Saturday, July 16, 2011

Eaglenest - Nameri (26th March to 02nd April 2011)

Cricker-player ne Tendulkar nahi dekha to kya dekha
Bird-watcher ne Eaglenest nahi dekha to kya dekha

This is what Eaglenest WLS is for a birdwatcher!! The final frontier, the dream, an opportunity to grab 100s of lifers!!! Eaglenest..Eaglenest…Eaglenest…. Bass naam hi kafi hai!!

One of the most awaited trips, not only for participants but for me & Adesh too. This is will be my 4th visit to Eaglenest & I’m equally curious and excited. As we were staying in Guwahati only (after completion of Kaziranga-Nameri batch), we reached Airport at about 2.00pm and once all participants arrived we asked them to come out of the Airport. The vehicles were ready and we moved on towards Nameri, taking a brief stop at Dumping yard for Greater & Lesser Adjutants.

We keep Nameri, mainly as a stop over during Eaglenest trip. If you go directly from Guwahati to Eaglenest, it will take around 9/10 hours to reach by road. So we take a stop at Nameri while going as well as while coming back from Eaglenest. Nameri Eco camp has clean, descent tents with attached toilet & the surroundings are awesome. It’s a wonderful place to stay. And since we stop at Nameri from a night halt, next day morning we get some 3,4 hours for birding in Nameri. As usual Nameri birding was superb. The Wreathed & Great Pied Hornbills, Abbot’s Babbler, Dollar Bird, Barred Cuckoo Dove, White-throated, Black-crested, Black Bulbuls, Wedge-talied & Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater, While-tailed Myna, Blue-eared & Blue-throated Barbet, Great Cormorants, Maroon Oriole were some of the birds seen. We came back to the eco camp, had our lunch and proceeded for Eaglenest.

Another very interesting sighting in Nameri was of a Cat Snake (Bioga Sp.) inside the Eco Camp. When we were getting ready for lunch, suddenly one of the cook came running to tell me about the snake behind canteen. We rushed to the place, with our cameras. The snake was 'different', never seen before. A Coral red color snake with ruby eyes. Later on it was Ided as Juvenile of Boiga cf siamemsis by experts. It was something very very special sighting!!

It takes about 6 hours to reach Eaglenest from Nameri, including the stoppage at Bhalukpong check post. The nearby town to Eaglenest WLS, which is in West Kameng Dist. Of Arunachal Pradesh, is Tenga. Tenga has a huge military base. We met Mr. Indi Babu at Tenga, who is head of Bugun community looking after the accommodation, food etc. in Ealglenest WLS.

Instead of scheduled stay in Lama camp we were told, that too in Tenga, that our arrangements have been made in Ramalingam camp, which is much below Lama camp. We were very disappointed for this mis-management by the Kaati Tours & Linkarcs. But we had to take it, and stay in Ramalingam camp. Since we had jeeps with us we could go till Lama caml & come back. We tried our level best, so that the group should not miss any species because of this goof-up. Some of the birds seen in this patch are; Green-tailed Sunbird, Beautiful Sibia, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Olive-backed Pipit, Greater-rufous Headed Parrotbill, Cutia, Black-throated Tit, Striated Bulbul, Bhutan Laughingthursh, Striated Laughingthrush, Rufous-throated Wren Babbler, Brownish-flanked Bush Robin and may more…

After 2 days in Ramalingam camp we moved to our next camp at Sunderview, birding on the way. On the way to Sunderview, you have to stop at one place, called Eaglenest Pass. This is one of best place in Eaglenest WLS. Being highest point in Eaglenest some of the high altitude birds are seen only here. And what a ‘gala’ time we had there. It started with Rufous-fronted Tit and then continued with Rufous-winged Fulvetta, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Brown Parrotbill, Bar-throated Minla, Spotted Nutcracker, Striated & Rufous-vented Yuhina, Crimson-browed Rosefinch etc… but there were some special sightings as well. Both these special sighting had a fire in their tails! First was Fire-tailed Sunbird… It came from somewhere, circled us and they sat on a tree top in sunlight for few seconds. Everybody saw the bird the good light… wow!! The one was of Fire-tailed Myzornis. What an amazing bird, very elusive…but that day was special it came almost in front, flittered for some time and wet away, but gave all sufficient time to appreciate. The two fire-tails made our day!! On the way, after Eaglenest Pass, we also saw Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird, Rusty-fronted Barwing,

Sunderview, as the name suggest is located on top of the valley and gives lovely views. Area around the camp itself was too good for birding. We saw Black-faced, Striated and Spotted Laughingthrushes, Brown Bullfinch, Black-faced, Whistler’s, Grey-cheeked Warblers etc… We stayed in Sunderview for 3 nights… With base camp at Sunderview, we covered the low altitude areas like Bompu & Sessni. These two days were as rewarding as earlier days, with some different sightings like Streak-throated Scimitar Babbler, Sultan Tit, Red-tailed Minla, Silver-eared Mesia, Maroon Oriole, Streaked Spider-hunter, Black-throated Sunbird, Golden babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Common Hill Partridge….

But the very very special sighting was of Ward’s Trogon. One of the rarest trogons in the world! At one turning, we heard the trogon. We stopped and tried to see thought the thick fog and to our pleasure we saw a male Ward’s Trogon sitting with its back to us. It then changed the position and now he is facing us…wow….We quickly put the bird on Spotting Scope and then it was feast to eyes. All of us except two could not see the bird as a thick layer of fog came between us & trogon. But I told everyone to just wait quietly & patiently till the fog layer passes. As soon as fog was passed, the trogon by that time has changed the position and now he was even close to us. We quickly showed it to the two participants first and then everybody took another round to see the bird through scope. But that’s not enough; male trogon was then joined by female!! AZ pair of Ward’s Trogon was sitting in front of us. What a sighting!! The best sighting of this bird for me till date… We all were speechless for few minutes…

While going back from Sunderview to Nameri, we stopped at Lama camp for lunch, where we heard the news of Assam bandh, on next day, when we were supposed to reach Guwahati airport. We were discussing what to do and finally decided to go reach Airport in the night itself. Instead of staying at Nameri for one night, we decided to just stop at Nameri for diner and then move to the Airport. We had our lunch and then suddenly another group (they were staying in Lama) saw Red-Crosbills, we ran outside the dining room and to our pleasure saw 4 Red Crossbills (1 female & 3 juveniles) a lifer!!! What a way to end the trip….