Tragopan Tours Birding In India - Eagle's Nest Pass, Arunachal Pradesh
Birding Tour - Kaziranga, Nameri and Eagle's Nest Bird Gallery - Birds In India

From floodplains of the Brahmaputra river to the Eastern Himalayas – Kaziranga National Park, Nameri National Park (Assam) and Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary (Arunachal Pradesh)

Suitable time: November to early May

Owing to its unique position at the confluence of the Indo-Malayan, Indo-Chinese and Indian biogeographical regions and its varied physiography north-east India supports rich biodiversity. Compared to north India the area has been poorly explored by birdwatchers. On this tour we will visit Kaziranga National Park, one of the finest parks in Asia, Nameri National Park and Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, a ďhot spotĒ from where a new species of Liocichla was found recently.

Kaziranga National Park

Kaziranga National Park is situated in the floodplains of river Brahmaputra and is known for its three big mammals, Indian Rhinoceros, Wild Water Buffalo and Asian Elephant. Other speciality mammals of Kaziranga are Swamp Deer and Hoolock Gibbon. Birdlife is diverse and we will be looking for Bengal Florican, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Pied Falconet, Great Myna, Finnís Weaver, White-throated Bulbul, and Black-backed Forktail. We will †be birding from jeep or elephant (one ride mainly to watch Bengal Florican). During our stay we will be visiting various ranges of the park and forest of Panbari so that different habitats in the park Ė grasslands, marshes, jheels and forests are well covered.

Nameri National Park

Nestled on the foot of the eastern Himalayas on the northern edge of Assam plains are the beautiful forests of Nameri National Park, accessible only after crossing the river Jia Bhareli. This underestimated birding site has an impressive bird list of more than 375 species. We will visit a part of the park after a boat ride across the river and explore this interesting area on foot. Specialties that we will be looking for include rarities like White-winged Duck, White-cheeked Partridge, Blythís Kingfisher, Oriental Hobby, Black Baza and Blue-naped Pitta. Nameri and Kaziranga share some birds but many forest birds are easily seen in Nameri. Ibisbill is quite regular between November and early April. We will take a rafting trip on the river to check up this interesting wader. The rafting also gives opportunity to see Great Thick-knee, Wreathed Hornbill, White-capped River-chat and the rare Long-billed Plover.

Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary

After Assam the focus of† our tour would be Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, nestled in the Dafla Hills of the eastern Himalayas. Eaglenest and adjoining areas (Sessa Orchid and Pakhui Sanctuary) are among the last large tracts of contiguous wilderness in India and part of the East Himalayan Bird Area. An advantage Eaglenest has over other areas in Arunachal Pradesh is a jeep track cutting through the park from the pass at 2900 m down to the floodplains of Assam at 100 m. Our strategy would be to watch birds at different altitudes, therefore, we will camp at least at two sites. We will watch birds in tropical and semi tropical forests, broadleaved temperate forests (1800-2800 m) and coniferous temperate forests (above 2800 m). Birding is on foot along the jeep track but we will frequently use our vehicles to cover distance. Our target birds would be Temminckís and Blythís Tragopan, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Wardís Trogon, Lesser and White-browed Shortwings, Beautiful Nuthatch, Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Fire-tailed Myzornis. There is a possibility of finding Bugun Liocichla near Lama Camp, a new species to the science. We will look for woodpeckers (14 species) Barbets (6 species) Tits (8 species) Laughingthrushes (12 species) Barwings (3 species) Minlas (3 species) Fulvettas (7 species) Parrotbills (4 species) and good variety of leaf warblers and yuhinas. The sanctuary also has interesting mammals including Clouded Leopard, Red Panda, Pallasís Squirrel, Southern Serow, Himalayan Goral. Elephants occasionally also appear in the sanctuary.

Day 1: Delhi to Guwahati

The tour begins with the morning flight to Guwahati from Delhi . Leaving Guwahati airport we will †travel by road to Kaziranga. Our journey will take about six hours and follow the course of the Brahmaputra river. We will †stop to watch Greater Adjutant and Lesser Adjutant Storks on the way and explore a suitable habitat for White-vented Myna and Eastern burmanicus race of Baya Weaver. If we are lucky, we may spot the elusive Finnís Weaver in the mixed weaver flocks.

Night stay at a wildlife lodge at Kaziranga.

