birding in nepal

Subject: birding in nepal
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 2003 10:18:15 +1100

Hello again,

We have just returned from a whirlwind 20 day trip to Nepal.  This is outside the Birding-Aus area of interest, although hopefully you will still find it interesting. 

We spent a few days in the Kathmandu Valley, with day trips to some forested areas (Nagarjun, Phulchowki, Godavari Botanic Gardens).  These were alive with groups of babblers and laughingthrushes, with many large mixed feeding flocks of very fast moving small birds (warblers, fulvettas, yuhinas), and plenty of birds to keep interest levels high.  We also spent a day walking along the bank of the Bagmati River (near Chobar Gorge).  This produced many different raptors, lots of waders, wagtails, as well as one of our target species (Grey-headed Lapwing).  The Taudaha Pond near the river had many species of ducks which unfortunately seem to spend most of their time dodging thrown-rocks from the kids...

We spent 3 nights at Sauraha (just outside Chitwan RNP), and in hindsight we could easily have spent at least a week in this part of Nepal.  It was a very relaxed place (apart from the uneasy feeling of no longer being at the top of the foodchain).  Lots of storks, waders, owlets, plenty of brightly coloured "jungle birds" (even a Blue-eared Barbet!), raptors (Osprey, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Vultures etc) and wild chickens.  We saw 160 bird species within walking distance of the lodge over the 2 full + 2 part days we were there.  With about 550 birds on the park list, we're sure a few extra days there would have resulted in many more sightings. 

We finished off our trip with trek up to Kyangjin-Gompa in the Langtang Valley. While in the lower parts (2000-2500m) of the trek there was plenty of variety in the birdlife (many species of woodpeckers, laughingthrushes, redstarts and pheasants), as we got higher (3000-4000m) the birds became a bit thin on the ground (unless you enjoy tearing out your hair trying to identify the females of 12 different species of rosefinch).  We were rewarded with stunning mountain views, and amazing close up views of Lammergeiers. Himalayan Griffons, a fantastic Golden Eagle, and great views of 2 Snow Leopards (!).  Bharat was especially excited when a group of  5 Slender-billed Scimitar-Babblers drifted past us through the bamboo near Syabru village.

We used the services of a guide (Bharat Regmi of "Explore Alpine Adventure") for almost the whole trip.  He was recommended to us by several birding-aus'ers.  He is a fantastic organiser/travel agent, and is a very keen birder.

Nepal is a fantastic place for birding, and we were lucky enough to see 317 species of birds, with 300 lifers.

Thanks to Steve Anyon-Smith, Bill & Eileen Jolly, David Siems, Penny Drake-Brockman and Greville Reidy for all your helpful advice/suggestions.

Mat and Cathy

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