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We had many adventures on this first Field Guides tour to Northeast India. One of these was the opportunity to bird from elephant-back at Kaziranga! The ride was not long, but not many people can say they've done this! Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
The inaugural Field Guides NE India/Kaziranga trip proved adventurous, with some great birds and mammals and spectacular scenery, but beset by some unusually poor weather in the mountains.
We began by birding at a wetland area called Rajarhat in Kolkata, which gave us Asian Openbill, Watercock, Greater Painted Snipe, Bengal Bushlark and Red Avadavat, all valuable additions to the triplist and a nice easy start.
Next day was the somewhat chaotic check-in for our flight to Lilabari, where we hit the first of the rainstorms, fortunately after landing, and met the inimitable and ever-cheerful Lobsang, who was to be our local guide, waiting for us with the vehicles and drivers. A wetland nearby produced our only Fulvous Whistling Ducks, but we lost time due to rain and poor roads and checked in late afternoon at Abor Lodge.
Day 3 was the boat trip on the Siang River after some of the riparian specials, and it was very successful, but proved difficult of access for some. Rufous-necked Laughing-thrush showed nicely, and a White-tailed Stonechat was an unexpected pick-up. A few of us braved the rain shower and saw Swamp Prinia and Marsh Babbler, and more joined us for amazing views of the rare Black-breasted Parrotbill, braving the mud and elephant grass. Then it was a long drive on bad roads to Dibrugarh, to get ready for the next day at the Elephant Reserve on the Digboi oilfields.
This gave us our first encounter with impossible to see Laughing-thrushes, in this case, the regional specialty, Chestnut-backed. We also found Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Square-tailed Drongo-Cuckoo, Black-backed Forktail in the road, the spectacular and rather wonderful Sultan Tit, plus the first of a number of heard only partridges, this one the White-cheeked, with great vocals from the invisible Hoolock Gibbons, too.
Then we had another lengthy drive to Kaziranga, again on poor roads, so much so that we will not be doing this initial section of the tour again next year, but will have extra days at Kaziranga and Dirang. The group kept remarkably good spirits and we enjoyed what we saw, whilst getting a real eyeful of rural India and its people, itself a memorable experience. The crossing of the vast Brahmaputra was astonishing; the vehicles being loaded across a small barge via plank gangways, and chugging the 45 minutes across, all quite astonishing and a long way from Kansas, Dorothy!
Our two nights at Kaziranga were excellent; the park is world-class and the Great Indian Rhinos are fantastic, great silver-colored aquatic creatures that showed really well. We saw up to 30 one day! We almost saw a Tiger too, if only our guide had said "in the road" and not "there, there......." Birding was good, and we had lovely looks at both Great and Oriental Pied Hornbill, Greater and Lesser Adjutant, Black-necked Stork, Garganey (yay for Marcia!), Spotted Owlet, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, White-rumped Vulture, Gray-headed Fish-Eagle, the rare Finn's Weaver, and some of us got a brief look at Indian Grassbird from Elephant-back! Everyone took the elephant ride, which was fun and did not last too long, and another day here next time will be very worthwhile.
Nameri Eco Camp was a nice little spot, with the large comfortable walk-in tents, and very noisy Blue-throated barbets on the grounds, plus Great Hornbill nesting again in the big dead tree there and obliging Brown Boobook at dusk. A late afternoon walk down to the river gave us River Lapwing, the beautiful River Tern, and great looks at a total of 7 Wreathed Hornbills that flew more or less overhead.
We crossed the river by small boat next day and did some birding in the forest reserve, seeing a fine Hooded Pitta, Great Stone Curlew, Sand Lark and Greater Flameback. That afternoon saw us make a raft trip downriver, with fine views of River Terns, River Lapwings and a noisy colony of Small Pratincole. We finished with a total of 16 Wreathed Hornbills going over in the late pm, a lovely photo op.
The journey over to Lama Camp at Eaglenest took the morning, with Yellow-breasted Greenfinch for all, and Tickell's Thrush for some en route, and began with a major frisson of excitement when about half our group got to see Bugun Liocichla right by the camp, found just as they were coming up to meet us. It was a bust for those of us not there of course, but hope springs eternal......Nice birds this afternoon included good looks at Bhutan Laughing-thrush, Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler, Lemon-rumped Warbler, Rufous-throated and Streaked Barwing, Rufous-crowned Laughing-thrush and Striated Laughing-thrush.
The drive from Assam to Arunachal was absorbing, and I was amazed at how heavily militarized it is. Each town has a huge garrison with exhortatory slogans everywhere, but a very different attitude to the over-bearing paranoid western military models I am used to- this one seems to be based on service to the community, and we never felt intimidated or uncomfortable around the numerous convoys and camps we encountered. The Border Roads Organization (BRO) keep the roads open, in the case of the Eaglenest and Sela roads, an impressive achievement, as the terrain is unbelievably steep and rainfall so high. They employ large numbers of mainly female road workers too, living in dire conditions by the roads, some of the poorest folk we saw.
Monday, April 30, saw us bird below Lama Camp, the initial check for the Bugun Liocichla drawing a blank at the site that had difficult access, but amazingly coming good later, when two birds were calling close to the road. Everyone got views, some even good views and photos to prove it, so that was a major relief, as this rare bird is easily missed. A Ward's Trogon was vocal but stayed hidden, but Rufous-breasted Bush-Robin showed nicely.
