Trip Report: Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge (Royal Chitwan N.P., Nepal), January 31 - February 1, 1998

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

Tiger Tops is famous for its wildlife, its up-market food and lodging, and its elephants that take its guests on wildlife-seeking excursions.

We only stayed at Tiger Tops for two nights, so only got to bird one complete day and the morning of the next. Because you can walk around the extensive wooded areas of Tiger Tops (there are tigers but not in the immediate area -- so they say), we saw far more birds in a given time than at Ranthambhor or Corbett National Parks in India. It was also much warmer than in India during this time.

We were fortunate in having Sukre, a super bird guide, with us throughout our stay. There's supposedly another great birding guide but did not meet him. We seemed to be the only serious birders staying at Tiger Tops so that is why Sukre was assigned to us.

Birding is always good at Chitwan NP (Tiger Tops) but am sure later in the year it gets hot. From the grounds you can see a portion of the white Himalayans in the distance. Our only handicap -- besides our limited stay -- was the annual (10-14 days) burning and cutting of the elephant-high grasses in many areas of Chitwan by residences of a number of villages. This event had no bearing on forest species but did affect some of the riverine species such as Red-naped Ibis (that we dipped on) because of boat activity and people along the shore with their many bundles of thick-stemmed grasses. (Interestingly, we should have missed this annual event but it was postponed because of a visit by the king to Chitwan several weeks before we arrived.)

One of the highlights for wildlife enthusiasts at Chitwan is sighting an Indian (one-horned) Rhino. It is larger than the Black Rhino of Africa (but not the White Rhino), and riding an elephant is the best way to see one. We saw two this way (and one by boat). Non-birders saw more rhinos because they went on more elephant rides. Tigers are seldom seen because of the extensive tall grasses they use to seek cover.

Sightings from 1-31-98 to 2-1-98

  Ruddy Shelduck                    Tadorna ferruginea (12-20)
  Little Egret                      Egretta garzetta (1)
  Intermediate Egret                Mesophoyx intermedia (1)
  Great Egret                       Ardea alba (1)
  Indian Pond-Heron                 Ardeola grayii (2)
  Striated Heron                    Butorides striatus (1)
  Osprey                            Pandion haliaetus (1 flying)
F Gray-headed Fish-Eagle            Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus (1 in tree, nice view)
  Red Junglefowl                    Gallus gallus (2 males)
  Kalij Pheasant                    Lophura leucomelanos (female)
  Brown Crake                       Amaurornis akool (1)
  Purple Swamphen                   Porphyrio porphyrio (1)
  Common Moorhen                    Gallinula chloropus (several)
  Common Ringed Plover              Charadrius hiaticula (1)
  River Lapwing                     Vanellus duvaucelii (1)
  Red-wattled Lapwing               Vanellus indicus (2)
F Great Black-headed Gull           Larus ichthyaetus (1)
  Spotted Dove                      Streptopelia chinensis (1 sitting)
  Eurasian Collared-Dove            Streptopelia decaocto (1)
  Yellow-footed Pigeon              Treron phoenicoptera (2 plus 20-30 flying)
  Alexandrine Parakeet              Psittacula eupatria (1)
  Plum-headed Parakeet              Psittacula cyanocephala (male sitting)
  Jungle Owlet                      Glaucidium radiatum (1, super view in great light)
  White-throated Kingfisher         Halcyon smyrnensis (2)
  Pied Kingfisher                   Ceryle rudis (3 or 4)
  Lineated Barbet                   Megalaima lineata (1)
  Gray-capped Woodpecker            Dendrocopos canicapillus (2)
  Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker       Dendrocopos macei (1)
F Lesser Yellownape                 Picus chlorolophus (male)
  Streak-throated Woodpecker        Picus xanthopygaeus (female and a male)
  Gray-faced Woodpecker             Picus canus (female; later a male)
F Himalayan Flameback               Dinopium shorii (female and then a male)
F Greater Flameback                 Chrysocolaptes lucidus (1)
F Long-tailed Broadbill             Psarisomus dalhousiae (pair)
  White-throated Fantail            Rhipidura albicollis (2)
  Bronzed Drongo                    Dicrurus aeneus (1)
  Hair-crested Drongo               Dicrurus hottentottus (1 plus several flying over)
  Greater Racket-tailed Drongo      Dicrurus paradiseus (1)
  Rufous Treepie                    Dendrocitta vagabunda (pair displaying)
  Large-billed Crow                 Corvus macrorhynchos (2)
  Common Iora                       Aegithina tiphia (female)
F Black-hooded Oriole               Oriolus xanthornus (several)
  Scarlet Minivet                   Pericrocotus flammeus (2 males and a female together)
  Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike      Hemipus picatus (2 or 3)
  Long-tailed Shrike                Lanius schach (3)
F Large Woodshrike                  Tephrodornis gularis (fem.; next day 3 males w.1 fem.)
  Blue Whistling-Thrush             Myiophoneus caeruleus (1)
F Indian Gray Thrush                Turdus unicolor (pair)
  Red-throated Flycatcher           Ficedula parva (2 males)
F Pale-chinned Blue-Flycatcher      Cyornis poliogenys (1, great view)
  Gray-headed Canary-flycatcher     Culicicapa ceylonensis (2)
  White-rumped Shama                Copsychus malabaricus (female twice, prob. same bird)
  Black Redstart                    Phoenicurus ochruros (female)
  Plumbeous Redstart                Rhyacornis fuliginosus (male)
F Black-backed Forktail             Enicurus immaculatus (1, super view)
F White-tailed Stonechat            Saxicola leucura (1 plus a pair)
  Pied Bushchat                     Saxicola caprata (male)
  Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch         Sitta castanea (1 and then another)
  Velvet-fronted Nuthatch           Sitta frontalis (2 plus 2 more)
  Sand Martin                       Riparia riparia (6-10)
  Barn Swallow                      Hirundo rustica (2)
  Red-whiskered Bulbul              Pycnonotus jocosus (2)
  Red-vented Bulbul                 Pycnonotus cafer (15-25)
F Gray-crowned Prinia               Prinia cinereocapilla (1)
F Aberrant Bush-Warbler             Cettia flavolivacea(1)
  Common Tailorbird                 Orthotomus sutorius (2)
F White-spectacled Warbler          Seicercus affinis(1)
F Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush   Garrulax monileger (several together)
  Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush  Garrulax pectoralis (1 plus 3 quickly fly. across path)
F Rufous-necked Laughingthrush      Garrulax ruficollis (4 together)
  Striped Tit-Babbler               Macronous gularis (1, great view)
F Chestnut-capped Babbler           Timalia pileata (6 together)
  Striated Babbler                  Turdoides earlei (at least 5)
  Great Tit                         Parus major (2 or 3)
F Sand Lark                         Calandrella raytal (1 along river shore)
  House Sparrow                     Passer domesticus (pair)
  White-rumped Munia                Lonchura striata (2 plus over 50 in a tree)
  Scaly-breasted Munia              Lonchura punctulata (15 plus several)
  White Wagtail                     Motacilla alba (1 plus 1 dark-backed form)
  White-browed Wagtail              Motacilla madaraspatensis (3)
  Baya Weaver                       Ploceus philippinus (50-70 together; next day over 100)


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This page served with permission of the author by Urs Geiser;; May 6, 1998