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Nepal birding diary

Bill & Doreen Stair, October 10 - November 14, 2000

Whereas, in normal life, we would plan our weekend or weeklong vacations as tightly and as twitchily as possible, cramming as many target species as conceivably possible into the allotted time frame, this trip is different. For one year we will be traveling on a limited budget, which necessitates an entirely different approach. Firstly, we hope to take some time to relax, absorb other cultures, see some sights, and do some normal stuff besides hardcore birding - such as our laundry. Secondly, we just can't afford to jet off to every possible location in hopes of seeing as many species as possible - not that we won't try - so a side trip to New Caledonia in hopes of seeing a Kagu is unlikely. Thirdly, (and in this respect it won't differ that much from our other trips), we're far from expert birders. We can just about cope in our own patches - Central Park and Jamaica Bay - so, out here in the whole wide world, our attempts at identification will probably resemble those of a blindfolded man swinging wildly at a piñata.

Some of the great guys of United Jungle Guide Service & the Bird Education Society - the sagacious Hem is third from left.



Waking up on our first morning in Kathmandu, we are welcomed by the omnipresent House Crow, looking a bit smarter than the Hooded Crows we’ve become accustomed to in Turkey. Above, flocks of House Swifts chatter by, looking quite small after Istanbul’s Alpine Swifts. Sitting on the roof terrace as we prepare to greet the day and this new country, we become aware that directly overhead are large numbers of raptors. We soon learn that flocks of Pariah (Black) Kites are a constant in Kathmandu, seemingly more abundant than the Rock Doves who are fed at the appropriate temple in Durbar Square. Also on the roof are mixed flocks of House and Eurasian Tree Sparrows, often standing next to each other as if in a fieldguide. Later in the day we see an pair of Jungle Mynas in the heart of the tourist district, and back on the roof we see the occasional Intermediate Egret fly over.



From our roof we see the usual Pariah Kites, House Crows, House Swifts, Rock Doves, Tree and House Sparrows. Another resident of the area appears to be the noisy Oriental Magpie-Robin.

On our way to the Swayambhunath Stupa (otherwise known as the Monkey Temple) we take a wrong turn and end up in some allotments by the Vishnumati River. This is a good thing, because we run into Spotted Doves, Red-vented Bulbuls, and some tricky Scaly-breasted Munias, who are much more glamorous in real life than the fieldguide would suggest. At the Stupa itself we have the opportunity of looking down on the Pariah Kites as they glide by, and also of watching numbers of them roost in the trees immediately below the temple. As we negotiate the knee-tremblingly vertical staircase down, we notice a couple of Common Mynas laughing at us..

Sometime around midnight I hear the wailing of banshees outside our room. Two blobs are perched on a nearby TV aerial, which, with the aid of binoculars and a handy full moon, turn out to be Spotted Owlets - apparently a common Kathmandu bird.


Phulchowki mountain

We’re told that the car we’d booked to pick us up at six has engine trouble, so we don’t get on our way to Phulchowki (a mountain about 20 km from Kathmandu) until after seven. However, when we get there things are still hopping. On the way up we see an Oriental Turtle Dove, and when we get out of the car (somewhere below the summit) we are in the middle of Rufous Sibias, Maroon Orioles, and many other birds we fail to immediately identify. We do manage to ID a Grey Bushchat as it perches on a power line. I think I have spotted a Great Tit, but apparently the local subspecies is very pale and this bright yellow bird is in fact a Green-backed Tit. Another of the mysteries of categorization.

One spectacular bird turns out to be the local variety of Eurasian Jay, lacking his Turkish toupee but nicely turned out in rusty red. A Verditer Flycatcher is even more spectacular, with highly original aquamarine plumage.

Lower down, we see in rapid succession a Dark-sided Flycatcher, a White-tailed Nuthatch, and a couple of crazy looking Whiskered Yuhinas – proof that we’re not in Kansas anymore. Further on is a lemony Grey-hooded Warbler, and a passing flock of extremely plump White-throated Laughingthrushes. It might be them who, from the cover of foliage, set up a chorus of warning calls some seconds before an unidentified accipiter passes through the forest.

On the way back to Kathmandu, we pass Common Mynas loitering in village streets and stop to check out the Black Drongos hanging out on the roadside power lines.


Nagarjung mountain

We get a taxi to Nagarjung more or less on impulse, after finding out that the offices of Aqua Birds are closed today. We arrive far too late – around 10:45 – but still manage to get some good birding in before the slowdown. Right around the gate there is quite a lot of activity, featuring Black-lored Tits, Oriental White-eyes, and a Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher. A small bird seen briefly as it crawls along a branch resembles a Winter Wren, but was probably a Speckled Piculet. Just outside the park are the usual House Crows and a red-vented Bulbul.

As is often the case, we are in a state of some confusion as to exactly where we are – we’re just inside the gate, but there seems to be a 5 km trail up to the sacred site of Jamacho or a 30 km road that winds up to the same spot. We thought we might be starting off a bit higher up. Whatever the case, the first couple of miles of road provide some good birding, especially considering the time of day. We see a pair of Blue-throated Barbets who look distinctly psychedelic with their red caps, blue faces, and green bodies, and run into a small flock of spectacular Red-billed Blue Magpies, with their long, half cuckoo-spotted tails. We also encounter a flock of Rufous-cheeked Scimitar Babblers, making quite a racket as they cross the road. As the day progresses we see a first winter male Tickell’s Thrush.