Heading up to Eaglenest Pass got us into some gorgeous mixed pine-broadleaf forest, and continuing wonderment at how they keep the road open. A male Ward's Trogon sat out obligingly in the open for us, some reward after its skulking that morning, Hoary-throated Barwing showed well, one of three barwing species today, and we had great luck with all 4 local species of shrike-babblers, seeing Black-headed, Blyth's, Black-breasted and Green. Regrettably, it then came on to rain and we drove down to the camp in atrocious conditions. The drivers did really well as the road turned into a stream. Happily for us, it eased as we got to Bompu Camp, and we got unloaded in the dry and settled into the large fixed tents which were home for the next 3 nights. The staff here looked after us well, with hot water buckets if required for the showers and good meals catering to our unusual and varied dietary regime.
This rain was regrettably the precursor for next day below Bompu, where we hit mist, fog and rain, and most birds proved to be distant silhouettes; color was just not an option in these conditions. I have to say it was one of the most dire day's birding I've had in very long time, but the group spirits stayed high and we toughed it out.
Thankfully, May 2 provided good conditions, and some folks got onto Kalij Pheasant on the drive, others saw a Gray Peacock-Pheasant walk across the track at Sessni, Long-tailed Sibia and Silver-eared Mesia showed well, most folks got to see Green Cochoa and all heard Purple Cochoa, Long-tailed Broadbill showed nicely, and Pale-headed Woodpecker performed well in the bamboo zone. A male Rufous-necked Hornbill was seen by almost everyone, and Lobsang tried heroically for Beautiful Nuthatch, finally getting us 2 fine birds near Sessni.
May 3 was back up to Eaglenest, with Tickell's Warbler, Black-throated Parrotbill and Lesser Cuckoo en route and glimpses of Gray-bellied Tesia, and we almost saw the noisy Blue-winged Laughing-thrush. Some of us came back up that afternoon and nabbed Spotted Laughing-thrush and Mrs Gould's Sunbird for our trouble.
May 4 saw the descent to Dirang, with Black-throated Prinia, Gold-naped Finch and both Chestnut-bellied and Blue-capped Rock-thrush en route. Our hotel was a bizarre, huge, ornate place resembling a temple, with the only White-browed wagtails of the trip on the roof there. A short trip that afternoon to the Sengti Valley was very enjoyable and rewarding, with Long-billed Plover, Brown Dipper, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Hodgson's White Wagtail, Rosy Pipit, and a major bonus in a spring plumage male Yellow-breasted Bunting. An obliging Black-tailed Crake in damp grassland rounded off the day nicely.
May 5 was Sela Pass day, the real high-altitude stuff, and we made a very early start, but sadly the snow had fallen and the spectacular heights were blanketed and quiet, with treacherous black ice on the roads. I almost abandoned it, but decided it was better to go on up than try and go back down, which was a good decision as it thawed later. We did manage a few good birds, with a flock of 40+ Grandala a big thrill, Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch, Blue-fronted Redstart, the gorgeous White-capped Redstart, Dark-breasted Rosefinch for a few, Plain Mountain Finch and a fine hovering Himalayan Buzzard. Fire-tailed Sunbird was a major trip addition too, a gorgeous bird. Again the weather gods were against us, as around 10:30 the clouds came rolling up the valley and essentially put a stop to the birding.
May 6 was the Mandala Road day, in the lovely Himalayan hill forests, and we got off to a good start with Rufous-throated Laughing-thrush showing quite well, and excellent looks at Russet Bush Warbler, Common Cuckoo, Streak-breasted Grosbeak, Red-billed Leiothrix, White-collared Blackbird and Sikkim Tree-creeper. Regrettably, our weather curse struck again at lunch, with a wet walk to the Mandala Birding Lodge where we ate, and then waited for the clouds to lift. This did not eventuate so we went back down to try and get out of it, without much success; a shame, as we had a lot to get here.
May 7 was basically the homeward trek, but with some birding along the way past the hundreds of mainly female road builders living in awful conditions in the tin shacks made out of recycled oil cans along great stretches of precipitous landslide-prone road. A Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo posed amazingly well, and both Hume's and Brownish-flanked Bush Warblers showed nicely, and a skulking Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler gave brief views, whilst Lobsang came good with Grey-throated Babbler and the striking Yellow-vented Warbler, in hot sunny weather in dense vegetation right by the road.
Wild Mahseer Lodge at Tezpur was a lovely place to end up, with terrific food and nice rooms, and our final trip addition came with a co-operative Coppersmith Barbet here. Next day we, of course, left early to be sure of our flight, doing a quick stop at Deepor Beel to see both Greater and Lesser Adjutant at a distant rubbish tip. Rather nicer was fabulous flock of immaculate summer plumaged Whiskered Terns over a paddyfield, and a couple of Ashy Woodswallow nearby. The flight proved on time and uneventful, and we were back at The Pipal Tree in good time to get ready for the homeward journey.
My thanks to the group for being the guinea-pigs on the inaugural tour; you all went with the flow very well, and I was impressed by how well everyone coped with the fixed tent camping. Our drivers were also excellent, with particular thanks to Umesh, Muntesar and Ali and Raj who endured ridiculously early mornings and long drives without demur, and drove very safely on extremely difficult mountain roads. Lobsang, our guide, was enthusiastic and irrepressible, and we started to train him how to direct us onto birds by banning the use of "there there". We thank him for his finding skills and good eyesight. Avijit was an exemplary guide, patient and good-humored and very good with logistics, and did wonders with the most complex dietary regime I have ever had on tour.
