Trip Report: Nepal, March 6-22, 1999
Allen & Nancy Chartier, 1442 W. River Park Dr.,
Inkster, Michigan 48141, USA;
We had investigated a number of tours to Nepal offered by various birding
tour companies, but found them lacking in a couple of ways. None of them
provided any real chance of viewing Mt. Everest and didn't really do any
trekking as a result. Most of the other reasonably-priced tours also
made no effort to find the Spiny Babbler, one of only two species endemic
to Nepal, and findable within an hour's drive of Kathmandu. So, we
contacted a friend, Will Weber, who happens to run a tour company
(Journeys International in Ann Arbor, MI) that does cultural and
adventure tours, including Nepal. They arranged a two-week itinerary
which included a 7-day trek from Lukla to Thangboche Monastery for
montane birds and for views of Mt. Everest, and a couple of days at Royal
Chitwan National Park, in addition to birding in transit and around
Kathmandu while waiting for our trekking permits.
Will and his very capable staff (Pat and Donna) arranged guides that were
aware of our interest in birds, and in a couple of cases arranged guides
with some birding experience to accompany us. For the most part,
however, we were on our own for the birding aspects of our trip.
Prior to the trip, we purchased some books that would prove valuable in
helping us to find and identify the birds of Nepal. For birdfinding, we
purchased a copy of A Birdwatchers' Guide to Nepal by Carol Inskipp,
published in 1988 and out of print. We got our copy from Buteo Books.
This book was generally still useful, although in a couple of cases the
habitat was no longer present. These cases are mentioned in the account
that follows. We also obtained some useful information from Where to
Watch Birds in Asia by Nigel Wheatley, published in 1996.
As luck would have it, a new field guide, Birds of the Indian
Subcontinent by Richard Grimmett, Carol Inskipp and Tim Inskipp, was
published in December 1998. We obtained an early copy for 50 pounds (it
is now 55 pounds) from Natural History Book Service in England. The book
is not your typical field guide, as it weighs about 8 pounds, and is more
than two inches thick, and hard-cover, with 888 pages and 153 color
plates. It is, however, an excellent new field guide, and our
identifications of flycatchers and, in particular the Phylloscopus
warblers, would have been impossible without it. Prior to this new
guide, the only other field guide to Nepal was Birds of Nepal by Robert
L. Fleming, Sr., Robert L. Fleming, Jr., and Lain Singh Bangdel published
in 1976. This much more compact field guide has 150 color plates, most
of which provide reasonable renditions of most species, but they aren't
detailed or sophisticated enough to be useful for groups such as
flycatchers (females), warblers, and many babblers. We had also recently
purchased Warblers of Europe, North Africa, and Asia by Kevin Baker,
published in 1997, and had an opportunity to study it before we left for
Nepal, but it wasn't practical to bring it along, especially given the
bulk of the new field guide.
Weather conditions in Nepal seemed to be affected somewhat by La Niña, as
is likely for anywhere on the planet! Apparently, there were almost no
winter rains, so the Kathmandu Valley was extremely dry and dusty
(combined with the world-class pollution, it was pretty bad). It had
been unusually warm where we were to be trekking, so warm clothes weren't
particularly a problem, and the trails were also quite dusty. They were
apparently having an early spring in Nepal, as many of the lowland
wintering birds were not found there (some weren't found anywhere), and a
few species were found apparently in-transit to higher elevations, or on
their way to breed in Siberia.
Day 1, Saturday, March 6, 1999
It seems unfair that, in many parts of the world, March is an excellent
time of year. Many parts of the tropics are experiencing the dry season,
with resident birds beginning to nest and migrants molting into their
breeding plumages, preparing to migrate north. Some subtropical areas
(including parts of our destination) are awash already with migrants.
March in Michigan, and Detroit, however, can be very unpredictable.
Possibly the only thing more unpleasant than enduring this month is
trying to leave the state in order to avoid it.
And so it was, this morning as we awoke to the winter's second major
snowstorm and 8 inches of snow that had fallen overnight. We had been
targeted again, much like our 12-hour ordeal in Chicago in March 1992,
although they closed O'Hare airport that time with only 2 inches of snow
on the ground. We were concerned that we might be snowbound, but we made
it to the airport in plenty of time. It appeared that all was well.
March prevailed, however, and instead of leaving at 12:35 p.m., we left
at 2:30 p.m. We'll now have about 20 minutes to make our connection on
arrival in Tokyo. Once airborne, March looks different, not nearly so
ugly. So we're glad we're on our way at last. We had a good view of Mt.
McKinley as we flew over Alaska.
Day 2, Sunday, March 7, 1999
We arrived in Tokyo at 5:15 p.m. local time (3:15 a.m. at home) after a
12 1/2 hour flight. They were able to make up a little time in the air,
but we still had no time to spare for our connection as we had to go out,
then come back through security, including x-ray, with a couple hundred
other people, consuming any precious time we had gained. In addition,
they had moved our departure time up five minutes, to 6:15 p.m. It was
raining, and the only birds we saw were White-cheeked Starlings from the
plane. We didn't take off until 6:45 p.m. After another long flight (6
1/2 hours) we arrived in Bangkok, Thailand. Local time there was 11:20
p.m., exactly 12 hours different from home. We were half way around the
world, and we sure felt like we'd travelled 12,500 miles. We spent until
midnight in the immigration and passport control line.
Day 3, Monday, March 8, 1999
Baggage claim and customs went faster, and we exchanged a few U.S.
dollars into Bhat (36 to the dollar at the airport) so we would have
enough for the departure tax tomorrow (500 Bhat). A woman at baggage
claim turned and sneezed on Allen, without covering her mouth, and
without saying anything or apologizing. We wandered around the airport a
bit until we found the right place to book our taxi to the Rama Gardens
Hotel (recommended to us by someone on the Birdchat internet chat group).
We paid for the taxi at a counter, so there wouldn't be any surprises
about the fare when we got to the hotel 10 minutes later. The taxi cost
us 250 Bhat, about $6. We got checked in and settled. We were pleased
to learn that a breakfast buffet was included for the room rate of $30
per person per night. The room was extremely nice, with a king-size bed
in the room (two twin beds are apparently the norm in Asia). The hotel
was palatial and had grounds that we were planning to bird in the
morning. We arranged for our taxi through the front desk, with a pick-up
scheduled for 7:30 a.m. We turned in for the night at around 1:15 a.m.
We were up at 5:00 a.m. for the breakfast buffet, then we tried to find
"the gardens." It was great, and unusual, that they were open for
breakfast at 5:30 a.m. We asked a couple of people at the desk, and
working in the lobby, where the gardens were (hence the name?), but they
just gave us blank looks. It was still pretty dark at 6:00 a.m. when we
headed out the front door of the hotel, but it lightened up pretty
quickly. It turned out that there were plantings along the long drive to
the entrance to the hotel, and there was an adjacent area marked as a
"green area." It was a nice arrangement.
The first birds singing were the Oriental Magpie-Robins, which we
eventually saw quite well. We also saw a male Asian Koel as it sang in a
bare tree, but it was still too dim to see his green bill. Eventually,
we found a total of 27 species in about an hour and 15 minutes. Not bad
for a big city. We found 10 life birds, with two of them awaiting
confirmation after we return home to consult other southeast Asian
references, which we didn't bring along. One was a Phylloscopus warbler
and the other was a female Muscicapa/Ficedula type flycatcher.
We checked out and got our taxi to the airport at 7:30 a.m. We paid in
advance at the Concierge desk for the taxi, which was 350 Bhat (about
$9.50) for this direction to the airport. The reason for the higher rate
became apparent right away, as we had to go a couple of miles south along
the main highway before there was an opportunity to make a U-turn back
north to the airport.
We had a cheeseburger and a Diet Coke at the Burger King at the airport
while waiting for our flight to depart. Our Thai Airlines flight
departed at 10:45 a.m., only 15 minutes late. We flew northwest over the
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bangladesh, and Calcutta, India, into Nepal.
We had good views of the Himalayas on the right side of the plane,
including Mt. Everest, as we came in to land in Kathmandu. We landed
around 12:40 p.m. local time (a strange 1 hour and 15 minute time
difference from Bangkok). We had to put our carry-on bags through the
x-ray on arrival, which was very strange.
We were met by one of the Journeys International staff, Baburam, who
seemed to have a serious cold, and were driven from the airport on the
east side of Kathmandu to the Hotel Marshyangdi in Thamel on the
northwest side of Kathmandu, near the tourist center (very narrow crowded
Shortly, in the hotel lobby, we were met by Ngawang who reviewed our
itinerary with us. We gave him our passports and two extra photos so
they could get our trekking permits and gave him our airline tickets so
they could reconfirm our flights home when the time came. This also kept
our tickets and passports safe in the Journeys office while we were out.
There was one minor mix-up with the itinerary where they thought we were
to have this afternoon free when in fact we were scheduled to go with one
of their bird-knowledgeable guides to the Shivapuri (sometimes spelled
Sheopuri) Reserve. Shortly, Kumar met us at the hotel, still in street
shoes, along with a driver and car. It was great that Journeys was able
to get them on short notice for us. Kumar is a cultural guide who has an
interest in birds, but isn't really an experienced birder. We knew this
We went to the Shivapuri Reserve northeast of Kathmandu for the
afternoon, with our primary objective to find the endemic Spiny Babbler.
It was a really hot and sunny afternoon (temperature was probably in the
mid-70s, which is hot after you've left Michigan with a temperature of
about 25°F). As a result, there was almost no bird activity, and very few
birds were singing. Most of the birds that were calling were hugging the
bushes far downslope of where we were. Almost the only birds we did see
were lots of those pesky Phylloscopus warblers and a Steppe Eagle
overhead, along with the abundant Black-eared Kites. There wasn't
anything that we'd call forest here, but rather just dry shrubby
hillsides. But, apparently the Spiny Babbler inhabits these brushy
areas, they just weren't giving their Sage Thrasher-like song. This was
too bad, since this was the only place on our itinerary where this
species could be found. We ended up leaving the area through the guard
gate at around 7:00 p.m. Apparently, we were supposed to be out much
earlier, and it seemed that the driver and Kumar were getting a gentle
scolding for this from one of the guards.
We returned to the hotel and had dinner around 8:00 p.m. We tried to
turn in early, with a rock concert going on somewhere down the street.
It seemed to end around 10:00 and we got a good night's sleep after that.
Day 4, Tuesday, March 9, 1999
Kumar and the driver picked us up in the hotel lobby at 6:00 a.m. for our
full-day birding trip to Pulchowki Mountain about an hour's drive
southeast of Kathmandu. The day started out poorly, with Allen inhaling
a lifetime's worth of air pollution and oil-laden exhaust in one breath
as we made our way through busy, and heavily-polluted, Kathmandu. The
valley is in a similar situation as Los Angeles and Mexico City, where
there is no escape route for the smog produced by badly-tuned cars,
trucks, and buses (not to mention dust from the lack of rain).
Our plan was to drive straight to the top of Pulchowki and walk down
various portions. It didn't end up that way, as we began stopping where
there were birds on the way up, and so we walked mostly uphill most of
At the top, at about 8500 feet elevation, we had a good view of the
Himalayas across the valley, including a distant view of Mt. Everest. By
the time we started walking back down it was pretty hot (probably at
least 80 degrees) in the intense sun, and the birds were quieter. There was
some activity all day, however, unlike yesterday afternoon. We took a
shortcut across a couple of the road's switchbacks, but we didn't find
much there, and Allen strained his left knee coming down the extremely
Most of the way down, we stopped at the Godaveri Botanical Gardens, but
things were pretty quiet there, except for way too many Phylloscopus
warblers. There were lots of them on Pulchowki too, and they seemed to
be at the peak of their migration through the area.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the Royal Palace in Kathmandu
to see the Indian Fruit Bats (Flying Foxes) that roost there. Back at
the hotel we met Pemba Sherpa, Will's Nepali business partner, and
reviewed the schedule for our trek over the next 7 days. Hopefully, the
raging sore throat and cough that Allen had developed today would
disappear once we left Kathmandu.