Back on the hotel roof terrace as dusk draws in, we see the usual Pariah Kites and Intermediate Egrets, as well as a probable Eurasian Kestrel. Then, five parakeets zip by, followed by another couple of small flocks. The moment is oddly evocative of Surrey. They are Rose-ringed Parakeets, a population of which has established itself near my mother’s house in East Molesey.


Phulchowki mountain

Back again to Phulchowki, this time with local birding expert Rabindra Manandhar, owner of the Wisdom book shop in Chhetrapati. There aren’t vast numbers of birds out today, but with Rabindra’s help we see an impressive total of species and get a ton of lifers. Visit his shop when you’re in Kathmandu and see if he’s free – you won’t regret it.

Today we start at the foot of the mountain and work our way up. The lower levels seem more productive, and are also free of the tremendous stench of the dead worms that cover the road in many places. It seems the worms often move to lower altitudes when the weather cools, but the mountain road creates an insurmountable obstacle for many of them.

But we are birders, not wormers, and as soon almost as soon as we get out of the taxi Rabindra points out an Asian Barred Owl perched out in the open and gazing at us with seeming annoyance. An Oriental Turtle Dove flies by, a flock of Black Bulbuls noisily move about and the odd Grey Treepie passes by. Also around at the lower altitudes (and between here and Godawari Botanical Gardens) are a Grey Wagtail, many House and Large-billed Crows, Tree Sparrows, a Spotted Forktail by the river, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, a hunchbacked Speckled Piculet, Red-vented Bulbuls, Blue Whistling Thrushes, Verditer & Dark-sided Flycatchers, a Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, a Grey Bushchat, Oriental Magpie-Robins, Black-lored & Black-throated Tits, (also the washed-out local subspecies of Great Tit), Oriental White-eyes, and the very common Grey-hooded and Greenish Warblers, who seem to occur everywhere around here.

At slightly higher elevations (but not much higher) we see Rusty-cheeked & Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers, flocks of Himalayan Bulbuls, soaring Black Eagles, White-throated Fantails (not unnaturally fanning their tails), zippy Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrikes, perky Rufous-winged Fulvettas, a circling Northern Goshawk, White-throated & Striated Laughingthrushes, blazingly red Long-tailed Minivets, White-tailed Nuthatches, Rufous Sibias, a fabulous Green-tailed Sunbird, Green-backed Tits, and Black-faced Warblers



Arriving by bus from Kathmandu, we check in to our hotel and start birding in the mid-afternoon heat – quite intense after the higher altitude of Kathmandu. Oriental Pond-Herons are common by the riverside, constantly flying over town. Also in great abundance near the river are White (Pied) Wagtails, including both gray-backed and black-backed forms. A Citrine Wagtail is also present. Also around the riverside and the surrounding trees: Little & Great Egrets, Common Sandpipers, Spotted Doves, Eurasian and one White-throated Kingfisher, flocks of Plain Martins, Common Mynas, Large-billed & House Crows, Great Tits, Scaly-breasted Munias, and a Paddyfield Pipit. Small flocks of shrieking Rose-ringed Parakeets fly overhead.

Along the road leading past the Royal Chitwan Park visitor center, we see three wonderful Coppersmith Barbets perched in one tree with a Lineated Barbet in the tree next to it.


Royal Chitwan National Park

Rabindra recommended a friend of his here as a bird guide, but he has apparently moved to Hong Kong. However, the company he helped set up – United Jungle Guide Service – is going strong, and through this we hook up with the brilliant Hem Subedi, who is our guide for most of the next few days. United is a great organization. It’s a cooperative that was set up by 27 guides who previously worked for various hotels here, and 20% of their profits are funneled back into conservation efforts. They all seem to also belong to the Bird Education Society of Suaraha, a non-profit organization which seeks to promote awareness of conservation issues within the local population. The members we met were all passionate birders – through BES they organize free birding trips for anyone who wants to come along – and love what they do. They may not be the best equipped guide service in Suaraha, but we were very happy to hook up with them and would enthusiastically recommend them to anyone who visits Chitwan. After our lightweight tripod died in Turkey we were left with the choice of buying another useless one, buying one which we couldn’t carry, or selling our lightweight scope. We decided to donate it to the BES as they could really use it and it might help them in their conservation efforts.

While waiting for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn so we can actually get into the park for our half-day walk, Hem points out Tailorbirds and an Orange-headed Thrush. As we get the canoe-ferry over the river, he alerts us to a White-browed Wagtail. Hiking in, we see Lesser Adjutants flying over, Red Junglefowl, Spotted and Emerald Doves, Rose-ringed Parakeets, a Lesser Coucal, Fulvous-breasted and Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers, Greater Flamebacks, Greater & Lesser Yellownapes, Rufous-winged Bushlarks, Long-tailed Shrikes, Black-headed Orioles, Spangled & Racquet-tailed Drongos, Chestnut-tailed Starlings, Rufous Treepies, Large-billed Crows, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrikes, Scarlet Minivets ( the most blazingly red bird we’ve ever seen), Common Ioras, Red-vented and Red-Whiskered Bulbuls, Red-capped & Jungle Babblers, Red-throated Flycatchers, White-throated Fantails (displaying perfectly), Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, Ashy Prinias, Chiffchaffs, Plain Leaf/Yellow-browed Warblers, Magpie Robins, Stonechats, Pied Bushchats, Great Tits, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches, Oriental White-eyes, a Common Rosefinch, Crested Buntings, a startled Green Sandpiper, and Scaly-breasted Munias.

The beautiful White-rumped Shama has a repertoire of twenty nine songs, and Hem expertly repeats the calls, prompting the birds to change their songs in response.