I look forward to working with him again in 2019 when we will have fine-tuned the trip in the light of this year. Also, thanks to the office staff: Mandy at Field Guides, and Sue and Rowan at Sicklebill Safaris, who dealt patiently with an unusual number of late changes to rooming and group size.
Good birding and hope to see you somewhere, sometime.
Phil in Kuranda, Hong Kong and Ulan Bataar
Day 1 Sun April 22 Kolkata Pipal Tree/ Rajarhat wetlands 1515-1730. Overcast but dry.
Day 2 Mon April 23 Kolkata to Lilabari via flight on Alliance Air, Siang River wetlands then Pasighat 1645, Overcast and rainy.
Day 3 Tues Apr 24 Siang River boat-trip am/ Baghibeel/Brahmaputra ferry crossing/Dibrugarh Tea Hotel 1830. Intermittent early rain.
Day 4 Wed Apr 25 Digboi Dening Patka Elephant Reserve 0800-1000/ then 5 hours drive to Kaziranga. Dry and mainly sunny.
Day 5 Thurs Apr 26 Jupur tea estate 0500-0600/ Kaziranga E 0730-1130/ Kaziranga Central 1430-1730. Fine weather.
Day 6 Fri Apr 27 Kaziranga elephant ride 0515-0615/ Kaziranga West 0715-1015/ Drive to Nameri Eco Camp via Tezpur 2 hrs. Jia Bhoreli River 1600-1730. Fine weather.
Day 7 Sat Apr 28 Nameri FR 0630-1100; pm Raft trip on Jia Bhoreli then birding at riverside and Nameri camp area. Good weather.
Day 8 Sun Apr 29 Birding at Nameri pre-breakfast then depart 0630 for Sessni/Tenga/ Lama Camp (7700' or 2300 m) arrive 1330. Birding around Camp pm. Overcast but good.
Day 9 Mon Apr 30 Lama Camp to 3 km below 0500-1100, overcast, then Eaglenest Pass (2900 m 9500 ') and into heavy rain all the way to Bompu Camp (1900 m 6200 ')
Day 10 Tues May 1 Dire conditions all day with mist, fog and rain, birding below Bompu Camp.
Day 11 Wed May 2 Bompu/Sessni /road towards Khellong. Good conditions.
Day 12 Thurs May 3 Depart Bompu Camp 0600 and birding up to Eaglenest Pass/ Lama Camp 1300 and birding again at Eaglenest Pass for most that afternoon. Overcast.
Day 13 Fri May 4 Lama Camp area 0500-0800/ Tenga/Dirang 1200/ Sengti Valley 1500-1700, clear after rain at lunch.
Day 14 Sat May 5 Depart 0300 for Sela Pass (13700' or 4200 m), dawn 0415 with snow cover and black ice but clear. Clouds rolled in at 1030/ birding below Sela and back to Dirang by 1700.
Day 15 Sun May 6 Mandala Road to Mandala Birding Lodge at 2940 m or 9600') but fog and rain from late morning on. Dirang 1600.
Day 16 Mon May 7 Depart Dirang 1600/ birding towards Tenga/Tezpur and Wild Mahseer 1330 on. Overcast
Day 17 Tues May 8 Depart 0500 for Guwahati and flight to Kolkata on IndiGo Air. Birding at Deepor Beel 1000-1030 en route. Kolkata 1330 and flights home later.
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
This Lesser Adjutant Stork was one of a few that we saw, first at Kaziranga, and then we saw more at Deepor Beel. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor)
LESSER WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna javanica)
RUDDY SHELDUCK (Tadorna ferruginea)
COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE (Nettapus coromandelianus coromandelianus)
GARGANEY (Spatula querquedula)
EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope)
INDIAN SPOT-BILLED DUCK (Anas poecilorhyncha)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
HILL PARTRIDGE (Arborophila torqueola) [*]
CHESTNUT-BREASTED PARTRIDGE (Arborophila mandellii) [*]
RUFOUS-THROATED PARTRIDGE (Arborophila rufogularis)
WHITE-CHEEKED PARTRIDGE (Arborophila atrogularis) [*]
GRAY PEACOCK-PHEASANT (Polyplectron bicalcaratum)
SWAMP FRANCOLIN (Francolinus gularis) [*]
RED JUNGLEFOWL (Gallus gallus)
KALIJ PHEASANT (Lophura leucomelanos)
LITTLE GREBE (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
ASIAN OPENBILL (Anastomus oscitans)
WOOLLY-NECKED STORK (ASIAN) (Ciconia episcopus episcopus)
BLACK-NECKED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus asiaticus)
LESSER ADJUTANT (Leptoptilos javanicus)
GREATER ADJUTANT (Leptoptilos dubius)
We also had great views of Chestnut-headed Bee-eater in Kaziranga. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
LITTLE CORMORANT (Microcarbo niger)
GREAT CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax carbo)
ORIENTAL DARTER (Anhinga melanogaster)
GREAT WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus onocrotalus)
SPOT-BILLED PELICAN (Pelecanus philippensis)
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
YELLOW BITTERN (Ixobrychus sinensis)
GRAY HERON (Ardea cinerea)
PURPLE HERON (Ardea purpurea)
GREAT EGRET (EURASIAN) (Ardea alba alba)
INTERMEDIATE EGRET (INTERMEDIATE) (Ardea intermedia intermedia)