Day 5, Wednesday, March 10, 1999
Ngawang met us in the hotel lobby at 5:45 a.m. to take us to the airport
to catch our 7:00 a.m. flight on Royal Nepal Airlines to Lukla. By 9:00
a.m. we were still in the airport, breathing in lots of cigarette smoke
despite being in a well-posted no-smoking area. They soon announced the
cancellation of all fights to Lukla due to high winds up there.
Apparently the runway is quite short, runs uphill, and has the face of a
mountain at the end of it. We were glad they wouldn't risk a landing
here in high winds.
We went back to the Hotel Marshyangdi, where they gave us the same room
(they were still making it up when we returned). We tried to rearrange
our itinerary to go to Royal Chitwan NP today or tomorrow instead, so
that our trek wouldn't be affected by this delay, but the Temple Tiger,
where we were booked, was completely full with no openings.
So, when the going gets tough, the tough go birding! Ngawang was able to
arrange a driver and guide (though Kumar wasn't available) to take us out
for the afternoon. We had asked to be taken to the Gokarna Forest east
of Kathmandu. According to A Birdwatcher's Guide to Nepal, this was a
forest with no understory where some deer species had been introduced for
the king to hunt. It was also a good place to see a couple of
interesting species of roosting owls. Our guide (we don't remember his
name) said that this forest was no longer open (he didn't explain), so he
suggested another one to the northwest of Kathmandu, the Nagarjung Royal
Forest. This was a nicely forested hillside with an interesting
assortment of birds, especially considering it was a hot afternoon again.
It was also the dustiest place we had birded yet. We found a few birds
we had missed on Pulchowki Mountain yesterday, and it seemed particularly
good for thrushes.
We returned to the hotel, and Allen was feeling sicker than he had so far.
He had a pretty decent fever and chills, and a really hard cough. We
went out to a local pharmacy to get some cough syrup, and when we
returned there was a message from Ngawang that he would be at the hotel
tomorrow morning at 5:45 a.m. again to pick us up for our rescheduled
flight to Lukla. We tried to call the Journeys office, but it was closed
(they work from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., six days a week, in Nepal). Allen was
feeling terrible, and with the hard cough and fever it was clear we had
to cancel our trek. We called Will Weber in the U.S. and explained
everything. He said he would e-mail and try to call Pemba at home
(though the phone service was often unreliable) to let him know the
situation. Will also had some interesting alternative suggestions for
birding and recovering from what was now undoubtedly a full-blown,
pollution-aggravated case of the flu.
Day 6, Thursday, March 11, 1999
Ngawang met us in the hotel lobby at 5:45 a.m. He had received our
messages via e-mail, and said that he would be able to work on some
alternative plans for us, all in the Pokhara area as Will had suggested.
Our preference for accommodations in this area was Fishtail Lodge, which
was fairly expensive. It was also booked for this evening, so Ngawang
was only able to come up with a trekking lodge about 30 minutes north of
Pokhara. We didn't think that the rustic conditions would be conducive
to Allen's recovery, so we insisted that we try to get something that at
least had a bathroom in the room. Ngawang then called back with the good
news that we had four nights at the Fishtail Lodge booked. We would fly
out tomorrow instead of today, so there was nothing to do except relax
and for Allen to try and break his fever.
We went up on the roof of the hotel for a little while near sunset to see
if we could see the flying foxes leave their roost at the Royal Palace,
but they were quite far away in the binoculars, and difficult to
distinguish from the numerous House Crows that were coming in to roost in
the same trees. They probably left the roost after dark anyway.
Day 7, Friday, March 12, 1999
We went up on the roof in the morning to watch the sunrise and see some
of the Himalayas north of Kathmandu. Allen's fever seemed to be much
better, but not completely gone. His cough was still vigorous, and he
rested more while Nancy went out to the local shops for a while.
Ngawang met us up at the hotel at 11:30 a.m. and told us our guide would
pick us up shortly to take us to the airport. When our guide showed up
around 11:45, it was Baburam who had picked us up the first day. He was
still quite sick. Our 1:10 p.m. flight took off around 1:40 p.m., not
too bad. On arrival in Pokhara (about 2000 feet elevation) we were met
by the nice air-conditioned bus of Fishtail Lodge. We were driven a short
distance to the dock, where we were pulled across by rope on a barge by a
hotel "boatman." We had arrived at Fishtail Lodge.
Baburam said he would meet us at the dock for dinner, and he went to his
hotel somewhere in town. He had been given money for meals, but the
lodge was so expensive that we couldn't eat our meals there if we were to
stay within the budget that our trek provided. It was the heat of the
day when we arrived, and there weren't many birds around the lodge, but
there were lots of butterflies.
We met the manager of the lodge restaurant, Hari K.C., who also happened
to be a "free lance bird watching guide around Pokhara Valley" according
to his card. He told us so many wonderful things that he could show us
that we wished we could stay a week or more. We could tell that he was
an exerienced birder, as all the birds he mentioned were birds that were
known from the area. The most enticing trip that Hari offered was a 38
km drive west of Pokhara and about a 2 km walk to the top of a hill
(about 6500 feet elevation) where he often sees Lammergeiers. He also
mentioned a number of other higher elevation species we could see there.
We tentatively set up Sunday morning (7 a.m. - 2 p.m.), his day off, to
do the trip, for which he charged $42 total for two people (lunch not
Baburam met us for dinner, which we had in a part of town adjacent to
Phewa Tal (lake) across from the lodge. There were lots of restaurants
to choose from, and all offered reasonable food at extremely reasonable
prices (it was hard to spend more than about $2 per person). We talked
with Baburam about Sunday's trip and he sounded interested, and was happy
to accompany us. We told Baburam we were going to take it easy tomorrow,
and that he should meet us at noon for lunch.
Day 8, Saturday, March 13, 1999
We were up at 6:00 a.m. to watch the sun rise on the mountains, Annapurna
and Machapuchare (Fishtail), across the lake from the lodge. The
mountains were so gorgeous, and close, that we could almost ignore all
the birds in the gardens on the hotel grounds, except for the beautiful
White-throated Kingfisher that perched right in front of us. Green Magpie
was a highlight. We had breakfast at the lodge at 7:00 a.m., which had
the advantage of being payable on our Visa card.
According to A Birdwatchers' Guide to Nepal, there was a good forest
behind the lodge. We had discovered yesterday that there was a stone
wall entirely around the lodge, so we would have to cross the river, walk
into town, walk down a sidestreet, walk a ways along a channel, and cross
over a swinging bridge near a dam in order to pick up the trail into the
forest. This was quite a circuitous route of more than 1 km to reach a
forest that is just over the wall of the lodge! The guide book had a
trail map that turned out to be generally OK, but it didn't have enough
detail, and the scale seemed to be off somewhat. We managed OK with the
first part of the trail, but since it had taken us a while to get there
it was pretty quiet in the forest (it was 9:30 before we got into
forest). The trail we were on eventually deteriorated, or we made a
wrong choice (probably the latter). We ended up on a very steep, rocky,
winding, slippery (due to dry leaves), and indistinct trail (we lost it
twice). We finally ended up on the beach where we flagged down a boat to
take us across the lake (100 rupees each) where we walked east to the
boat dock, and back to the lodge.
We met Baburam as he was preparing to take the barge across the river to
the lodge. We went into town for lunch and worked out plans for the
afternoon. We abandoned our original plans to rent a boat and row to the
far western end of the lake, as it seemed like it would take too long,
and there was now a road along the north side of the lake there now. The
road was not shown in A Birdwatchers' Guide to Nepal as going this far.
We thought we could take a taxi there, to a small town called Khapanti,
and scope the lake, while also searching the scrubby hillsides for Spiny
Babbler (according to the guide book, that is).
Apparently, a lot has changed since Inskipp's book, as there seemed to be
little but cultivation and barren ground over the entire northwestern end
of Phewa Tal. The taxi driver couldn't go as far as we wanted, so we
ended up walking about 1 km farther west, then backtracking through some
rice paddies. There was no nearby habitat for Spiny Babblers it seems,
and there was little on the lake except Little Grebes and Eurasian Coots.
Apparently all the waterfowl had left for their migration north. We
walked all the way back to town and had dinner, then walked back to the
lodge for the night.
Day 9, Sunday, March 14, 1999
We were all up early to meet Hari at 6:30 a.m. He was a little late, and
we got underway around 7:30. He got a taxi for us to go west about 38 km
to the town of Khare at 1695 m elevation. Then we took a trail to a
ridgetop to the north that was at about 2000 m. The birding was pretty
good, and the scenery was great, especially after we got to the top and
went around the back side of the hill to get great views of Annapurna
South and Machapuchare. Hari was a decent birder and a very nice man,
though he walked up the hills ahead of us quite fast! We would recommend
him to other birders visiting Pokhara. The few birds he misidentified
were not very easy to identify with the older Nepal field guide. We got
to see our Lammergeier, as well as Himalayan Griffon, Cinereous Vulture,
and Black Eagle. There were several interesting smaller birds too,
including Rufous-breasted Accentor, the accentor occurring at the lowest
elevation. On the way back to the hotel we checked a couple of spots
along a river where Wallcreeper winters, but with no luck.
We rested during the afternoon, then went out with Hari to bird the lodge
grounds for a while before it got dark. We met Baburam again for dinner
Day 10, Monday, March 15, 1999
Our plan to go to the top of Sangarkot with Baburam this morning for
early views of the Himalayas was thwarted by the weather. It was so hazy
(misty?) that the mountains weren't visible from the lodge at all.
We asked Baburam where else he thought we could go that might have some
forest to walk through. He suggested Begnas Tal (lake) to the east of
Pokhara. There was some scrubby forest on the southeast side of the
lake, and a steep trail into it, but it was very quiet. We did better
with the open country birds and water birds. A big surprise was the
group of eleven Greater Painted-Snipe. One or two at a time would wade
out into a small pond near the dam, then wander back into the vegetation.
One small (4 square yards) area had 8 birds. There was a flock of
Yellow-breasted Buntings in the rice paddies here, with many
near-breeding plumaged males. The cement fish ponds here had the most
bird activity, with lots of wagtails, including Citrine, and a Wryneck
sitting in a small bare tree.
We returned to the lodge and had lunch in town with Baburam. We arranged
to meet him again for dinner, this time at the lodge, and this time our
treat. We hadn't seen him eat anything since he started being our guide,
and we felt bad that he might be having to eat very cheaply to keep
within the budget, so we hoped he would join us at the lodge even though
he said he had to meet our driver for tomorrow and might not make it. We
did a little shopping in town, mostly for books and t-shirts, then rested
in our room for a while.
At 3:00 p.m. we met Hari again for more birding southwest of Pokhara.
For this short trip he charged a total of $20. He got a taxi for us and
we went to a dry gorge where he has frequently seen various raptors.
There wasn't much there, but luckily along the road we saw the rare (in
Nepal) Red-headed Vulture high overhead. We left the taxi behind and
walked across an area of rice paddies, then up into the forest behind the
lodge. There were good numbers of Scaly Thrushes in the forest this
time. We took another steep trail down to the lodge, but this time it
wasn't as bad as before. We walked a short distance along the lakeshore
back to the lodge. We had dinner without Baburam as he didn't show up,
and had asked that we not wait for him if he didn't show.
