Eaglenest is the heaven for bird watchers and bird photographers; those who want to explore birding in north-east India, it is a must visit for them. This is the summer birding tour shared here,
Route Taken: Guwahati, Kalaktang, Shergaon, Tenga, Lama Camp, Bompu Camp, Khellong, Tenga, Jaswantgarh, Jang, Tawang, Bhalukpong, Guwahati.
P.S. All the stay arrangements were done in tented accomodation in Eaglenest WLS and Hotel Ugyenling at Tawang and Hotel Eaglenest at Bhalukpong.
Driving: Around 720 kms.
Hiking: 86 kms.
Top ten birds from this tour:
Daily travel log:
20th March 2019:
Started from Guwahati early morning at 6 AM from Hotel Pemaling (meself and Mr Pradeep) and picked up another guy from Hotel Asiyana (just nearby airport). Drove till Mangaldai and had breakfast. It was continuous drive till Bhairabkunda. This place lies at the border of Assam, Arunachal and Bhutan. Here we took the first halt for the birding. Some Red-vented Bulbuls and a Green-billed Malkoha appeared and sooner vanished inside bush. Few kilometers drive up hill, Asian Fairy Blue Bird, Striated Bulbul, Ashy Bulbul, White-throated Bulbul was sighted. Further drive uphill near Amartala, Long-tailed Sibia was sighted. As we reached Tenga, we stopped for a while. Further uphill, near Ramalingam; two check posts crossed (Singchung RF) and Lama camp entry check post. On the way up it became foggy and we sighted Scaly Laughingthrush only. Near the camp site road works were going on. After having a cup of tea, we hiked further up behind the camp. Some Beautiful Sibia along with regular species were sighted. In the evening, Grey nightjar was calling from nearby place and Mountain Scops Owl was heard as well. After taking an early dinner we rested for the day at 8 PM.
21st March 2019:
Today we drove from Lama to Bompu camp. In the morning we decided to do birding little downhill from Lama camp and later would hike up after breakfast. Morning downhill birding on the first hour yielded the following species – Himalayan Cutia, Streak-throated Barwing, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Himalayan Bluetail (aka Orange-flanked Bush Robin) etc. Further down, A flock of Tibetan Serin perched very close to road side. A pair of Golden-naped Finch obliged us as well. Beautiful Sibia, Sikkim Treecreeper, a mixed flock of Phylloscopus warblers, Bhutan Laughingthrush, Yellow-throated Fulvetta were sighted along with other north-east commoners. From nearby bush thickets, Chestnut-breasted Partridges were heard from close distance, however I could only record the call of the species. It was not seen. After having heavy breakfast, we started driving up hill. The first major sighting was a globally threatened species – Yellow-rumped Honeyguide. The bird gave us ample opportunity to photograph it. Even after we left the place, the bird was still there. This was my best Honeyguide sighting after sightings from Sikkim. Before lunch we reached Eaglenest pass where we tried for Bar-winged Wren Babbler; however, there were no hint of presence of the bird. Birds that we sighted were – Green Shrike-babbler, Brown Parrotbill, Brown-throated Fulvetta etc. A pair of Crimson- browed Finch was sighted as well near Sunderview. Before reaching Bompu camp, a Brown –headed Gull was sighted flying across. Though we tried for Wedge-billed Babbler on our way down, it was not sighted during this session. As we checked in Bompu, light became very low. It is noteworthy to mention that, stay at Bompu was better than Lama camp.
22nd March 2019:
As we started driving below Bompu camp; the first bird we saw is a Kalij Pheasant. Due to very low light we couldn’t take good picture of the species. Later we stopped near a stream and found Spotted Wren Babbler aka Spotted Elachura. As we had our breakfast at 8 AM; we decided to walk further downhill. Large Niltava, Sultan Tit followed by Black-winged Cuckoo Shrike etc were sighted. A pair of Red-headed Trogon was seen too. Participants go beautiful photos of the elusive species. Next two hours we searched for Eye-browed Wren Babbler. The bird appeared multiple times; but due to very thick vegetation we couldn’t get a good sight of the species. As we walked further ahead, a mixed flock of birds viz Rufous-backed Sibia, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Rusty-fronted Barwing and Greater-rufous-headed Parrotbills kept us busy for nearly one hour. Little later juvenile of Rufous-bellied Eagle was sighted too. As we crossed Sessni-New Khellong area, we came by White-tailed Robin, Mountain tailorbird etc. Little down the call of Pale-headed Woodpecker eluded us. We had magnificent sighting of a pair. At Khellong, we took our lunch and started coming back uphill. On our way back, a flock of Seicercus and Phylloscopus warblers were sighted. It is noteworthy to mention, Rufous-faced Warbler as this warbler was high on target for Khellong area. While driving back to Bompu, we stopped at multiple locations and sighted Kalij Pheasant, Hill Partridge. The call of Grey Peacock Pheasant was heard commonly throughout the day. The last flock we came across consisted of Golden Babbler, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher etc. By the time we breturned back to Bompu, it was dark.
