Indian Pitta

It inhabits scrub jungle, deciduous and dense evergreen forest.

Nilgiri Flycatcher

An endemic resident in the Western Ghats of southern India.

Brown-winged Kingfisher

These kingfisher species excavate their nests in a river mud bank.


Tales from the Land of Mowgli


Feeds mostly on small birds, capturing them in mid-air in rapid pursuit.

Malabar Trogon

A resident of dense tropical forests.

Malabar Pied Hornbill

This species is omnivorous, taking fruit, fish and small mammals.

Crimson-backed Sunbird

Diet of sunbirds is based mostly on nectar

Golden-breasted Fulvetta

They prefer dense undergrowth, usually dominated by bamboo forest.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Birding in Indo-Nepal Region

Birding in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Dudhwa National Park and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve.

Period: 26th Nov 2015 to 2nd Dec 2015

Indo-Nepal region was a classic combination of dense evergreen sal forests, that formed an integral part of the Lower-Himalayan mountains, Pilibhit Tiger Reserve in the foothills, lowland and the plains of the ‘Terai-Duar’ alongside Dudhwa National Park, and the endless tall grasslands of Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserves in southeastern Nepal.

Being winter we had anticipated a splendid variety of birds, as well as some impressive rare mammals (including Indian Rhinoceros) apart from great scenery.


(Time spent: 2 Nights)

Reserve, had these fine tracks and sal forest, wherein the trees seemed very old and unusually tall...
Sal Forest
While we drove through the tall trees could hear only the sound of the passing wind and crackling of dried leaves as our gypsy moved.
Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker
Generally the stretches were long and hardly had a bend. The woodlands had dense canopy and could hear the calls of the woodpeckers.
Himalayan Flameback
Jungle Owlet
Obviously, the long drives in the dense forest were to look for the predator, the tiger. But, all we saw were fresh pug marks.

Tiger sightings seemed difficult and while we were discussing the probabilities of the sighting them with Akhtar Khan our host and Nawaz Khan over biryani, got a ray of hope.

The wildlife dept. called up and informed Akhtar that a village lad had seen a tigress and climbed up a tree by using a another half fallen tree to save himself.

Unfortunate, for the 17 year boy, the tigress had placed her new born cubs just below the same fallen tree. Obviously, she was stressed and had foiled the forest dept's attempts to rescue the boy. The villagers had gathered with axes and were making lot of noise and trying to scare the tigress, who wasn't ready to budge.

We reached the location along with the rescue team, who by now were sure that the tigress would not leave, as the cubs were too small. In the silence, when the team was discussing, heard the calls of the cubs. Finally, Akhtar and Nawaz took on to the wheels of the forest vehicle which was completely closed and parked the vehicle just below the tree on which the boy had finally jumped on to!

Ocassionly using the siren, the rescue team asked the boy, "Kya tigress dikh rahi hai", (can you see the tigress) , "Yes" he said, "i can even see the cubs"

The team by now managed to convince the boy to climb down a bit till he can just jump on to the rooftop, the door were kept open and he was suppposed to get in, the moment he landed. It was almost 4 hours, since he was stuck. The moment he landed on the rooftop, literally jumped and started to run away from the forest. Seeing this all started to shout and he than ran towards our open vehicle. No sooner he reached us, we asked him, "why did you not get into the parked vehicle", he started to run again towards the other vehicle.

This simply showed that he was so puzzled after being close to dead for such a long time. Finally, he was made to sit in our open vehicle and we drove off slowly from the vicinity. The long day for the lad came to an safe end.

