The month-long PhotoKTM5 Residency Program, which began in Kawasoti in mid-January, continued. On the first of February, I went to another vulture feeding at Jatayu Vulture Restaurant. I was gradually becoming acquainted with how the vultures reacted during the meal. Recognizing the sub-adults of a couple of vultures species has also become easier.
On the second day, I went on a jungle walk into the Amaltari community forest. The walk took me to a different side of the forest that the jeep couldn’t access. The grassland that would have been a bit swampy was completely dried up and had left footprints of rhinos and some water birds. I was able to see different species of birds like the Lesser Yellownape Woodpecker, and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, on the trees alongside the small patches of grassland.
The excitement of walking in the jungle and hearing the cacophony of sounds made by the birds was furthered more by the sense of exhilaration knowing that there could be a rhino in any corner. As we finally joined the jeep route I got to see my first sighting of the Burmese Python. Hiding its head under the foliage and letting some part of the body soak up the sun, this snake was pretty camouflaged.
Following the jeep track we slowly headed to the banks of the Narayani River where we could see a couple of Woolly-necked Stork and an Asian Openbill far on the other side. The river had dried out more than it had in December. We walked the riverbank till we reached the waiting boat. Drifting through the small rapids our boat reached the main Narayani River that was joined by the Rapati River.
I could see Ruddy Shelducks, Lesser adjutants, and Gharial crocodiles on the river banks as we moved through the slow water. The Narayani River banks near Amaltari can be a good area to see Ganges River Dolphins, but luck was not on my side this time.
During my stay in Kawasoti, one of my habits when around the Jatayu Vulture Restaurant was to observe the nests and see the vultures feed their chicks. It was interesting to see how the parents would take turns heading out and bringing food. Another one of those interesting behavior I saw was on a late evening when a vulture had her chick poop outside the nest and then it was time for bed.
The month was followed with some more observation of the vulture feeding on the cattle carcasses that came from around Kawasoti. Apart from the vultures that devoured the carcass, there were other species also that benefited. I could see Jungle Fowl, Myna, and Wagtails going through the undigested stomach contents of the cow or, the buffalo. Even the Rhino would be interested in it. Nutrients from the carcass also benefited the surrounding soil and plants.
It was time to explore the Namuna Community Forest and also observe the grassland properly so it was time to go on a jeep safari. The community forest has a few Rhinos and we could see three during the ride. Barking deer, Hog deer, and Spotted deer along with birds like the Intermediate Egret, Little Cormorant, Mallard, Indian Peafowl, Black Stork, Red-wattled Lapwing, and Common Kingfisher, were spotted.
The month-long stay showed me how connected nature was. The dedication and effort that has given a second life to a species that was dwindling in population due to humans. The efforts to have the grassland protected and the species thriving through it. I had the opportunity to see a lot of birds and mammals during my stay in Kawasoti and the frequent visits to Namuna Community Forest.
I would like to thank PhotoKTM for the residency program, Bird Conservation Nepal, Jatayu Vulture Restaurant, for the opportunity to explore and learn.
On the last day of our trip, we also got to observe Prem Mahato rescue and release a Common Cobra that had entered a house. This is also a warning that many areas are gradually transitioning from agricultural or forested to residential areas, which has exacerbated the human-wildlife conflict. Infrastructure planning has always taken a back seat in Nepal’s urbanization plans. Regrettably, the conflict persists.
Below are some of the species of flora and fauna that I was able to spot in February.
White-rumped Vultures, Himalayan vulture, Cinereous vulture, Red-headed vulture, Slender-billed vulture, Red-naped Ibis, Lesser Yellownape Woodpecker, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Woolly-necked Stork, Asian Openbill, Crested serpent eagle, Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Lesser adjutant, Coppersmith Barbet, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Paddyfield Pipit, Common Stonechat, Greater white-fronted goose, Bengal bush lark, Short eared owl, Common hawk-cuckoo, Indian roller, Lesser Goldenback Woodpecker, Intermediate Egret, Little Cormorant, Mallard, Indian Peafowl, Black Stork, Red-wattled Lapwing, Common Kingfisher, Darter, Lesser whistling duck, Egyptian vulture, Red Junglefowl, Grey-backed Shrike, Griffon vulture, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, White-rumped Munia, Greater Coucal, Pied Kingfisher, Grey-breasted Prinia, Spotted Dove, Black-hooded Oriole, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Eurasian Collared Dove, Eurasian Wryneck, White Wagtail, Red-whiskered Bulbul, White-breasted Waterhen, Long-tailed Shrike, Black Drongo, Common Tailorbird, Rufous Treepie, White-throated Kingfisher, Red-vented Bulbul, Jungle Myna, Common Myna, Pied Bushchat, Plum-headed Parakeet, Indian Pond Heron, Plum-headed parakeet, etc.
Peacock Pansy Butterfly, Spider,
Burmese python, Gharial crocodile, Spotted Deer, Mugger crocodile, Common cobra.
Hog deer, Rhesus macaque, One-horned Rhino, Wild boar, Barking deer, Indian grey mongoose, Golden Jackel.
Simal Tree (Bombax ceiba), ), Sal (Shorea Robusta), Cymbidium orchid sps., Bakena tree (Melia azedarach), Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), Water Cabbage (Pistia stratiotes Curry Leaf Plant (Bergera koenigii),
Ajay Narsingh Rana