December, the final month and an end to a fantastic year that was 2019. Even though it was a month without any travel, spending time in Kathmandu was a lot less excruciating than before. I have to say December passed by pretty fast. A break from the adventures and travel, no nature photography while living in a fast-paced city finishing up on projects did make me miss the mountains. So in order to change the tone, I did go out to places inside the valley like Ichangu for a couple of hikes and birding.
I have written about how Ichangu has changed in the past couple of years and how it has affected the wildlife but this place still attracts me. Bird sightings were pretty good but still lacked the species which I was looking for. I was able to see some new birds like the Slaty-headed Parakeet, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Long-tailed Minivet, Eurasian Sparrowhawk along with the usual Black-lored Tit, Red-vented Bulbul, Himalayan Bulbul, White-crested Laughingtrush, Grey Treepie, Great Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Crimson Sunbird, Long-tailed Shrike, etc.
2019 has been a year of adventures and memories. In summary, I was able to travel from the east to the west for various work and projects. From Sagarmatha National Park to Rara National Park and, Gaurishankar Conservation Area to Annapurna Conservation Area the natural diversity was a sight to be had. From 5416m down to 150m in elevation the range of flora and fauna I was able to see has definitely had its appreciation in the “What I Saw” segment throughout the year.
The sighting of a Mountain weasel and being able to take a picture of it was definitely the highlight for me as the smile I got after photographing the inquisitive mammal can never be forgotten. Photographing and documenting the flora and fauna in sub-zero temperatures in the mountains to super hot weather in the terai brings out its own stories, stories filled with emotions from joy to anger, disappointment, frustration to the excitement, tear, anxiety, etc. The art of patience has been mastered even more this year as I keep myself content to what nature is able to show and not protrude through its sanctity. There were times when I was just able to enjoy the sightings of various mammals and birds and not be able to photograph them due to various reasons but the happiness I got from it is better than the one I was able to photograph. The visual memory that runs later in the mind is definitely a lesson on what I should do next time to avoid the mistakes and also a reminder that sometimes it is better observing the species and not be too focused on taking a picture of it.
For me, 2019 was a year of new sightings of various species and as the documentation continues, I am even more excited to find out what the future holds. I am also nervous with the thought that on my quest to see and document the flora and fauna of Nepal, the rapid development that is happening in Nepal doesn’t become a catalyst in the extinction of many species. Environmental oversight happens in a lot of countries that are too focused on development in regards to human and nature gets less priority. Lessons should be learned from the developed nations and the impacts of those developments and not repeat the mistakes they have done.
Looking back at the places I have traveled this year, I would like to go back to Sagarmatha National Park, Mardi Himal area, Rara National Park, Banke, Manang, Mustang, Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park and many more as the natural treasure trove of the flora and fauna were immense. Hopefully, 2020 introduces me to many other new places that will shock me with its biodiversity and beauty.
Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year and a year filled with adventure, learning, appreciation, and a whole lot of contribution in the field of nature conservation. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart in supporting and being one of those awesome followers of this blog.
As always please feel free to drop a comment and suggestion on what you would like to see or any corrections I need to make.
With warm regards from a cold winter morning.
Ajay Narsingh Rana