Along the rivers in the region, which had fog during most times of the days, we sighted most of the wagtails in large number along with 4-5 individuals of River Lapwings. The nomadic tribes around the rivers had ensured that the birds were comfortable inspite of the fact that we had moved a bit closer to get a better view.
White Wagtail
River Lapwing
The walking trek in the grasslands of Pilibhit were mostly easy, but as the day progressed, the chill had disappeared and lugging the warm clothing's along with the equipment's made it feel like a long walk. By noon feeling exhausted, we decided to return back to the camp.
Grey-headed Lapwing
The black francolin's were surprising us by suddenly taking off from the grassland on numerous instances. The calls of the swamp francolin's were also heard very often through the grasslands, though we could not sight them. 
Region definitely was one of the best place where we could explore the Terai-Duar grasslands and witness savannah eco-system.


(Time spent: 2 Nights)

The forests of the park seemed more dense compared to the one we experienced in Pilibhit. The jeep safaris by the park authorities were conducted on different trails each time, one of the trails ended with an elephant safari. It's when one gets the opportunity to look over the grasslands and catch a glimpse of the might Indian rhinoceros and Swamp deer's. Both these species are catagorised under vulnerable by IUCN.

Indian rhinoceros
Swamp deer
The grey slaty woodpecker is one the largest and it would move very swiftly from one bark to another, finally disappearing deep into the forest.

As the woodlands would end could see a never ending grassland which was a safe haven for the birds.
Way to the Grasslands
On the outskirts of the park, was a small tributary of River Sharda, which has open grasslands on either sides the magar crocodiles were seen basking and turtles enjoying a swim.
Mugger crocodile
Indian softshell turtle
Grey headed fish-eagle, lesser whistling ducks, cormorants and darters decorate the barren trees growing within the water body.
Grey-headed Fish Eagle
Changeable Hawk Eagle


(Time taken: 2-3 hours from Pilibhit)

Today we planned to drive into Nepal and this time along, the Sharda Sagar dam on Sharda river. This reservoir which along with the forest areas represented a very beautiful landscape. Being a  source for irrigation water to Pilibhit and other parts of the north of Uttar Pradesh.

The Sharda Sagar is said to be about 25 sq. km. in size of which the majority lies in Uttar Pradesh and some part in the northern side is in Uttarakhand.
Sharda Sagar Reservoir
"An interesting and must place to visit in winters when the migratory birds fly here in large numbers" said Akhtar. It was unfortunate, that winters had been delayed and could see only few common coots, common pochard's and very few grebes.

Along the other side of the Dam, amist the grazing cattle, sighted the Common starling and a pair of Northern Lapwing at a distant.

Northern Lapwing
Villagers along the dam were living in a very difficult terrain, the dam water had almost seeped into their homes.

Just in a field adjacent to the village, sighted a jackal looking for a prey.


(Time spent: 2 Night)

We camped in Shuklaphanta Jungle Cottage which is situated in the Buffer zone of the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve,  just 6 km from Mahendranagar and around 14-16 kms from the Indian border.

Our complete day safari was arranged in this extreme south-western section of Nepal Terai in Kanchanpur District. The reserve shares a common boundary with the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in the south and west which is formed by the Mahakali (Sarda) River.

Almost for the initial two hours the fog and mist seemed to be weaved together. Most of the tracks looked very picturesque. While we were on a machan near Rani tal, enjoying the chill, heard a call.
Rani tal
Which we realised a little later, that it could be a warning call, as we saw very fresh pug marks. There was spray on it as well. Definitely, the predator had heard us come and had disappeared into the forests. Due, to very less human movement, the wildlife here seemed very shy.
Pug marks
This protected area in the Terai Region of Nepal, had fine and wide open grasslands, predominantly sal forest, riverbeds and tropical wetlands.
Striated Babbler
White-capped Bunting
Lesser Coucal
During the safari, we felt very safe as the Nepal Army has been providing security to the reserve.

The congregation of swamp deer in the reserve’s grasslands is definitely the largest in the world, the population is said to be of international significance. However, the very tall grass did not allow us to drive towards the swamps where the herd was possibly inhabiting.

