This month, work took me to the Everest region. It was my fifth time in this area, and I was assigned a new location to serve as a wilderness first responder for an ultramarathon race.

Traveling once again along the Sindhuli Highway, this time to reach Manthali Airport for our flight to Lukla, I noticed that the landscape remained the same. Unlike my previous trips, I didn’t spot any waterbirds. Upon reaching Manthali, our flight was canceled due to the weather, leaving us with no option but to stay overnight in the town. I decided to explore the banks of the Tama Koshi River and walked along the banks near the airport.

As the evening breeze provided some respite from the heat, I looked around at the dry hills surrounding the town. Similar to last month, wildfires continued in many areas, including one on a nearby hill, which appeared to be human-caused rather than natural. The fire had affected only the grass and small shrubs.


The call of a River Lapwing drew my attention back to the riverbank. I saw two Lapwings flying on the other side of the river, landing on a rock, and starting to forage. The riverbank was interesting, with patches of sand interspersed with rocky areas. On the opposite side, there was a patch of Agave plants on the dry hillside.

A Black Kite, which had been soaring above for a while, also landed at the river’s edge for a drink. I noticed a Little Ringed Plover searching for food and a Pipit further up the bank. As daylight slowly faded, I walked back to the hotel and saw a Pied Bushchat perched on a wire of a gabion wall embankment near the river. I also noticed Cattle Egrets returning to their nests and a couple of Spotted Owlets perched on top of a lighting rod along the way.

The next day, we landed in Lukla and began our trek, ending our first day’s walk in Jorsalle. Exploring the small town in a narrow valley with the Dudh Koshi flowing below, I spotted some Rufous Sibia and Warblers. The cave near the village was an interesting find. The next morning, during breakfast, I saw a Green-backed Tit, Plumbeous Water Redstarts (both male and female), a White-capped Redstart, and Rufous Sibia singing and playing around the pine trees near the deck. While documenting the birds, I noticed a couple of brown birds far down on the riverbank foraging for food. It was good to see Brown Dippers here as well, following the river and foraging.

My assigned location for this year’s race was Dzongla. As I headed there, I also took note of the flora and fauna so that after all the runners had passed my station and my assignment was done, I could focus on documenting them on my way back to Lukla.

Leaving Namche and heading to Pangboche, the rhododendrons were in full bloom from Sanasa to Tengboche. I could hear the calls of the Spotted Nutcracker, warblers, and also the Cuckoo. Down at the suspension bridge after Deboche, we spotted a herd of Himalayan Tahr resting on the side of a cliff. As the fog began to roll in, we reached the teahouse before it got dark. The weather wasn’t fairing well on this trip, with predictions of snow in a couple of days at my destination.

From Pangboche, the next stop was Dingboche, and then I headed to Dzongla. Reaching Dzongla in the late evening, I set up the space for the runners, who would start arriving within the next 24 hours. Waking up early the next morning, the weather looked good as the valley opened up, revealing the surrounding mountains. I saw a couple of Tibetan Snowcocks chasing each other high up and Alpine Accentors searching for food in the grass patches. Some Alpine Choughs were flying around the village, and Great Rosefinches could be seen perched on the roofs of some teahouses.

As planned, I intended to document the birds once the runners had passed my station and we packed up to leave. Unfortunately, that plan was thwarted as it started snowing for the next three days, with limited visibility. The runners passed our location safe and sound, with the last batch arriving in the late afternoon one day. I also left with the runners and the remaining logistic team and followed them to the split towards Thukla midway as the runners and the team headed to Lobuche. I did manage to document the birds in the snowy conditions during one free afternoon when there was a large gap between runners coming from Gokyo via Chola Pass.

The way to Thukla in the evening was interesting, as the snow had covered the path. When heading to Thukla, due to the fresh snow, we took a different path midway and lost some time in the dark to track back to Thukla. Once there, the trail to Dingboche was pretty clear, with no visible snow.

Staying in Dingboche for two nights, I was able to see and document some White Wagtails, Rosy Pipits, Plain Mountain Finches, Tickell’s Leaf Warblers, and a couple of Snow Pigeons. Finally, all the runners had passed the Dingboche checkpoint and were headed to the finish line in Lukla, so the remaining responder team and I left early in the morning for Namche. At last, the weather had cleared, and the sun was shining.

On the way, I noticed a vulture far on the other side of the hill perched on a rock. Observing it, I also scanned the area and, to my delight, spotted a group of vultures perched near the river bank. With the sun in its full brightness and the heat coming off the rocks, I wasn’t able to get a proper photo, but while walking down the trail, we documented the birds heading down the valley. The Himalayan Vulture glided gracefully, finding the thermals.

Crossing Somare and Pangboche, we passed many tourists headed to Everest Base Camp. Back at the suspension bridge between Deboche and Pangboche, I tried looking for the Himalayan Tahr on the cliff where I had previously seen them. I couldn’t spot any, so I focused on the call of the Rufous-vented Tit that was just a couple of meters away. Carrying some nesting material, it was hopping from one branch to another, looking towards a sitting area made of flat rocks for trekkers. Suspecting that the nest was behind that wall, we moved our bags from the sitting area, and the bird made its way inside a crack between the rocks. Finding a safe area for its nest, it chose a place where people would sit to rest—a reminder that in the wilderness, we need to be careful about where animals’ habitats are. Crossing the bridge, I saw a female Himalayan Tahr and its kid grazing near the river.

