This trip was designed after repeated explorations in North Bengal, Sikkim, and North East India. It links together, all the important birding areas in this region.
North East India
North East India is a vast area comprising of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. The variations of altitude, diversity of habitat, and extreme precipitation are factors, which are responsible for the diversity and abundance of resident birds in this region. Some of the rare birds which occur are the Bengal Florican, Dark rumped Swift, White-Winged Duck, and the Marsh Babbler, Black breasted Parrotbill, White-belied Heron, Snowy-throated Babbler, Rufus -Vented Laughing thrush, Rufus-backed Sibia and the Beautiful Nuthatch..
Namdapa National Park
Located in Arunachal Pradesh, Namdapa lies in the extreme North East of India. Spread over 1985 sq Kms, Its altitude varies from 200 m to 4578 m. However it is only approachable up to altitudes of 850 m.
Its avifauna is a unique blend of Indo-Burmese, Sino-Tibetan and Himalayan forms, which thrives in the bio-diverse habitat encompassing tropical, temperate and alpine. Largely unexplored 665 species of birds have been recorded, of which some are exotic - Blyth's Tragopan, Wards Trogon White- Winged Wood Duck, Rufus necked hornbill, Blue napped Pitta, Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Snowy- throated Babbler, and Beautiful Nuthatch. Brown Hornbills may occur here, together with a fabulous list of pheasants, babblers and laughing-thrushes, which include the Arunachal endemic - Austen's Spotted Babbler. Whilst such truly rare and elusive species occur, the a sighting of any of them is as a real bonus.
The park is home to outstanding wet tropical forest. The remote and inaccessible nature of the park has preserved its pristine forests, and much of the area remains unexplored. It is as close to true wilderness as any of the many national parks and sanctuaries in India. I have explored the park, in all seasons, and this was my seventh trip.
Dibru - Saikhowa National Park
Dibru-Saikhowa is a biosphere reserve. This little known site, is one of the biodiversity hot spots situated in the south bank of the river Brahmaputra. It is located in the alluvial flood plains of the Brahmaputra. Fashioned by nature - earthquakes and ever changing water courses it has numerous island pockets and water bodies providing an unusual habitat for varied wildlife and aqua fauna and avifauna. Contained between the Debang, Lohit & the Great Brahmaputra rivers, the 340 sq Kms reserve was set up with a view to protecting the grass land and swamp habitat. Its internal water channels & bodies, seasonally flooded forests, "beels", and grassy pockets, makes it an interesting birding destination for rare specialized grass land and swamp forest birds such as the threatened Marsh Babbler, Jerdon's Babbler, Black throated Parrotbill, Rufous-vented( swamp) Prinia, and Jerdons Bushcat. Altitudinal migrants such as Pale-capped pigeon, White-tailed Rubythroat, and Black - breasted Thrush, and various warblers, can also be seen.
Kaziranga National Park & Panbari Reserve Forest
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.. Birding is by jeep and Elephant – as walking is restricted to certain view points.
The Park 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 one of the main attraction for birders. A good variety of raptors can be seen.
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.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..
Sikkim & West Bengal
This region comprising the state if Sikkim and the adjoining parts of North Bengal - Darjeeling and Kalimpong, is a rugged strip of vertical mountain country. Wedged between Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, and the North Bengal Plains of India. This tiny region is just 90 kms wide and 150 kms deep. The grain of the country rises from near sea level to 8500 meters, in a short distance, The great Himalayan Range with its giant spurs – singelila and Chola, virtually enclose this region in a titanic horseshoe. Starting from the plains of North Bengal tangled interlacing ridges rise rang after range to the foot of the great wall of high peaks and passes opening into Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan
The climate varies between the tropical heat of the valleys and the alpine cold of the snowy regions. With rainfall averaging 348 cms, it is the most humid region of the Himalayas. Dry season is from November to April. The altitudanal zones of vegitation range from tropical, sub tropical, temperate to Alpine – some places only 10 kms in a direct line separates the palm growing valleys from perpetual snow. The telescoping of terrain - from the pleasant humid foothill valleys below 1000 meters, to the arctic cold of the snow capped peaks up to 8000 meters, has created marked altitudinal zonation in the humidity, rainfall, climate and vegetation. This factor is responsible for the great variety and abundance of the resident bird life, making this area arguably one of the richest areas of its size anywhere in the world. 527 species of resident birds have been recorded. In addition there are vagrants, and transients on migration. It is estimated that more than 30 percent of the species of the Indian Sub continent can be spotted in this region.
Lava is the prime birding destination in North Bengal. Located 35 Kms from Kalimpong, it is surrounded by very large tracts of protected forests ranging in elevation between 1600 and 2400 m. There are several sites for bird watching and photography around Lava and the adjoining Neora National Park. Some oif the raraties that can be found at Lava are : Satyr Tragopan, Rufous- throated and Spotted Wren Babblers, Yelow- throated Fulvetta, Ashy wood Pigeon, Red – Faced Liocichla, Blue-fronted Robin, Long-billed thrush, Cutia, Rusty-belied shortwingand various Laughing Thrushes ,Warblers and Sunbirds.
Tour options for non-birding spouse/friends:
Ronald Saldino, Niels
Poul Dryer, Ketil Knudsen
Hill Top, Kalimpong, 73430, India
Phone & Fax: +91-3552-255204
Mobile: +91 94340- 47372