LITTLE EGRET (Egretta garzetta)
CATTLE EGRET (WESTERN) (Bubulcus ibis ibis)
INDIAN POND-HERON (Ardeola grayii)
STRIATED HERON (OLD WORLD) (Butorides striata chloriceps)
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus)
BLACK-HEADED IBIS (Threskiornis melanocephalus)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE (Elanus caeruleus)
ORIENTAL HONEY-BUZZARD (Pernis ptilorhynchus)
Kaziranga was a wonderful place, full of all sorts of wildlife, including large numbers of Asian One-horned Rhinoceros. Here are two, two posing with Cattle Egrets. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
WHITE-RUMPED VULTURE (Gyps bengalensis)
CRESTED SERPENT-EAGLE (Spilornis cheela)
CRESTED HAWK-EAGLE (Nisaetus cirrhatus)
BLACK EAGLE (Ictinaetus malaiensis)
EURASIAN MARSH-HARRIER (Circus aeruginosus)
CRESTED GOSHAWK (Accipiter trivirgatus)
SHIKRA (Accipiter badius)
BLACK KITE (Milvus migrans)
GRAY-HEADED FISH-EAGLE (Haliaeetus ichthyaetus)
HIMALAYAN BUZZARD (Buteo refectus)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN (Amaurornis phoenicurus)
BLACK-TAILED CRAKE (Zapornia bicolor)
WATERCOCK (Gallicrex cinerea)
GRAY-HEADED SWAMPHEN (Porphyrio poliocephalus)
EURASIAN MOORHEN (Gallinula chloropus)
GREAT THICK-KNEE (Esacus recurvirostris)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-WINGED STILT (Himantopus himantopus)
This lovely Red-breasted Parakeet was seen in Kaziranga; we also saw them at Nameri. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
PIED AVOCET (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
NORTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus vanellus)
RIVER LAPWING (Vanellus duvaucelii)
GRAY-HEADED LAPWING (Vanellus cinereus)
RED-WATTLED LAPWING (Vanellus indicus atronuchalis)
LONG-BILLED PLOVER (Charadrius placidus)
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER (DUBIUS/JERDONI) (Charadrius dubius jerdoni)
GREATER PAINTED-SNIPE (Rostratula benghalensis)
PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA (Hydrophasianus chirurgus)
BRONZE-WINGED JACANA (Metopidius indicus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
TEMMINCK'S STINT (Calidris temminckii)
COMMON SANDPIPER (Actitis hypoleucos)
GREEN SANDPIPER (Tringa ochropus) [*]
SPOTTED REDSHANK (Tringa erythropus)
COMMON GREENSHANK (Tringa nebularia)
WOOD SANDPIPER (Tringa glareola)
COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus)
Glareolidae (Pratincoles and Coursers)
ORIENTAL PRATINCOLE (Glareola maldivarum)
SMALL PRATINCOLE (Glareola lactea)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
WHISKERED TERN (Chlidonias hybrida)
RIVER TERN (Sterna aurantia)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
SPECKLED WOOD-PIGEON (Columba hodgsonii)
ORIENTAL TURTLE-DOVE (Streptopelia orientalis)
RED COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia tranquebarica)
SPOTTED DOVE (Streptopelia chinensis)
BARRED CUCKOO-DOVE (Macropygia unchall)
ASIAN EMERALD DOVE (Chalcophaps indica)
THICK-BILLED PIGEON (Treron curvirostra)
In addition to seeing many wonderful birds and mammals, we got to experience the people and places of rural India. One of the interesting sights was the crossing of the Brahmaputra River on the way to Kaziranga. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
YELLOW-FOOTED PIGEON (Treron phoenicopterus)
WEDGE-TAILED PIGEON (Treron sphenurus)
GREEN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula aenea)
MOUNTAIN IMPERIAL-PIGEON (Ducula badia)
LESSER COUCAL (Centropus bengalensis)
ASIAN KOEL (Eudynamys scolopaceus)
ASIAN EMERALD CUCKOO (Chrysococcyx maculatus)
PLAINTIVE CUCKOO (Cacomantis merulinus) [*]
SQUARE-TAILED DRONGO-CUCKOO (Surniculus lugubris)
LARGE HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx sparverioides)
HODGSON'S HAWK-CUCKOO (Hierococcyx nisicolor)
LESSER CUCKOO (Cuculus poliocephalus)
INDIAN CUCKOO (Cuculus micropterus)
HIMALAYAN CUCKOO (Cuculus saturatus) [*]
COMMON CUCKOO (Cuculus canorus)
COLLARED SCOPS-OWL (Otus lettia) [*]
ORIENTAL SCOPS-OWL (Otus sunia) [*]
COLLARED OWLET (Glaucidium brodiei)
Cotton Pygmy-goose was seen in a few locations, but these tiny geese were not common. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
ASIAN BARRED OWLET (Glaucidium cuculoides)
SPOTTED OWLET (Athene brama)
BROWN BOOBOOK (Ninox scutulata)
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
GRAY NIGHTJAR (Caprimulgus jotaka)
BROWN-BACKED NEEDLETAIL (Hirundapus giganteus)
HIMALAYAN SWIFTLET (Aerodramus brevirostris)
BLYTH'S SWIFT (Apus leuconyx)
HOUSE SWIFT (Apus nipalensis)