23rd March 2019:
Today also we had full day plan for Bompu and adjacent area. A big group of bird watchers from BNHS arrived previous night and they were planning to down in the morning session. To avoid birding commotion, we decided to explore 2-3 kilometers behind Bompu and after having breakfast, we would proceed ahead. Mountain Imperial Pigeon is the first bird we sighted there, later Beautiful Sibia – (nigroaurotus ssp) was sighted. Around 7 AM, chirping song of Rufous-throated Wren Babbler had drawn my attention. It responded fast and showed up perfectly for some time. Himalayan Blutail, Striated Laughingthrush (cranbrooki ssp) were seen as well. The major highlight bird before breakfast session was Beautiful Nuthatch. This sitta species is globally threatened and seldom sighted. Eaglenest is considered one of the best place for sighting for this bird from India. The bird was seen in a mixed flock with White-browed Shrike-babbler and Sultan Tit. That morning we saw three Beautiful Nuthatches. After coming back at Bompu, we took heavy breakfast and set for 2nd morning session downhill. On our way down, we heard Green Cochoa as well, but couldn’t locate the bird due to inaccessibility. However, super skittish bird Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler obliged us with sighting. Three Babblers were hiding beneath thicket. Photographing them was a real challenge. In a mixed flock of birds Black-eared Shrike-babbler, Golden Babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler was seen. Near a stream sudden Wren Babbler chirp has drawn our attention. It was an Eye-browed Wren Babbler. This bird was challenging as well to photograph, but not as much as Wedge-billed Babbler. Later that day, we had lunch at Khellong camp. After lunch we just had two-three hours of time for birding. Our search for White-hooded Babbler was on from the area, but it was not seen. Later a huge flock of Himalayan Cutia, Long-tailed Broadbill, Silver-eared Mesia was photographed. The flock consisted of miscellaneous warblers as well. As we drove further up, Long-tailed Thrush was seen in two different location. A Red Junglefowl was seen as well. The afternoon drive through this jungle in the last hour was nervous, as we faced few wild elephants walking along the road. Foothills-Chako-Tengaledge road is a famous elephant track. The herd consisted of five individuals. Later that night we reached at Bompu at 6:30 PM.
24th March 2019:
From Bompu we started at 5:30 AM and we drove back to Lama camp with packed breakfast and lunch. On our way uphill, we saw Mountain Imperial Pigeon better than last day’s sighting. The stunning deep voice of this huge pigeon was nicely recorded as well. Little later at one point around 8 AM, we decided to have breakfast. All on a sudden shrill sound of Fire-tailed Myzornis was heard from nearby Oak forest area, as we approached and hiked down in the jungle we saw the bird clearly; due to very low light it couldn’t be photographed nicely. A mixed flock of Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Green Shrike-babbler, White-tailed Nuthatch was sighted around 9-10 AM. Other regular birds were repeated on our way up. It was 11 AM, when we decided again to try for the missed species - Ward’s Trogon. After first attempt, the bird was sighted properly but couldn’t be photographed due to its restless attitude. We resumed the hunt after several minutes gap; this time a bang on sighting of both male and female of the species. Participants got nice picture of the species. As weather degraded we hardly did any birding on our way. However, before entering Lama camp; we explored a trail where Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler and Coal Tit was sighted. In the afternoon we checked in at Ramalingam and rested for the day. However, at night distant call of Hodgson’s Frogmouth was heard along with Brown Wood Owl and Mountain Scops Owl. We tried for all three, however only Brown Wood Owl was sighted, frogmouth was not.
25th March 2019:
Next morning, we were out on the way to Tawang-Sela part of the tour. However, in the first hour of the morning we decided to explore a trail below Lama Camp. Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill was sighted in abundance; also Scarlet Finch and other miscellaneous warbler allies was present. It is important to mention sighting of Grey-headed Bullfinch in a mixed flock of Red-headed Bullfinch. The Grey-headed male percher for quite some time, till it departed with rest of the flock. Both male and female of Scarlet finch was seen just few meters ahead of the above mentioned party. A beautiful looking Himalayan Bluetail obliged us with the sighting. After having quick breakfast at Ramalingam, we checked out and almost did no birding till we reached at Jaswantgarh. A tree full of Beautiful Rosefinches, along with Himalayan White-browed Rosefinches were present there. Little ahead we reached at Sela top after 30 minutes drive. Entire lake was frozen and white at every corner of the scenery looked amazing. At top of few conifers, Grandalas were sighted. Magnificent looking shining royal blue coat of male was really brilliant to look through binox and to be photographed through camera. The day became colder and we had a long way to go. Thus we drove till Tawang almost without any stop at reached at Hotel Ugyenling (near SBI) at 7:30 PM at night.