As we wait to get the canoe-ferry back across the river into Suaraha, Doreen spots a flock of about forty Black Stork flying in and landing on the far river bank . Observing them from the Suaraha side, we see a couple of Asian Openbills and Woolly-necked Storks mixed in with them, two species we will get much better looks at in the coming days. Pied Kingfishers hunt from just in front of the bank where we squint at the storks. A rhinoceros comes out to feed near the storks, fortunately on the other side of the river from us.

In the evening, back at the riverside, we observe the regulars – Black Drongos, Plain Martins, Great, Intermediate, & Little Egrets, House Sparrows, House Crows, White Wagtails, Pond Herons, Common Sandpipers, and some Barn Swallows. We also see a few Little-ringed Plovers, still in their breeding plumage. When three Little Cormorants fly by we have a hard time believing our eyes, as they are apparently very rare here. The next day when we ask Hem about their frequency here, it turns out he saw the same three flying over. This brings today’s species count to 63, including 34 lifers.


RCNP buffer zone, Rapti River

For some reason yesterday’s park entrance fee entitles us to a canoe ride to the local elephant breeding center, so we set out with Hem to walk to the embarkation point. Along the way we see our first wild Indian Peafowl, flocks of Alexandrine Parakeets, a Large Cuckooshrike, and a Black-rumped Flameback. Also along the way: Spotted & Emerald Doves, Black Drongos, Common & Jungle Mynas, House & Large-billed Crows, Magpie Robins, Pied Bushchats, Red-vented Bulbuls, and Red-throated Flycatchers.

The canoe ride is amazing – we get incredibly close to the birdlife as we pass several lurking Mugger Crocodiles. As we climb into the wobbly canoe there are flocks of Plain Martins, a few Barn Swallows, and a Pond Heron by the side of the river. We soon pass right by a Woolly-necked Stork, Red-wattled Lapwings, beautiful River Lapwings, Greenshanks, hovering Pied Kingfishers, perching Eurasian Kingfishers, and incredible White-breasted Kingfishers – when they fly past us, their plumage is breathtaking. Further along we see an uncommon (around here) Pied Hornbill perched on top of a tree, and strain our necks as we pass trying to continue looking at him without upsetting the canoe.

Back on dry land, as we approach the center we spot a magnificent Indian Roller, Common Ioras, Long-tailed Shrikes, and a gang of Common Mynas mobbing an unidentified Owlet who quickly disappears into the forest. At the center itself – rather a depressing place - a few Cattle Egrets keep an eye on things from on top of a tree. Oddly, their legs are a much darker color here than in the US.

Walking back from the breeding center we pass a Stork-billed Kingfisher, fishing in a village-side stream, and later Black-headed Orioles, a Brown Shrike, White Wagtails, and Paddyfield Pipits.


20,000 Lakes Community Park, RCNP buffer zone

Meeting Hem at 5:00 a.m. we set off by jeep to 20,000 Lakes Community Park, also known as Bishazari Tal – I think. Arriving slightly before dawn, we sit down for Nepali tea (essentially chai) in a tiny hut at the park’s entrance and then set of for a great morning’s birding. We get 53 species including 19 lifers, but today is also notable for consistently great views of the birds we see, most of whom are happy to pose in perfect light for us.

At the entrance we run into a flock of tiny Grey-breasted Prinias, an Olive-backed Pipit, and later some Black, Spangled, & White-bellied Drongos. At one point we have a Lesser Adjutant perched on a treetop on one side of the road while an Asian Openbill perches on the other side. A tiny Collared Falconet flies straight at Doreen and then perches just a few feet from us. Apparently this fearless bird can bring down a Peafowl in flight. Six Lesser Whistling Duck meditate while perched on a log, and we later see a group of Cotton Pygmy Geese. We see a Blyth’s Leaf Warbler, although none of us spend too much time observing the tiny warblers that hop about in the sun – there’s too much else going on.

We startle a concealed Crested Serpent Eagle who was perched by the path – he finds a new roost, and we get close enough to see him in amazing detail. We also get great looks at more Woolly-necked Storks, Eurasian, Stork-billed, & White-throated Kingfishers, and Alexandrine Parakeets. It’s a good day for woodpeckers, with good views of Lesser Yellownapes, Grey-crowned Pygmy, Scaly-bellied, Grey-headed, & Fulvous-breasted Woodpeckers.

We see a Chestnut-headed Bee-Eater shimmering in the sun as he flies around, and get good looks at Large & Black-winged Cuckooshrikes. We pass many adult and immature Bronze-winged Jacanas, and at one point hear a tremendous racket coming from a concealed flock of White-breasted Waterhen before I spy one just on the other side of the stream. We later see another individual in clear view, along with Coots, Moorhens, and a young Mugger.

At the main lake, we finally see the Oriental Darter, as well as flocks of Black Ibis. A Shikra flies from tree to tree before disappearing, and on the lake Hem spots two Pheasant-tailed Jacanas – a first for him at this location, so he’s very pleased.

Also seen this morning: Pond Herons, Intermediate Egrets, a Kestrel on the way back, Indian Peafowl, Spotted & Emerald Doves, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Black-headed Orioles, Common Mynas, Rufous Treepies, Large-billed Crows, Scarlet Minivets, Red-vented Bulbuls, Jungle Babblers, Red-throated Flycatchers, Tailorbirds, Magpie Robins, Great Tits, and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches.

As the sunsets, we watch the usual evening birds, as well as another White-browed Wagtail and some passing Great Cormorants.



