Friday, 10 February 2012

Brahmaputra bound

An adventure began today, and a fine one at that. For the next ten days, Sujan and I will be leading Naturetrek’s glorious Brahmaputra Cruise along the eponymous river, through the lofty beauty of Assam. Getting to Assam is necessarily a slow business, so today was spent gathering our exhausted group from their overnight flights and, after a break for the powdering of noses, taking them to the Kolkata Botanical Garden, across the Hooghly river in Howrah. Getting there proved a tricky enough business in itself. Kolkata’s streets, always busy, always noisy and always fun, are yet further clogged for now by the construction of an overhead railway, proposed to revolutionise transport in this historic, elegantly dilapidated city. Despite these tribulations, as soon as we reached the garden we were immersed in eastern India’s charming common wildlife. 

Scowling five-striped palm-squirrels peered and scolded from the tops of walls and from the wiry trunk of a Pandanus palm. Rose-ringed and red-breasted parakeets yelled from the treetops, Asian koels bubbled exuberantly from the garden’s vast, ancient banyan tree and the light forest was loud with the rolling purrs of lineated barbets. Above us dozens upon dozens of light-winged black-eared kites looped and swirled and among them was a single dark-morph booted eagle. Crouched over water were little cormorants and a day-brightening white-throated kingfisher and the trees fairly dripped with yellow-footed green-pigeons, each with the same look of bemusement on its face. I reassured the concerned-looking non-birders in the group that soon we would be seeing plenty of big, charismatic mammals; but in fact their only concern was tiredness and, heading back to their stylish hotel, everyone agreed that the quixotic streets of Kolkata and the beautiful birds of the Botanical Garden were both, in their separate ways, well worth a visit.

I am grabbing a brief break to blog now, though breaks are a rare thing on tour. Tomorrow we travel to Dibrugarh and from there by road to Neemati Ghat where our superb ship, Charaidew, awaits. I shall continue to write, whenever time and tiredness allow, and will post my jottings and scribblings here each time I can connect to Assam’s tenuous jungle internet.

 Today's newbies


five-striped palm-squirrel
Funambulus pennantii


black drongo
Dicrurus macrocercus
coppersmith barbet
Megalaima haemacephala
white-rumped vulture
Gyps bengalensis
Asian openbill
Anastomus oscitans
long-tailed shrike
Lanius schach tricolor
white-breasted waterhen
Amaurornis phoenicurus
rose-ringed parakeet
Psittacula krameri
Indian pond-heron
Ardeola grayii
booted eagle
Hieraaetus pennatus
red-breasted parakeet
Psittacula alexandri
Asian koel
Eudynamys scolopaceus
black-hooded oriole
Oriolus xanthornus
jungle crow
Corvus culminatus
alexandrine parakeet
Psittacula eupatria
lineated barbet
Megalaima lineata
white-throated kingfisher
Halcyon smyrnensis

2012 Totals
Mammals: 11
Birds: 153
Reptiles: 0
Amphibians: 0
Fish: 0

No comments:

Post a Comment