26th March 2019:
Next day, we had full day outing at Sela and adjacent area. The last bordering distribution of Rufous Sibia is to this part of Himalayas and most likely Tawang river plays an important role to it. On the other side of Tawang river, as one crosses Sela pass and goes further down - Beautiful Sibia becomes common. A pair of Rufous-bellied Woodpecker obliged us at Jang and almost in the same forest patch, Ultramarine Flycatcher male was present. We drove further towards Sela; near Mamrang we check at some promising places for White-throated Dipper. Almost immediately we got a pair, dipping in and out. Have made nice video of the bird too. White Wagtails, Ruddy Shelducks on snow was sighted as well. Little ahead around 10:30 AM little bit of snowfall happened. Alpine Accentor with White-browed Rosefinch was photographed on snow. A Winter Wren appeared nearby an abundant Army garbage dump site. A Rosy Pipit and a Forrest’s Pika appeared. Pika gave us ample time to photograph it. Little later a Bearded Vulture flew by, which couldn’t be photographed. Later, weather deteriorated after 2 PM. A White-throated Redstart female was seen. A troop of Arunachal Macaques was sighted in a forested patch before Jung. It started raining a lot and we drove to Tawang again. In the afternoon, little birding around Tawang monastery was not much productive, but got nice landscape photographs.
27th March 2019:
Today we checked out of Tawang hotel in the very early morning and drove up till Sela; as for the past two days we covered north of Sela-Tawang road, today we decided to do birding on south part Sela-Tenga road. Near Jaswantgarh, we stopped for while and found a mixed flock of turdus thrush - Dark-side Thrush, Red-throated Thrush. It is important to note that, we sighted one unusual Thrush as well, which is partially Dark-side with some genes of Red-throated as well - Naumann’s Thrush. Other regular birds from timilidae family was sighted. Due to heavy road work on the way to Bhalukpong, we couldn’t do much birding. At 6 PM in the evening we checked in at hotel Eaglenest in Bhalukpong and rested for the night.
28th March 2019:
Next day we started at 8 AM from Bhalukpong and drove to Guwahati. By 3 PM Mr Ravi was dropped at Guwahati airport and I spent few more hours to Mr Pradeep, who stayed overnight at hotel Pemaling at Guwahati airport.
A loveless life is futile and what could be more satisfying than loving and being loved by nature? Well, this is for you to decide but he always knew that he belonged with nature. At a very tender age he clearly realised that he is increasingly attracted to nature. The constant longing to get away from the city humdrum guided managing partner, Dibyendu to take up birding and wildlife photography as his profession, working in an IT company could never satisfy the hunger of his soul and mind. A very young Dibyendu took interest in animal skull craft for it used to be his favourite pastime, he read his mother’s zoology books which made his interest in animals grow stronger . His love for wildlife groomed him to grow up into a wildlife enthusiast, he is now an avid traveler and has been to many important birding areas in the Himalayas, honing his skills as a naturalist, birder and a wildlife photographer.
With a huge bird list (which is ever increasing) till date he is currently one of the eminent bird watchers in India. Many of his works have been published in domestic and international publishings, books and newspapers.
Breathing life into the frozen moments of nature is what Soumyajit has been doing through his lenses for the last two decades. Trained as an architect, framing comes to him automatically and composition is his high plus point. Given his early schooling in art & painting, the basic concepts of composition and light always titillated his young brain. Being a self taught he strongly believes in the inherent sense of beauty which at all times, is the best guide than the bookish rules of photography. And he got ample opportunities to cross check his concepts with visiting stalwarts of this field. He valued the criticism of professionals as well as laymen and shaped his creativity accordingly. His photographs strike the very chord in the hearts of his audience urging them to react to the strong messages of nature conservation.
Soumyajit had been long drawn by the mystic world of animals and their natural habitat, the jungle. Coupled with this love for nature and unending patience he makes the right individual to practice wildlife photography. The photographs clicked by him play an integral part in altering the monstrosity of the creatures and highlighting their vulnerability.
Soumyajit is currently whetting his tiger tracking skills especially in the Indian Sunderban, exploring the enigmatic mangroves in a whole new light and bringing the wildlife lovers one step closer to the exotic species of Indian Sunderban not only this but also he shares his knowledge with the clients to ensure that they understand better and the awareness is propagated properly. Having said this, it is needless to mention that not only the tigers of Sunderban, Soumyajit’s erudition about other species of the land of Sundari trees is no doubt remarkable for he has acquired such extensive understanding by spending substantial amount of time in the mysterious mangroves, thus playing a key role in rebuilding the forests and providing protection to its inhabitants.
“Love looks not with the eyes, But with the mind; And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
His love for tigers is unfathomable. The books of Sir Jim Corbett and of course the wanderlust always made him yearn to be at one with nature, the very thought of observing and photographing the majestic Bengal tigers “filled up his senses like a storm in the desert”, the burning eyes of the majestic beast have lured him to leave his job as an IT professional and made him delve deep into the tangled heart of the forests and breath in the redolence of the jungles. Managing partner, Tamanud Mitra developed a strong understanding of nature and its components, first from the books of Sir Jim Corbett and then by absorbing the jungle lore in the Indian jungles over a considerable period of time, his perseverance and strong determination to walk on the path of his long cherished dream have led him into being an excellent, self-taught tiger tracker and a good enough photographer.