2021 did bring some really good moments in the great outdoors. Wish I could have more but the virus situation dictated the movements. Nevertheless traveling to some new places and also being able to document some species of flora and fauna was quite a change after the 2020 lockdowns. I am hoping 2022 brings in some changes and I get to explore more areas around Nepal.
The year starts with a visit to The Last Resort to train the staff on wilderness first aid. Located in Listikot VDC, Sindupalchowk, this is one of the places that I love to be in and enjoy exploring the area. Apart from the time dedicated to the work, the downtime was spent exploring the surroundings. Nestled in an elevation of around 1235m with Bhote Koshi river below, this place does bring in a lot of diversity.
I would wake up around 5 am to the songs of the Blue-whistling Thrush and the Red-billed Blue Magpie. Once outside the safari tent, the songs of the birds would get even better. Surrounded by trees and bushes a Black-throated Sunbird would frequent the area. Singing up in the tree it would get attracted by the mirror outside the bathroom. Seeing its reflection it would sing, fly up and down the mirror.
As I roamed around the property early in the morning amongst the sounds of the Bhote Koshi flowing below, the birds would start to be active as dawn brought in some light. Covered with Utis trees along with many other species of trees, the property brings in a lot of surprises. This time around I was more interested in the birds around the property than insects. For me winter generally means I shift my focus on the larger species so taking macro photographs becomes secondary.
Sitting in a secluded place in the resort with a 180 view of the surrounding I observed the sun rays slowly touching the jungle in front of me. A flock of Red-billed Blue Magpies starts to slowly swoop down to the clearing below to forage. Far in the distance, I hear a Grey-headed Woodpecker sing and I make a note to be around that location early next morning. A short hike it will be. As I stay silently a Yellow-throated Martin makes an appearance far in the distance. Hopping around the area looking for food it disappears into the jungle below.
As I sit quietly next to the bamboo plant a Yellow-bellied Fantail hops around the Bamboo stalks. Just 3ft away it was too close to photograph the bird without scaring it so I just watched it sing and move around the bamboo. The following day I finally got an opportunity to document this bird when it decided to sit on a branch of a tree and catch the flying insects. The same tree hosted a couple of Great Barbets that were busy eating the fruits that the tree had. A Rufous-bellied Niltava also made a brief appearance on the tree and disappeared.
The next morning I headed up towards the location where I thought the call of the Grey-headed Woodpecker was coming from. Waiting silently for a while, finally the melodic high pitched keek … keek … keek … keek could be heard from the treeline above me. Perched on a branch almost camouflaged by the leaves the Grey-headed Woodpecker was singing its heart out before it flew away to another three to search for insects.
The hike around Listikot VDC is as interesting as being around the resort. Walking through the mixed forests of Utis, Pine, and other species of trees to the slow climb up through the terraced farms with Simal trees (Bombax ceiba) scattered around was interesting. As the sun slowly set above the hills on the west Black-lored Tits was busy searching for insects around the Simal trees while some Spotted Doves were perched on the wide branches. The leafless Simal trees were budding and it seemed like in a couple of weeks they would start to bloom. Quite a magnificent sight it would be with the big red flowers in full bloom.
I found a perfect vantage point up in the hills where I was able to spot some Flowerpeckers. Sitting on the edge of the hill facing the tree line below, I was able to see Fire-breasted Flowerpecker and Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker sing and chase each other from one tree to the other. There were Warblers as well in the mix that would fly in and search for food.
Before heading to Kathmandu we did an early morning hike up to Chhayangsing. Through the pine forest, we walked the singletracks uphill until the terrace farms could be visible. Up in the northeast, I could see the Nepal-China border and the snowcapped mountains towering above it. While taking a breather I saw a flock of Minivets flying. Down below in a tree the usual call of the Blue-fronted Redstart could be heard. The mustard fields were in full bloom. On our way down I could see a Wallcreeper searching for food on the side of a slope littered with rocks.
BACK IN KATHMANDU
January wasn’t a busy month and the documentation of the flora and fauna in and around the valley was also limited. Having said that, I was still able to see the usual Spotted Doves lined up and basking in the sun near my house, Common Tailorbird moving around the Lantana bush, Oriental Magpie Robin singing its heart out. Among the usual sightings of birds from my home, I was able to also notice a new one moving around the Lantana bush. It looks like a Yuhina so, hoping to get proper documentation in February.
With the limited time in the outdoors, I was able to see some new species as well as the usually documented species. Below is the list of flora and fauna that I was able to see or document in January.
Great Cormorant, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Great Barbet, Yellow-bellied Fantail, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Wallcreeper, Black-lored Tit, Grey-headed Woodpecker, Blue-whistling Thrush, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Common Stonechat, Black-throated Sunbird, Blue-fronted Redstart, Spotted Doves, Oriental Magpie Robin, Minivets, Blue-fronted Redstart, etc.
Staff Sergeant Butterfly
Nepalese alderUtis tree, Simal trees (Bombax ceiba), Lantana, Rhododendron trees, Oak trees, etc.