small tree. It was the not so favourable light as it started raining. And just when I was trying to confirm, it flew out to the wire and this is where I managed to get the picture with light rainfall.
This bird turned out to be a beautiful Lesser Cuckoo, but in this unexpected elevation of 1400 m there. According to our guide book, in Nepal, they are said to be seen and found from 1500 to 3500 m. My own experience of seeing and hearing this bird was well over 2000 m.
Anyway, it was great to see this bird and was actually the highlight of my birding walk that day!
Marking yet another day of this year as, “Father’s Day” as the time go by!
I will always remain indebted for the time you gave to me in bringing me up with so many hidden hardships, unconditional love and care. I will always cherish your love and path you guided me to sustain this troubled human life. I will never be like you, but trying best to be a good father to my child!
September 4′ the first Saturday, was celebrated, or I would like to say marked as the, “International Vulture Awareness Day” in different parts of the country. I was leading a birding walk to Bhimdhunga on this occasion for Bird Conservation Nepal. Bhimdhunga, the outskirts’ of Kathmandu also has the ridge or one of the points from where many birds are seen entering or flying into the Kathmandu valley and beyond. There has been many records of raptors including vultures over the sky from there, though we did not see any vulture this time. Will soon!!
Vultures are one of the most important parts of our ecosystem, but has been struggling very hard to survive in this human dominated world. They are the Nature’s Clean Up Crew and has been saving us from many nasty outbreaks of diseases.
Nepal has the record of 9 species of vultures, among which 5 of them are really endangered (IUCN). Bird Conservation Nepal (BCN) has been working in different parts of the country to save them.
But we did enjoy seeing many birds including our endemic bird Spiny Babbler. At the same time this was the first time after second lock down when many people (30) got together and was great seeing and meeting and sharing the time to spread the thoughts and views on birds and mainly creating the awareness for vulture conservation.
Hope they will have chance and keep soaring around!
As planned, after struggling the local dirt road, I met with my other fellow birding and photographer friends at Dhunga khani (rock mine), on the other side of the Ichhangu town. It was great to see some friends after a long time with other regular guys. We continued along the Ichhangu khola (stream) below the hilly slope and ridge on our south to west. Stared noting down the first bird, a raptor- Black Kite and heard Blue Whistling Thrush that flew towards the slope above the pond, where I also saw Cattle Egrets (5 of them) making good use of insects, and no wonder they are called Cattle Egret, perfect naming. Little down on the edge of a small pond, saw something moving out, that was so well camouflaged, a juvenile Pond Heron was hunting. No movement and we would have easily missed it out. Saw another adult Pond Heron, still in its breeding plumage, landing nearby.
Looking high above on the rocky cave on the slope was empty, where I was hoping to see the Rock Eagle Owl. Perfect place, (where we have seen one, while ago for some time) high on the rocky slope not disturbed, and it could easily see if any threat coming from human mainly. I have not seen the Owl this year, even have tried a few time in earlier too.
Focusing, on the forested hilly slope to our left, we continued birding, hoping to catch the glimpse of some rarity. And to our right, was the farmland with the settlements that is rapidly increasing. It is certain, at this pace, we will have this small valley completely turned into a concrete jungle. That seems the way, what we call a development, that we are bringing at the cost of biodiversity loss. We kept seeing our regular birds such as Ashy Drongo, Red-vented Bulbul, big flock of Chestnut-tailed Starling. And just then, I caught the glimpse of a bird with yellowish rear disappearing in to the foliage. Oriole! Heard from one of the guy, who seemed, saw little more than me. Here you go, while we were contemplating, I saw another bird landing and this time I could clearly see its light yellowish plumage, a bird of Oriole size, that was a female Golden Oriole. Beautiful bird, summer visitor and good to see them still around, but will be gone soon.
Ahead, while walking and in discussion, I just heard Spiny Babbler singing on the slope, a couple of hundred meters off to the south but from the bush. Spiny Babbler is an endemic bird of the Nepal, that inhabits the middle hills from 800 m to 2000 m of elevation. As this is the most used section of lands, by the human, they are seriously facing the challenging situation for their survival. They have to keep moving when the human takes over that area for the settlement of some infrastructure development and find the space, habitat, but that is not always great. Anyway, it’s always joy and pleasing to hear and see them, a great sigh of relief to know they are still around, somehow managing to survive. However, the outright question is, HOW LONG!!!