Day 11, Tuesday, March 16, 1999
We were up early to catch our car to Chitwan NP, scheduled to leave at
6:30 a.m. We left on time, and Baburam came with us about half way
(apparently to keep within the budget by saving on bus fare). We stopped
to bird a few times along the road, but there wasn't really anything
We arrived at Chitwan just before noon, and we were dropped off right at
the river by our driver, Sanu. We made sure that he would meet us at
this same spot on Friday at 6:30 a.m. and he agreed (or we thought he
did, as his English wasn't very good). We had to be paddled across the
Narayani River, then taken on a bumpy truck ride to Temple Tiger Lodge.
We relaxed a bit, had lunch, and birded a bit. Our first "nature walk"
was at 4:00 p.m. with a group of tourists. Our guide, Jitu, knew his
birds, but didn't have any binoculars with him. In any case, it was just
an introductory walk for the five of us. We did see about 9 Indian
Rhinoceros, including the ones we saw from the overlook at the lodge.
Dinner was at 8:00 p.m., about an hour after dark. Jitu gave us our
schedule for tomorrow prepared by the lodge management. We were
scheduled for a standard tourist itinerary all day, beginning with an
8:15 a.m. elephant ride after breakfast, with a large group of tourists,
and a jeep and boat ride in the afternoon. Apparently, no arrangements
for our interest in birds was on hand. We complained to Jitu about this
standard tourist itinerary, and being stuck with a potentially noisy
group, and he got the lodge manager to talk to us. The manager did allow
us to have our own elephant, to go out with Jitu, and to go a different
direction from the tourist group. Our start was still to be 8:15 a.m.
though. A frustrating beginning to our stay here.
Day 12, Wednesday, March 17, 1999
Birds were singing by 5:30 a.m. and we were up a little after 6:00 a.m.
We didn't know where we could walk, so we just killed time at the
overlook on the grounds of the lodge until breakfast at 7:15 a.m. We met
Jitu, who was the best birder at the lodge, and our elephant,
Shampathkali, and got aboard. With such a late start (bird-wise) at 8:00
a.m. our expectations were low. There were a few birds, but it was
already slowing down a bit by the time we got out into the grassland.
There were tons and tons of Spotted Doves and Red-vented Bulbuls, but not
as much diversity as we expected. Oh well, at least it was neat riding
an elephant for the first time. We had one semi-distant encounter with a
From 11:00 - 12:00 we got stuck with the tourists again for an Elephant
Talk, which was stuff we mostly knew already. But we did get to pet
Shampathkali. This place is pretty superficial and touristy as far as
the eco-tourism aspect goes.
After lunch we walked the roads around the lodge a bit before joining up
with the tourists for a "jeep and boat safari" to see Gharials along the
river. Luckily, with the help of Jitu, we got our own jeep, and we went
last with Jitu on board, leaving space for the dust and wildlife to
settle down for us. Jitu spotted three Gharials from the jeep, but we
didn't see any from the boats. The only birds of note along the river
were wintering Ruddy Shelducks and resident Small Pratincoles. Dinner
was very late again at 8:00 p.m.
Day 13, Thursday, March 18, 1999
Although we had seen a couple of good birds from the pond near the lodge,
the diversity there was generally low, with lots of Common Moorhens and
Indian Pond-Herons. So, we asked Jitu to arrange a jeep for us to visit
a nearby lake. We met the jeep at 6:00 a.m. (that's more like proper
birding time) and headed out to the lake about 45 minutes away.
The morning was quite chilly and there was a lot of mist over the lake.
It slowly cleared, and we saw a few birds. A highlight was when Jitu
noticed Tiger tracks in the road. According to him, the Tiger had been
through only a couple of hours prior. When at the lake, we heard a loud
grunt that may have been a Tiger. There were a few birds at the lake,
including one Asian Openbill and a good number of Lesser Whistling-Ducks.
We returned to the lodge for breakfast, then Jitu took us around some of
the trails nearby. Highlights of this walk were the woodpeckers and the
Leopard tracks. After lunch we birded the grounds a bit more, then met
Jitu and a jeep. We originally wanted to go out on an elephant again,
but two of them were sick. We were going to have to go with the group
again, and we couldn't get our own. So we took the jeep to another pond
that Jitu knew about, but it only had a single Oriental Darter. So, we
returned to the same pond that we went to this morning, but there weren't
any new birds there. On the way back to the lodge we encountered a rhino
very close to the road, which was pretty neat even if the driver was
quite nervous. We had our middle-of-the-night dinner again, and talked
with the lodge manager about tomorrow's departure. We told him we
planned to leave at 6:30 a.m. as we had told our driver to meet us on the
other side of the river at that time. He said they don't do departures
that early and we were scheduled to have a 7:15 a.m. breakfast and 8:00
a.m. departure. They don't seem to understand early starts for any
reason at this lodge. He assured us that our driver would know about
this change as he was staying in the lodge's garage with other drivers.
Day 14, Friday, March 19, 1999
Since we had extra time, we got up and out at 6:00 a.m. and birded some
of the trails around the lodge on our own. Highlights of the morning
were the Rufous Woodpecker and four Great Slaty Woodpeckers.
At 8:00 a.m. we crossed the river only to find that our driver wasn't
there among the ten or so cars, jeeps, and buses. We ended up being
stranded here for two hours before one of the luggage truck drivers
offered to drive us the 10 km into town, hoping we might cross paths with
our driver. We finally got to the town at the main road, and he was
there waiting for us. He asked us if it was OK if his sister rode with
us to Kathmandu, and since her bags were already in the car we didn't
think we had a choice to say no. As she hopped in, it turned out she had
her son with her, whom Sanu hadn't mentioned previously. He was coughing
and obviously sick. Sanu got upset with us when we asked him why he
didn't meet us at the boat as he had promised before. He said he told us
he would meet us in town (he didn't), and that he always meets people in
town. He didn't offer any suggestions on how we'd make the 10 km with
our luggage, or explain why there were so many other drivers at the boat.
Ngawang explained to us later that the Temple Tiger was supposed to
provide a vehicle for us from the boat dock to the town, but it wasn't
It sure was crowded in that small car. Sanu asked two or three times if
we wanted to go through Hetauda (our intent was to look for Ibisbill
there, but it was a long drive), and we finally got the hint that he
didn't want to go that way, but directly to Kathmandu. His English was
not good, and he couldn't communicate very well. Apparently, the child
needed a hospital, and that is why he was taking them to Kathmandu.
Since it was now 10:30 a.m. there was no point in going through Hetauda
as it would be extremely late when we got to Kathmandu, and would be
extremely tedious with the extra passengers (both for us and for them).
We were angry and upset, mostly because we still didn't know what was
going on due to Sanu's poor English, and by the fact that we were going
to miss out on yet another birding opportunity that we had arranged and
looked forward to.
We managed to get to Kathmandu in about 4 1/2 hours, with the little boy
getting carsick once on the way. An extremely disappointing day.
Day 15, Saturday, March 20, 1999
Ngawang picked us up at the hotel at 7:00 a.m. for our 8:15 mountain
sightseeing flight that we had him arrange a few days ago. It was a
one-hour flight to view Mt. Everest, departing from the Kathmandu
airport, and costing $100 per person (plus $5 pp for transfer). It was a
hazy (polluted) day in Kathmandu, and on arrival we were told our flight
was delayed. Then they told us the airport was closed. At 8:40 a.m.
they loaded us onto a bus to be driven out to the plane. The airport was
open, they said. On arrival at the plane (2 minutes later), we had to
wait to board because the airport was closed again! We stood on the hot
tarmac until 10:00 a.m., when they cancelled our flight. Ngawang
negotiated the refund at the counter (to be paid to us in U.S. dollars
through Journeys in the U.S.), then drove us back to our hotel to pick up
our bags and check out.
When we got to the hotel, the road construction that had been down the
street a few days ago now stretched completely across the front of the
hotel in a deep, wide trench. It's amazing how much digging can be done
in a couple hours without any machinery. We had to walk about a block to
the hotel, and the poor baggage porter had to carry our heavy bags down
the street to our waiting vehicle. Nancy finally remembered what
Kathmandu reminded her of - that town in the movie "Star Wars" where the
cantina was located. It only lacked a Yeti.
At the international terminal, we did the chaotic departure tax,
immigration, and check-in process, said goodbye to Ngawang (who draped us
with ceremonial good-luck cloth), and arrived at the gate at about 12:30
p.m. We had a cheese sandwich and a Sprite for lunch, which used up all
our remaining Rupees. We sat in the no-smoking zone, and breathed
cigarette smoke for the next five hours as flight after flight was
delayed, then cancelled. There were no announcements, so we had to find
somebody official who was willing to tell us what was going on in order
to learn anything. We found out that the radar in the control tower was
down and the airport was closed. Our flight was coming from Bangkok and
was forced to land in Calcutta, India. At 5:30 p.m. we were told that
our flight was cancelled. By the time we got more information, it was
5:45 p.m., and an attempt to call Ngawang at Journeys found that all the
phones in this part of the airport weren't working. By the time we dealt
with the chaos of claiming our luggage and getting vouchers for a night
in a hotel, it was nearly 6:30 p.m., so their office was closed. In any
case, Thai Airlines was promising to take care of everything. We had to
wait another half hour for the van to the Blue Star Hotel, where we were
also treated to a free dinner. The hotel was adequate, and so was the
Day 16, Sunday, March 21, 1999
Even though the Thai Airlines representative said they would contact us
at or through the hotel about our flight schedule, they did not.
Luckily, we called the reception desk last night and were told that
breakfast (free) was at 7:00 a.m. and pick-up for the airport was at 8:15
a.m. Several of us were ready early, so one bus took us to the airport
at 8:00 a.m., but nobody was at the Thai Airlines counter until 9:00 a.m.
We got checked in and were told that a TA representative would meet us
in Bangkok to reschedule our Northwest Airlines flights (our connection
left Bangkok at 6:00 a.m. this morning). The flight was scheduled to
depart Kathmandu at 11:15 a.m., and finally did at 12:00 after a spell of
sitting at the start of the runway where we thought sure we would turn
back for the terminal. But at 12:00 it was goodbye Kathmandu!
We arrived in Bangkok at about 4:15 p.m. local time and a bunch of us
with various connection problems swarmed the single TA rep at the gate.
After only (!) two hours, we had a standby seat on tomorrow's Northwest
flight to Tokyo, which was fully booked, and had confirmed seats on the
Tokyo-Detroit flight. They also gave us a voucher for the Amari Hotel at
the airport, dinner, and the airport departure tax.
We found a bookstore in the adjacent shopping arcade and found a few
books on Thailand natural history that we had to have (orchids, national
parks, etc.). Allen went to the business center to send an e-mail to the
people at work telling them he wouldn't be able to make it in to work on
Monday as we would (if lucky) arrive in Detroit around noon on Monday.
It was a nice room, as it was an expensive hotel, but the bed was
actually two single beds pushed together, difficult to sleep in.
Day 17, Monday, March 22, 1999
We were up at 3:00 a.m. so we could be at the Northwest counter at 4:00
a.m. We had to wait until 5:30 a.m. before we finally got seats on the
flight (whew!). Miraculously, they were even together, though in an exit
row which had the advantage of more leg room and the disadvantage of no
storage nearby for all our stuff. The flight pushed back on time. We
arrived in Tokyo at 1:45 p.m. local time after having good views of Mt.
