North East India Bird Watching Tour (15 Days; # 113)
This tour takes you to the birding and wildlife hotspots of the north east such Sundarbans National Park, Manas National Park, Kaziranga National Park and Dibru-Saikhowa
Sundarbans is a vast area covering 4262 sq. km in India alone, with a larger portion in Bangladesh. 2585 sq. km of the Indian Sundarbans forms the largest Tiger Reserve and National Park in India. The Sundarbans are a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. It is also the world’s largest estuarine forest. In a landscape dominated by great tidal creeks and waterways, the only way to access and enjoy the area is on motorized boats which come in various sizes and shapes. Sundarbans is the home of swimming tigers, estuarine crocodiles etc. The most sought-after birds are Brown-winged Kingfisher, Grey Headed Lapwing, Pallas’s Fish Eagle, Lesser Adjutant or maybe a Mangrove Whistler.
A total of 55 mammals, 50 reptiles and three amphibians have been recorded, several species being endemic. Manas contains animals such as Tiger Leopard, Asian Elephant, One-horned Rhinoceros, Capped Langur, Assamese Macaque, Slow Loris and Hoolock Gibbon. Some, like the Assam Roofed Turtle, Gee’s Golden Langur, Hispid Hare, Pygmy Hog and the only pure strain of Asiatic Wild Buffalo, are only best seen here.
Manas boasts the largest population of the endangered Bengal Florican in the world and is also a great place to see the Great Hornbill. The National Park lists around 380 species and the adjoining hilly terrain in Bhutan can easily add a hundred birds to that total. Good birds to look for are Greater Adjutant, Black-tailed Crake, Red-headed Trogon, Swamp Francolin, Wreathed and Rufous-necked Hornbill, Marsh and Jerdon’s Babblers, Pied Harrier, Rufous-rumped and Bristled Grassbird, Hodgson’s Bushchat, Rufous-vented Laughingthrush, Finn’s Weaver, Ibisbill and a variety of foothills species.
Kaziranga in the language of the Karbi tribe means ‘where the mountain goat drinks water. It used to be an inaccessible swampy land covered with tall elephant grass and bheels (water bodies). Declared a national park, it is now spread over 480 sq. km with the great Brahmaputra River as it northern boundary and the Karbi Hills fringing the southern. Kaziranga National Park is famous for its 1,000-strong population of Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, wild Water Buffalo and wild Elephants. It also supports localized and endangered grassland species such as Swamp Partridge, Bengal Florican, Greater Adjutant Stork, Pallas’s and Grey-headed Fishing Eagle and Spot-billed Pelican.
Kaziranga is divided into three ranges. The popular central range is the best to spot Rhinos, Water Buffaloes and Elephants playing in the water. The eastern range offers some of the most exciting and varied wildlife watching. It is in this less-visited region of the park that we have the best chance of spotting the elusive Tiger or Sun Bear. Turtles and Otters are frequently seen on the river here. At Sohola bheel we should be able to see Greater Adjutant Stork, Pallas’s and Grey-headed Fishing Eagle and a great variety of waterfowl.
After exciting wildlife viewing and nature watch in the park during the day, in the evenings we will try our best to arrange an enjoyable presentation of a traditional tribal or most popular Bihu folk dance. Sitting for Dinner by the log fire under the bamboo grove, it will almost seem magical.
We will also take you to an Assamese tribal village visit for a glimpse into their unique culture. You will get a firsthand experience of their popular specialized occupation-silk worm rearing.
Our next highlight of the journey is Dibru-Saikhowa Wildlife Sanctuary. The 340 km2 Reserve encompasses a patchwork of seasonally flooded forests, beels, and grassy pockets in between the braided arms of the river Dibru and Brahmaputra. The sanctuary is the perfect place to spot the rare specialised grassland and swamp forest birds such as the threatened Marsh Babbler, Jerdon’s Babbler, Black-throated Parrotbill, Rufous-vented (Swamp) Prinia, and Jerdon’s Bushcat. Several other rarely observed species can be found in the extensive grasslands, wetlands, and riverine forests. These include Baer’s Pochard, White-winged Wood Duck, Bengal Florican, Jerdon’s Bushchat, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Pale-capped Pigeon, and Rufous-rumped Grassbird, Jerdon’s Babbler, Chestnut Thrush. Some birds listed by Mike Prince in one of his trip reports: Mishmi Wren Babbler, Purple and Green Cochoa, Violet and Emerald Cuckoos, Satyr Tragopan and Blood Pheasant, Gould’s Shortwing, White-hooded Babbler, Pale-headed Woodpecker, Pale-capped Pigeon, Ruddy Shelducks, Osprey, Common Buzzards, Crested Goshawk, Common Kestrel, Grey-cheeked, Buff-barred, Ashy-throated and a single Blyth’s Leaf Warbler. Long-tailed Sibia, Beautiful Sibia, White-throated Bulbuls, Grey-backed Shrike, Short-billed Minivet, Hill Blue Flycatcher, Yellow-throated and Streak-throated Fulvettas, Sultan Tits, Streak-throated Barwings, Streaked Spiderhunter and Dark-throated Rosefinch, White-bellied Yuhina, White-bellied Erpornis, Striated Bulbuls, Black Bulbul, White-capped and the Plumbeous, while the Blue-fronted Redstart, Chestnut-capped and Black-faced Laughing Thrush, Rufous-vented Yuhinas, Chestnut-tailed Minla and Mrs Gould’s Sunbird, Chestnut Thrush, Black-throated Sunbird, Himalayan Griffon, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Black Eagle, Vivid Niltava, Common Green Magpie, Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler. Slaty-backed and Black-backed Forktails, Khalij Pheasant, White-crested Laughingthrush, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Red-headed Trogon, Greater Yellownape, Blue-eared Barbet, Great Barbet, Hodgson’s Redstart, Brown Dipper, Himalayan Swiftlet, Wreathed Hornbill, Grey-throated and Golden Babbler, Red-tailed Minla, Red-faced Liochicla, Long-tailed Broadbill, Grey-bellied Tesia, Golden-throated Barbet, Grey-sided Laughingthrush, Barred Cuckoo Dove, Fairy Bluebird, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Black-faced Warbler, Pygmy Wren Babbler, Racquet-tailed drongo, White-browed Piculet, Black Stork, White-rumped Vulture, Great Created Grebe, Pallas’s Gull, Mallard, Gadwall, Sand Lark, Tufted Duck, Baer’s Pochard, , Common Teal, Northern Pintail, Ferruginous Pochard. Little Ringed and Lesser Sand Plovers, Temminck’s Stint. Spotted Owlet. Small Niltava, Common Iora, Pied Flycatcher, Black-winged and Large Cuckoo Shrike, Pompadour Green Pigeon, Emerald Dove, Golden Babbler, Black-headed Shrike Babbler, Streak-throated Fulvetta, Sclater’s Monal, Hill Blue Flycatcher. Mammals: Yellow-throated Marten, Hoolock Gibbon, Gangetic Dolphin.