On the return (3rd December 2015), we spent a couple of hours in Okhla Bird Sanctuary and Surajpur Bird Sanctuary. The concerned forest officer were very co-operative and requested if we could come on the following day, to attend the BIRD FAIR that was scheduled across Uttar Pradesh on 4th of December 2015

Myself, Ashok Gaikwad, Gopinath Kollur and Satish Thayapurath
We could have surely sighted more birds and mammals provided we had at-least 3 more days in the region, as most of our time in the day went in travel from one location to the other.

Thanking the team of Turquoise Wildlife Conservation Society (TWCS) - Akhtar Khan and Nawaz Khan who co-ordinated all our bookings for safari and stay.

Happy Birding!

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OUR SIGHTINGS: (Id's updated / Corrected  and tabulated into region-wise in Jan2016)


1    Lesser Whistling Duck   (Dendrocygna javanica) Pilibhit Region
2    Greylag Goose   (Anser anser) Pilibhit Region
3    Ruddy Shelduck   (Tadorna ferruginea) Pilibhit Region
4    Common Pochard   (Aythya ferina) Pilibhit Region
5    Ferruginous Duck   (Aythya nyroca) Pilibhit Region
6    Northern Shoveler   (Spatula clypeata) Surajpur Wetlands
7    Indian Spot-billed Duck   (Anas poecilorhyncha) Surajpur Wetlands
8    Northern Pintail   (Anas acuta) Surajpur Wetlands
9    Common Teal   (Anas crecca) Surajpur Wetlands
     GALLIFORMES: Phasianidae    
10    Indian Peafowl   (Pavo cristatus) Pilibhit Region
11    Common Quail   (Coturnix coturnix) Sukhlaphanta - Nepal
12    Black Francolin   (Francolinus francolinus) Pilibhit Region
13    Grey Francolin   (Francolinus pondicerianus) Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
14    Red Junglefowl   (Gallus gallus) Dudhwa National Park
15    Red Spurfowl   (Galloperdix spadicea) Dudhwa National Park
     PHOENICOPTERIFORMES: Podicipedidae    
16    Little Grebe   (Tachybaptus ruficollis) Pilibhit Region
17    Great Crested Grebe   (Podiceps cristatus) Pilibhit Region
     COLUMBIFORMES: Columbidae    
18    Rock Dove   (Columba livia) Commonly seen
19    Oriental Turtle Dove   (Streptopelia orientalis) Pilibhit Region
20    Eurasian Collared Dove   (Streptopelia decaocto) Pilibhit Region
21    Spotted-necked Dove   (Streptopelia chinensis) Pilibhit Region
22    Emerald Dove   (Chalcophaps indica) Shuklaphanta - Nepal
     CUCULIFORMES: Cuculidae    
23    Greater Coucal   (Centropus sinensis) Pilibhit Region
24    Lesser Coucal   (Centropus bengalensis) Shuklaphanta - Nepal
25    Common Hawk Cuckoo   (Hierococcyx varius) Dudhwa National Park
     GRUIFORMES: Rallidae    
26    White-breasted Waterhen   (Amaurornis phoenicurus) Pilibhit Region
27    Purple Swamphen   (Porphyrio porphyrio) Pilibhit Region
28    Common Moorhen   (Gallinula chloropus) Shuklaphanta - Nepal
29    Common Coot   (Fulica atra) Pilibhit Region
     GRUIFORMES: Gruidae    
30    Sarus Crane   (Antigone antigone) Palia Kalan, Dudhwa
     PELECANIFORMES: Ciconiidae    
31    Asian Openbill   (Anastomus oscitans) Palia Kalan, Dudhwa
32    Woolly-necked Stork   (Ciconia episcopus) Pilibhit Region
33    Black-necked Stork   (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) Surajpur Wetlands
     PELECANIFORMES: Ardeidae    
34    Striated Heron   (Butorides striata) Dudhwa National Park
35    Indian Pond Heron   (Ardeola grayii) Commonly Seen
36    Cattle Egret   (Bubulcus ibis) Commonly Seen
37    Grey Heron   (Ardea cinerea) Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
38    Purple Heron   (Ardea purpurea) Commonly seen
39    Little Egret   (Egretta garzetta) Commonly seen
     PELECANIFORMES: Threskiornithidae    
