Click on the play button to listen to the sounds of nature while you read the blog
It seems that the monsoon was at its peak as the clouds didn’t give way to the sunlight and the rain didn’t seem to stop. It was another month of staying home and working, with the final week of August traveling outside of Kathmandu.
Working on my private projects meant that I got to work from my home office. The window near my table was the access to nature for me. On the first day of August, I happened to notice a bird perching on the bush merely 10m away from my window.
After observing it for a while I finally figured out that it was a juvenile Cuckoo. A rare sight so I adjusted my camera on the tripod and started documenting it. The excitement peaked when it started calling.
I knew that Cuckoos were brood parasites but hadn’t witnessed one.
Avian brood parasitism, or the laying of one’s eggs in the nest of another individual, is a reproductive strategy whereby parasites foist the cost of rearing their offspring onto another individual, the host.(Davies 2000)
The call from the juvenile Cuckoo was a rapid begging call directing the host towards it with the food. Out from an opening in the bush where the juvenile Cuckoo was perched, popped a black and white adult bird that was smaller than the juvenile Cuckoo it was hosting.
The female Cuckoo had chosen an Oriental Magpie Robin’s nest to host its egg. I realized that the bird was the same one that I had seen nesting at the corner of the roof above my home office window. After finding and documenting it from a distance I hadn’t disturbed it. The Oriental Magpie Robin had chosen a very secretive location for its nesting but the female cuckoo nevertheless was able to lay its egg.
I might have been unaware or, the stray cats might have gotten to dropped eggs first but usually, the Cuckoo chick discards the clutch of eggs that the host bird has laid after it hatches out early.
The Cuckoo chick was growing up fast so it had an insatiable appetite which made the poor Magpie seeking for food most of the day. From berries of the Lantana bush to the larva of various insects, the magpie was bringing in everything. It was quite an experience to witness the interactions and behavior of the Cuckoo and the Magpie Robin.
Finally, I was traveling outside Kathmandu, and that too for work. It was time to go to The Cliff in Kushma, Parbat District with the team from Himalayan Medics for a three-day wilderness first aid course for their bungy and other adventure crew. The course went well and it was a pleasure to teach and share my experience with the crew after a long time.
The final day of the stay was all about exploring the place. The weather was a bit challenging as it had been for the last couple of days. First on my list to explore was the trail that led towards the airport in Baglung.
The trail, now a jeep track was interesting to walk on but I ended up taking a detour through the pine forest that was alongside the road. Covered on a blanket of fog the forest looked mysterious with my mind running wild imagining a composition of a Leopard sleeping peacefully on a branch. If that was a reality then it would have been a keeper shot.
Looking down at the river below and the adjoining forest I remembered people telling me about the animals around that area. As I saw the raptors soring below, the fog would constantly move until eventually there was a break in the sky for a moment and the sun finally lit the valley below.
Following the pattern of the Egyptian vultures, I finally spotted the nesting area that was partially hidden in the canyon walls. Spotting a juvenile Egyptian vulture soaring above the canyon was also a good find as the nest looked empty with only the two adult vultures occupying the place.
The adult vulture has an off-white plumage with a yellow-colored head and the juvenile is uniformly brown.
The best part of this place for me was getting to see raptors up close. As the day would start the Black Kites would circle above and later on the vultures followed. The crows around the area would try to chase the Kites but the cycle kept repeating throughout the day. The small meadows covered with grass, scattered with blooming wild pea flowers, and dragonflies constantly buzzing around also brightened the ambiance.
We stopped for the day in Pokhara on our way back from Kushma. The weather remained the same as the last couple of days but I was excited. Walking down to Pame towards the end of the lake and finding birds turned out to be different than I thought as there were people fishing in every nook and corner of the river that joined the lake.
Visually I could spot Cattle Egrets, Lapwing, Muina on the adjoining rice fields, but wasn’t able to document them.
In the evening I met up with Rohit as he was releasing a Green Pit Viper which he had rescued a day early. The Green Pit Viper was shedding its skin so after I was able to take some photos he released it. Rohit has been rescuing snakes in Pokhara for years and that is also for free.
As we were talking about wildlife and conservation for the next couple of hours over dinner the calls for snake rescue wouldn’t stop. His initiative has defiantly helped in the conservation of snakes in Pokhara and also has reminded people about the need for empathy towards nature.
Ichangu has become a place that has started giving me solace while riding or hiking. The peace and tranquility that it provides have started to become a stark contrast to the construction boom that is happening below. The polar opposite situation that it presents is a stark reminder of how Kathmandu valley is evolving.
The reality for us is that there is no way out of the population boom or the influx of people making Kathmandu their place of residence. But in all this chaos the urban planning should be done in a way where the human-wildlife conflict is mitigated.
The news of the interaction with wildlife as years pass by ever so grows. We humans have always said that wildlife has encroached on our property but in reality, it tends to be the opposite.
It’s has been quite an experience looking into nature and being able to document the magic. Below is the summary of what I was able to see or, document in August.
Crimson Sunbird, Egyptian Vulture, Common Tailorbird, Blue Whistling-Thrush, Himalayan Bulbul, Black Drongo, Large-billed Crow, Oriental Magpie Robin, Eurasian Cuckoo, Long-tailed Shrike, Blue-throated Barbet, Rusty-cheeked scimitar babbler, House crow, Red-vented Bulbul, Cattle egret, Spotted dove.
Lemon Pansy, Water strider (Gerridae sp.), Two-tailed spiders (Hersilia sp.), Coffee locust (Aularches miliaris), Spider (Argiope sp.), Dragonflies, Caterpillars, Jumping spider (Salticidae sp.), Tortoise beetle, Butterflies, etc.
Green pit viper, Garden lizard.
Crêpe ginger, Peepal (Ficus religiosa), Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), Globe amaranth, Wild pea (Fabaceae sp.), Cypress Vine, Pinus roxburghii (Khote salla), etc.
Ajay Narsingh Rana