Today we bird Suaraha, taking a break from guided tours, and are pleasantly surprised when, from our table at lunch, we spot some Green Bee-eaters – ferrugieceps subspecies They are hunting over the tall grass between our restaurant and the river, and also in this area are Scaly-breasted Munias, Common Rosefinches, Crested Buntings and Stonechats. Today’s other lifer is a Eurasian Golden Oriole by the river. Great Cormorants, Ruddy Shelduck, and Grey Heron are spotted flying overhead; Also seen: Indian Pond Heron, Intermediate & Little Egrets, a Black Ibis, an Osprey, Little Ringed Plovers, Common Sandpipers, Spotted Doves, Rose-ringed & Alexandrine Parakeets, Pied Kingfishers, Coppersmith Barbets, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers, Sand Martins, Long-tailed Shrikes, Black-hooded Orioles, Black Drongos, Common Mynas, Rufous Treepies, House & Large-billed Crows, Large Cuckooshrikes, Common Ioras, Red-whiskered & Red-vented Bulbuls, Jungle Babblers, Red-throated Flycatchers, Tailorbirds, Magpie Robins, Great Tits, Paddyfield Pipits, White, White-browed & Citrine Wagtails, and House Sparrows.



A slight mix up with United means Hem is double-booked today, so we move the Janakauli trip to tomorrow morning and bird Suaraha again today. Most of yesterday’s birds are seen, plus: Lesser Adjutant, Black Kite, Eurasian Kestrel, Greenshank, Indian Roller, Eurasian Kingfishers, Lineated Barbet, and Greenish Warblers.


Janakauli Community Forest

We set off with Hem on this very misty morning to the nearby Janakauli Community Forest. As we walk there we pass a tree with Jungle & Common Mynas, and also a few Asian Pied Starlings – apparently this once common species has undergone a dramatic and inexplicable decline in recent years. As we enter the forest, Hem points out a Mountain Hawk Eagle, perched in clear view and surprisingly unmolested by the nearby Mynas. By the banks of the river Doreen spots a Brown Crake, and we hear its spectacular call. We also finally get to see the Velvet-fronted Nuthatch – we missed it in Chitwan Park the other day. Other firsts: several Ashy Woodswallows and a large Greater Coucal flying by. We also see our first Hoopoe of the year and our first Peregrine Falcon in Nepal.

Also seen here: Indian Pond Herons, Great Egrets, a Woolly-necked Stork passing just overhead, Indian Peafowl, Red Junglefowl, Greenshank, Spotted & Eurasian Collared-Doves, Rose-ringed & Alexandrine Parakeets, Lesser Coucals, Indian Rollers, White-breasted Kingfishers, Green Bee-eaters, a Lineated Barbet, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Sand Martins, Brown & Long-tailed Shrikes, Black-hooded Orioles, Black Drongos, Rufous Treepies, House & Large-billed Crows, Large Cuckooshrikes, Red-whiskered & Red-vented Bulbuls, a Verditer Flycatcher, Grey-breasted Prinias, Tailorbirds, Greenish & Plain Leaf Warblers, Magpie Robins, Pied Bushchats, Great Tits, Olive-backed Pipits, Citrine & White Wagtails.

Back in Suaraha, ordering lunch in the restaurant next to our hotel, we spot an Owlet in a tree opposite – Asian Barred or Jungle? He flies away while we’re wondering, but as we get back to our room he flies past and lands in a tree in the gardens. (We’re assuming it was the same individual). A distinctive call and a passing nature guide convince us it is a Jungle Owlet.

10/24/00 – 10/28/00

Aqua Birds Camp, Koshi Tappu

Way beyond our budget for this trip, Aqua Birds is one of the few ‘jungle lodges’ that cater specifically to birders. For this reason we justify the expense and spend an intense four days there, birding constantly from our arrival on the afternoon of the 24th to our departure on the morning of the 28th. With the help of Dinesh Giri, the resident guide, we rack up 150 species, including 37 lifers. It doesn’t hurt that at this time of year – before the season really starts – we are the only guests there and have Dinesh to ourselves.


We arrive quite late in the afternoon and take a stroll along the path just outside the Koshi Tappu reserve. We see Little Grebes (in breeding plumage), Little Cormorants, a thrilling Yellow Bittern, Indian Pond Herons, Cattle, Little, Intermediate & Great Egrets, a Purple Heron, Asian Openbills, a Eurasian Marsh Harrier, a Pied Harrier, a Shikra, a Eurasian Kestrel, White-breasted Waterhens, Common Moorhens, Bronze-winged Jacanas, Red-wattled Plovers, a Green Sandpiper, Spotted Doves, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Greater Coucals, White-breasted, Eurasian & Pied Kingfishers, Green Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, White & White-browed Wagtails, Stonechats, Striated Grassbirds, Red-throated Flycatchers, Brown & Long-tailed Shrikes, Black Drongos, Rufous Treepies, House & Large-billed Crows, Common Mynahs, and Pied Starlings. Most of these birds can be seen right on the grounds of Aqua Birds, and we see them there every day – there is a Greater Coucal who we watch doing his rounds every morning as we eat breakfast, and Bronze-winged Jacanas are the most common (and tamest) birds here.