40    Black-headed Ibis   (Threskiornis melanocephalus) Surajpur Wetlands
41    Eurasian Spoonbill   (Platalea leucorodia) Surajpur Wetlands
42    Indian Black Ibis   (Pseudibis papillosa) Pilibhit Region
43    Glossy Ibis   (Plegadis falcinellus) Pilibhit Region
     PELECANIFORMES: Phalacrocoracidae    
44    Little Cormorant   (Microcarbo niger) Pilibhit Region
45    Great Cormorant   (Phalacrocorax carbo) Dudhwa National Park
     PELECANIFORMES: Anhingidae    
46    Oriental Darter   (Anhinga melanogaster)  Dudhwa National Park
     CHARADRIIFORMES: Recurvirostridae    
47    Black-winged Stilt   (Himantopus himantopus)  Pilibhit Region / Surajpur
     CHARADRIIFORMES: Charadriidae    
48    Little Ringed Plover   (Charadrius dubius)  Pilibhit Region
49    Northern Lapwing   (Vanellus vanellus)  Pilibhit Region
50    River Lapwing   (Vanellus duvaucelii)  Pilibhit Region
51    Grey-headed Lapwing   (Vanellus cinereus)  Palia Kalan, Dudhwa
52    Red-wattled Lapwing   (Vanellus indicus)  Commonly Seen
53    White-tailed Lapwing   (Vanellus leucurus)  Surajpur Wetlands
     CHARADRIIFORMES: Jacanidae    
54    Bronze-winged Jacana   (Metopidius indicus)  Pilibhit Region
     CHARADRIIFORMES: Scolopacidae    
55    Black-tailed Godwit   (Limosa limosa) Surajpur Wetlands
56    Curlew Sandpiper   (Calidris ferruginea) Surajpur Wetlands
57    Little Stint   (Calidris minuta) Surajpur Wetlands
58    Common Snipe   (Gallinago gallinago) Surajpur Wetlands
59    Common Sandpiper   (Actitis hypoleucos) Surajpur Wetlands / Pilibhit Region
60    Green Sandpiper   (Tringa ochropus) Surajpur Wetlands
61    Common Greenshank   (Tringa nebularia) Surajpur Wetlands
62    Common Redshank   (Tringa totanus) Surajpur Wetlands
     CHARADRIIFORMES: Laridae    
63    Brown-headed Gull   (Chroicocephalus brunnicephalus)  Pilibhit Region
     ACCIPITRIFORMES: Accipitridae    
64    Black-winged Kite   (Elanus caeruleus)  Commonly Seen
65    Crested Serpent Eagle   (Spilornis cheela)  Commonly Seen
66    Slender-billed Vulture   (Gyps tenuirostris)  Pilibhit Region
67    Changeable Hawk Eagle   (Nisaetus cirrhatus)  Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
68    Shikra   (Accipiter badius)  Pilibhit Region
69    Grey-headed Fish Eagle   (Icthyophaga ichthyaetus)  Dudhwa National Park
70    Black Kite   (Milvus migrans)  Pilibhit Region
     STRIGIFORMES: Strigidae    
71    Jungle Owlet   (Glaucidium radiatum) Commonly Seen
72    Spotted Owlet   (Athene brama) Pilibhit Region
     BUCEROTIFORMES: Bucerotidae    
73    Oriental Pied Hornbill   (Anthracoceros albirostris) Dudhwa National Park
74    Indian Grey Hornbill   (Ocyceros birostris) Dudhwa National Park
     BUCEROTIFORMES: Upupidae    
75    Common Hoopoe   (Upupa epops)  Pilibhit Region
     PICIFORMES: Picidae    
76    Himalayan Flame-backed Woodpecker   (Dinopium shorii)  Dudhwa National Park
77    Rufous Woodpecker   (Micropternus brachyurus)  Shuklaphanta - Nepal
78    Streak-throated Woodpecker   (Picus xanthopygaeus)  Dudhwa National Park
79    Grey-headed Woodpecker   (Picus canus)  Dudhwa National Park
80    Great Slaty Woodpecker   (Mulleripicus pulverulentus)  Dudhwa National Park
81    Brown-capped Pygmy Woodpecker    (Dendrocopos nanus hardwickii  )  Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
82    Yellow-crowned Woodpecker   (Dendrocopos mahrattensis)  Dudhwa National Park
     PICIFORMES: Ramphastidae    
83    Great Barbet   (Psilopogon virens)  Shuklaphanta - Nepal
     CORACIIFORMES: Meropidae    
84    Green Bee-eater   (Merops orientalis)  Pilibhit Region
     CORACIIFORMES: Coraciidae    
85    Indian Roller   (Coracias benghalensis)  Pilibhit Region
     CORACIIFORMES: Alcedinidae    
