Manas is one of the most famous forest in lower Assam comprising of awesome bird checklist from the region. This bird watching tour of GoingWild took place in the last week of December 2019 and first week of January 2020. During this tour we covered all the promising locations and ranges of this forest.
31st December 2019:
Three bird watchers from Kolkata and one from Ireland joined for this tour. All guests stayed overnight at different hotels/lodges nearby Guwahati airport, as the tour commenced next day early morning at 8 AM.
We were little delayed from our schedule and started at 8:30-9 AM from Guwahati. However, we managed to reach at resort on time in noon. After check in and lunch, we had an afternoon safari in Bansbari range. From the gate we drove through main road and took the left side road beside river through woodland. In this stretch, we saw Green Imperial Pigeons, Crested Swiftlets, Black Eagle, Silver-breasted Broadbill, etc. The woodland patch was very productive.
Beside river, Ruddy Shelduck was seen and on our way back, it was almost dark and we saw Kalij Pheasant and a Black-backed Forktail foraging in a small nullah.
1st January 2020:
We covered Bansbari range extensively in the eastern part of the range in the morning and northern part in noon.
One male Bengal Florican was seen in eastern part of Bansbari range. It was one of the major target species from the park. Before the sighting of Bengal Florican, a Barred Button Quail was seen as well. Little later Black Stork, Gray-headed Fish Eagle, Himalayan Buzzard, Spot-billed Pelican were seen near the riverine ecosystem. While in the woodland area both Long-tailed Broadbill and Silver-breasted Broadbill were seen along with Pin-striped Tit-babbler, White-throated Bulbul, Little Pied Flycatcher, Short-billed Minivet etc.
We had lunch at Mothanguri camp. Around Mothanguri woodland to-and-fro we got Great Hornbill, Yellow-footed, Wedge-tailed and Pin-tailed Green Pigeons, Pied and Hen Harrier, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Red-crested Parakeet, Black-crested Bulbul etc. Later in the afternoon we revisited eastern grassland.
2nd January 2020:
In three full days we planned to cover all three ranges. Thus today we visited Bhuniyapara Range, which is the eastern most range of the park.
Before entering this range a long drive for one hour is required, where we saw some regular birds only.
Around 7:30 AM we reached at Bhuniyapara and we drove through magnificent never ending grassland. Black Stork, Golden-headed Cisticola, Crested Bunting, Bluethroat are some nice birds we saw.
In the woodland area, Emerald Dove, Himalayan Griffon, Lesser Yellownape, Red-breasted Parakeet, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, Asian Fairy Bluebird etc were seen. When the bird activity was low, we took lunch.
Post lunch we tried for Bengal Florican in the vast seedfarm area. Though I managed to spot the bird from distance, but by the time I showed it to others, it moved out from there. Little later, the bird popped out very close to another bird watcher in our group. Sudden appearance with awestruck wonder - Bengal Florican stoned the person. He was the only person, who missed the bird in the morning on the previous day. We ended up the day with this nice afternoon sighting including some other grassland birds.
3rd January 2020:
Today we covered the least visited side of the park- Panbari range. From the entry gate we drove through almost untouched portion of the jungle. Waterbirds sighted were as follows - Mallard, River Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover and Common Redshank etc. As it started raining for a while, we halted our birding for more than two hours and had breakfast by that time. Striated Babbler, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Hume's Warbler, Indo-chinese Roller etc were sighted. We drove our gypsy and continued birding while it was drizzling. Green Imperial Pigeon, Dusky Warbler, Pin-striped Tit Babbler, White-throated Bulbuls were seen in good numbers.
As the weather cleared more towards north-eastern side of Panbari range we saw Golden Langurs nicely. Himalayan Griffons were seen in big numbers. Oriental Pied Hornbills and Black Storks were seen in flight from distance. Some Common Mergansers were seen on water bodies as well.
Later we tried for Spot-winged Starlings on coral trees and at last we found some of them in a mixed flock with Chestnut-tailed Starling. Surely all the participants enjoyed the forest of Panbari range.
4th January 2020:
In the morning session, we covered Bnsbari range, as we did on the day one and two. Morning session, we tried for Bengal Florican again, but we failed to see any of them. However, we saw Swamp Francolins in the grassland. From a nearby watchtower Temminck's Stint, Wood Sandpiper etc were seen. The day was sunny and Hen Harrier showed up nicely today, flying low over the grassland. Mostly it was targeting Pipits and grassbirds of other kind. Participants saw two Spotted Owlets also. In some bush patches had Rufous-necked Laughingthrush activity. As we decided to leave grassland, a Short-toed Snake Eagle was seen soaring above.
During the lunch hour, participants came back to resort and finally we drove out at 1 PM. On our way, we maintained bird checklist with regular birds and covered one more endangered species from Guwahati garbage dump - Greater Adjutant Stork.
The tour in lower Assam at Manas ended up with high notes.
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.