Today we spend the early morning birding in the reserve and then take a boat ride down the Koshi river, stopping off at various times along the way. Today we see over 90 species, an amazing experience but too big to be recounted in minute detail. We see: Little Grebes, Great & Little Cormorants, Oriental Darters, Indian Pond & Black-crowned Night Herons, Cattle, Little, Intermediate & Great Egrets, Grey & Purple Herons, Asian Openbills, Black Stork, one of about six Black-necked Storks on its nest (and another flying just past the boat), Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, an Oriental Honey Buzzard seen by Doreen, White-rumped Vultures, Crested Serpent Eagle, Northern (Hen) Harriers, Common & a White-eyed Buzzard, a perching Lesser Kestrel, Ospreys, a Peregrine Falcon, several rare Swamp Francolins, White-breasted Waterhens, Common Moorhens, Purple Gallinules (tamer than in Turkey), Bronze-winged Jacanas, a pair of Eurasian Thick-knees that Dinesh spots from the jeep (bringing it to a sudden halt so we can observe them), Little Pratincoles on a river sand-bar with a Black-bellied Tern on a nearby one, Little-ringed & Red-wattled Plovers, Temmincks Stint, Common Snipe, Greenshank, Common Sandpipers, Rock Doves, Eurasian Collared, Red-collared, Oriental Turtle & Spotted Doves, Rose-ringed Parakeets, an immature Indian Cuckoo, Greater Coucals, Spotted Owlets at the camp, White-breasted, Eurasian & Pied Kingfishers, Green Bee-eaters, Indian Rollers, Hoopoes, a Sand Lark, Olive-backed & Rosy Pipits, Citrine & White Wagtails, Black-winged & Large Cuckooshrikes, Red-whiskered & Red-vented Bulbuls, Common Ioras, Asian Magpie-Robins, Stonechats, Striated Grassbirds, Chiffchaffs, Greenish, Blyth’s Leaf and Tickell’s Warblers, Red-throated & Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, White-throated Fantails, Jungle & Striated Babblers, Black-hooded Orioles, Brown & Long-tailed Shrikes, Black & White-bellied Drongos, Ashy Woodswallows, Rufous Treepies, House & Large-billed Crows, Pied & (unusually) Common Starlings, Common & Jungle Mynahs, House Sparrows, Scaly-breasted Munias, Crested & Yellow-breasted Buntings.


Today we seem to spend a lot of time in the jeep as we go from one end of the reserve to the other. At the end of the day we are lucky enough to see some extremely rare Gangetic Dolphins at the Koshi barrage. We also see: Little Grebes, Great & Little Cormorants, Oriental Darters, Indian Pond & Black-crowned Night Herons, Cattle, Little, Intermediate & Great Egrets, Grey & Purple Herons, Asian Openbills, Black & Black-necked Storks, Lesser Adjutants, Black Ibis, Black Kites, White-rumped Vultures, a Short-toed Eagle, Pied & Eurasian Marsh Harriers, a Besra repeatedly trying to nail one of a flock of Jungle Babblers while a Jungle Owlet roosts nearby, Shikras, Common Buzzards, distant Lesser-spotted Eagles, Ospreys, a Eurasian Hobby, more Swamp Francolins, White-breasted Waterhens, Common Moorhens, Purple Gallinules, Bronze-winged Jacanas, a pair of Great Thick-knees on a sandbar with some Redshanks, Little-ringed & Red-wattled Plovers, Greenshank, Green Sandpipers, a Common Black-headed Gull (and a distant pair who may or may not have been Greater), Eurasian Collared, Oriental Turtle & Spotted Doves, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Greater and one Lesser Coucal, Asian Palm Swifts, Sand Martins, White-breasted, Eurasian & Pied Kingfishers, Green Bee-eaters, Hoopoes, great views of a Blue-throated Barbet, a Black-rumped Flameback, Olive-backed Pipits, White & White-browed Wagtails, Red-whiskered & Red-vented Bulbuls, Asian Magpie Robins, Stonechats, an Orange-headed Thrush, Striated Grassbirds, Chiffchaffs, Greenish, & Tickell’s Warblers, Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, White-throated Fantails, Black-hooded Orioles, Brown & Grey-backed Shrikes, Black Drongos, Rufous Treepies, House & Large-billed Crows, Pied Starlings, Common Mynahs, and Yellow-breasted Buntings. A Eurasian Blackbird is a probable and highly unusual sighting that Dinesh is very excited about.


Today we bird the nearish Patnali Forest. In addition to many of the previously mentioned birds, (and also picking up some ticks while gaily tramping through dense forest) we see: Greater & Black-rumped Flamebacks, Greater & Lesser Yellownapes, Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpeckers, Black-crested Yellow Bulbuls, Black, Spangled, Ashy, Bronzed, Lesser & Greater Racket-tailed Drongos, a few Pied Hornbills, Common & Large Woodshrikes, another Oriental Honey Buzzard (hooray), Collared Falconets, Alexandrine Parakeets, Little Swifts, Crested Treeswifts, Red-rumped Swallows, Scarlet, Small & Rosy Minivets, Golden-fronted Leafbirds, Blue Rock-Thrushes, Tailorbirds, a Black-naped Monarch, Great Tits, Chestnut-bellied & Velvet-fronted Nuthatches, Chestnut-tailed Starlings, and Bank Mynas by the road who fly away when we get out for a closer look.


A last stroll around the perimeter of the reserve on our last morning here yields the usuals and a Red-throated Flycatcher still retaining some of his breeding plumage. Driving to the airport we pass a lone White-rumped Vulture feasting on a carcass by a roadside stream.


Bagmati River, Pashupatinath

Working on a tip from Mark, the San Franciscan birder we met in Chitwan and bumped into again in Kathmandu, we head to the sacred Hindu site of Pashupatinath. He saw some White-capped Water Redstarts flying out from under the nearby bridge, and they are still there when we show up. We observe these beautiful birds while keeping on eye on a nearby rhesus macaque, and also see a Plumbeous Water Redstart hanging out by the river, giving us plenty of time to look through our fieldguide and find the appropriate illustration.