ASIAN PALM-SWIFT (Cypsiurus balasiensis)
WARD'S TROGON (Harpactes wardi)
EURASIAN HOOPOE (Upupa epops)
GREAT HORNBILL (Buceros bicornis)
ORIENTAL PIED-HORNBILL (Anthracoceros albirostris)
RUFOUS-NECKED HORNBILL (Aceros nipalensis)
WREATHED HORNBILL (Rhyticeros undulatus)
COMMON KINGFISHER (Alcedo atthis)
STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER (Pelargopsis capensis)
WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHER (Halcyon smyrnensis)
A few Woolly-necked Storks were seen in Kaziranga. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
CRESTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle lugubris)
PIED KINGFISHER (Ceryle rudis)
BLUE-BEARDED BEE-EATER (Nyctyornis athertoni)
GREEN BEE-EATER (RUSSET-CROWNED) (Merops orientalis ferrugeiceps)
CHESTNUT-HEADED BEE-EATER (Merops leschenaulti)
INDIAN ROLLER (BLACK-BILLED) (Coracias benghalensis affinis)
DOLLARBIRD (Eurystomus orientalis)
Megalaimidae (Asian Barbets)
COPPERSMITH BARBET (Psilopogon haemacephalus)
GREAT BARBET (Psilopogon virens)
LINEATED BARBET (Psilopogon lineatus)
GOLDEN-THROATED BARBET (Psilopogon franklinii)
BLUE-THROATED BARBET (Psilopogon asiaticus)
GRAY-CAPPED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos canicapillus)
FULVOUS-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos macei)
RUFOUS-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos hyperythrus)
CRIMSON-BREASTED WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos cathpharius)
DARJEELING WOODPECKER (Dendrocopos darjellensis)
LESSER YELLOWNAPE (Picus chlorolophus)
Here is another scene from Kaziranga, with an Asian Elephant as the main subject, but also featuring a number of other creatures. We saw quite a few Asian Water Buffalos in the park, a few of which can be seen here. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
GREATER YELLOWNAPE (Picus flavinucha)
HIMALAYAN FLAMEBACK (Dinopium shorii) [*]
BLACK-RUMPED FLAMEBACK (Dinopium benghalense)
PALE-HEADED WOODPECKER (Gecinulus grantia)
GREATER FLAMEBACK (Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus)
BAY WOODPECKER (Blythipicus pyrrhotis)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
EURASIAN KESTREL (Falco tinnunculus)
Psittaculidae (Old World Parrots)
ALEXANDRINE PARAKEET (Psittacula eupatria)
ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET (Psittacula krameri)
BLOSSOM-HEADED PARAKEET (Psittacula roseata)
RED-BREASTED PARAKEET (Psittacula alexandri)
Eurylaimidae (Asian and Grauer's Broadbills)
LONG-TAILED BROADBILL (Psarisomus dalhousiae)
HOODED PITTA (CHESTNUT-CROWNED) (Pitta sordida cucullata)
Vangidae (Vangas, Helmetshrikes, and Allies)
BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Hemipus picatus)
ASHY WOODSWALLOW (Artamus fuscus)
COMMON IORA (Aegithina tiphia)
SMALL MINIVET (Pericrocotus cinnamomeus)
GRAY-CHINNED MINIVET (Pericrocotus solaris)
This Spotted Owlet showed nicely at the entrance to Kaziranga. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
SHORT-BILLED MINIVET (Pericrocotus brevirostris)
LONG-TAILED MINIVET (Pericrocotus ethologus)
SCARLET MINIVET (SCARLET) (Pericrocotus speciosus speciosus)
BLACK-WINGED CUCKOOSHRIKE (Lalage melaschistos)
BROWN SHRIKE (Lanius cristatus)
LONG-TAILED SHRIKE (Lanius schach)
GRAY-BACKED SHRIKE (Lanius tephronotus)
Vireonidae (Vireos, Shrike-Babblers, and Erpornis)
BLACK-HEADED SHRIKE-BABBLER (Pteruthius rufiventer)
BLYTH'S SHRIKE-BABBLER (CHESTNUT-WINGED) (Pteruthius aeralatus validirostris)
GREEN SHRIKE-BABBLER (Pteruthius xanthochlorus)
BLACK-EARED SHRIKE-BABBLER (Pteruthius melanotis)
WHITE-BELLIED ERPORNIS (Erpornis zantholeuca)
Oriolidae (Old World Orioles)
SLENDER-BILLED ORIOLE (Oriolus tenuirostris)
BLACK-HOODED ORIOLE (Oriolus xanthornus reubeni)
MAROON ORIOLE (Oriolus traillii)
BLACK DRONGO (Dicrurus macrocercus)
ASHY DRONGO (Dicrurus leucophaeus)
BRONZED DRONGO (Dicrurus aeneus)
LESSER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus remifer)
HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO (Dicrurus hottentottus)
GREATER RACKET-TAILED DRONGO (Dicrurus paradiseus)
This Crested Hawk-Eagle was another of our sightings at Kaziranga. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL (Rhipidura albicollis)
Monarchidae (Monarch Flycatchers)
BLACK-NAPED MONARCH (Hypothymis azurea)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
YELLOW-BILLED BLUE-MAGPIE (Urocissa flavirostris) [*]
RUFOUS TREEPIE (Dendrocitta vagabunda)
GRAY TREEPIE (Dendrocitta formosae)
EURASIAN NUTCRACKER (SOUTHERN) (Nucifraga caryocatactes macella)
