Tuesday, 21 February 2012

A verditer for Valentine’s

14th February

A Valentine’s Day stuffed full of love for Assam and her beautiful wildlife (cheesy I know but I couldn’t resist). Early this morning the hardiest birders in the group accompanied me on a short walk through a Mising tribal village, in search of birds. Little green bee-eaters gave their soft whip calls and zipped over stands of giant bamboo, a roller flapped its heavy turquoise wings over the rice paddies and new birds here included a posse of vociferous black bulbuls in a flowering silk cotton tree and two delightful flycatchers: verditer and little pied. Reinforced by breakfast and coffee the whole group headed once more into the village to meet the Mising people and gain insight to their pastoral lives. Our visit coincided with the start of the sowing of rice so, for the first time ever on our cruise, the graceful ladies of the village danced their sowing dance in the hope of a good crop. If you’ll allow me a second dreadful pun, we too had a good crop here, of wildlife. Asian palm swifts chittered at daredevil speed over our heads, hoary-bellied squirrels bounced and scurried along the branches of silk cotton trees in search of a sugar-hit from their newly-opened flowers, and a droop-winged greater spotted eagle circled indolently overhead

This afternoon we sailed downriver passing hundreds, if not thousands, of gadwall, and with them plenty of ruddy shelduck, greylags, bar-headed geese, mallard and great crested grebes. Small pratincoles flicked their sharp wings over a sandbar, great cormorants lined the beaches, black-shouldered kites haunted the villages, and long-legged buzzards watched the world go by from the beaches and from the tops of trees.

Reaching the northeast corner of Kaziranga National Park this evening, and mooring on the north shore of the river to the east of Dhansiri Mukh, we walked through tall grass and watched both eastern and white-tailed stonechats and a long-tailed shrike. A short-eared owl burst from the ground here and see-sawed away. We turned home at the insistence of two feisty feral water buffalos who stood their ground and flared their nostrils and made it quite clear that their patch was not open to birders. Discretion, when leading tours, is most assuredly the better part of valour.


hoary-bellied squirrel
Callosciurus pygerythrus


black bulbul
Hypsipetes leucocephalus
verditer flycatcher
Eumyias thalassina
little pied flycatcher
Ficedula westermanni
long-tailed minivet
Pericrocotus ethologus
oriental white-eye
Zosterops palpebrosus
fulvous-breasted woodpecker
Dendrocopos macei
black-shouldered kite
Elanus caeruleus
white-tailed stonechat
Saxicola leucura
short-eared owl
Asio flammeus

2012 Totals
Mammals: 20
Birds: 252
Reptiles: 0
Amphibians: 0
Fish: 0

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