Day 2 to 4: Kaziranga National Park

We will go for open-top jeep drive (walking is restricted) to see the birds and mammals in the park in the morning and evening. One morning we will walk in the Panbari forest and adjacent tea plantation to find woodland birds. To watch the rare Bengal Florican we will use an elephant to find the bustard in the grassland. Indian Rhinoceros, Indian Elephant, Wild Water Buffalo, Swamp and Hog Deer can not be missed in the park. Hoolock Gibbon, Capped Langurs and Smooth Indian Otter are the other mammals of the park. There are good numbers of Tigers in the reserve but due to high grasses one generally needs a good amount of luck to come across one. We will look for Grey-headed Lapwing, Kaleej Pheasent, Swamp Francolin, Pied Harrier, Pallasís Fish-Eagle, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Green-billed Malkoha, Lesser Coucal, Oriental Pied Hornbill, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthush, Chestnut-capped Babbler, Pale-chinned Flycatcher, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Green Magpie and more birds during three full days.

Night stay at a wildlife lodge at Kaziranga.

Day 5: Kaziranga to Nameri

In the morning we will drive to Nameri National Park via Tezpur on the bank of the Brahmaputra river. There is a good possibility of adding a few more forest birds during our stay in Nameri including the rare White-winged† Duck. After lunch we will explore the area around the camp and species we may encounter include Oriental Hobby, Red-breasted Parakeet, Greater Yellownape, Lineated and Blue-throated Barbets and Orange-bellied Leafbird.

Night stayat a wildlife tented camp.

Day 6: Nameri National Park

We will cross the Jia Bhareli river in a small boat in the morning and walk in the forest and woodland habitats. Our main target would be White-winged Duck. In the open areas of the park we will look for the threatened Pallasís Fish-Eagle and widespread species like Oriental Honey-Buzzard, Crested Serpent Eagle, Common Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon. Nameri is a good place to look for raptor specialities like Oriental Hobby and Pied Falconet. Forest species we are likely to encounter include Red-breasted Parakeet, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Greater Yellownape, Lineated and Blue-throated Barbets, Great Pied Hornbill, Lesser Coucal, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Maroon Oriole, Streaked Spiderhunter and Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker. There will also be variety of doves and pigeons - Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Oriental Turtle, Spotted and Emerald Doves, Wedge-tailed, Pin-tailed, Ashy-headed Green (split from Pompadour) and Green Imperial Pigeons. In mixed hunting parties we would see Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Pied Flycatcher-Shrike, Long-tailed and Scarlet Minivets, Large Woodshrike, White-throated Fantail, Common Iora, Sultan Tit, Yellow-browed, Greenish and Grey-hooded Warblers and Chestnut-bellied and Velvet-fronted Nuthatches. Other species that we should find include Himalayan Swiftlet, Asian Palm-Swift, Himalayan Black Bulbuls, Asian Fairy Bluebird and Ashy and Spangled Drongos. We will take a rafting trip on the river Jia Bhareli to look for the elegant Ibisbill and Great Thick-knee.

Night stay at a wildlife tented camp.

Day 7: Nameri to Eaglenest Wildlife sanctuary via Bhalukpong

After breakfast we will drive to Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh via Bhalukpong check post (restricted area permits of foreigners are checked here). The drive beyond Bhalukpong is relatively unexplored and full of surprises and it is possible to watch birds from the road up to Tenga as this passes through eastern border of the Eaglenest and Sessa sanctuaries. Birds like Rufous-necked Hornbill, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Spotted Wren Babbler, Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbill and Fire-tailed Myzornis can turn up on this drive. We should reach in time for lunch at Lama Camp (around this camp there are good possibilities of Bugun Liocichla). Birding around the camp is usually excellent. Other specialties near the camp include Long-tailed Thrush, Bhutan Laughingthrush, Lesser, Oriental and Hodgsonís Hawk Cuckoo, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Red-headed and Grey-headed Bullfinches.

Night stay at Lama Camp.

Day 8 to 12: Eaglenest (600-2900 m)

During our full five days in Eaglenest we will be mostly walking/birding on the jeep track passing through temperate cloud forest, patches of broadleaved evergreen forest and dense stands of bamboo in the sanctuary covering large altitudinal range. The road descends from Eaglenest Pass (highest point on the track circa 2900 m) close to the northern border of the sanctuary (Lama Camp) to the Brahmaputra plains (100 m) in the south and Sunderview, Bompu and Sessni are the camps that lie along the track in a descending order of altitude.