HOUSE CROW (Corvus splendens)
LARGE-BILLED CROW (LARGE-BILLED) (Corvus macrorhynchos tibetosinensis)
LARGE-BILLED CROW (EASTERN) (Corvus macrorhynchos levaillantii)
BENGAL BUSHLARK (Mirafra assamica)
SAND LARK (Alaudala raytal)
ORIENTAL SKYLARK (Alauda gulgula)
GRAY-THROATED MARTIN (Riparia chinensis)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
RED-RUMPED SWALLOW (Cecropis daurica)
ASIAN HOUSE-MARTIN (Delichon dasypus)
NEPAL HOUSE-MARTIN (Delichon nipalense)
Stenostiridae (Fairy Flycatchers)
YELLOW-BELLIED FAIRY-FANTAIL (Chelidorhynx hypoxantha)
GRAY-HEADED CANARY-FLYCATCHER (Culicicapa ceylonensis)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
YELLOW-BROWED TIT (Sylviparus modestus)
Black-necked Storks were also present at Kaziranga, where this one stood for a nice portrait. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
SULTAN TIT (Melanochlora sultanea)
COAL TIT (HIMALAYAN) (Periparus ater aemodius)
GREEN-BACKED TIT (Parus monticolus)
CINEREOUS TIT (Parus cinereus)
YELLOW-CHEEKED TIT (Machlolophus spilonotus)
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
BLACK-THROATED TIT (Aegithalos concinnus)
WHITE-TAILED NUTHATCH (Sitta himalayensis)
VELVET-FRONTED NUTHATCH (Sitta frontalis)
BEAUTIFUL NUTHATCH (Sitta formosa)
SIKKIM TREECREEPER (Certhia discolor)
BROWN DIPPER (Cinclus pallasii)
STRIATED BULBUL (Pycnonotus striatus)
BLACK-CRESTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus flaviventris)
RED-VENTED BULBUL (Pycnonotus cafer)
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL (Pycnonotus jocosus)
HIMALAYAN BULBUL (Pycnonotus leucogenys)
WHITE-THROATED BULBUL (Alophoixus flaveolus)
BLACK BULBUL (Hypsipetes leucocephalus)
ASHY BULBUL (Hemixos flavala)
PYGMY CUPWING (Pnoepyga pusilla) [*]
Scotocercidae (Bush Warblers and Allies)
GRAY-BELLIED TESIA (Tesia cyaniventer)
SLATY-BELLIED TESIA (Tesia olivea)
GRAY-SIDED BUSH WARBLER (Cettia brunnifrons) [*]
CHESTNUT-HEADED TESIA (Cettia castaneocoronata)
YELLOW-BELLIED WARBLER (Abroscopus superciliaris)
BLACK-FACED WARBLER (Abroscopus schisticeps)
BROAD-BILLED WARBLER (Tickellia hodgsoni)
BROWNISH-FLANKED BUSH WARBLER (Horornis fortipes)
HUME'S BUSH WARBLER (Horornis brunnescens)
White-rumped Vulture is Critically Endangered, and we were lucky to see these large raptors on two days in Kaziranga. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
Phylloscopidae (Leaf Warblers)
DUSKY WARBLER (Phylloscopus fuscatus)
TICKELL'S LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus affinis)
BUFF-BARRED WARBLER (Phylloscopus pulcher)
ASHY-THROATED WARBLER (Phylloscopus maculipennis)
PALE-RUMPED WARBLER (Phylloscopus chloronotus)
GREENISH WARBLER (Phylloscopus trochiloides)
LARGE-BILLED LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus magnirostris)
BLYTH'S LEAF WARBLER (Phylloscopus reguloides)
YELLOW-VENTED WARBLER (Phylloscopus cantator)
GRAY-HOODED WARBLER (Phylloscopus xanthoschistos)
WHISTLER'S WARBLER (Seicercus whistleri)
GRAY-CHEEKED WARBLER (Seicercus poliogenys)
CHESTNUT-CROWNED WARBLER (Seicercus castaniceps)
Acrocephalidae (Reed Warblers and Allies)
CLAMOROUS REED WARBLER (Acrocephalus stentoreus)
Locustellidae (Grassbirds and Allies)
STRIATED GRASSBIRD (Megalurus palustris)
RUSSET BUSH WARBLER (Locustella mandelli)
Cisticolidae (Cisticolas and Allies)
ZITTING CISTICOLA (ZITTING) (Cisticola juncidis cursitans)
COMMON TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus sutorius)
DARK-NECKED TAILORBIRD (Orthotomus atrogularis)
SWAMP PRINIA (Prinia cinerascens)
Wild Boar was another mammal we saw in Kaziranga. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
BLACK-THROATED PRINIA (Prinia atrogularis)
PLAIN PRINIA (Prinia inornata)
Paradoxornithidae (Parrotbills, Wrentit, and Allies)
WHITE-BREASTED PARROTBILL (Psittiparus ruficeps)
BLACK-BREASTED PARROTBILL (Paradoxornis flavirostris)
PALE-BILLED PARROTBILL (Chleuasicus atrosuperciliaris)
BLACK-THROATED PARROTBILL (Suthora nipalensis)
Zosteropidae (White-eyes, Yuhinas, and Allies)
WHITE-NAPED YUHINA (Yuhina bakeri)
WHISKERED YUHINA (Yuhina flavicollis)
STRIPE-THROATED YUHINA (Yuhina gularis)
RUFOUS-VENTED YUHINA (Yuhina occipitalis)
BLACK-CHINNED YUHINA (Yuhina nigrimenta)
ORIENTAL WHITE-EYE (Zosterops palpebrosus)
Timaliidae (Tree-Babblers, Scimitar-Babblers, and Allies)
CHESTNUT-CAPPED BABBLER (Timalia pileata) [*]
PIN-STRIPED TIT-BABBLER (Mixornis gularis)
GOLDEN BABBLER (Cyanoderma chrysaeum)
RUFOUS-CAPPED BABBLER (Cyanoderma ruficeps)
RUFOUS-THROATED WREN-BABBLER (Spelaeornis caudatus)