Nagarjung mountain

Arriving bright and early, we are told that the park doesn’t open till ten, so we bird along the road for a couple of hours until opening time. We see Grey Treepies, Red-vented & Himalayan Bulbuls, Eurasian Kestrels, Black Kites, Long-tailed Minivets, Grey-hooded Warblers, and Black-lored Tits. When we finally enter the park, we don’t see much at first apart from a flock of Red-billed Blue Magpies and a spectacular Blue-throated Barbet. However, we eventually encounter a large feeding party comprising Oriental White-eyes, Grey-headed Canary Flycatchers, White-bellied Yuhinas, Velvet-fronted Nuthatches, beautiful Black-throated Tits, Long-tailed Minivets, Grey-hooded, Blyth’s Leaf & Golden-spectacled Warblers, and Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrikes.



The hills west of Damside, on the way to the Peace Pagoda, (described by Wheatley as 'the area behind the Fishtail Lodge), prove to be quite productive today. We find a clearing near the top that has Egyptian Vultures and Black Kites flying just overhead, as well as a good mixed flock comprising: Long-tailed Minivets. Spangled Drongos, a Pale Blue Flycatcher, Velvet-fronted Nuthatches, Black-lored Tits, two Chestnut-headed Tesias, Oriental White-eyes, White-bellied Yuhinas, and eclipse Crimson Sunbirds. Also: flocks of Grey Treepies, a Green Magpie, Grey-headed Woodpeckers & Greater Yellownapes, Large-billed Crows, Maroon Orioles, Oriental Magpie-Robins, Jungle & Common Mynas, Red-vented Bulbuls, House & Eurasian Tree Sparrows.

At the base of the trail: Cattle Egrets, Indian Pond Herons, and a very large constrictor - fortunately some distance below.



Trying to find the same spot, we miss it and instead head to the Peace Pagoda on this much slower day. The highlight is a gorgeous Rufous-belled Niltava on the way back. Also: Long-tailed Minivets, Grey Treepies, good views of Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, VF Nuthatches, BL Tits, Oriental White-eyes, and WB Yuhinas.



Walking from the temple in Pokhara bazaar to the base of the steps to the old fort of Sarangkot (a road that can be covered by taxi) we see a few Yellow-bellied Fantails, as well as flocks of Nepal House Martins. Also on the way up: Himalayan Bulbuls, Common Buzzards, Black-lored Tits, Oriental Turtle-Doves, House Swifts, Large Cuckooshrikes, House Swifts, Grey-hooded Warblers, and unidentified parakeets.

From the fort (elevation of 1592m) we have great views of Himalayan Griffons passing right by us, as well as Eurasian Kestrels, Steppe Eagles, and other unidentified raptors including probable White-rumped Vultures and a possible Red-headed Vulture. Looking down, we see a spectacular flock of blazing Long-tailed Minivets.

Relaxing on the hotel roof at dusk, we watch three Spotted Owls flying about and screeching at each other, perching on the tree in front of us.



Back on the original spot on the hills west of Damside, things are still slow, but we do finally get a good look at a Red-headed Vulture. Also: LT Minivets, BL Tits, Grey-headed and Blyth's Warblers, a female Rufous-bellied Niltava, Grey Treepies, Spangled & Lesser Racket-tailed Drongos, VF Nuthatches, Oriental White-eyes, Crimson Sunbirds, Grey-headed and Fulvous-breasted Woodpeckers, and Red-throated Flycatchers. The Long-tailed Broadbill that an English birder told us about the other day continues to elude us.

On Pokhara's lake we see many Little Grebes, as well as Common Sandpipers and White-breasted Kingfishers flying by, but no sign of the Falcated Teal that Wheatley talks about.



Wheatley recommends this as good place for Grey-headed Lapwing, among others, but the only thing we find of any interest is the suspension footbridge, built in Aberdeen in 1903 and then reassembled here. Basically, the banks of the river are a very large rubbish dump that support crows, kites, dogs, cows, and water-buffalo. White-browed Wagtails and Common Sandpipers try to liven things up, but perhaps we're too distracted by the American presidential elections to see anything else.


Phulchowki mountain

Another good day at Phulchowki. As seems to be usual, we have more luck later in the day at lower elevations, eventually running into a mixed flock that includes numbers of Nepal Fulvettas, as well as Grey-throated & Black-chinned Babblers. Slightly higher up, we stalk a Grey-bellied Tesia through the undergrowth. We follow from a distance of only a few feet, but he remains frustratingly elusive as he slowly hops through the shade. Also seen: Grey Treepies, Long-tailed Minivets, Yellow-bellied Fantails, Spangled Drongos, White-tailed Nuthatches, Great & Black-lored, and Black-throated Tits, Black & Himalayan Bulbuls, Grey-hooded and Chestnut-crowned Warblers, Striated Laughingthrushes, Rufous Sibias, good looks at Fire-breasted Flowerpeckers, and Green-tailed Sunbird. A grayish flycatcher with a rusty tail may be a female Pale Blue Flycatcher, and I also get a glimpse of what is probably a Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush - but can't be sure.


