So, In this year in the month of February we again visited Nagaland to explore the less frequented parts because we love to be well acquainted with all the parts where we conduct our tours through out the year. This extensive explorations and studies have enabled us to know about the biodiversity of the place throughly.
On 13th February 2019, at 5.55pm I embarked on this exciting journey to Nagaland on Avadh Assam Express. The train arrived late at New Jalpaiguri, around 8:20 PM. After the completion of the tour on 18th Feb, I continued to stay in Nagaland for 8 more days straight, my return hourney was scheduled on 26th February.
During all this while I concentrated on what the land offered to me and as a result I ended up having an almost unending bird list. However, here I am sharing the tour itinerary starting from 14th to 18th February 2019 only.
Route Taken: Dimapur, Medziphema, Pirephema, Sechu-Zubza, Khonoma, Jotsoma, Dzuleke, Poilwa.
P.S. We stayed in Home Stays while in Nagaland.
Driving: Around 380 kms.
Hiking: 56 kms.
Top five birds from this tour:
**Please note that, my own extended stay yeilded - White-tailed Flycatcher (recorded on 23.02.2019).
Daily travel log:
14th February 2019
The train journey via Lumding-Diphu is remarkable as it takes you through the serenity of west Jaintia hills. The train was supposed to reach Dimapur station at 9 AM but reached at 11:10 AM. From the Rly station, I took an auto and went to the Airport to pick up two participants who were coming from Kolkata and Mumbai. The third person(who was a foreigner), had arrived three nights prior to the commencement of the tour. We could spot Eurasian Tree Sparrows near the airport area. The participants landed at 12:40 PM in Dimapur. After picking up the guests we started our journey from Dimapur to Khonoma Sanctuary... the roads were uneven and we had a pretty bumpy ride, we has lunch on the way. However, some promising and good bird sighting made our back breaking journey quite fruitful. We stopped at Foothills Resturant in Chumukhedima to have lunch. From the Balcony of the restaurant, we could see one Plumbeous Water Redstart and a White Wagtail. Heavy road work was going on the state highway; but we saw some Burn Swallows flying around. It was at Lalmati, where we had Tea, after that we started driving uphill leaving the main state highway behind. We drove through many picturesque vilages such as Kiruphema, Mesoma and Khonoma. On our way, we stopped at a place where Black Bulbuls, Black-crested Bulbuls and Flavescent Bulbuls were seen in huge numbers. A Hoary-bellied Squirrel and Slaty-backed Forktail kept us busy for a few minutes. Little later in another bush thicket, we saw six Rusty-capped Fulvettas foraging. It was tough to photograph them as the light of the day was diminishing pretty fast. We had to call it a day and drove back to homestay directly thereafter. By 6:10 PM, we checked in at home stay. From the home stay campus, we heard the call of Mountain Scops Owl. The place was too windy, that we had to move inside our rooms soon. After a little discussion regarding the day's bird sightings and future birding plans we had dinner at 7:30 PM. I discussed the next day’s plan with our local guide Vicoh. Next day we had to start at 5:30 AM That's why we retired to our beds at 8 pm.
15th February 2019
We started at 5:30 AM in the morning and drove through the right side of the alder trail. An Eurasian Woodcock was sighted, which was walking on the left side of the road. Seeing our vehicle, first it ran along the road, and then it moved to the left side and then inside the secondary bush thicket. Instead of getting down from the vehicle, we drove a little. As soon as we sighted the bird it flew and perched again inside the bush thicket. We got down from the car but could not manage to photograph it. We stopped trying for this bogey bird (for me). Little ahead, three Chestnut-vented Nuthatches were spotted along with two Phylloscopus. We further sighted a flock of Rusty-capped Fulvetta, along with Red-faced Liocichla and Spot-breasted Scimitar Babblers. When we were on the Kohima-Peren highway, it was 9 AM. A single Eurasian Sparrowhawk was seen soaring high in thermals. As we moved further a mountain Hawk Eagle was also seen soaring above. We didn’t go inside Sikhakae in the morning rather we returned by taking a short cut trail that led us to the Govt High School. The first bird we heard was Blue-naped Pitta in this trail. The bird responded well against playback but didn't show up. We left the place after trying for few minutes and thought to try for it again on the next day (but it never showed up again on the next day as well, although we tried for it really hard). Little down, second bird was a Black-breasted Thrush – which is a resident species in this area. It showed up pretty well and later vanished inside the thick woodland.