SLENDER-BILLED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus superciliaris)
STREAK-BREASTED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus ruficollis)
WHITE-BROWED SCIMITAR-BABBLER (Pomatorhinus schisticeps)
The weather didn't always cooperate with us, and we even had snow and ice on the day we went up to Sela Pass. Even so, we had a great view of this gorgeous male Fire-tailed Sunbird, posing in the mist. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
GRAY-THROATED BABBLER (Stachyris nigriceps)
BLACKISH-BREASTED BABBLER (Stachyris humei)
Pellorneidae (Ground Babblers and Allies)
YELLOW-THROATED FULVETTA (Schoeniparus cinereus)
RUFOUS-WINGED FULVETTA (Schoeniparus castaneceps)
PUFF-THROATED BABBLER (Pellorneum ruficeps)
MARSH BABBLER (Pellorneum palustre)
LONG-BILLED WREN-BABBLER (Napothera malacoptila)
ABBOTT'S BABBLER (Turdinus abbotti)
INDIAN GRASSBIRD (Graminicola bengalensis)
Leiothrichidae (Laughingthrushes and Allies)
NEPAL FULVETTA (Alcippe nipalensis)
STRIATED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Grammatoptila striata)
HIMALAYAN CUTIA (Cutia nipalensis)
STRIATED BABBLER (Turdoides earlei)
SLENDER-BILLED BABBLER (Turdoides longirostris) [*]
LESSER NECKLACED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Garrulax monileger) [*]
RUFOUS-CHINNED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla rufogularis)
SPOTTED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla ocellata)
RUFOUS-NECKED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla ruficollis)
CHESTNUT-BACKED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla nuchalis) [*]
GRAY-SIDED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Ianthocincla caerulata)
Asian Barred Owlet showed on two days in Kaziranga. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
BHUTAN LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron imbricatum)
SCALY LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron subunicolor)
BLUE-WINGED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron squamatum)
BLACK-FACED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron affine)
CHESTNUT-CROWNED LAUGHINGTHRUSH (Trochalopteron erythrocephalum)
BEAUTIFUL SIBIA (Heterophasia pulchella)
LONG-TAILED SIBIA (Heterophasia picaoides)
SILVER-EARED MESIA (Leiothrix argentauris)
RED-BILLED LEIOTHRIX (Leiothrix lutea)
RED-TAILED MINLA (Minla ignotincta)
RUFOUS-BACKED SIBIA (Minla annectens)
BUGUN LIOCICHLA (Liocichla bugunorum)
RED-FACED LIOCICHLA (Liocichla phoenicea) [*]
HOARY-THROATED BARWING (Actinodura nipalensis)
STREAK-THROATED BARWING (Actinodura waldeni)
RUSTY-FRONTED BARWING (Actinodura egertoni)
BLUE-WINGED MINLA (Actinodura cyanouroptera)
CHESTNUT-TAILED MINLA (Actinodura strigula)
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
DARK-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Muscicapa sibirica)
ORIENTAL MAGPIE-ROBIN (Copsychus saularis)
WHITE-RUMPED SHAMA (Copsychus malabaricus)
WHITE-GORGETED FLYCATCHER (Anthipes monileger) [*]
PALE BLUE FLYCATCHER (Cyornis unicolor)
LARGE NILTAVA (Niltava grandis)
SMALL NILTAVA (Niltava macgrigoriae)
VERDITER FLYCATCHER (Eumyias thalassinus)
RUSTY-BELLIED SHORTWING (Brachypteryx hyperythra)
Here is another view of an Asian One-horned Rhinoceros; these magnificent beasts were apparently doing well in Kaziranga, where they are protected. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
LESSER SHORTWING (Brachypteryx leucophris)
WHITE-BROWED SHORTWING (Brachypteryx montana) [*]
BLUE WHISTLING-THRUSH (Myophonus caeruleus)
BLACK-BACKED FORKTAIL (Enicurus immaculatus)
WHITE-TAILED ROBIN (Myiomela leucura) [*]
BLUE-FRONTED ROBIN (Cinclidium frontale) [*]
GRANDALA (Grandala coelicolor)
RUFOUS-BREASTED BUSH-ROBIN (Tarsiger hyperythrus)
WHITE-BROWED BUSH-ROBIN (Tarsiger indicus)
SLATY-BLUE FLYCATCHER (Ficedula tricolor)
PYGMY FLYCATCHER (Ficedula hodgsoni) [*]
RUFOUS-GORGETED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula strophiata)
SAPPHIRE FLYCATCHER (Ficedula sapphira)
LITTLE PIED FLYCATCHER (Ficedula westermanni)
ULTRAMARINE FLYCATCHER (Ficedula superciliaris)
TAIGA FLYCATCHER (Ficedula albicilla)
BLUE-FRONTED REDSTART (Phoenicurus frontalis)
PLUMBEOUS REDSTART (Phoenicurus fuliginosus)
WHITE-CAPPED REDSTART (Phoenicurus leucocephalus)
HODGSON'S REDSTART (Phoenicurus hodgsoni)
Green-backed Tit is a mountain bird; we got some great views of them at Sela Pass and Mandala. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
DAURIAN REDSTART (Phoenicurus auroreus)
CHESTNUT-BELLIED ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola rufiventris)
