Trip Report: Royal Chitwan N.P. and Tiger Tops (Nepal), March 6-10, 2000

Tom and Margot Southerland, 282 Western Way, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA;


This was our third visit to Royal Chitwan National Park and to Tiger Tops and at the exact same time (March 6-9) as last year. But this time we spent an additional two days (March 9- 10) in Chitwan at the Machan Wildlife Resort. Members of our group were again generalist but, unlike last year, most had some birding experience and came with a copy of the new field guide version of the Birds of India (Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp. There were far more birds at Tiger Tops but Machan offered two advantages. (Note: a machan is a hide or blind.) One, you can walk along the river to look for such birds as larks, pipits and shorebirds. Two, there were several birds our group missed at Tiger Tops: Black Francolin, Collared Falconet, Asian Barred Owlet, Green-billed Malkoha and Rufous-winged Bushlark.

Mounting the elephants was also different at Machan. At Tiger Tops and in most tourist areas in India, one mounts in the traditional way of using a very high platform located on an approximate level with the elephant's back. The elephant comes up to the platform and the riders simply step across to the padded seat on the elephant's back. (This padded seat for passengers - seating two to four - is called a howdah and comes with wooden foot rests and hand railings.) At Machan the elephant sits on the ground with both the front and rear feet extended straight out. The tail is curled. To climb up on the elephant one first stands on one of the elephant's rear legs that becomes the first step of a ladder. The elephant's curled tail becomes the second step. The last step involves making an easy grasp of the wooden hand railings of the howdah while taking the last step along the elephant's back. It really was effortless.


Although there were more tigers in the area calling, only three people got to see them, and that was from atop an elephant. A number of the Indian (One-horned) Rhinos were again much in evidence. On one outing in a vehicle we were chased by a very angry male rhino that at one point was winning the race. Gaurs, the giant bovine, were seen less frequently this year.


As in 1999, several impressive Mugger Crocodiles and long needle-nosed Gavials were seen along several riverbanks.


One highlight at Tiger Tops was seeing a number of Great Hornbills and Red-naped Ibises. These and other birds seen in Chitwan N.P. by our group are as follows:

  Great Cormorant                       Phalacrocorax carbo
  Lesser Whistling-Duck                 Dendrocygna javanica
  Ruddy Shelduck                        Tadorna ferruginea
  Common Merganser                      Mergus merganser
  Purple Heron                          Ardea purpurea
  Red-naped Ibis (at least seven)       Pseudibis papillosa
  Black Stork                           Ciconia nigra
  Woolly-necked Stork                   Ciconia episcopus
  Lesser Adjutant                       Leptoptilos javanicus
  Oriental Honey-buzzard                Pernis ptilorhynchus
  Gray-headed Fish-Eagle                Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus
  Crested Serpent-Eagle                 Spilornis cheela
  Shikra                                Accipiter badius
  White-eyed Buzzard                    Butastur teesa
  Mountain Hawk-Eagle                   Spizaetus nipalensis
  Collared Falconet (pair)              Microheirax caerulescens 
  Black Francolin                       Francolinus francolinus
  Red Junglefowl                        Gallus gallus
  Kalij Pheasant                        Lophura leucomelanos
  Indian Peafowl                        Pavo cristatus
  Brown Crake                           Amaurornis akool
  Purple Swamphen                       Porphyrio porphyrio
  Bengal Florican (one)                 Eupodotis bengalensis
  Common Greenshank                     Tringa nebularia
  Green Sandpiper                       Tringa ochropus
  Little Stint                          Calidris minuta
  Little Ringed Plover                  Charadrius dubius
  Spotted Dove                          Streptopelia chinensis
  Emerald Dove                          Chalcophaps indica
  Orange-breasted Pigeon                Treron bicincta
  Yellow-footed Pigeon                  Treron phoenicoptera
  Alexandrine Parakeet                  Psittacula eupatria
  Red-breasted Parakeet                 Psittacula alexandri
  Greater Coucal                        Centropus sinensis
  Green-billed Malkoha (one)            Phaenicophaeus tristis
  Asian Barred Owlet                    Glaucidium cuculoides
  Jungle Owlet                          Glaucidium radiatum
  Brown Hawk-Owl (three)                Ninox scutulata
  Large-tailed Nightjar                 Caprimulgus macrurus
  Red-headed Trogon (two males)         Harpactes erythrocephalus
  Common Kingfisher                     Alcedo atthis
  Pied Kingfisher                       Ceryle rudis
  Chestnut-headed Bee-eater             Merops leschenaulti
  Indian Roller                         Coracias benghalensis
  Oriental Pied-Hornbill                Anthracoceros albirostris
  Great Hornbill                        Buceros bicornis
  Lineated Barbet                       Megalaima lineata
  Gray-capped Woodpecker                Dendrocopos canicapillus
  Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker           Dendrocopos macei
  Greater Yellownape (one in the open)  Picus flavinucha
  Gray-faced Woodpecker                 Picus canus
  Bay Woodpecker (2 pairs  w. 1 pair displaying)   Blythipicus pyrrhotis
  White-throated Fantail                Rhipidura albicollis
  Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo           Dicrurus remifer
  Hair-crested Drongo                   Dicrurus hottentottus
  Green Magpie (one in the open)        Cissa chinensis
  Large-billed Crow                     Corvus macrorhynchos
  Common Iora                           Aegithina tiphia
  Black-hooded Oriole                   Oriolus xanthornus
  Scarlet Minivet                       Pericrocotus flammeus
  Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike          Hemipus picatus
  Golden-fronted Leafbird               Chloropsis aurifrons
  Long-tailed Shrike                    Lanius schach
  Gray-winged Blackbird (female)        Turdus boulboul
  Spot-winged Starling                  Saroglossa spiloptera
  Chestnut-tailed Starling              Sturnus malabaricus
  Jungle Myna                           Acridotheres fuscus
  Hill Myna                             Gracula religiosa
  Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher (male)     Ficedula strophiata
  Red-breasted Flycatcher               Ficedula parva
  Verditer Flycatcher                   Eumyias thalassina
  Common Stonechat                      Saxicola torquata
  White-tailed Stonechat (male)         Saxicola leucura
  Pied Bushchat                         Saxicola caprata
  Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch             Sitta castanea
  Velvet-fronted Nuthatch               Sitta frontalis
  Bank Swallow                          Riparia riparia
  Black-crested Bulbul                  Pycnonotus melanicterus
  Red-whiskered Bulbul                  Pycnonotus jocosus
  Himalayan Bulbul                      Pycnonotus leucogenys
  Red-vented Bulbul                     Pycnonotus cafer
  Black Bulbul                          Hypsipetes leucocephalus
  Zitting Cisticola (two)               Cisticola juncidis
  Common Tailorbird                     Orthotomus sutorius
  Greenish Warbler                      Phylloscopus trochiloides
  Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush      Garrulax pectoralis
  Gray-throated Babbler (one)           Stachyris nigriceps
  Striped Tit-Babbler                   Macronous gularis
  Chestnut-capped Babbler (heard only)  Timalia pileata
  Great Tit                             Parus major
  Rufous-winged Bushlark                Mirafra assamica
  Sand Lark                             Calandrella raytal
  White-rumped Munia                    Lonchura striata
  White Wagtail                         Motacilla alba
  White-browed Wagtail                  Motacilla madaraspatensis
  Citrine Wagtail (one)                 Motacilla citreola
  Oriental Pipit                        Anthus rufulus

97 species

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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; May 14, 2000