In the afternoon session, we covered the left side of alder trail (left of M-Khel) where a Hoary-bellied Squirrel was sighted. We also spoted a female Himalayan Bluetail inside the secondary thicket. Crested Finchbills were commonly seen around along with Grey Sibia. Most of the Finchbill sightings were on Wild Apple trees. We covered KNCTS (Khonoma Nature Conservation & Tragopan Sanctuary) as well in the afternoon. Two Assam Laughingthrushes were sighted on the left Nullah of KNCTS parking area. Otherwise, three Mountain Bamboo Partridges were sighted on swampy green pasture. I heard Striped Laughingthrush not from a far distance, but couldn’t track it back. By sundown we came back to our home stay. After having a quick discussion on today’s bird sighting (bird list), we had early dinner.
Both of the Alder trails from Khonoma to Shikakae were disturbed as people were busy preparing the terrace for Jhum cultivation. In the morning, instead of spending time in the alder plantation area, we covered Shikakae. Walking along the road to the west proved to be productive. We found Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler from a very close distance. Himalayan Bluetail, huge number of Fire-tailed Sunbirds, Black-throated Prinia etc were sighted. A single Green-backed Tit was sighted as well and Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush was sighted on the other side. A mountain Hawk Eagle was seen soaring high up in the sky. After having breakfast at 8 AM near the trekker’s hut I, Vikoh and another participant hiked uphill, while other two elderly participants refused to join us. Beautiful Sibia was the highlight species from the area. Other birds seen were – Spot-breasted and Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Scarlet Finch, Mrs Gould’s Sunbird etc. Crimson-breasted Woodpecker looked amazing at such a height. We sighted five Beautiful Sibia hanging around on Ficus tree. This flock was very much cooperative and seemed bolder than other birds. By 9:30 PM we decided to come downhill and meet with other two participants. Again we followed the second alder trail and followed the same route as we did on the previous day. Our search for Blue-naped Pitta failed today. Though we came across a Scaly Thrush, flock of Rusty-capped Fulvetta and a flock of Streak-breasted Scimitar Babler (5-6 SB were sighted at the same location where Black-breasted Thrush was sighted on previous day). We drove back to home stay and then had lunch.
After lunch, from the parking area of the home stay Vikoh spotted a Spot-winged Grosbeak. We were stunned as this sighting happened well within the village boundary. Then we drove to south-west of the village where thinner Bamboos grow. Our search for Blue-naped Pitta continued but we returned back empty handed. However, sighting of Hill Partridge was most significant. A sudden spell of rain drove the birds to their roosting site and we couldn't manage to get any bird thereafter. Before coming back to home stay, we took a coffee break at Upper Circular road in the village and came back to home stay after sundown. Today also, Mountain Scops Owl was heard and that too from a closer distance.
Today was the last full day birding of this amazing birding tour. Our local guide Vikoh, could not join us for the first three hours. Thus between 6 AM to 9 AM we spent time by doing birding on both side of the stream (2 KMs before Govt Senior Secondary School). First three hours yielded – huge flocks of Silver-eared Mesia, Assam Laughingthrushes (3 of them), Grey-cheeked Warbler, Mrs Gould;s Sunbird, Golden Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Nepal Fulvetta, Red-faced Liocichla etc. It was the best session ever – among all birding sessions of this tour. After meeting Vikoh at School ground, we moved through an abandoned road that once used to connect Mesoma and Khonoma. This forest patch now, covered by thick secondary bush thickets and reclaimed forest, hosts some of the beautiful bird species. The birds we came across were Rusty-fronted Barwing, Striped Laughingthrush and Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler. After a long walk, we reached a little late at home stay for lunch (at 1 PM).
After having a quick lunch, we planned to cover Dzuleke in the afternoon. On our way till Dzuleke, we hardly stopped for birding. After getting entry passes, we moved towards the cultivation area. Just at the edge of paddyfield, a flock of five Bamboo Partridges were sighted. In the same area, White-browed Shrike-babbler (recent split – Himalayan Shrike-babbler was sighted). Two males and one female were found in the flock. As we hiked further down, a huge flock of Rosy Pipits were seen and mountain Bamboo Partridges were heard from the nearby thin Bamboo undergrowth. It was near impossible for us to spot them, as the entire stretch was thickly covered by grass. When we returned back to our home stay it was 6 PM in the evening.
We were pretty relaxed today as we started the day at 6 AM. After loading our luggage in the car, we drove towards Mesoma. The birds we came across from this trail were – Long-billed Thrush, Nepal Fulvetta, Golden Babbler etc. Commoners like – Orange-bellied Leafbird, Great Barbet etc were sighted too. An Asian Barred Owlet was found perching on a dry Birch tree high above the hill slope. We stopped birding at 7:40 AM and had our breakfast. At 8:10 AM, we started driving directly to Dimapur airport. By 11:15 AM all the participants were dropped and I waited for my wife to arrive to continue further for second innings of the reconciliation birding tour for the next 7 days.
If you want to take part in such amazing birding tours conducted by GoingWild, drop a mail at [email protected] or [email protected] give a call to +919681417974 ; keep watching our upcoming tours for further references.
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.