Spotting some flora and fauna while heading up helped as I began documenting them on the way to Namche via Phungi Thenga. Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, White-winged Grosbeak, White-browed Fulvetta, Himalayan Monal, and Himalayan Tahr were some of the birds I was able to photograph, along with plants like Iris, Himalayan Spurge, various Rhododendrons, wild strawberry flowers, juniper trees, and birch trees.

The final leg of the journey from Namche to Lukla the next day was equally interesting as I could photograph many birds. Before reaching Jorsalle, I documented Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Spotted Nutcracker, and Rufous-vented Niltava. We stopped for some snacks at the teahouse where we had stayed on the way up and started photographing some Rufous Sibia and Plumbeous Water Redstart. Further down the riverbank, where I had previously seen a Brown Dipper, I saw a Red-billed Chough.

Leaving the beautiful village behind, I explored the area more and documented the Oriental Turtle Dove, Streaked Laughingthrush, Green-tailed Sunbird, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Long-tailed Shrike, Grey Wagtail, Blue Whistling Thrush, and Verditer Flycatcher. I also photographed a Pika that had made a trailside rock deposit its home. On this trip, I also managed to document a couple of moths.


With the changing weather, my plan of documenting wildlife ended. After multiple trips to the Everest region for work, I will now plan a trip solely to focus on and document the flora and fauna.

May brought another opportunity to experience nature up close with a visit to ICIMOD’s Living Mountain Lab. Previously known as the ICIMOD Knowledge Park, it is located in Godavari and spreads over 30 hectares. The Living Mountain Lab, as ICIMOD rightly puts it, is a place focused on innovating and demonstrating sustainable technologies and conserving natural resources. This was my second visit to this place, and I was excited to document the diverse flora and fauna present.

Walking through the trails, I saw many sections demonstrating various technologies and farming practices, such as a herb garden, watershed management, flood early warning systems, a kiwi farm, and more. It rained for an hour when I started walking, so I took shelter in one of the huts and watched a Blue Whistling Thrush hop from branch to branch. As the rain subsided, I focused on the insects around the area this time.

Exploring the space, I was able to spot and document six different spider species. Three of them belonged to the family Salticidae, known as Jumping spiders, two were Wolf spiders from the family Lycosidae, and one appeared to be a Huntsman spider from the family Sparassidae. Taking pictures of spiders is fun, but Jumping spiders offer a unique experience with their eight eyes, the anterior median pair being the most prominent.

I also noticed other insects, such as the Red Poplar Leaf Beetle, Dingy Line Blue Butterfly, a wasp from the family Ichneumonidae, earwigs, what seemed to be a species of Rove beetle, the Great Black-vein Butterfly, a couple of caterpillars, a beetle likely from the Protaetia genus of the family Scarabaeidae, a fruit fly species, and an unidentified spider.

With trees ranging from Needlewood Tree, Seto Ban Champ, Dhale Katus, and Glaucous Oak, to fungi from the Auricularia genus and various small wildflowers, this place felt like a floral paradise. I didn’t want to leave and just kept photographing whatever I encountered.

I left the ICIMOD Living Mountain Lab with a happy face and a content heart, thinking about returning at the start of the monsoon to discover more insects and hopefully, some new fungi I haven’t photographed yet.

May brought unique wildlife experiences and below is a summary of the species of flora and fauna I was able to see and document.

Cattle Egret, Little Ringed Plover, Black Kite, River Lapwing, Pied Bushchat ♂, Spotted Owlet, Green-backed Tit, Plumbeous Water Redstart ♂ ♀, White-capped Redstart, Brown Dipper, Rufous Sibia, Great Rosefinch ♂ ♀, Alpine Accentor, Alpine Chough, White Wagtail ♂, Rosy Pipit, Plain Mountain Finch, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Snow Pigeon, Himalayan Vulture, Rufous-vented Tit, Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher ♂, White-winged Grosbeak ♂, White-browed Fulvetta, Himalayan Monal ♂, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Spotted Nutcracker, Rufous-vented Niltava ♂, Red-billed Chough, Oriental Turtle Dove, Streaked Laughingthrush, Green-tailed Sunbird ♂, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Long-tailed Shrike, Grey Wagtail ♂, Blue Whistling Thrush, Verditer Flycatcher, Oriental Magpie Robin, Himalayan Bulbul, Black Drongo, Spotted Dove, Asian Koel ♂, White-throated Kingfisher, etc.

Himalayan Tahr, Royle’s Pika, Rescues Maquace.

Black-vented Prominent Moth (Gazalina chrysolopha), Protaetia Genus beetle, a fruit fly species, Wolf spider sp., Earwig (Eudohrnia metallica), Lesser Stitchwort (Stellaria graminea), Green Jumping Spider (Lyssomanes sp., Salticidae), Cartipillars, Red Poplar Leaf Beetle (Chrysomela populi), Dingy Line Blue (Petrelaea dana), Great Black-vein Butterfly (Aporia agathon), etc.

Silver Fir, Birch, Juniper, Rhododendron, Banyan (Ficus benghalensis), Peepal Tree (Ficus religiosa), Needlewood Tree (Schima wallichii), Seto Ban Champ (Michelia kisopa), Dhale Katus (Castanopsis indica), Glaucous Oak – फलाट Falaat (Quercus glauca), Auricularia Genus fungi, Iris kemaonensis, Euphorbia wallichii, Simal (Bombax ceiba), Ferns, Utis (Alnus nepalensis), Tetrastigma obtectum, etc.

Ajay Narsingh Rana

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1 Comment

  1. Wonderful as always .. but good insight into the regions flora , fauna

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