Fuji (our first views, as it wasn't visible on our Japan trip last
November). By the time we parked on the tarmac (all the gates were full)
and got bused to the terminal it was nearly 2:00 p.m. One of the engines
was spewing out fire after we parked, but the flight attendant said that
wasn't anything to worry about!
We went through a security check on arrival in the terminal (what for?)
and immediately heard last call for our flight to Detroit! We had a long
way to go, and when we got near the gate, had to pass through another
security check, complete with x-ray (ridiculous)! Luckily, it wasn't as
crowded as on our outbound flight, and we raced to the gate to get our
boarding passes (they couldn't issue them in Bangkok). We handed the
ticket-taker our boarding passes and he asked for a flight coupon. We
gave him our original tickets (and everything else we had accumulated),
but what he was looking for wasn't there! Another agent came up just
then and said everything was OK and we were allowed to board. Whew! We
pushed back and it appeared we would have an on-time departure, but it
was so windy, with 60 mph winds, that we had to let four planes land
first. The wind was rocking the plane whie we were still on the ground!
We took off at around 2:45 p.m. and they were expecting a flying time of
10 hours and 25 minutes, no doubt due to the ferocious tailwinds.
We arrived in Detroit around 11:30 a.m., an hour early and with 35 mph
crosswinds! We got home around 1:00 p.m. and called our jobs to let them
know we were home, and what happened to us.
A total of 286 species was recorded, with 189 life birds for Allen and
180 life birds for Nancy. We both got our 3000th life bird: Allen's was
Blue-throated Barbet at Fishtail Lodge on March 12, and Nancy's was the
Spotted Owlet in Pokhara on March 14.
Names and sequence follow Clements (Birds of the World: A Check List,
1991 and supplements). Many names are different in Clements from the
older Birds of Nepal by Fleming, Fleming ∓ Bangdel, so these names are
given in parentheses below when different. The new Birds of the Indian
Subcontinent uses the new Sibley-Monroe sequence, but doesn't seem to
follow the taxonomy completely. So, there are differences between
Clements and this field guide also!
Life birds are in all caps.
- Little Grebe - Tachybaptus ruficollis - 100
All were at the west end of Phewa Tal near Pokhara.
- Great Cormorant (Large Cormorant) - Phalacrocorax carbo - 58
One was at the Bangkok airport, while most were seen as flyovers at
Fishtail Lodge. Several were at Chitwan NP and two were on the drive
back to Kathmandu.
- ORIENTAL DARTER (Darter) - Anhinga melanogaster - 2
One at each of the two lakes we took a jeep to at Chitwan NP.
- LESSER WHISTLING-DUCK (Lesser Whistling Teal) - Dendrocygna javanica - 25
All were at the first lake we jeeped to at Chitwan NP.
- RUDDY SHELDUCK - Tadorna ferruginea - 109
All were in the Narayani River at Chitwan NP, mostly as scattered pairs,
but with one flock of 40-50 birds.
- Northern Pintail - Anas acuta - 1
Seen with the Lesser Whistling-Ducks at the lake at Chitwan NP.
- Common Merganser - Mergus merganser - 1
On the Narayani River with Ruddy Shelducks.
- Little Egret - Egretta garzetta - 441
Common throughout, from the elevation of Kathmandu and lower.
- Intermediate Egret - Mesophoyx intermedia - 229
Common around Pokhara, both at Fishtail Lodge and nearby rice fields, and
at Chitwan NP.
- Purple Heron - Ardea purpurea - 4
First seen at the overlook at Temple Tiger Lodge, all were at Chitwan NP.
- Great Egret (Large Egret) - Ardea alba - 17
Four flew over the hotel in Bangkok. Most others were in the Pokhara
area, with a few at Chitwan NP.
- Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis - 14
Two were near Phewa Tal and 12 were near Begnas Tal, near Pokhara.
- INDIAN POND-HERON (Pond Heron) - Ardeola grayii - 181
Very common around Pokhara, including Fishtail Lodge, and at Chitwan NP.
- CHINESE POND-HERON - Ardeola bacchus - 1
An immature seen at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok. Does not occur in
- Striated Heron (Little Green Heron) - Butorides striatus - 2
Both were at the pond at the overlook at Temple Tiger Lodge.
- Black-crowned Night-Heron - Nycticorax nycticorax - 5
One was over Kathmandu and the others were at the pond behind Temple
- Cinnamon Bittern (Chestnut Bittern) - Ixobrychus cinnamomeus - 1
Seen a couple of times at the pond behind Temple Tiger Lodge.
- BLACK BITTERN - Ixobrychus flavicollis - 1
Seen our first afternoon, and briefly the following morning, at the pond
behind Temple Tiger Lodge.
- RED-NAPED IBIS (Black Ibis) - Pseudibis papillosa - 4
All were seen from elephant-back at Chitwan NP.
- ASIAN OPENBILL (Open-billed Stork) - Anastomus oscitans - 6
Up to four behind the Temple Tiger Lodge, but at a great distance. One
seen fairly close at the pond we jeeped to at Chitwan NP.
- BLACK STORK - Ciconia nigra - 1
Seen at a great distance along the Narayani River at Chitwan NP.
- Woolly-necked Stork (White-necked Stork) - Ciconia episcopus - 2
Both were circling overhead near Mugling.
- Osprey - Pandion haliaetus - 3
Two were at Begnas Tal near Pokhara and one was along the Narayani River
at Chitwan NP.
- Black-eared Kite (Dark Kite) - Milvus lineatus - 440
Very numerous over Kathmandu, over the Pokhara area, and along all the
roads. This is a split from Black Kite.
- GRAY-HEADED FISH-EAGLE - Ichtyophaga icthyaetus - 3
All were at Chitwan NP, including an unoccupied nest.
- LAMMERGEIER (Bearded Vulture) - Gypaetus barbatus - 1
What appeared to be an adult or sub-adult was seen well at the hilltop
- EGYPTIAN VULTURE - Neophron percnopterus - 8
Five were in the Pokhara area and three were along the road from Pokhara
to Chitwan NP.
- WHITE-RUMPED VULTURE (White-backed Vulture) - Gyps bengalensis - 18
Most were in the Pokhara area, with a few along the highway to Chitwan NP
and to Kathmandu from there.
- HIMALAYAN GRIFFON - Gyps himalayensis - 8
All were seen at the hilltop near Khare, which included a couple of
- CINEREOUS VULTURE - Aegypius monachus - 1
Seen well at the hilltop near Khare.
- RED-HEADED VULTURE (Black Vulture) - Sarcogyps calvus - 1
An immature seen high overhead southwest of Pokhara.
- Crested Serpent-Eagle - Spilornis cheela - 5
One was heard on Pulchowki Mtn., and the others were all at Chitwan NP.
- Western Marsh-Harrier - Circus aeruginosus - 1
A female flying overhead at Pulchowki Mtn.
- Shikra - Accipiter badius - 4
One was at Shivapuri Reserve, one at Khare, one at Chitwan NP, and one
along the road to Kathmandu.
- BESRA (Besra Sparrow Hawk) - Accipiter virgatus - 1
Seen high overhead behind Fishtail Lodge.
- Eurasian Sparrowhawk - Accipiter nisus - 1
Near Kasunda, just before we headed into Chitwan NP.
- WHITE-EYED BUZZARD (White-eyed Hawk) - Butastur teesa - 1
Seen flying along the shore of the Narayani River from elephant-back at
- Common Buzzard (Eurasian Buteo) - Buteo buteo - 2
One was at Begnas Tal and the other was south of Pokhara.
- LONG-LEGGED BUZZARD (Long-legged Buteo) - Buteo rufinus - 1
Circling over the hilltop near Khare.
- BLACK EAGLE - Ictinaetus malayensis - 1
Circling low over the hilltop near Khare.
- STEPPE EAGLE - Aquila nipalensis - 12
Two immatures were at Shivapuri Reserve. Most of the remainder were in
the Pokhara area, and most were immatures.
- Changeable Hawk-Eagle - Spizaetus cirrhatus - 2
Both were circling together behind the Temple Tiger Lodge the first
- MOUNTAIN HAWK-EAGLE - Spizaetus nipalensis - 1
Seen briefly as it took off from the ground ahead of us at Pulchowki Mtn.
- Eurasian Kestrel - Falco tinnunculus - 4
Seen along roadsides near Pokhara, Khare, and on the drive to Chitwan NP.
- Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus - 3
One flew over Fishtail Lodge, one was along the road from Pokhara to
Chitwan NP, and one was at Chitwan.
- Black Francolin (Black Partridge) - Francolinus francolinus - 1
Heard only, from the overlook at Temple Tiger Lodge. This is the first
time we have encountered wild individuals of this species. We saw them
in Hawaii previously.
- HILL PARTRIDGE - Arborophila torqueola - 3
Heard on Pulchowki Mtn. and glimpsed at Nagarjung. Seen briefly at
- Red Junglefowl - Gallus gallus - 12
Seen only at Chitwan NP, where we had good views. Much easier to see
here than in Indonesia.
- Kalij Pheasant - Lophura leucomelanos - 4
Two seen on Pulchowki Mtn. and two seen in the forest behind Fishtail
Lodge. This is the first time we have seen wild individuals of this
species. We had seen them in Hawaii previously.
- INDIAN PEAFOWL (Common Peafowl) - Pavo cristatus - 16
Seen and heard fairly frequently at Chitwan NP. Only a couple of
full-plumaged males seen well, including one perched low in a tree.
- BROWN CRAKE - Amaurornis akool - 4
All were seen at the pond at the overlook behind Temple Tiger Lodge. On
only one occasion were they easily visible and walking around in the
- White-breasted Waterhen - Amaurornis phoenicurus - 5
Most were fairly easily seen at the pond at the overlook behind Temple
Tiger Lodge. One was at the lake we went to by jeep.
- Purple Swamphen (Purple Gallinule) - Porphyrio porphyrio - 7
All were in one flock, when apparently something flushed them into view
from the cattails to a mudflat at the lake we went to by jeep at Chitwan
- Eurasian Coot - Fulica atra - 50
All were at the west end of Phewa Tal near Pokhara.
- BRONZE-WINGED JACANA - Metopidius indicus - 6
All were on the lake we went to by jeep at Chitwan NP. We had excellent
views of a male and female in the scope in the afternoon.
- Greater Painted-Snipe - Rostratula benghalensis - 12
Quite unexpected near the dam at Begnas Tal, where they were walking
around in the open like "normal" shorebirds, not the skulkers they're
known to be. A total of 11 was counted here, and there may have been
more. A group of eight was approached closely and one photographed. One
walked out onto the mudflat at the lake we went to by jeep at Chitwan NP.
Without doubt our best views ever, since we only saw one flushing in The
- Common Snipe (Fantail Snipe) - Gallinago gallinago - 12
All were on the mudflat at the lake we went to by jeep at Chitwan NP.
- Jack Snipe - Lymnocryptes minimus - 4
All were on the mudflat at the lake we went to by jeep at Chitwan NP, but
only in the early morning. A lifer for Nancy, and only Allen's second
- Spotted Redshank - Tringa erythropus - 1
Seen on a gravel bar in the Narayani River at Chitwan NP. A lifer for
Nancy, and only Allen's second sighting.
- Common Greenshank - Tringa nebularia - 6
All were along the Narayani River at Chitwan NP.
- Green Sandpiper - Tringa ochropus - 8
All were at the lake we went to by jeep at Chitwan NP.
- Wood Sandpiper - Tringa glareola - 13
Most were at the lake we went to by jeep at Chitwan NP, but three were at
the fish ponds at Begnas Tal near Pokhara.