Nepal species list:

Little Grebe

Tachybaptus ruficollis

Little Cormorant

Phalacrocorax niger

Great Cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo

Oriental Darter

Anhinga melanogaster

Lesser Whistling-Duck

Dendrocygna javanica

Ruddy Shelduck

Tadorna ferruginea

Cotton Pygmy-goose

Nettapus coromandelianus


Anas strepera

Eurasian/Common Teal

Anas crecca

Little Egret

Egretta garzetta

Grey Heron

Ardea cinerea

Purple Heron

Ardea purpurea

Great Egret/Great White Egret

Ardea alba/Egretta alba/Casmerodius alba

Intermediate Egret

Ardea intermedia

Cattle Egret

Bubulcus ibis

Indian Pond Heron

Ardeola grayii

Black-crowned Night Heron

Nycticorax nycticorax

Yellow Bittern

Ixobrychus sinensis

Red-naped/Black Ibis

Pseudibis papillosa

Asian Openbill

Anastomus oscitans

Black Stork

Ciconia nigra

Wooly-necked Stork

Ciconia episcopus

Black-necked Stork

Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus

Lesser Adjutant

Leptoptilos javanicus


Pandion haliaetus

Oriental Honey Buzzard

Pernis ptilorhyncus

Black/Pariah Kite

Milvus migrans

Egyptian Vulture

Neophron percnopterus

White-rumped Vulture

Gyps bengalensis

Himalayan Griffon

Gyps himalayensis

Red-headed Vulture

Sarcogyps calvus

Short-toed Snake-Eagle

Circaetus gallicus

Crested Serpent-Eagle

Spilornis cheela

Western Marsh Harrier/Marsh Harrier

Circus aeruginosus

Northern Harrier (Marsh Hawk)/Hen Harrier

Circus cyaneus

Pied Harrier

Circus melanoleucos


Accipiter badius


Accipiter virgatus

Northern Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis

White-eyed Buzzard

Butastur teesa

Common Buzzard

Buteo buteo

Black Eagle

Ictinaetus malayensis

Steppe Eagle

Aquila nipalensis

Mountain Hawk Eagle

Spizaetus nipalensis

Collared Falconet

Microhierax caerulescens

Lesser Kestrel

Falco naumanni

Eurasian Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

Eurasian Hobby

Falco subbuteo

Peregrine Falcon (Duck Hawk)

Falco peregrinus

Swamp Francolin

Francolinus gularis

Red Junglefowl

Gallus gallus

Indian Peafowl

Pavo cristatus

Brown Crake

Amaurornis akool

White-breasted Waterhen

Amaurornis phoenicurus

Purple Gallinule/Purple Swamphen

Porphyrio porphyrio

Common Moorhen (Florida/Common Gallinule)

