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
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