- Common Sandpiper - Tringa hypoleucos - 4
All were along the Narayani River at Chitwan NP.
- TEMMINCK'S STINT - Calidris temminckii - 4
All were on a sand bar along the Narayani River where we were stranded
waiting for our ride back to Kathmandu. At least two seemed to be very
nearly in full breeding plumage.
- SMALL PRATINCOLE - Glareola lactea - 21
All were along the Narayani River at Chitwan NP, with most seen on our
boat trip to look for Gharials. Their flight-style resembled American
Golden-Plovers, or even Least Terns a bit.
- Little Ringed Plover - Charadrius dubius - 3
All were on sand bars in the Narayani River at Chitwan NP. These were
the first we've seen in breeding plumage, since our life looks were just
last November in Japan.
- RED-WATTLED LAPWING - Vanellus indicus - 13
A few were around Pokhara at various places, typically in rice paddies.
Most were along the Narayani River in Chitwan NP and along the sandy
roads near the beaches there.
- Rock Dove (Blue Rock Pigeon) - Columba livia - 300
In towns and along roadsides throughout. Had we been able to do our
trek, we may have had our best chance ever to see truly wild Rock Doves.
- ASHY WOOD-PIGEON - Columba pulchricollis - 2
Seen as high flyovers at Shivapuri Reserve. Seen by Allen only.
- Oriental Turtle-Dove (Rufous Turtle-Dove) - Streptopelia orientalis - 6
One seen well on Pulchowki Mtn. and the others seen briefly at Chitwan
- Spotted Dove - Streptopelia chinensis - 205
Seen in Bangkok and in most cities and along roads in Nepal. Very common
at Chitwan NP.
- RED COLLARED DOVE (Red Turtle-Dove) - Streptopelia tranquebarica - 2
One seen very well at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok. Surprisingly
scarce at Chitwan NP, where we only saw one individual in flight.
- Eurasian Collared-Dove (Indian Ring Dove) - Streptopelia decaocto - 2
Two pale doves that landed in distant trees, and were scoped, at the
overlook at Temple Tiger Lodge were this species.
- Emerald Dove - Chalcophaps indica - 14
Commonly heard around Temple Tiger Lodge, and several seen fairly well,
though all were in flight.
- Zebra Dove - Geopelia striata - 3
Seen at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok. Does not occur in Nepal.
- Orange-breasted Pigeon (Orange-breasted Green Pigeon) - Treron bicincta - 18
The common green pigeon at Chitwan NP. Seen well perched in trees as
well as in flight.
- POMPADOUR GREEN-PIGEON (Gray-fronted Green Pigeon) - Treron pompadora - 14
Picked out of perched, mixed flocks with the previous species.
- ALEXANDRINE PARAKEET (Large Parakeet) - Psittacula eupatria - 25
Fairly commonly encountered at Chitwan NP, and we even learned their
calls which were loud and raucous, almost like a macaw.
- Rose-ringed Parakeet - Psittacula krameri - 70
Appeared to be the most common parakeet at Chitwan NP. Also seen flying
overhead one evening from the roof of our hotel in Kathmandu, and also
along the road on our drive from Chitwan to Kathmandu.
- SLATY-HEADED PARAKEET - Psittacula himalayana - 7
All were in one flock in the forest behind Fishtail Lodge. They perched
briefly in nearby trees, allowing us good views.
- PLUM-HEADED PARAKEET (Blossom-headed Parakeet) - Psittacula cyanocephala - 60
The first ones were as we neared Chitwan NP, and all the remainder were
inside the park. The bird currently known as Blossom-headed Parakeet (P.
roseata) apparently no longer occurs in Nepal.
- Red-breasted Parakeet (Rose-breasted Parakeet) - Psittacula alexandri - 35
Seen only at Chitwan NP, where they were fairly common and sometimes
easily distinguished by their more honking calls. Much better views than
we had in Bali.
- LARGE HAWK-CUCKOO - Cuculus sparverioides - 5
Heard giving its distinctive call at Pulchowki Mtn. and Nagarjung, but
unfortunately not seen.
- COMMON HAWK-CUCKOO - Cuculus varius - 8
The common "brain-fever bird" of Chitwan, where they were mostly heard
giving their distinctive call. We saw one calling from a tall bare tree.
- LESSER CUCKOO (Small Cuckoo) - Cuculus poliocephalus - 2
Heard only, at Shivapuri Reserve.
- Asian Koel (Koel Cuckoo) - Eudynamys scolopacea - 1
A male seen in the dim morning light at the Rama Gardens Hotel in
Bangkok. Also heard calling there all morning.
- GREEN-BILLED MALKOHA (Large Green-billed Malkoha) - Phaeniophaeus
tristis - 1
Seen in a treetop while we were on elephant-back at Chitwan NP.
- GREATER COUCAL (Large Coucal) - Centropus sinensis - 10
Found only at Chitwan NP, where we frequently saw them at dawn and dusk
calling from the tops of the elephant grass.
- MOUNTAIN SCOPS-OWL (Spotted Scops-Owl) - Otus spilocephalus - 1
Heard calling as it neared dark at Shivapuri Reserve.
- ASIAN BARRED OWLET (Barred Owlet) - Glaucidium cuculoides - 6
Seen well during late afternoon at Fishtail Lodge, and heard at Begnas
Tal near Pokhara and at Temple Tiger Lodge.
- JUNGLE OWLET - Glaucidium radiatum - 4
Heard at Temple Tiger Lodge, and seen in the open forest and grassland at
- SPOTTED OWLET - Athene brama - 1
Pointed out to us by Hari at its day roost in a large tree in Pokhara.
- Brown Hawk-Owl - Ninox scutulata - 1
Heard every evening around Temple Tiger Lodge, but never seen.
- JUNGLE NIGHTJAR - Caprimulgus indicus - 1
Heard one evening from Temple Tiger Lodge.
- Large-tailed Nightjar (Long-tailed Nightjar) - Caprimulgus macrurus - 5
Heard mainly around Temple Tiger Lodge, but also heard out in the
grasslands as we returned late one afternoon/evening. The calls of this
form are quite different from those on Flores, Indonesia.
- CRESTED TREESWIFT (Crested Swift) - Hemiprocne coronata - 3
Seen flying from the overlook at Temple Tiger Lodge.
- FORK-TAILED SWIFT (Large White-rumped Swift) - - 1
Seen only over the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok.
- House Swift - Apus nipalensis - 320
A few over Kathmandu and Pokhara. Most were seen at various areas along
the roads from Pokhara to Chitwan and from Chitwan to Kathmandu.
- Common Kingfisher (Eurasian Kingfisher) - Alcedo atthis - 14
Several were at Begnas Tal near Pokhara, and most were at Chitwan NP.
- STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER - Pelargopsis capensis - 8
All were at various locations around Temple Tiger Lodge and Chitwan NP.
- WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHER (White-breasted Kingfisher) - Halcyon
smyrnensis - 37
First seen at Fishtail Lodge, then in several areas around Pokhara and
Begnas Tal. Common along roadsides and especially common at Chitwan NP.
One was even at the Kathmandu airport as we stood on the tarmac waiting
for our Mt. Everest sightseeing flight to cancel.
- Pied Kingfisher (Small Pied Kingfisher) - Ceryle rudis - 6
One was at Begnas Tal near Pokhara. All the others were at Chitwan NP.
- BLUE-BEARDED BEE-EATER - Nyctyornis athertoni - 1
Heard giving its rasping call from a treetop at Chitwan NP.
Unfortunately, our elephant wasn't as maneuverable as it needed to be for
birding at that moment!
- GREEN BEE-EATER - Merops orientalis - 13
All were in the grasslands at Chitwan NP.
- Blue-tailed Bee-eater - Merops philippinus - 1
Seen along the river on our drive from Chitwan to Kathmandu.
- Chestnut-headed Bee-eater - Merops leschenaultii - 136
One seen distantly in the hills southwest of Pokhara. All others were at
Chitwan NP, through which they were apparently migrating. Fairly tame
around Temple Tiger Lodge.
- INDIAN ROLLER - Coracias benghalensis - 17
The first was near Pokhara and a couple of others were along the road to
Chitwan and to Kathmandu. All others were at Chitwan NP.
- Dollarbird (Dark Roller) - Eurystomus orientalis - 1
Seen briefly in flight at the Godaveri Botanical Gardens.
- Eurasian Hoopoe - Upupa epops - 1
Seen briefly as it flew up and landed on a tree stump ahead of us along
the road at Chitwan NP.
- ORIENTAL PIED-HORNBILL (Pied Hornbill) - Anthracoceros albirostris - 30
Seen only in Sal forest at Chitwan NP on two different days in two
- GREAT BARBET (Great Himalayan Barbet) - Megalaima virens - 10
Several were heard at Pulchowki Mtn. and Nagarjung, but were at least 100
meters upslope from us. Two or three visited the gardens of Fishtail
Lodge and were easy to see.
- Lineated Barbet - Megalaima lineata - 8
All were at Chitwan NP, and most were heard. Only one was seen briefly.
- GOLDEN-THROATED BARBET - Megalaima franklinii - 12
Most were heard on Pulchowki Mtn. A couple were at Nagarjung, with one
glimpsed briefly in a treetop. One was on the hill near Khare and one
was heard at the Kathmandu airport.
- BLUE-THROATED BARBET - Megalaima asiatica - 4
Two frequented the gardens at Fishtail Lodge where we had excellent
views. Others were heard at Begnas Tal and at Chitwan NP.
- Coppersmith Barbet (Crimson-breasted Barbet) - Megalaima
haemacephala - 2
Heard calling at Chitwan NP.
- EURASIAN WRYNECK - Jynx torquilla - 3
The first one was in a small bare tree near Begnas Tal and the others
were in similar situations at Chitwan NP.
- SPECKLED PICULET (Spotted Piculet) - Picumnus innominatus - 1
Excellent views in a vine tangle near an open area at Nagarjung.
- GRAY-CAPPED WOODPECKER (Gray-crowned Pygmy Woodpecker) -
Dendrocopos canicapillus - 8
This tiny woodpecker was seen only at Chitwan NP.
- Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker (Fulvous-breasted Pied Woodpecker) -
Dendrocopos macei - 10
One was seen well in the gardens at Fishtail Lodge. All the others were
seen at Chitwan NP.
- RUFOUS-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Rufous-bellied Sapsucker) - Dendrocopos
hyperythrus - 1
Good view at Pulchowki Mtn.
- RUFOUS WOODPECKER (Brown Woodpecker) - Celeus brachyurus - 2
Both were seen together near Temple Tiger Lodge working on a termite nest
high in a tree in the Sal forest.
- GREATER YELLOWNAPE (Large Yellow-naped Woodpecker) - Picus
flavinucha - 8
First seen in the forest near Fishtail Lodge and later seen from the
lodge grounds. A few were seen well at Chitwan NP.
- STREAK-THROATED WOODPECKER (Small Scaly-bellied Woodpecker) -
Picus xanthopygaeus - 5
The first one flew right in front of us at the overlook at Temple Tiger
Lodge. The others were seen well in the Sal forest nearby.
- GRAY-HEADED WOODPECKER (Black-naped Woodpecker) - Picus canus - 3
One seen briefly, but well, in the forest near Fishtail Lodge. Two were
seen well in the Sal forest at Chitwan NP.
- HIMALAYAN FLAMEBACK (Three-toed Golden-backed Woodpecker) -
Dinopium shorii - 8
Flying around in noisy flocks in the Sal forest at Temple Tiger Lodge.
