In the north eastern state of Assam, the lives of mammalian and avian fauna are vibrant and colorful. The junction between Himalayas and South Assam and Naga Hills has created zoological hotspots. Our announced tour at Kaziranga grassland, Hollongpar forest and Nameri river band consisted of two participants from Chennai and one participant from Kolkata. All at their sixties joined me at Guwahati Airport.
The first leg of the tour consisted of two days of birding at Hollongpar; where most of the part we covered on foot and drove by Innova and importantly the driver was good. In tough trails and dart roads it is mandatory to leave your car to experienced guys; who have to have knowledge of maneuvering it in tough times. At Kaziranga, it was entirely done by Gypsy. Whereas in Nameri, we drove to Eco Camp by Innova, did birding on raft and from Dinghy. On last two days at Nameri, we did bird walk for almost entire days.
This birding tour commenced on 24th of December 2017 and continued till 31st of December 2017 for four nights and five days. The day-wise itineraries along with major sightings have been put down here. If you feel this part of the blog is boring, you can directly skip to the species list provided at the end of this blog.
P.S. All the Hotel and/or Resorts where we stayed were of rural homestay category
Driving Distance: 870 Kilometers.
Top five birds from this tour:
Daily travel log:
24th December 2017:
Our pick up was arranged from Guwahati Railway station and Guwahati Airport. After picking up I drove with the team to Nagaon. At Nagaon bypass, had some authentic Assamese cuisine and drove to Kohra. In the afternoon at Kohra, we had chai (Tea) break and drove till we reach resort at Nagadeka for Hollongpar Gibbon Sanctuary. We settled early for the day as we had a long drive and next few days we were yet to cover more places.
25th December 2017:
Day 2: Early morning, around 5:30 AM we started our birding from the resort and framed some awesome sunrise against tea garden's backdrop. As we reached and made our entry, just at the entry premises we saw a family of Gibbon, later sightings of Capped Langur and Rhesus macaque - counted three primates on a four hours of mature walk. Rosy and Short-billed Minivets and Racket-tailed Drongos kept us busy as well. Post morning birding we returned back to the resort. After retiring for 2 hours, we had our lunch and did our afternoon bird walk inside the park. During this walking session, we saw Stump-tailed Macaque (a group of 20). On our way back a pair of Abbott's Babbler posed for us, we couldn't photograph it properly because of low light; however, we saw their features nicely.
26th December 2017:
Today, we were in doubt, whether we should go to Gibbon Sanctuary or we should stay back with Diganta for birding at Nakachari; we opted for 2nd and found awesome Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, Large Cuckooshrike etc in the tea garden; even at a corner of the Tea Estate we heard a Siberian Rubythroat as well, but it did not come out in open. Having cheese and bread, we drove out to Kaziranga via Numaligarh. In the afternoon, we did safari at Kohra range. Alongwith lots of water birds, we saw Rhino with calf and a handsome water buffalow followed by the sightings of Elephant herd. In this afternoon we marked three Oriental Pied Hornbill and three northen lapwing and 8 members from Ducks and Geese allies. Participants halted the night at Bonhabi Resort.
27th December 2017:
Morning broke with the charping noise of White-vented Mynas in the garden of the resort. Since, participants were stressing more on birding thus, Eastern zone was selected for the entire day. Barbets (4 species), Doves and Pigeon allies (5 species), Lapwings (4 Species), Starling and Myna (4 species), Owlets (2 species), Hornbills (2 species) were seen. Mammals - Barasinga, Hog Deer and Sambar; huge herd of Elephant with sparse Rhino and Wild Buffalo. From the mammal sighting - top of the story is the sighting of 12 Otters in a inland bil (large water body : water logged pond).
28th December 2017:
Next day morning safari was arranged in Central zone. Saw a huge male Rhino just just in front of a bund wall, a basking Bengal Monitor lizard and 10-12 of Assam Roof Turtles. Without loosing further time we drove back to resort, had nice, warm and little heavy breakfast and check out for the last leg of our tour for Nameri. Via Balipara we drove to Nameri and rested at the camp site, which is just adjacent to Jia Bhoreli river. We could not do much on that day, just found Plain Martins and Red-rumped Swallows flying around the river bed.
29th December 2017:
We had to cross Jia Bhoreli in the early morning for the Wood Duck; an armed forest guide Sanjoy accompanied us. This morning we aimed the species and nailed them - White-winged Wood Duck. All the birders returned back with a big smile on their face. On our way back, We took our packed breakfast beside the forest camp and crossed the river via Dinghy (same as we did in the morning). Afternoon we had rafting plan for Ibisbill and Merganser, we got both of the species, in addition saw Small Pratincole and Thickknee. Later we rested for the day, before visiting breeding and conservation camp of Pygmy Hog.
30th December 2017:
This morning we went to the Nameri Tiger Reserve agin to get better images of Wood Duck; however, we were not lucky to see the species this time; but we saw huge Pallas's Fish Eagle and Peregrine Falcon (both male and female) roosting on a same tree. By 10:40 AM we finally checked out from the Eco camp. It took little more than 4 hours to reach to Guwahati Airport.
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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.