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North East India : Hot Spots

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Greater Adjutant StorkBirders visiting the North East will in all likelihood arrive at the gateway airport at Guwahati. It is worthwhile to spend a day at Deepor Beel - a wetland 13 kms from town, hosting wintering water birds. These include greater and Lesser Adjutant, Fulvous Whistling-duck, and Greater Painted Snipe. Water cock, Cinnamon Bittern, and Sarus crane. If in luck you may even spot the Solitary snipe and the endangered Goliath Heron. For bird photographers Guwahati is indeed a major attraction- as the Greater Adjutant is visible throughout the day at a small ground within the town.

There are several good hotels at Guwahati. On our tours we use the Brahmaputra Ashok, The Bellevue, and the Raj Mahal

You need one night transit halt, at Guwahati with half a day for birding.

Kaziranga National Park & Panbari Reserve Forest

Long tailed shrike Photo Goran Pattersson. Spotted Owl Photo Lars Patersson. Tiger seen by Avifauna group 2006 at Kaziranga photo Lars Petersson.  Alexandrine Parakeet Photo Jan Wendeby. Birds & Tiger of Kaziranga National Park & Panbari Forest

Stork-Billed Kingfisher Indian Roller & Myna Long-Tailed Shrike Indian Pond Heron Egret & Darter Piggy-back Rhino Spot-Billed Pelican Ruddy Shelduck Great Tit Elephant Safari Great Cormorant Birding at Kaziranga National Park

The World Heritage Kaziranga National Park is a highly reputed wild life protected area, located in Assam. The Park has more than 70% of the world's one-horned rhino. Population, 70% of the world population of the Eastern Swamp Deer and 75% of the world's wild Asiatic water buffalo. It has a significant population of the Asian Elephant. You are not allowed to walk inside the reserve. Birding is by jeep and Elephant.

The Park also has more than 450 species of birds,18 of them are globally threatened species. Because of the varied habitat types that the Park comprises of, as also of the strict protection accorded to them, birding in Kaziranga is very special. The varied terrain provides habitat for wet land, grassland, and woodland species The Bengal Florican is the main attraction. You should also be able to see a good variety of raptors.

The Eastern Range of the park is good for water birds such as Falcated Teal, White-eyed Pochard and spot-billed pelican (a colony of 200 pairs is located in this range). For grassland birds the Western Range is ideal. The Bengal Florican can be seen during the elephant ride in the Central Range. The nearby Panbari Reserved Forest is good for woodland birds such as yellow-vented Warbler, great Hornbill, and redheaded Trogon. .Other interesting birds include Green-backed Heron, White bellied Heron (rare), Lesser and greater Adjutants, Black-necked Storks, Spoonbill, Grey-headed and Pallas's Fish-eagle (common), Swamp Francolin (common), Grey-headed Lapwing, Black-bellied tern, Marsh Babbler, Jordan's Bushchat (rare) White-throated Bushchat and many more.

Other birds recorded by us: Lineated Barbet, Blue-eared Barbet, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Spotted Redshank, River Lapwing, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Pied Harrier, Spot-billed Pelican, Black-necked Stork, Rosy Minivet, Spot-winged Starling, Dark-necked Tailorbird, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Streaked Spiderhunter, Forest Wagtail, Blyth's Pipit, Yellow-breasted Bunting..
The best time to visit is Nov to Mar.

To get to Kaziranga, you have to fly in from Delhi, Bagdogra or Kolkotta to Guwahati. or Jorhat. Kaziranga is 220 Kms East of Guwahati ( 04.30 hours). It is 89 Kms from Jorhat (02 hours) You get to the birding sites by jeep, on elephant and by walking.

For birding, a minimum of 04 days is suggested.

Manas National Park & Tiger Reserve

Manas-TigerManas national Park located in Assam state is a fascinating and scenic sanctuary. It is a world heritage site, a project tiger reserve and a biosphere reserve.

The park straddles two rivers, the Manas and its tributary the Hakua, along the Assam-Bhutan border at an altitude of 61m to 110m. Both countries have cooperated to create 3500 square kilometers of protected forests. The core-zone, the Manas National Park, is a pristine wildlife habitat of 520 sq Kms. There is a buffer of 2317 sq kms. The habitat comprises sal forests, both virgin and degraded, moist-deciduous forests, isolated patches of evergreen forests, riverine forests, grasslands of both Savannah and Terai types, and miscellaneous forests.

Manas habitat provides an excellent abode to the tiger as well as to its prey species The tiger population was estimated to be 89 during the 1997 tiger census.

