Click on the play button to listen to the sounds of nature while you read the blog
That month of the year when monsoon slows down and the cold breeze blows while the clouds move apart and the sun bakes the earth. Autumn is on the horizon and the passage migrant birds are already on their way.
With life slowly returning to normal in the valley, I have started opening up to visiting more places with precautions in mind and a jab of the vaccine on my arm. As I look outside my window towards the south, I see Phulchowki, Hattiban, Chandragiri and the time to explore it again is coming near. For now, Ichangu is my go-to place.
This time I went to the outskirts of the Nagarjun National Park. The three hours spent there watching the birds, and documenting nature was amazing. I have missed being outdoors like I used to pre-COVID19 era.
The secluded place I was in to watch the birds turned out to be a good place for early morning walks as well. The sound of the breeze, birds singing, crickets chirping, could be the motivating factor. The only turnoff was people talking on top of their voices while walking. This wasn’t a long-lasting phenomenon so after an hour of waiting out I was finally able to record the sounds of nature and document it properly.
For me, the Green-billed Malkoha is an elusive bird to see let alone photograph. This wasn’t the case here. After sitting for an hour nature started showcasing its extravagance. Green-billed Malkohas started flying from one treetop to the other only to vanish among the canopy. The way the bird camouflaged itself was amazing.
A lot of Green-billed Malkoha sightings later, I diverted my attention into the forest canopy near me. Black-throated Tits were foraging among the tree trunks while further inside a pair of White-throated Fantail with their tail spread out was hopping from one branch to the other. Dark shadows inside the forest was a challenge but I did manage to document the bird.
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker made an appearance but disappeared inside the jungle searching for food on the barks of the trees. I noticed further in the jungle a damp tree trunk was becoming an interest for some birds. A Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Oriental White-eye, and later on the pair of White-throated Fantail that I had seen before was busy looking for food.
A lot of birds were foraging and I noticed many feasting on the moths that were on the branches of the trees. A Black-lored Tit flew over to the tree next to me and started feasting on the moth it was able to catch from the tree trunk. The importance of insects in the sustenance of the ecosystem can never be ignored.
There are some 160,000 species of moth in which around 3958 species are found in Nepal. Some have beautiful colors, patterns, and shapes, some do not but the importance remains the same. Moths help pollinate flowers. They are providers in nature, meaning they and their caterpillars are eaten by birds, small mammals, bats, amphibians, and other animals.
As there is a global decline in insects, moths also fall under it. The use of pesticides, climate change, and other factors are contributing to the decline. By planting local species of flowering garden plants and grasses, ditching the pesticides, decreasing the use of excessive powerful outdoor lights we help in conserving the moth species which in turn will help other species of animals as well.
The only trip this month I did outside the valley was to Kurintar where my friend was making a race track. Kurintar is 102km away from Kathmandu on the way to Pokhara and has an elevation of around 270m. On the banks of the Trisuli river, this place has tropical vegetation with trees like Simal (Bombax ceiba), Sissau (Dalbergia sissoo), and many other varieties of plants.
Apart from the work like trail building, racing, or a simple overnight stay; the other reason I get excited to be in Riverside Springs Resort is the flora and fauna I get to document. The green canopy of the trees there hosts various birds like the Black Kite, Dove, Black Drongo, Common Tailorbird, Woodpeckers, Warblers, and many more along with many other species of mammals, reptiles, and insects.
My first Civet cat and Hare sighting were also in this place so I knew the potential this place had. Before getting into the work mode early mornings were the best time to explore this place so my usual routine of waking up at 5 am continued.
Outside the door and greeted by the songs of the warblers, I started looking out for the birds in the branches of the Gulmohar tree nearby. The wait was rewarded by the appearance of the Indian Golden Oriole that started grooming itself on the branch. Indian Golden Oriole is a beautiful bird with bright yellow plumage and a black stripe on the eyes.
Out from a corner of the tree flew away a Barbet which I couldn’t identify but my guess is either a Brown-headed Barbet or, a Lineated Barbet. I will be on a better lookout next time I’m there.
Documenting the small world was even more exciting as I got to photograph a lot of new species. From a wide range of butterflies (which are listed below), spiders, beetles, moths, this place had it all if you’re looking at the right places. Talking about the right place, I spotted a caterpillar that might be of the Geometridae sp. (researching on it) which looked like a small twig. The small world is an amazing world to look into.
The tall Sissau trees were a good place for the Black Drongos to perch on and swoop down to catch the insects that were on the ground. Another flock of Black Drongos were down at the beach chasing each other and taking a dip on the Trisuli River. With all these commotions the Common Hoopoe and a couple of Indian Golden Oriole would also be chased away.
Another trip filled with beautiful moments from nature and the goal of documenting the mammals and birds still going strong I was back in Kathmandu.
The majority of the month was spent at home working from the home office. Sightings of various birds still continued from the window near my desk. The calls from the Oriental Magpie Robin, Red-vented Bulbuls foraging on the Lantana bush, Barn Swallows on their erratic flights catching flies mid-air; the coo-coo from the spotted doves perching on the branch, and a lot more continued as usual.
Nature did provide some calmness to the randomness in life.
The streak of sighting new birds from home also continued as I was able to spot a Jacobin Cuckoo curiously looking around in the Lantana bush. Not a patient bird it seems as it was moving around observing its surrounding pretty closely. This was my first time seeing this bird and was excited to document it even though it was for a brief moment.
Less travel but a lot more sightings and documentation. Below are some of the species of flora and fauna I was able to see or document.
Birds: Green-billed Malkoha, White-eye, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Jungle Myna, Common Tailorbird, Himalayan Bulbul, Red-vented Bulbul, Barn Swallow, Rufous Treepie, Black Drongo, Indian Golden Oriole, Long-tailed Shrike, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Common Hoopoe, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Spotted Dove, Egyptian Vulture, House Sparrow, Blue-throated Barbet, Verditer Flycatcher, Cuckooshrike, Black-lored Tit, Black Bulbul, Black-throated Tit, Greater Coucal, White-throated Fantail, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Grey Treepie, Oriental Magpie Robin, Jacobin Cuckoo.
Insects: Great Eggfly Butterfly, Common Tiger Butterfly, Glassy Tiger Butterfly, Common Castor Butterfly, Palm Dart Butterfly, Tailed Punch Butterfly, Common Indian Crow Butterfly, Common Lascar Butterfly, Common Four-ring Butterfly, Peacock Pansy Butterfly, Ants, Caterpillars, etc.
Flora: Cypress Vine, Simal (Bombax ceiba), Baans (Dendrocalamu spps.), Sissau (Dalbergia sissoo), Peepal (Ficus religiosa), Baar (Ficus benghalensis), Ashoka, Ferns, Trumpet flowers, etc.
Reptile & Amphibian: Frogs, Garden Lizard, Ground Skink.