86    Common Kingfisher   (Alcedo atthis)  Dudhwa National Park
87    Pied Kingfisher   (Ceryle rudis)  Pilibhit Region
88    Stork-billed Kingfisher   (Pelargopsis capensis)  Dudhwa National Park
89    White-throated Kingfisher   (Halcyon smyrnensis)  Commonly Seen
              PSITTACIFORMES: Psittaculidae    
90    Alexandrine Parakeet   (Psittacula eupatria) Pilibhit Region
91    Rose-ringed Parakeet   (Psittacula krameri) Dudhwa National Park
92    Plum-headed Parakeet    (Psittacula cyanocephala) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Campephagidae    
93    Scarlet Minivet   (Pericrocotus flammeus) Pilibhit Region
94    Large Cuckooshrike   (Coracina javensis) Dudhwa - India / Shuklaphanta - Nepal
     PASSERIFORMES: Oriolidae    
95    Black-hooded Oriole   (Oriolus xanthornus)  Dudhwa National Park
     PASSERIFORMES: Aegithinidae    
96    Common Iora   (Aegithina tiphia)  Dudhwa National Park
     PASSERIFORMES: Dicruridae    
97    Black Drongo   (Dicrurus macrocercus) Dudhwa National Park
98    Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo   (Dicrurus remifer) Dudhwa National Park
99    Greater Racket-tailed Drongo   (Dicrurus paradiseus) Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa National Park
     PASSERIFORMES: Laniidae    
100   Long-tailed Shrike   (Lanius schach) Pilibhit Region - India / Shuklaphanta - Nepal
     PASSERIFORMES: Corvidae    
101    Rufous Treepie   (Dendrocitta vagabunda) Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
102    House Crow   (Corvus splendens) Dudhwa
103    Large-billed Crow   (Corvus macrorhynchos) Dudhwa
     PASSERIFORMES: Nectariniidae    
104    Purple Sunbird   (Cinnyris asiaticus) Pilibhit Region 
     PASSERIFORMES: Ploceidae    
105    Baya Weaver   (Ploceus philippinus) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Estrildidae    
106    Red Avadavat   (Amandava amandava)  Pilibhit Region
108    Indian Silverbill   (Euodice malabarica)  Pilibhit Region
109    Scaly-breasted Munia   (Lonchura punctulata)  Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
     PASSERIFORMES: Passeridae    
108    House Sparrow   (Passer domesticus) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Motacillidae    
109    Forest Wagtail   (Dendronanthus indicus) Dudhwa National Park
110    Paddyfield Pipit   (Anthus rufulus) Pilibhit Region
111    Yellow Wagtail   (Motacilla flava) Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
112    Grey Wagtail   (Motacilla cinerea) Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
113    Citrine Wagtail   (Motacilla citreola) Pilibhit Region
114    White-browed Wagtail   (Motacilla maderaspatensis) Pilibhit Region
115    White Wagtail   (Motacilla alba) Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
     PASSERIFORMES: Emberizidae    
116    White-capped Bunting   (Emberiza stewarti)  Shuklaphanta - Nepal
     PASSERIFORMES: Stenostiridae    
117    Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher   (Culicicapa ceylonensis)  Shuklaphanta - Nepal
     PASSERIFORMES: Paridae    
118    Great tit    (Parus major) Pilibhit Region - India / Shuklaphanta - Nepal
119    Green-backed Tit   (Parus monticolus) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Cisticolidae    
120    Zitting Cisticola   (Cisticola juncidis) Pilibhit Region
121    Yellow-bellied Prinia   (Prinia flaviventris) Dudhwa National Park
122    Ashy Prinia   (Prinia socialis) Pilibhit Region
123    Plain Prinia   (Prinia inornata) Pilibhit Region
124    Common Tailorbird   (Orthotomus sutorius) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Acrocephalidae    
125    Blyth's Reed Warbler   (Acrocephalus dumetorum) Pilibhit Region

