Traveling to Bungamati, Manahara and Kurintar became the highlight for January.
2020 was a roller coaster of a year but it sure was an opportunity to gain a lot of life long experiences. I need to make 2021 better than that. “What I saw – January” is a start to exploring new places and finding new species of flora and fauna which I can share through this blog.
Staying within the Kathmandu valley limits had been the norm since March 2020 and this continued with the visit to the river banks of Manahara. Various birds had made this place its winter home this year. I was a little late to the party but the trip to this place was fruitful.
From spotting waders to having a Common Quail camouflaged on the ground and flying away from proximity, this place was a gem for birds. Scanning the horizon I could see new constructions ever so slowly creep towards this sanctuary. The question of how things are going to look scared me. The grassland showcased birds like the Pied Bushchat, Common Quail, Pipits, Black Kite, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Cisticola, Dorongos, White-throated Kingfisher, Bluethroat, Common Sandpiper, etc.
As I packed my bag after a morning of birding, I thought to myself why it had taken me so long to come to this place. When in reality I used to pass this place a lot while I was going mountain biking.
Mapping the mountain biking routes for the Bungamati Trails was on the priority list for January so I got to travel to this beautiful town a lot. January ended with a hike to one of those trails.
The hike started by walking down the singletrack that passes through the fields covered with blooming mustard flowers. The fog had just started to lift as the sun peeked from the horizon. Oriental Turtle Dove could be seen flying towards the lone tree in between the fields as the morning sun touched its branches.
Down at the edge of the Bagmati river, some Black Kites and Steppe eagles could be seen roosting while some could be seen carrying twigs and flying towards their nest. Wagtails and Pipits were at their usual behavior as they were searching for food in the newly prepared fields.
Alexandrine Parakeets were also flying with their usual squawking calls and as they perched on top of a tree I was able to photograph them. This was the first time I had noticed them in Bungamati as previously it was just the Rose-ringed Parakeet that I would see.
Bungamati and Khokana have always fascinated me since I was a kid and growing up seeing these towns change feels surreal. With the history, culture, architecture, agriculture there is so much knowledge and experiences to be had from these beautiful towns.
One thing that was missing for me was that I had not seriously considered doing some wildlife photography in this place before. This has now changed and I will be back in the coming months.
The self-control for the last 11 months of not leaving the valley due to the pandemic finally came to an end as I traveled to Kurintar for an overnight trip. I was in Summit River Lodge to experience the full moon. Walking towards the lodge memories started flooding in from the trip I had done to this place 6 years back.
Memories like the places where I had spotted a big squirrel, to photographing a Bronze grass Skink were still fresh in my mind. Goosebumps came as I took a deep breath and drifted away to the sounds of the birds, and the stream flowing from the waterfall nearby. Being a guy who works outdoors most of the time, I had been missing this experience due to the pandemic. Glad that I agreed to come to this place.
Most of the cottages of Summit River Lodge were covered by flowering creeper plants like the Flaming Trumpet, Scarlet Clock Vine, and a couple of others. The plants not just made the place look beautiful but also was an attraction for various birds.
The Crimson Sunbirds could be seen flying from one flower to the other in the search for nectar. Further up in a bush a Common Tailorbird would be moving rapidly and belting out its distinctive song. The cacophony of songs from the birds increased as I was going down to the beach. The massive mango trees around the property were abuzz with small birds.
Early morning I decided to go for a walk and do some birding. The fog had covered the valley so there was no sign of the sun coming out anytime soon. Low light meant that taking pictures of fast-moving birds was hard. As I walked down the stairs to the beach I was able to spot a Jungle Owlet perched on a branch looking at me. I stopped but it was too late and the bird flew away.
Down at the beach, I searched for any waders or water birds but couldn’t spot one. I should have stayed at a single place and waited. With just a couple of pictures of some birds, the trip came to an end but I will be back to document more in the future.
THE COMMON PROBLEMS
This is a recurring problem wherever I go. Every time I’m in the wilderness I come across garbage. Mahanahara had its share of it where crows would scavenge. Bungamati, even though I love the place, it had piles of garbage on the side of a cliff. Kurintar also had its fair share of thrash as the garbage from upstream would be dumped downstream by the river along with the area having its own small littering problem.
A reminder of what to consume and how much.
Another recurring problem is the open burning that happens in winter. From preparing farmlands to the garbage burning. The easy path for getting the problem fixed is by burning it. Even though it is illegal and creates more problems both in regards to health and the environment the burning still continues.
Health and environment, both important aspects but yet we ignore them.
With a month of exploring a couple of places, I was able to document some moments. Following are the species I was able to spot or take photographs of:
Pied Bushchat, Common Quail, Pipits, Black Kite, Eurasian Collared Dove, Black Drongo, Zitting Cisticola, Dorongos, White-throated Kingfisher, Bluethroat, Common Sandpiper, Himalayan BulbulOriental Turtle Dove, Spangled Drongo, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Spotted Dove, Black Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Crimson Sunbird, Alexandrine parakeet, Black Kites, Steppe eagles, Jungle Owlet, Myna, etc.
Flaming Trumpet, Scarlet Clock Vine, Dodder, Utis tree, Scarlet Comb, etc.
Six years on and the blog still continues. Thank you so much for your support. Please do comment on the things you would love to see in the blog or share your experience with wildlife in the wilderness.
Wishing you a very productive month ahead. Stay safe, wear a mask.
Ajay Narsingh Rana