- GREATER FLAMEBACK (Large Golden-backed Woodpecker) - Chrysocolaptes
lucidus - 2
Seen around the buildings at Temple Tiger Lodge.
- GREAT SLATY WOODPECKER - Mulleripicus pulverulentus - 4
All were together in a loose group in the Sal forest near Temple Tiger
- WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL (White-throated Fantail Flycatcher) - Rhipidura albicollis - 13
All were around Temple Tiger Lodge and at Chitwan NP, mostly located by
its high-pitched "happy" song.
- Pied Fantail - Rhipidura javanica - 2
Seen at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok. Does not occur in Nepal.
- Black Drongo - Dicrurus macrocercus - 75
Common in open country throughout. Even a few seen within the boundaries
- Ashy Drongo - Dicrurus leucophaeus - 2
Seen well, in the same tree, at the lower elevations of Pulchowki Mtn.
- WHITE-BELLIED DRONGO - Dicrurus caerulescens - 1
Seen briefly by Allen in the Sal forest near Temple Tiger Lodge.
- CROW-BILLED DRONGO - Dicrurus annectans - 4
Seen first around Temple Tiger Lodge, then in Chitwan NP. Apparently an
early-arriving summer resident.
- BRONZED DRONGO (Little Bronzed Drongo) - Dicrurus aeneus - 2
One was heard in the forest behind Fishtail Lodge, and one was seen in
the Sal forest near Temple Tiger Lodge.
- HAIR-CRESTED DRONGO - Dicrurus hottentotus - 20
Several frequented the gardens and the forest behind Fishtail Lodge. A
few were in the Pokhara area, and several were at Chitwan NP.
- Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Large Racket-tailed Drongo) -
Dicrurus paradiseus - 3
All were in the Sal forest near Temple Tiger Lodge, where we had much
better views than we had in Bali. One bird perched in the open at
eye-level, allowing prolonged views and photos. Reminiscent of a
- BLUE MAGPIE (Red-billed Blue Magpie) - Urocissa erythrorhyncha
The first group of seven was seen well at Nagarjung, and the second group
of six was on the edge of the forest behind Fishtail Lodge. A very
- GREEN MAGPIE - Cissa chinensis - 4
Seen well on the edge of the forest and in the gardens from Fishtail
Lodge, as well as in the forest behind the lodge. This was the most
unexpected bonus bird of our redirection to the Pokhara area. We thought
the species occurred in Nepal only in the Churia Hills of Chitwan NP.
- RUFOUS TREEPIE (Indian Tree Pie) - Dendrocitta vagabunda - 3
Seen on only one day at Chitwan NP. Good views.
- GRAY TREEPIE (Himalayan Tree Pie) - Dendrocitta formosae - 64
First found in the forest near Fishtail Lodge, then found to be quite
numerous and conspicuous in the gardens of the lodge. Also seen at other
places, only in the Pokhara area, including at Khare and Begnas Tal.
- HOUSE CROW - Corvus splendens - 3000
Very common around Kathmandu, as we discovered when we watched everything
coming in to roost from the top of our hotel. Also in virtually every
open area and along roadsides throughout.
- Large-billed Crow (Jungle Crow) - Corvus macrorhynchos - 33
Not as common as we expected. One was at the Rama Gardens Hotel in
Bangkok. In Nepal, occasional individuals were noted among flocks of
House Crows but mainly in rural areas, not in cities. Not in forest
either as its alternate name suggests.
- Common Iora - Aegithina tiphia - 12
One was at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok. All others were around the
Temple Tiger Lodge and Chitwan NP.
- Black-naped Oriole - Oriolus chinensis - 1
Seen at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok. A rare bird in Nepal.
- BLACK-HOODED ORIOLE (Black-headed Oriole) - Oriolus xanthornus - 12
Found only at Chitwan NP and around Temple Tiger Lodge where it was
frequently heard and occasionally seen.
- MAROON ORIOLE - Oriolus traillii - 14
Two juveniles were seen on Pulchowki Mtn. All the rest were seen around
Fishtail Lodge and in the forest behind the lodge where it seemed
surprisingly common. One even came into the garden one morning.
- LARGE CUCKOO-SHRIKE - Coracina macei - 2
Seen in a small tree from the jeep in Chitwan NP.
- ROSY MINIVET - Pericrocotus roseus - 10
A single flock moved through the treetops at Temple Tiger Lodge briefly
one afternoon. Possibly migrants.
- LONG-TAILED MINIVET - Pericrocotus ethologus - 3
Seen near the top of the hill near Khare on our walk with Hari.
- Scarlet Minivet - Pericrocotus flammeus - 32
Two were at the Godaveri Botanical Gardens, and all the rest were around
Temple Tiger Lodge and Chitwan NP where there appeared to be small
- BAR-WINGED FLYCATCHER-SHRIKE (Pied Wood-Shrike) - Hemipus picatus - 1
Seen briefly in shrubbery along a bluff near Temple Tiger Lodge.
- GOLDEN-FRONTED LEAFBIRD - Chloropsis aurifrons - 2
One heard, then one seen briefly in the treetops, right over our cabin at
Temple Tiger Lodge.
- ORANGE-BELLIED LEAFBIRD - Chloropsis hardwickii - 2
Heard only in the forest behind Fishtail Lodge, and subsequently from the
lodge as well.
- BROWN SHRIKE - Lanius cristatus - 1
Seen sitting on a wire by Allen near Gaindakut on our drive from Chitwan
- BAY-BACKED SHRIKE - Lanius vittatus - 1
Seen in undergrowth on the edge of the forest behind Fishtail Lodge.
- Long-tailed Shrike (Black-headed Shrike) - Lanius schach - 22
About equal numbers around Pokhara, Chitwan NP, and the drive to Chitwan.
- BLUE WHISTLING-THRUSH (Whistling Thrush) - Myiophonus caeruleus - 11
Most were in the forest behind Fishtail Lodge, where it seemed
surprisingly common. Also found on the hill near Khare, and one flew
across the road on our drive from Chitwan to Kathmandu.
- SCALY THRUSH (Speckled Mountain Thrush) - Zoothera dauma - 9
Two were at Nagarjung and the rest were in the forest behind Fishtail
Lodge, and appeared to be flocking as migrants.
- GRAY-WINGED BLACKBIRD - Turdus boulboul - 2
Both were together in the forest at Nagarjung.
- CHESTNUT THRUSH (Gray-headed Thrush) - Turdus rubrocanus - 1
Seen as it flew up from the road, then perched motionless in a tree for
good views at Nagarjung. The illustration in the Nepal field guide
doesn't show the race (gouldii) that occurs in Nepal, which has a very
dark gray head and neck, contrasting little with the chestnut body.
- DARK-THROATED THRUSH (Black/Red-throated Thrush) - - 3
One immature female was seen at the Godaveri Botanical Gardens, and adult
females were seen at Khare and at Fishtail Lodge. The form that is most
common in Nepal is apparently the black-throated form, but we never saw
an adult male.
- SPOT-WINGED STARLING (Spot-winged Stare) - Saroglossa spiloptera - 15
Seen during our first afternoon/evening walk at Chitwan NP, where they
were with hundreds of other starlings and mynas staging in bare trees
before going to roost in the elephant grass.
- CHESTNUT-TAILED STARLING (Gray-headed Myna) - Sturnus malabaricus - 500
Common in the flowering trees on the road to the river leading to
Fishtail Lodge. Very common at Chitwan NP, but only seen in the late
afternoon when the starlings and mynas were staging in bare trees.
- White-cheeked Starling - Sturnus cineraceus - 15
Seen from the plane in a tree adjacent to the runway at Narita airport in
Tokyo. Does not occur in Nepal.
- ASIAN PIED STARLING (Pied Myna) - Sturnus contra - 1
Seen briefly along the road from Chitwan to Kathmandu near Gaindakut.
- BLACK-COLLARED STARLING - Sturnus nigricollis - 1
A large, attractive, black, white, and yellow starling seen only at the
Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok. Does not occur in Nepal.
- Common Myna - Acridotheres tristis - 1100
Abundant virtually everywhere in Bangkok and Nepal. This is the first
time we've encountered wild individuals of this species. We've seen them
previously in Australia where they've been introduced.
- BANK MYNA - Acridotheres ginginianus - 150
First seen in Pokhara and at Begnas Tal. A few were seen along the road
from Pokhara to Chitwan. Most were at Chitwan NP where they were most
often in the starling and myna flocks coming in to roost.
- JUNGLE MYNA - Acridotheres fuscus - 1000
First seen at Begnas Tal, and a couple in Pokhara later. A few were
along the road from Pokhara to Chitwan. Most were at Chitwan NP, where
it was the most abundant myna in the flocks coming in to roost.
- WHITE-VENTED MYNA - Acridotheres grandis - 5
Seen on wires along the highway to and from the airport in Bangkok. Does
not occur in Nepal.
- Hill Myna (Talking Myna) - Gracula religiosa - 4
Heard calling from the treetops at Temple Tiger Lodge.
Myna sp. - Acridotheres sp. - 2000
There were so many mynas coming in to roost each evening at Chitwan NP
that we couldn't identify them all.
- DARK-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Sooty Flycatcher) - Muscicapa sibirica - 1
Seen well in the gardens at Fishtail Lodge.
- ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER (Brown Flycatcher) - Muscicapa dauurica - 1
Seen well in scrub northwest of Phewa Tal near Pokhara.
- RUSTY-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Rufous-tailed Flycatcher) - - 2
One was seen well in scrub on the outskirts of Pokhara and one was seen
very well at Temple Tiger Lodge.
- FERRUGINOUS FLYCATCHER - Muscicapa ferruginea - 1
Good views in the garden at Fishtail Lodge.
- RED-THROATED FLYCATCHER (Red-breasted Flycatcher) - Ficedula parva - 2
One was seen well in a brush pile on the outskirts of Fishtail Lodge and
the other was seen well in an open area near the dam at Begnas Tal, both
- VERDITER FLYCATCHER - Eumyias thalassina - 6
One was seen well on Pulchowki Mtn. All others were on the hill near
Khare west of Pokhara.
- SMALL NILTAVA - Niltava macgregoriae - 1
Heard, and glimpsed very briefly, in trailside brush on the hill near
- RUFOUS-BELLIED NILTAVA (Beautiful Niltava) - Niltava sundara - 1
Seen briefly, but well, in low shrubbery in the gardens at Fishtail
- TICKELL'S BLUE FLYCATCHER - Cyornis tickelliae - 1
A female seen at close range at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok.
Apparently, the race found in Thailand is different from the race in the
Indian Subcontinent. Females shown in the Birds of the Indian
Subcontinent do not resemble the bird we saw, but the plate in Ben King's
Birds of Southeast Asia, and the descriptive text are very convincing.
- Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher (Gray-headed Flycatcher) - Culicicapa
ceylonensis - 7
A couple were around the gardens at Fishtail Lodge. Several were on the
hill near Khare.
- Oriental Magpie-Robin (Robin Dayal) - Copsychus saularis - 40
Several on the grounds of the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok gave us good
looks (much better than the one we saw in Bali). Commonly encountered
throughout Nepal, with a few even in the center of Kathmandu.
- White-rumped Shama (Shama) - Copsychus malabaricus - 10
A few were seen fairly well in the forest behind Fishtail Lodge. All
others were heard and glimpsed at Chitwan NP. This is the first time
we've encountered wild individuals of this species. We've seen them
previously in Hawaii.
- BLUE-CAPPED REDSTART (Blue-headed Redstart) - Phoenicurus caeruleocephalus - 1
Seen briefly on the hill near Khare.