Gallinula chloropus

Eurasian Coot

Fulica atra

Pheasant-tailed Jacana

Hydrophasianus chirurgus

Bronze-winged Jacana

Metopidius indicus

Common Snipe

Gallinago gallinago

Common Redshank

Tringa totanus

Common Greenshank

Tringa nebularia

Green Sandpiper

Tringa ochropus

Common Sandpiper

Tringa hypoleucos

Temminck's Stint

Calidris temminckii

Eurasian Thick-knee

Burhinus oedicnemus

Great Thick-knee

Esacus (Burhinus) recurvirostris

Little Ringed Plover

Charadrius dubius

River Lapwing

Vanellus duvaucelii

Red-wattled Lapwing

Vanellus indicus

Small Pratincole

Glareola lactea

Common Black-headed Gull

Larus ridibundus

Black-bellied Tern

Sterna acuticauda

Rock Dove

Columba livia

Oriental Turtle Dove

Streptopelia orientalis

Spotted Dove

Streptopelia chinensis

Red Collared Dove

Streptopelia tranquebarica

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Streptopelia decaocto

Emerald Dove

Chalcophaps indica

Alexandrine Parakeet

Psittacula eupatria

Rose-ringed Parakeet/ Ring-necked Parakeet

Psittacula krameri

Indian Cuckoo

Cuculus micropterus

Greater Coucal

Centropus sinensis

Lesser Coucal

Centropus bengalensis

Asian Barred Owlet

Glaucidium cuculoides

Jungle Owlet

Glaucidium radiatum

Spotted Owlet

Athene brama

Asian Palm Swift

Cypsiurus balasiensis

Little Swift

Apus affinis

House Swift

Apus nipalensis

Crested Treeswift

Hemiprocne coronata

Indian Roller

Coracias benghalensis

Common Kingfisher

Alcedo atthis

Stork-billed Kingfisher

Pelargopsis capensis

White-throated Kingfisher

Halcyon smyrnensis

Pied Kingfisher

Ceryle rudis

Green Bee-eater

Merops orientalis ferrugeiceps

Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

Merops leschenaulti

Oriental Pied Hornbill

Anthracoceros albirostris

Eurasian Hoopoe

Upupa epops

Speckled Piculet

Picumnus innominatus

Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker

Dendrocopos canicapillus

Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker

Dendrocopos macei

Lesser Yellownape

Picus chlorolophus

Greater Yellownape

Picus flavinucha

Scaly-bellied Woodpecker

Picus squamatus

Grey-headed Woodpecker

Picus canus

Black-rumped Flameback

Dinopium benghalense

Greater Flameback

Chrysocolaptes lucidus

Lineated Barbet

Megalaima lineata

Blue-throated Barbet

Megalaima asiatica

Coppersmith Barbet

Megalaima haemacephala

Red-billed Blue Magpie

Urocissa erythrorhyncha

Green Magpie

Cissa chinensis

Rufous Treepie

Dendrocitta vagabunda

Grey Treepie

Dendrocitta formosae

House Crow

Corvus spendens

Large-billed Crow

Corvus macrorhynchos

Large Cuckooshrike

Coracina macei

Black-winged Cuckooshrike

Coracina melaschistos

Ashy Woodswallow

Artamus fuscus

Eurasian Golden Oriole

Oriolus oriolus

Black-Hooded Oriole

Oriolus xanthornus

Maroon Oriole

Oriolus traillii

Rosy Minivet

Pericrocotus roseus pallidus

Small Minivet

Pericrocotus cinnamomeus

Long-tailed Minivet

Pericrocotus ethologus

Scarlet Minivet

Pericrocotus flammeus

Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike

Hemipus picatus

Yellow-bellied Fantail

Rhipidura hypoxantha

White-throated Fantail

Rhipidura albicollis

Black Drongo

Dicrurus macrocercus

Ashy Drongo

Dicrurus leucophaeus

White-bellied Drongo

Dicrurus caerulescens

Bronzed Drongo

Dicrurus aeneus

Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo

Dicrurus remifer

Hair-crested/Spangled Drongo

Dicrurus hottentottus

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

Dicrurus paradiseus

Black-naped Monarch

Hypothymis azurea

Common Iora

Aegithina tiphia

Large Woodshrike

Tephrodornis gularis

Common Woodshrike

Tephrodornis pondicerianus

Golden-fronted Leafbird

Chloropsis aurifrons

Brown Shrike

Lanius cristatus

Long-tailed Shrike

Lanius schach

Grey-backed Shrike

Lanius tephronotus

Blue Rock-Thrush

Monticola solitarius

Blue Whistling-Thrush

Myophonus caeruleus

Orange-headed Thrush

Zoothera citrina

Tickell's Thrush

Turdus unicolor

Eurasian Blackbird

Turdus merula

Dark-sided Flycatcher

Muscicapa sibirica

Red-breasted/Red-throated Flycatcher

Ficedula/Muscicapa parva

Verditer Flycatcher

Eumyias thalassina

Common Myna

Acridotheres tristis

Bank Myna

Acridotheres ginginianus

Jungle Myna

Acridotheres fuscus

Chestnut-tailed Starling

Sturnus malabaricus

Common Starling

Sturnus vulgaris

Asian Pied Starling

Sturnus contra

Rufous-bellied Niltava

Niltava sundara

Pale Blue Flycatcher

Cyornis unicolor

Grey-headed Canary-Flycatcher

Culicicapa ceylonensis

Oriental Magpie-Robin

Copsychus saularis

White-rumped Shama

Copsychus malabaricus

White-capped Water-Redstart

Chaimarrornis leucocephalus

Plumbeous Water-Redstart

Rhyacornis fuliginosus

Spotted Forktail

Enicurus maculatus

Common Stonechat

Saxicola torquata

Pied Bushchat

Saxicola caprata

Grey Bushchat

Saxicola ferrea

Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch

Sitta castanea

White-tailed Nuthatch

Sitta himalayensis

Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

Sitta frontalis

Black-throated Tit

Aegithalos concinnus

Bank Swallow/Sand Martin

Riparia riparia

Plain Martin

Riparia paludicola

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Red-rumped Swallow

Hirundo daurica

Nepal House Martin

Delichon nipalensis

Black-crested Bulbul

Pycnonotus melanicterus

Red-whiskered Bulbul

Pycnonotus jocosus

Himalayan Bulbul

Pycnonotus leucogenys

Red-vented Bulbul

Pycnonotus cafer

Black Bulbul

Hypsipetes leucocephalus

Grey-breasted Prinia

Prinia hodgsonii

Ashy Prinia

Prinia socialis

Oriental White-eye

Zosterops palpebrosus

Chestnut-headed Tesia

Tesia castaneocoronata

Grey-bellied Tesia

Tesia cyaniventer

Common Tailorbird

Orthotomus sutorius

Eurasian/Common Chiffchaff

Phylloscopus collybita

Tickell's Leaf-Warbler

Phylloscopus affinis

Greenish Warbler

Phylloscopus trochiloides

Blyth's Leaf-Warbler

Phylloscopus reguloides

Golden-spectacled Warbler

Seicercus burkii

Grey-hooded Warbler

Seicercus xanthoschistos

Chestnut-crowned Warbler

Seicercus castaniceps

Black-faced Warbler

Abroscopus schisticeps

Striated Grassbird

Megalurus palustris

White-throated Laughingthrush

Garrulax albogularis

Striated Laughingthrush

Garrulax striatus

Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler

Pomatorhinus erythrogenys

Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler

Pomatorhinus ruficollis

Black-chinned Babbler

Stachyris pyrrhops

Grey-throated Babbler

Stachyris nigriceps

Chestnut-capped Babbler

Timalia pileata

Striated Babbler

Turdoides earlei

Jungle Babbler

Turdoides striatus

Rufous-winged Fulvetta

Alcippe castaneceps

Nepal Fulvetta

Alcippe nipalensis

Rufous Sibia

Heterophasia capistrata

Whiskered Yuhina

Yuhina flavicollis

White-bellied Yuhina

Yuhina zantholeuca

Great Tit

Parus major

Green-backed Tit

Parus monticolus

Black-lored Tit

Parus xanthogenys

Rufous-winged Lark

Mirafra assamica

Sand Lark

Calandrella raytal

Fire-breasted Flowerpecker

Dicaeum ignipectus

Green-tailed Sunbird

Aethopyga nipalensis

Crimson Sunbird

Aethopyga siparaja

House Sparrow

Passer domesticus

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

White Wagtail

Motacilla alba

White-browed Wagtail

Motacilla madaraspatensis

Citrine Wagtail

Motacilla citreola

Grey Wagtail

Motacilla cinerea

Paddyfield Pipit

Anthus rufulus

Olive-backed Pipit

Anthus hodgsoni

Rosy Pipit

Anthus roseatus

Scaly-breasted Munia

Lonchura punctulata

Common Rosefinch

Carpodacus erythrinus

Crested Bunting

Melophus lathami

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Emberiza aureola


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