Tuesday, 3 April 2012

NE India 2012 pt3

Nameri at dawn
After our first decent nights sleep in a few we were up early (a repeated theme throughout the trip)for breakfast. While we were waiting for our guard for the morning we were introduced to birding India proper. Species such as great hornbill, greater flameback, scaly (White's) thrush, white throated fantail and grey-headed canary flycatcher were added to our growing list.
After a short while our guard arrived. Due to the presence of wild elephant, tiger and buffalo were had to be accompanied by an armed guard...just in case. At one stage in the morning I asked him how old the gun was and if it still worked. He said it was 50 years old and offered to fire a shot, I declined the offer!!
Our armed guard!

The main reason for visiting Nameri is to look for white-winged duck on the woodland pools on the far side of the river. A short boat ride and we were crossing the sandy river bed. Riddy shelduck, river tern and 3 sand larks and a paddyfield pipit were on the 'beach'.
The first of the pools we checked held no WW ducks but we did get a flock of 50 fulvous-whistling ducks. The the surrounding trees we had our first crested serpent eagle, wreathed and Indian pied hornbills. The woods were alive with birds but as with all forest birding is seems, they were a nightmare to get onto. Most of the flocks contained a bunch of green/yellow warblers but there were a few standouts. Little pied flycatcher, sultan tit, Whistler's warbler and yellow vented warbler. After checking a few more pools were struck lucky, finally a white-winged duck. Despite its rarity value, it wasn't really anything to write home about, bit like a flighty muscovy duck!
Fulvous whistling ducks
not the greatest photo of sultan tit - awesome bird though

A slow walk back to the boat allowed us to check the shingle bars for waders. Highlight was a flock of 4 great thicknee followed by 16 Indian stone curlews. We probably could have spent a lot more time walking the trails but by now the heat was getting and the birds were going quiet so we headed back for lunch.
The plan for the afternoon was a boat trip down the river in search of ibisbill. Dave isn't a good swimmer so he decided to dip out so if was left to the 3 of us and Abid to head for the river. The rafts were rather smaller that expected but once used to them they were fine. 2 guys paddling and steeering and were were off.
Our craft!!
The other boat
After a few wet rapids the river flattened out and we had the first birds of the trip, a group of small pratincloes flying upriver, then 3 ruddy shelducks. Abid stopped his boat near an island in the middle of the river where he had spotted 2 ibisbill. We both jumped out of the boats and had great views of the birds.
The rest of the trip was uneventful but we did add Pallas's fish eagle, river lapwing, osprey and Temminck's stint to the list.
This was our last night in Assam (for a while) we are heading for high country tomorrow!
One of many awesome meals

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