- BLUE-FRONTED REDSTART - Phoenicurus frontalis - 2
The one at the Godaveri Botanical Gardens gave us good views, while one
at Nagarjung was less cooperative. Not shown well in Birds of Nepal, as
this species is a beautiful sky-blue above with peach-colored underparts.
- WHITE-CAPPED REDSTART (White-capped River Chat) - Chaimarrornis leucocephalus - 1
Seen in the river where we crossed the swinging bridge from Pokhara into
the forest behind Fishtail Lodge.
- PLUMBEOUS REDSTART - Rhyacornis fuliginosus - 1
Seen in the river near Pokhara with the previous species.
- WHITE-THROATED BUSHCHAT (Hodgson's Bush Chat) - Saxicola insignis - 8
All were in the open areas around Begnas Tal, along with the following
three species. This species isn't supposed to be common anywhere in
Nepal, so it is likely these were migrants.
- SIBERIAN STONECHAT (Collared Bush Chat) - Saxicola maura - 25
One was in a brushpile near Fishtail Lodge. There were at least ten at
Begnas Tal in the open areas. Most were in the grasslands at Chitwan NP.
Recently split from Common Stonechat.
- WHITE-TAILED STONECHAT (White-tailed Bush Chat) - Saxicola leucura - 6
We had to look at every stonechat carefully, and hope it either flicked
its tail open or flew to be identified as this species. We found the
first one in a rice paddy northwest of Phewa Tal. There were at least
two at Begnas Tal also. Others were at Chitwan NP.
- Pied Bushchat - Saxicola caprata - 20
One was northwest of Phewa Tal. There were - - 7-8 at Begnas Tal in the open
areas with the other chats. Most common in the grasslands at Chitwan NP.
- GRAY BUSHCHAT (Dark-gray Bush Chat) - Saxicola ferrea - 1
Seen singing in a tree at the summit of the hill near Khare. This is the
only case we noticed where the illustration in Birds of Nepal was better
than in Birds of the Indian Subcontinent, probably because the breeding
plumage is portrayed in the former and winter plumage in the latter.
- CHESTNUT-BELLIED NUTHATCH - Sitta castanea - 25
Once we learned its call, we found it to be very common in the Sal forest
at Chitwan NP.
- WHITE-TAILED NUTHATCH - - 6
Two were on Pulchowki Mtn. and one was at Nagarjung. Three were on the
hill near Khare.
- VELVET-FRONTED NUTHATCH - Sitta frontalis - 5
A couple frequented the forest near Fishtail Lodge and were easily seen
from the grounds. Three were seen in the Sal forest around Temple Tiger
- BLACK-THROATED TIT (Red-headed Tit) - Aegithalos concinnus - 20
All were on Pulchowki Mtn., including at the summit.
- Sand Martin (Bank Swallow) (Collared Sand Martin) - Riparia
riparia - 15
A few near Khairani on the drive from Pokhara, and a few at Chitwan NP
were apparently migrants.
- PLAIN MARTIN (Sand Martin) - Riparia paludicola - 700
First seen over fields and rice paddies northwest of Phewa Tal. Also
seen at Khare and Begnas Tal in the Pokhara area. Common along the
Narayani River at Chitwan NP.
- Barn Swallow - Hirundo rustica - 175
Common in open areas throughout.
- Red-rumped Swallow - Hirundo daurica - 34
Small migrating flocks were encountered at Nagarjung, Pokhara, and Begnas
- Asian Martin (Eurasian House Martin) - Delichon dasypus - 47
Apparent migrants were found at Pokhara and along the roads from there to
Chitwan and from Chitwan to Kathmandu.
- BLACK-CRESTED BULBUL (Black-headed Yellow Bulbul) - Pycnonotus
melanicterus - 10
Seen well in low shrubbery at the overlook at Temple Tiger Lodge and in
the nearby Sal forest.
- Red-whiskered Bulbul - Pycnonotus jocosus - 10
Seen in shrubbery and elephant grass at Temple Tiger Lodge and Chitwan
NP. This is the first time we've encountered wild individuals of this
species. We've seen them previously in Florida.
- HIMALAYAN BULBUL (White-cheeked Bulbul) - Pycnonotus leucogenys - 53
First heard at Shivapuri Reserve, where they were strangely elusive, and
seen well the next day on Pulchowki Mtn. where it was most common. Also
fairly common around Pokhara, including on the grounds of Fishtail Lodge.
A couple were seen at and near Chitwan NP, but this species is much less
common in the lowlands. Using Birds of Nepal, it would be easy to
mis-identify juvenile Red-whiskered Bulbuls as "White-cheeked," or
Himalayan Bulbuls, since the rendition of this species isn't accurate,
and the juvenile Red-whiskered isn't illustrated.
- Red-vented Bulbul - Pycnonotus cafer - 260
The only ones we found above 2000 feet were five at Pulchowki Mtn. This
species was very common at Pokhara, along the roads, and particularly at
Chitwan NP. This is the first time we've encountered wild individuals of
this species. We've seen them previously in Hawaii.
- Yellow-vented Bulbul - Pycnonotus goiaver - 1
Seen at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok. This species does not occur
- STREAK-EARED BULBUL - Pycnonotus blanfordi - 20
Seen at the Rama Gardens Hotel, where they were apparently feeding
recently-fledged young (which were very confusing in appearance). This
species does not occur in Nepal.
- ASHY BULBUL (Brown-eared Bulbul) - Hemixos flavala - 2
Good looks in the forest near Fishtail Lodge near Pokhara. This species
is obviously not the same Brown-eared Bulbul that we saw last November in
- MOUNTAIN BULBUL (Rufous-bellied Bulbul) - Hypsipetes mcclellandii - 15
All were on the hill near Khare, where they were seen in two noisy
groups. They reminded us a little bit of Great Crested Flycatchers.
- BLACK BULBUL (Gray Bulbul) - Hypsipetes leucocephalus - 12
Two were seen well at Nagarjung. Several were on the hill near Khare,
and a couple were at Chitwan NP.
- Oriental White-eye (White-eye) - Zosterops palpebrosus - 15
Most were on the grounds of Fishtail Lodge, but a couple were found near
Khare and a couple were found at Chitwan NP.
- HILL PRINIA (Black-throated Hill Prinia) - Prinia atrogularis - 1
Seen singing from a distant shrub-top near Khare.
- YELLOW-BELLIED PRINIA - Prinia flaviventris - 1
Seen briefly by Allen as it flushed in front of our jeep at Chitwan NP.
- ASHY PRINIA - Prinia socialis - 10
Seen repeatedly, but always briefly, flushing out of the elephant grass
at Chitwan NP.
- PLAIN PRINIA - Prinia inornata - 1
Seen briefly, but well, by Allen at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok.
- CHESTNUT-HEADED TESIA (Chestnut-headed Ground Warbler) - Tesia
castaneocoronata - 1
Heard giving its distinctive song and calls at Shivapuri Reserve.
- ABERRANT BUSH-WARBLER - Cettia flavolivacea - 3
One was in a small, isolated shrub in an open area at Begnas Tal, and the
other two were at Chitwan NP. Apparently this is the aberrant member of
the group because it actually has a tinge of color (yellow) and is not
too difficult to see!
- GRAY-SIDED BUSH-WARBLER (Rufous-capped Bush Warbler) - Cettia
brunnifrons - 6
Seen, and mostly heard, only at Shivapuri Reserve.
- BLYTH'S REED-WARBLER - Acrocephalus dumetorum - 1
Seen twice briefly by Allen in a brush pile we could see over the wall of
- COMMON TAILORBIRD (Tailor Bird) - Orthotomus sutorius - 34
Common around Fishtail Lodge, where they were extremely confiding. Also
common in most other areas around Pokhara. A few were found at Chitwan
NP, and there was one at the Kathmandu airport on our last day.
- Common Chiffchaff (Brown Leaf Warbler) - Phylloscopus collybita - 3
Two were at Godaveri Botanical Gardens and one was on the grounds of
- TICKELL'S LEAF-WARBLER - Phylloscopus affinis - 12
One of the easier species of Phylloscopus to identify due to its
buffy-yellow coloration. Seen on Pulchowki Mtn., Godaveri Botanical
Gardens, Nagarjung, and Khare.
- BUFF-BARRED WARBLER (Orange-barred Leaf Warbler) - Phylloscopus
pulcher - 9
Another fairly easy one to ID, with its distinct broad buffy wing bar and
yellowish underparts. Seen at Pulchowki Mtn., Godaveri Botanical
Gardens, and Nagarjung.
- ASHY-THROATED WARBLER (Gray-faced Leaf Warbler) - Phylloscopus
maculipennis - 11
This species has a distinct gray throat contrasting with yellowish breast
and belly. Seen at Shivapuri Reserve, Pulchowki Mtn., Godaveri Botanical
Gardens, and Nagarjung.
- LEMON-RUMPED WARBLER (Yellow-rumped Leaf Warbler) - Phylloscopus
proregulus - 2
This species has the brightest yellow rump of any of the more boldly
marked Phylloscopus occurring in Nepal. One was seen at Shivapuri
Reserve by Allen and the other was at Chitwan NP.
- Inornate Warbler (Plain Leaf Warbler) - Phylloscopus inornatus - 10
An unfairly-named species, not because it isn't nondescript, but because
there are many others in the genus that are equally deserving of the
name. Seen at Godaveri Botanical Gardens, Nagarjung, and Chitwan NP.
- GREENISH WARBLER (Dull Green Leaf Warbler) - Phylloscopus trochiloides - 30
First seen at Fishtail Lodge, and common all around Pokhara where, in
fact, it was the most common of its genus. Also common at Chitwan NP.
This species seems poorly named, as it is much more grayish than several
other more greenish Phylloscopus.
- LARGE-BILLED LEAF-WARBLER - Phylloscopus magnirostris - 1
We got a good look at the largish bill with pale lower mandible that
helps identify this species.
It was found in the Sal forest near Temple Tiger Lodge.
- WESTERN CROWNED WARBLER (Large Crowned Leaf Warbler) - Phylloscopus occipitalis - 23
Once we learned its song, we realized it was quite common on Pulchowki
Mtn. A few were also at Nagarjung.
- EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER - Phylloscopus coronatus - 1
A fairly well-marked and well-seen individual at the Rama Gardens Hotel
in Bangkok. This species does not occur in Nepal.
- BLYTH'S LEAF-WARBLER (Crowned Leaf Warbler) - Phylloscopus reguloides - 6
When they provided the opportunity, their dark bar between the two
whitish wing bars, allowed fairly certain identification. Seen at the
Godaveri Botanical Gardens, Nagarjung, and Chitwan NP.
Phylloscopus sp. - 500+
Clearly there was a significant migration of this genus through the
Kathmandu Valley and other lowland areas. Most of the birds we saw were
either too high in the trees, were moving too fast with flicking wings,
kept hiding behind leaves and branches, or all three.
- GOLDEN-SPECTACLED WARBLER (Yellow-eyed Warbler) - Seicercus burkii - 1
Seen well in the forest near Fishtail Lodge.
- GRAY-HOODED WARBLER (Gray-headed Warbler) - - 7
Allen saw the first one at Shivapuri Reserve. There were two on
Pulchowki Mtn. the next day, and four were found on the hill near Khare.
- GRAY-CHEEKED WARBLER - Seicercus poliogenys - 1
Seen well on Pulchowki Mtn.
- CHESTNUT-CROWNED WARBLER - Seicercus castaniceps - 1
Seen well on Pulchowki Mtn.