BLUE-CAPPED ROCK-THRUSH (Monticola cinclorhynchus)
SIBERIAN STONECHAT (SIBERIAN) (Saxicola maurus indicus)
WHITE-TAILED STONECHAT (Saxicola leucurus)
GRAY BUSHCHAT (Saxicola ferreus)
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
TICKELL'S THRUSH (Turdus unicolor)
WHITE-COLLARED BLACKBIRD (Turdus albocinctus)
BLACK-THROATED THRUSH (Turdus atrogularis)
PURPLE COCHOA (Cochoa purpurea) [*]
GREEN COCHOA (Cochoa viridis)
COMMON HILL MYNA (Gracula religiosa)
ASIAN PIED STARLING (Gracupica contra)
CHESTNUT-TAILED STARLING (Sturnia malabarica)
COMMON MYNA (Acridotheres tristis)
JUNGLE MYNA (Acridotheres fuscus)
GREAT MYNA (Acridotheres grandis)
GOLDEN-FRONTED LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis aurifrons)
ORANGE-BELLIED LEAFBIRD (Chloropsis hardwickii)
PLAIN FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum minullum)
Abor Lodge Camp, near the Siang River, was one of our first nights in India. Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
FIRE-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum ignipectus)
SCARLET-BACKED FLOWERPECKER (Dicaeum cruentatum)
Nectariniidae (Sunbirds and Spiderhunters)
RUBY-CHEEKED SUNBIRD (Chalcoparia singalensis)
FIRE-TAILED SUNBIRD (Aethopyga ignicauda)
BLACK-THROATED SUNBIRD (Aethopyga saturata)
GOULD'S SUNBIRD (Aethopyga gouldiae)
GREEN-TAILED SUNBIRD (Aethopyga nipalensis)
CRIMSON SUNBIRD (Aethopyga siparaja)
STREAKED SPIDERHUNTER (Arachnothera magna)
RUFOUS-BREASTED ACCENTOR (Prunella strophiata)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAIL (BEEMA) (Motacilla flava beema)
CITRINE WAGTAIL (GRAY-BACKED) (Motacilla citreola citreola)
GRAY WAGTAIL (Motacilla cinerea)
WHITE WAGTAIL (HODGSON'S) (Motacilla alba alboides)
WHITE-BROWED WAGTAIL (Motacilla maderaspatensis)
PADDYFIELD PIPIT (Anthus rufulus)
ROSY PIPIT (Anthus roseatus)
OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT (Anthus hodgsoni)
Elachuridae (Spotted Elachura)
SPOTTED ELACHURA (Elachura formosa) [*]
Emberizidae (Old World Buntings)
CRESTED BUNTING (Melophus lathami)
YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING (Emberiza aureola)
The gateway to Kaziranga National Park promises Elephants, Water Buffalo, and more. The park certainly did not disappoint us! Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
SPOT-WINGED GROSBEAK (Mycerobas melanozanthos)
COMMON ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus erythrinus)
SCARLET FINCH (Carpodacus sipahi)
HIMALAYAN WHITE-BROWED ROSEFINCH (Carpodacus thura)
GRAY-HEADED BULLFINCH (Pyrrhula erythaca)
GOLD-NAPED FINCH (Pyrrhoplectes epauletta)
DARK-BREASTED ROSEFINCH (Procarduelis nipalensis)
PLAIN MOUNTAIN-FINCH (Leucosticte nemoricola)
YELLOW-BREASTED GREENFINCH (Chloris spinoides)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)
RUSSET SPARROW (Passer rutilans)
EURASIAN TREE SPARROW (Passer montanus)
Ploceidae (Weavers and Allies)
BAYA WEAVER (Ploceus philippinus)
YELLOW WEAVER (Ploceus megarhynchus)
Estrildidae (Waxbills and Allies)
RED AVADAVAT (Amandava amandava)
INDIAN FLYING-FOX (Pteropus giganteus)
RHESUS MONKEY (Macaca mulatta)
WHITE-BROWED GIBBON (Hylobates hoolock) [*]
BLACK GIANT SQUIRREL (Ratufa bicolor)
IRAWADDY SQUIRREL (Callosciurus pygerythrus)
Another view of some of the group on elephant-back. All-in-all, this tour will not be forgotten any time soon! Photo by guide Phil Gregory.
HIMALAYAN STRIPED SQUIRREL (Tamiops macclellandi)
YELLOW-THROATED MARTEN (Martes flavigula)
SMOOTH-COATED OTTER (Lutrogale perspicillata)
INDIAN ELEPHANT (Elephas maximus)
ASIAN ONE-HORNED RHINOCEROS (Rhinoceros unicornis)
WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa)
MUNTJAC (BARKING DEER) (Muntiacus muntjak) [*]
HOG DEER (Axis porcinus)
BARASINGHA (Cervus duvauceli)
ASIAN WATER BUFFALO (Bubalus bubalis)
WATER MONITOR (Varanus salvator)
Birds of the trip were pretty varied, but amazingly, 6 of us picked Fire-tailed Sunbird, just such a gorgeous creature. Bugun Liocichla featured of course, Mrs. Gould's Sunbird, Beautiful Nuthatch, that amazing pair of Scaly Laughing-thrushes that showed so atypically well, Brown Boobook, Great Stone Curlew and Wreathed Hornbill were also picked, and Great Indian Rhino gets a special mention as they are just so bizarre.
Chequered Keelback (Xenochropis piscator) was seen at Kaziranga.
Terri saw a large Cobra-type trinket snake (Coelognathus helena) at the Infinity Resort at Kaziranga.
A bamboo rat (Rhizomys sp) was seen by some in Kaziranga.
Totals for the tour: 392 bird taxa and 15 mammal taxa