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Golden LangurManas has a very special biosphere. 374 species of dicots and 139 species of monocots have been recorded in the National Park. The Park hosts more than a 100 mammal species. Some of the highly endangered species listed in the IUCN Red Data Book are; the rare Golden langur, Hispid hare, and Pygmy hog. Other species include the one horned Rhino, Wild Buffalos, Elephants, Gaur, Swamp Deer, Capped Langur, Clouded leopard, Marbled, Fishing and Leopard cats, Various Civets, Eurasian Otter, Slow Loris, Black Giant Squirrel, three striped palm squirrel, five striped palm squirrel, Malayan giant squirrel, Assamese macaque, Indian fox, Red fox, Himalayan black bear, Sloth bear, Yellow throated marten, Chinese badger, Yellow bellied weasel, Indian pangolin, Indian porcupine, and River Dolphin.

The park, boasts a rich and diverse avian population with a check- list of over 380 species. It has the largest population of Bengal Florican in the World. Other notable grassland birds are Swamp Florican, Pied Harrier, Black Francolin, Blunt winged warbler, Pale –footed Bush Warbler, White tailed Ruby throat, Finn’s Weaver, Bright headed Cisticolas, Striated and Chesnut- capped Babblers, Rain and Blue - Breasted Quails, Lesser Coucal, Bengal Bushlark, Grass Owl, and Black-headed Munia..

Great Indian HornbillForest birds include, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Collared Falconet, Ashy Wood pigeon, Mountain Scoops Owl, Spot belied Eagle Owl, Brown & Tawny Fish Owl, Red Headed Trogon, Blue - Bearded Bee - Eater, Wreathed, Oriental Pied and Great Hornbills, Long - tailed Broadbill, Indian, Hooded and Blue Pitta, Himalayan Flameback, Maroon Oriole, Rosy Minavet, Scaly Laughing Thrush, Pygmy Blue Flycatcher,Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, Grey-winged Blackbird, Black throated Tit, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, Ruby cheeked and Mrs Gould’s sunbird, Rufus-vented laughing thrush, and others.

Along the Manas River you are likely to spot, Little Heron, Ruddy Shelduck, Commom Merganser, Osprey, Great Thick Knee, River Lapwing, Small Pratincole, River and Black belied Terns, Crested and Pied Kingfishers, and Ibisbill.

To get to Manas, you have to fly in from Delhi, Bagdogra or Kolkotta to Guwahati. And then drive to Barpeta Road – the entry point. This is 32 Kms North West of Guwahati and the drive takes about 04 hours. Mothunguri Forest Rest House inside the Sanctuary is another 40 Kms away along a forest track.

Barpeta Road lies on the main highway connecting North Bengal with Assam and can therefore be accessed from Kalimpong, Darjeeling or Phuntsholing.

To enter the sanctuary you need permits from the Field Director Manas Project Tiger, located at Barpeta Road.

The best accomodation is at Bansbari – just outside the Park at the privately run Golden Langur Resort. However it is preferable for birders to stay at the Mothunguri Forest Rest House – Simple clean rooms.

Birding is by jeep, and on Elephant. It is also possible to walk within the park with permission from the Field Director and accompanied by a forest guard. A boat trip down the Manas River is a good way to spot mammals and birds in river and swamp habitats. 

For birding, a minimum of 04 days is suggested. We arrange for stays inside the park, with birding and wild-watch trips by jeep, elephant, on foot and by boat, accompanied by local guides.

Nameri National Park

Wood DuckLocated in the state of Assam,250 kms from Guwahati and 80 kms from Kaziranga, and 38 Kms from Tezpur, the sanctuary lies astride a 25 kms stretch of river Jai – Bhoroli, on the edge of a huge wilderness area. It is a treasure house of sub-tropical flora, on the border of Arunachal Pradesh. It preserves, Leopard, Tiger, Bison, Elephant, Wild Boar, Himalayan Bear, capped Langur, Giant Squirrel, and the endangered Hispid Hare. To get to the sanctuary one has to cross the fast flowing snow-fed Bhorelli river The habitat is diverse. It has 350 species of birds. Known to be a good place to sight the rare white-winged Sandpiper. Photo by Lars Petersson.woodduck ( out of a world population of around 700, 50 are residents here), Ibisbill, Ruddy. Kingfisher, wreathed hornbill, Blue-eared kingfisher and green cochoa(very rare). Other species in abundance are Mainas, Bee eaters, Barbets, Babblers, Bulbuls, and Plovers, You can also see King Vultures, Fishing Eagles, Black necked storks and other migratory birds. Birding is on foot or by boat.

You can reach the park by car from Kaziranga in 02 hrs and from Guwahati in 4.30 hrs.

Accommodation is in a well run tented camp with modern toilets.

Suggested duration of stay for birding is s two days.

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Tour options for non-birding spouse/friends: www.gurudongma.com.

Bird photographs by Yashodhan Bhatia,

Ronald Saldino,  Niels Poul Dryer, Ketil Knudsen
Kalypso Adventures & Gurudongma Team

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