- BLACK-FACED WARBLER - Abroscopus schisticeps - 1
Seen well on Pulchowki Mtn. as it flew out, tyrannid-like, from a low
- YELLOW-BELLIED WARBLER - Abroscopus superciliaris - 10
We had good views of one near the top of Pulchowki Mtn. This species is
distinctive with its whitish throat and yellow breast and belly. Once we
learned the call by watching this one singing, we located several more.
Not supposed to be this common on Pulchowki, so they were probably
- WHITE-THROATED LAUGHINGTHRUSH - Garrulax albogularis - 35
The most common laughingthrush on Pulchowki Mtn. Two different, noisy
flocks were located.
- WHITE-CRESTED LAUGHINGTHRUSH - Garrulax leucolophus - 17
A substantial flock was seen well at Nagarjung, and a pair was seen on
the hill near Khare.
- STRIATED LAUGHINGTHRUSH - Garrulax striatus - 3
All were on the lower slopes of Pulchowki Mtn., where they were quite
vocal early in the morning, calling visibly from the treetops.
- GRAY-SIDED LAUGHINGTHRUSH - - 2
Seen briefly by Allen as they were skulking in the undergrowth on
- STREAKED LAUGHINGTHRUSH - Garrulax lineatus - 3
One was creeping on the ground in the undergrowth next to the road at
Shivapuri Reserve, just like the field guides say! Two others were in a
rural garden at the same place.
- PUFF-THROATED BABBLER (Spotted Babbler) - Pellorneum ruficeps - 13
Fairly common, but difficult to observe at first at Chitwan NP, as they
preferred feeding on the ground in thick undergrowth. The cheerful song
was only heard once.
- RUSTY-CHEEKED SCIMITAR-BABBLER - Pomatorhinus erythrogenys - 4
Heard duetting at Shivapuri Reserve and at Nagarjung.
- SCALY-BREASTED WREN-BABBLER - Pnoepyga albiventer - 4
Heard calling from the forest behind Fishtail Lodge.
- STRIPED TIT-BABBLER (Yellow-breasted Babbler) - Macronous gularis - 1
Seen well in the gardens just outside our cabin at Temple Tiger Lodge.
- CHESTNUT-CAPPED BABBLER (Red-capped Babbler) - Timalia pileata - 15
Fairly common in the grasslands and scrub at Chitwan NP.
- STRIATED BABBLER - Turdoides earlei - 10
Fairly frequently seen in the grasslands at Chitwan NP.
- JUNGLE BABBLER - Turdoides striatus - 8
All were in one flock in a shrubby area along the road at Chitwan NP.
- WHITE-BROWED SHRIKE-BABBLER (Red-winged Shrike Babbler) - Pteruthius flaviscapis - 1
One heard giving a song like a White-eyed Vireo, then the bird appeared
briefly in a vine tangle, on Pulchowki Mtn.
- HOARY-THROATED BARWING (Hoary Barwing) - Actinodura nipalensis - 4
In trailside dense scrub on the hill near Khare.
- RED-TAILED MINLA - Minla ignotincta - 3
Heard giving its distinctive song on Pulchowki Mtn.
- RUFOUS SIBIA (Black-capped Sibia) - Heterophasia capistrata - 40
Most were in several flocks on Pulchowki Mtn., but a few were also on the
hill near Khare.
- WHISKERED YUHINA (Yellow-naped Yuhina) - Yuhina flavicollis - 7
A flock of four was on Pulchowki Mtn. and a flock of three was on the
hill near Khare.
- WHITE-BELLIED YUHINA - Yuhina zantholeuca - 10
Five were in one flock at Nagarjung, and the rest were in two groups at
- Great Tit (Gray Tit) - - 20
Fairly common at Fishtail Lodge, near Khare, Begnas Tal, and at Chitwan
- GREEN-BACKED TIT - Parus monticolus - 19
Most common on Pulchowki Mtn. Also seen at Godaveri Botanical Gardens,
Nagarjung, and the hill near Khare.
- BLACK-LORED TIT (Yellow-cheeked Tit) - Parus xanthogenys - 70
Common in higher elevation forests, including all areas around Kathmandu,
as well as at Fishtail Lodge and surrounding forested areas.
- YELLOW-BROWED TIT - Parus modestus - 3
Seen in the only substantial mixed-species flock we encountered on
- SAND LARK - Calandrella raytal - 15
All were seen on the beaches of the Narayani River at Chitwan NP.
- House Sparrow - Passer domesticus - 30
A few with the abundant Eurasian Tree Sparrows in Pokhara, Begnas Tal,
- RUSSET SPARROW (Cinnamon Sparrow) - Passer rutilans - 3
Hanging around with Eurasian Tree Sparrows among the buildings in the
town of Khare.
- PLAIN-BACKED SPARROW - Passer flaveolus - 10
Mixed in with the Eurasian Tree Sparrows at the Rama Gardens Hotel in
Bangkok. This species does not occur in Nepal.
- Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Tree Sparrow) - Passer montanus - 750
Common in all urban, rural, and open areas throughout.
- WHITE-RUMPED MUNIA (Sharp-tailed Munia) - Lonchura striata - 1
Seen in a brush pile just outside the wall at Fishtail Lodge.
- Scaly-breasted Munia (Spotted Munia) - Lonchura punctulata - 30
All were in one flock in the grasslands of Chitwan NP.
- Black-backed Wagtail (Pied Wagtail) - Motacilla lugens - 40
The only birds we saw were of the Himalayan resident race alboides, which
seemed to be in breeding plumage, and which had all-black backs (not
matching any illustration in Birds of Nepal, however, but matching that
in Birds of the Indian Subcontinent). It is our assumption that this
race has been assigned to Black-backed Wagtail in the recent split, and
not to White or Pied Wagtail of farther west. A good number were seen at
the fish ponds at Begnas Tal. Most were encountered at Chitwan NP.
- WHITE-BROWED WAGTAIL (Large Pied Wagtail) - Motacilla madaraspatensis - 7
Two seemed to be building a nest on top of the restaurant (out of view)
at Fishtail Lodge. Also seen at Begnas Tal and Chitwan NP.
- YELLOW-HOODED WAGTAIL (Yellow-headed Wagtail) - Motacilla citreola - 5
Most were at the fish ponds at Begnas Tal, some molting into breeding
plumage. One was at the lake at Chitwan NP. Sometimes known as Citrine
- Gray Wagtail - Motacilla cinerea - 8
Most were at Fishtail Lodge and Begnas Tal. One was at the lower end of
the trail up the hill near Khare.
- RICHARD'S PIPIT (Paddyfield Pipit) - Anthus richardi - 1
Seen in the rice paddies northwest of Phewa Tal near Pokhara.
- Paddyfield Pipit - Anthus rufulus - 5
Two were near Begnas Tal and three were in rice paddies near Pokhara.
- BLYTH'S PIPIT - Anthus godlewskii - 4
All were in the rice paddies at the northwest end of Phewa Tal near
- Olive-backed Pipit (Hodgson's Tree Pipit) - Anthus hodgsoni - 16
Most were in the park-like areas of the Godaveri Botanical Gardens. A
few were near the top of the hill near Khare.
- Red-throated Pipit - Anthus cervinus - 3
Still in winter plumage, one was at Begnas Tal and two were in rice
paddies southwest of Pokhara. A lifer for Nancy and a much better look
for Allen than he had in Japan last November.
- ROSY PIPIT (Rose-breasted Pipit) - Anthus roseatus - 3
All were in the rice paddies northwest of Phewa Tal near Pokhara, with
one coming into breeding plumage.
- RUFOUS-BREASTED ACCENTOR - Prunella strophiata - 1
Flushed into view on top of a small shrub near the top of the hill near
Khare. A very cooperative bird.
- FIRE-BREASTED FLOWERPECKER - Dicaeum ignipectus - 24
Most were on Pulchowki Mtn. with a few at the Godaveri Botanical Gardens.
Several brilliant males were seen.
- Olive-backed Sunbird - Nectarinia jugularis - 4
All were at the Rama Gardens Hotel in Bangkok. This species does not
occur in Nepal.
- PURPLE SUNBIRD - Nectarinia asiatica - 8
All were seen at Chitwan NP. Several males were very cooperative. The
song sounds a lot like an American Goldfinch.
- GOULD'S SUNBIRD (Mrs. Gould's Sunbird) - Aethopyga gouldiae - 1
Seen briefly but well on the hill near Khare.
- GREEN-TAILED SUNBIRD (Nepal Sunbird) - Aethopyga nipalensis - 2
A male and female provided good views, and an opportunity to tape their
calls, at Pulchowki Mtn.
- BLACK-THROATED SUNBIRD (Black-breasted Sunbird) - Aethopyga saturata - 3
A male and two females seen briefly near the top of the hill near Khare.
- CRIMSON SUNBIRD (Scarlet-breasted Sunbird) - Aethopyga siparaja - 2
A female seen well on Pulchowki Mtn. and a male seen briefly by Allen in
the gardens of Fishtail Lodge.
- FIRE-TAILED SUNBIRD - Aethopyga ignicauda - 2
A male and female seen well on Pulchowki Mtn.
- YELLOW-BREASTED BUNTING - Emberiza aureola - 35
A flock in a rice paddy, planted with wheat, near Begnas Tal. Many
individuals in the flock appeared to be males very near full breeding
Amphibians & Reptiles
An extremely helpful book was Herpetology of China by Er-mi Zhao and
Kraig Adler, 1993, although it was too big to bring along. Color scans
of relevant species were brought along instead. The snake was identified
using Living Snakes of the World in Color by John M. Mehrtens, 1987.
Several species of unidentified frogs were heard calling at Chitwan NP.
- Himalayan Toad - Bufo himalayanus
One seen in the road as we were leaving Shivapuri Reserve after dark.
- Mugger Crocodile - Crocodylus palustris
One seen in a small pond at Chitwan NP.
- Gharial - Gavialis gangeticus
Three of these strange crocodiles were seen basking along the Narayani
River at Chitwan NP.
- Garden Lizard - Calotes versicolor
One seen, appropriately enough, in the gardens around Temple Tiger Lodge
in Chitwan NP.
- Gecko sp. - Hemidactylus sp.
Seen in the roof of a couple of restaurants in Pokhara.
- Radiated Ratsnake - Elaphe radiata
Seen along a trail near Temple Tiger Lodge at Chitwan NP.
The Field Guide to the Mammals of the Indian Subcontinent by K.K. Gurung
and Raj Singh, 1996, was very helpful. Several additional references
were required to identify the squirrel seen in Bangkok. A total of 14
species was seen.
- Indian Flying Fox - Pteropus giganticus -20
Roosting in trees near the Royal Palace in Kathmandu.
- Rhesus Macaque - Macaca mulatta - 50
Seen mostly at Chitwan NP. A few were at Nagarjung where they may have
been introduced and a few were at various places in Kathmandu where they
may have been escaped pets.
- Hanuman (Gray) Langur - Presbytis entellus - 20
First seen along the road from Pokhara to Chitwan NP. Most were at
- Yellow-throated Marten - Martes flavigula - 2
Both were at the lake we drove to in Chitwan NP. Seen well as they
jumped out of a small tree and ran off into the grasslands.
- Small Indian Mongoose - Herpestes auropunctatus - 2
One was at Begnas Tal and one was at Chitwan NP.
- Indian Gray Mongoose - Herpestes edwardsii - 1
Seen running across the road on the outskirts of Kathmandu.
- Indian Rhinoceros - Rhinoceros unicornis - 13
All were at Chitwan NP, with 9 seen the first day from the overlook at
Temple Tiger Lodge and along a short nature walk in the first afternoon.
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by Urs Geiser; email@example.com;
July 7, 1999