The camp sites in Lama Camp (2350 m), Bompu (1940 m) and Sessni (1250) offer basic but comfortable tented accommodation. We will use at least two camp sites during our stay. During our stay we can encounter birds like Rufous-bellied and Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Rufous-throated and Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Blythís and Temminckís Tragopans, Tawny Wood-Owl, Specked and Ashy Wood Pigeons, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Wardís Trogon, Chestnut-winged and Indian Cuckoos, Bay and Pale-headed Woodpeckers, Grey-chinned Minivet, Blue-fronted Robin, Golden Bush-Robin, Spotted, Grey-sided, Scaly and Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Red-faced Liocichla, Coral-billed and Slender-billed Scimitar-Babblers, Wedge-billed, Eye-browed, Bar-winged, Long-billed and Spotted Wren Babblers, Golden Babbler, Black-headed Shrike-Babbler, Cutia, Black-eared and Green Shrike-Babblers, Red-tailed and Blue-winged Minlas, Golden-breasted, Brown-throated, Streak-throated and Yellow-throated Fulvettas, Beautiful and Rufous-backed Sibias, Rufous-vented and White-naped Yuhinas, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Red-billed Leiothrix, Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Hoary-throated, Streaked-throated and Rusty fronted Barwings, Chestnut-headed, Slaty-bellied and Yellow-bellied Tesias, Yelow-bellied Bush-Warbler, Broad-billed and Chestnut-crowned Warblers, Vivid and Large Niltavas, Ultramarine, Sapphire, Slaty-blue, Dark-sided and White-gorgeted Flycatchers, Mrs Gouldís and Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Yellow-browed, Rufous-vented , Fire-capped, Rufous-fronted and Sultan Tits, White-tailed and Beautiful Nuthatches, Rusty-flanked and Brown-throated Treecreepers, Yellow-bellied and Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers, Collared and White-winged Grosbeaks, Scarlet and Gold-naped Finches, Grey-headed and Brown Bullfinches and Yellow-billed Blue-Magpie.

Night stay in tented accommodations.

Day 13: Eaglenest and drive to Nameri

After morning session of birding around our camp site in Eaglenest, we will bird our way down to Nameri for the night.

Night stay at a wildlife tented camp.

Day 14: Drive to Guwahati

After morning birding around the camp site at Nameri, we will drive for 5 hours to catch our flight to Delhi.

Accommodation

We will use comfortable wildlife lodge at Kaziranga, permanent and comfortable wildlife tented accommodation at Nameri and tented accommodations at two campsites at Eaglenest.

Transport

Domestic flights from Delhi to Guwahati and back to Delhi. In Assam and Arunachal Pradesh we will use cars or jeeps and on the game-drives in Kaziranga we will be in 4 x 4 jeeps. At Nameri we will use boat to cross the river. At Panbari, Nameri and Eaglenest we will be walking. To avoid any discomfort, at Eaglenest where all our birding is on foot, vehicles will be kept handy.

Climate

Kaziranga and Nameri are expected to be warm and moderately humid in the middle of the day. During jeep rides in morning and evening it is expected to be cool. Eaglenest would be cooler depending on the altitude of the camp. Rain protection is recommended at all locations.

Photography

Kaziranga offers excellent opportunities of photographing big mammals. Nameri and Eaglenest are great places for bird photography, though the light conditions can vary depending upon weather.

Extensions

A four days extension to Dirang (1500-4500 m) can be arranged. Areas around Dirang and Sela Pass (4500 m) are very good for certain specialties. Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasent, Grandala, Long-billed Plover, Spotted Laughingthrush and Beautiful Rosefinch are quite regularly encountered in this area.

There is option of visiting Dibru-Saikhowa near Tinsukhia in eastern Assam for a four day extension. The sanctuary encompasses a mosaic of seasonally flooded forest, grassy areas between shallow wetlands and arms of the river Dibru. We can get specialized grassland and swamp forest birds such as the threatened Marsh and Jerdonís Babbler, Black-throated Parrotbill, Rufous-vented Prinia and Jerdonís Bushchat in the sanctuary.

 
Lesser Adjutant
Rufous-vented Yuhina
Little Pied Flycatcher
Red-billed Leiothrix
Red Junglefowl (female)
Ultramarine Flycatcher
Indian Elephant
Indian Tiger
Bhutan Laughing Thrush
Black-necked Crane
Blue-fronted Robin
Brown-throated Fulvetta
Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler
Fire-tailed Myzornis
Ibisbill
Long-billed Plover
Tawny Owl
One-horned Rhinoceros
 
 

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