     PASSERIFORMES: Hirundinidae    
126    Wire-tailed Swallow   (Hirundo smithii) Pilibhit Region
127    Barn Swallow   (Hirundo rustica) Pilibhit Region
128    Dusky Crag Martin   (Ptyonoprogne concolor) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Pycnonotidae    
129    Red-whiskered Bulbul   (Pycnonotus jocosus) Pilibhit Region
130    White-eared Bulbul   (Pycnonotus leucotis) Pilibhit Region
131    Red-vented Bulbul   (Pycnonotus cafer) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Phylloscopidae    
132    Plain Leaf Warbler   (Phylloscopus neglectus) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Leiothrichidae    
133    Striated Babbler   (Argya earlei) Shuklaphanta - Nepal
134    Jungle Babbler   (Turdoides striata) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Sturnidae    
135    Common Starling   (Sturnus vulgaris)  Pilibhit Region
136    Asian Pied Starling   (Gracupica contra)  Pilibhit Region
137    Common Myna   (Acridotheres tristis)  Pilibhit Region /  Shuklaphanta - Nepal
138    Bank Myna   (Acridotheres ginginianus) Pilibhit Region
     PASSERIFORMES: Muscicapidae    
139    Indian Robin   (Saxicoloides fulicatus) Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
140    Oriental Magpie Robin   (Copsychus saularis) Pilibhit Region
141    Asian Verditer Flycatcher   (Eumyias thalassinus) Pilibhit Region

142    Bluethroat   (Luscinia svecica) Pilibhit Region / Shuklaphanta - Nepal
143    Black Redstart   (Phoenicurus ochruros) Shuklaphanta - Nepal
144    Eastern Stonechat   (Saxicola maurus) Commonly seen
145    Pied Bush Chat   (Saxicola caprata) Pilibhit Region
146    Grey Bush Chat   (Saxicola ferreus) Pilibhit Region / Dudhwa
147    Brown Rock Chat   (Oenanthe fusca) Pilibhit Region

Mammals and Reptiles:
1    Indian rhinoceros     (Rhinoceros unicornis) Dudhwa National Park
2    Swamp Deer    (Rucervus duvaucelii) Dudhwa National Park
3    Indian jackal    (Canis aureus) Sharda Sagar, Pilibhit Region
4    Wild boar     (Sus scrofa) Dudhwa / Pilibhit Region
5    Cheetal (Axis axis) Commonly seen
6    Rhesus macaque     (Macaca mulatta) Dudhwa / Pilibhit Region
7    Mugger crocodile     (Crocodylus palustris) Outskirts of Dudhwa NP
8    Indian softshell turtle     (Nilssonia gangetica) Outskirts of Dudhwa NP

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