Just after crossing the stream and further, I was delighted to see the Pied Thrush landing high above on the tree and flying deeper into the bush. I could show just to a couple of guys only. That is the nature, as they will not be there for long time most time. And the female Crimson Sunbird appeared with Blue-throated Barbet, Black Bulbul and Ashy Drongo along with the Chestnut-tailed Starling. And Great Barbet, quieter today, showed up. And high above I was pointed out to a raptor, that was our resident raptor of the forest, Bonelli’s Eagle, the most likely seen near the forest and hills this time of year apart from very frequent Black Kite that is more in the urban than in the forest habitat. It was also a great joy to see it coming out of the forest and seen for me.
Continuing, ahead saw a pair of beautiful cobalt blue Verditer Flycatcher. The White-throated Kingfisher that actually was flying towards us seemed like saying I am here too. The shear beauty- black and white Spotted Forktail appeared in the same way with a unmistakable call and flew in the the branch that was mostly covered with the leafs
Now arriving almost to our point, saw this very agile and beautiful Flycatcher- Grey-headed Flycatcher, ahead of us. And again Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babble was very clearly heard on our north. And while enjoying the tea- break, we also saw Himalayan Black-lored Tit, another Crimson Sunbird, Red-vented Bulbul, Grey Treepie and Ashy Drongo etc.
The total number of birds recorder on this birding walk for 2-3 hours was great. It is 46 species of birds.
Right after, when the rain stopped, I picked up my bag and rushed to Manhara, that took some half and hour travel time on my bike and met a friend. Located in the east of Kathmandu, Manhara is one of the important river system of this valley. Manhara wetland and farmland since last couple of years, has been popular for the local birdwatcher and bird photographers. This is the time when we start seeing the passage migrants and other wintering waders, waterfowl, raptors our critically endangered Yellow-breasted Bunting.
We were lucky to see Common Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, and Red-wattled lapwing with other resident species. At the same time, it was a bit sad to see that a huge part of farmland was flooded and gone. Nature probably has claimed its old course!
And I was still looking for visiting another area and hence we went to Suryabinyak, where I was hoping to photograph the Alexandrine Parakeet but in trying to explore a new area, we had a great nature walk, along the ridge that went almost to the other side of the hill. Just when we were starting, we got this beautiful dog coming to us as it knew us. I had some cookies left, and she was happy to have, and started following us. We had a feeling that it’s not ideal to have a dog while going birding in nature as it could distract and disturb the birds and other wildlife. It was nice to have kanchhi, that I named it later.
It was rather a beautiful hike in and back even we did not see many birds that we hoped but still being out there in nature was just so peaceful and great!
I really enjoyed after my return from Tanhu just couple of days ago!
Time just flies! Just realized that it’s already new year and we have had 365 days. I must admit that, year 2022 was hopeful even though the pandemic and political turmoil is still around. It was a lesson that, we learned though keeping up the learning and using it is a different issue. Living a life to tell the tale is the biggest things and blessing.
And hope, yes we have to be optimistic, year 2023 will be a different with a New Beginning, New Hope, New Normal, New Peace and Healthy that world will see and experience, giving the chance to prosper the nature- mother nature!
Participated on, “Bird Conservation Nepal’s”, Steppe Eagle Count this year too, for second year count from the same location in same duration with others who also counted similar way in other location of the valley. For me, it was the same location, on Boson Hill (1600m), located on the southern outskirts of Kathmandu from 10am to 1pm. It is a great location and scenic hill with the Himalayan view after the bird’s eye view of valley and surrounding with so rich birdlife around including other biodiversity.
While counting the Steppe Eagle, I really enjoyed the warm sunny weather though a bit hazy this time and recorded the raptors such as Black Kite, Black -eared Kite, Himalayan Vulture (2 individuals) including Steppe Eagle (10 individuals). No other raptors were seen this time such as Booted Eagle, Himalayan Buzzard, Black Eagle and Shikra this year on this count as previous year on our first count.
At the same time it was my solo birding that I enjoyed very much before arriving to the site and after the count. In total some 50 species of birds were recorded on this trip, that was great though missing out the endemic bird (Spiny Babbler)
The highlight bird on this trip was watching and photographing this amazing bird- Green-billed Malkoha from the hillside only. Thanks Malkoha from being out there not worried about my humanly action, but I just love and enjoy watching you in your own way, in your natural habitat.