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Kosi Barrage, Chitwan & Kathmandu Birding Trip Report
by Prasad Anand
Kosi Barrage (17th-21st Feb.)
Clamorous/Oriental Reed/Great Reed Warbler. Seen in bushes by first marsh on the right heading eastwards to Kosi Tappu. The bird had fine streaking on the breast and I thought a longer and thicker bill than the Clamorous also there for comparison. It also had a thin yellowish supercilium extending a little behind the eye and was a cream colour on the underside, much lighter than the other Clamorous also present, and beautifully clear primary tips. It was calling chek chek chek. I read the big Grimmett/Inskipps in Pilgrims in Kathmandu (35 pounds) and saw Clamorous can also have a streaked breast and the call also fits the introductory song of Clamorous which is given as tek tek tek in BIS. (Baker in Warblers of Europe, Asia & N. Africa has Great Reed with keek keek keek as part of the song and in Craig Robson's Field guide to S.E. Asia the call of Oriental is given as a loud chak and Clamorous as a loud deep trak. The call of Clamorous in BIS is given as a loud and deep chak).
Plaintive Cuckoo, which is a vagrant to Nepal, was seen just south of the Kosi Tappu boundary.
Swamp Francolin was seen on both sides of the river and were also calling from the derelict huts on the way to the pink tower. So no need to go to Kosi Tappu.
Falcated Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Striated Grassbird (by pink tower), Smoky Warbler, Black-faced Bunting, Hume's Short-toed Lark (allowing close views at their roost area near the huts about three Km south of the village), five other lark species in this area, a beautiful Great White Pelican, fantastic views of Pied Harrier, Short-eared Owl (south of village), Red-necked Falcon, Eurasian Griffon, Lesser Adjutant (common), Siberian Rubythroat and a possible female Hodgson's Bushchat (south of the village). Has anyone any recent records from here and is there any possible confusion with Common? This bird seemed large although Inskipp has them as same size in the “size” section but larger in the text? The wing bar was quite distinct. The greater primary coverts were only very finely tipped rufous although the medium primary coverts were more clearly tipped rufous. Help appreciated!
Also saw 3 Common Shelduck and a Short-toed Eagle which are rare in Nepal.
I spent a lot of time looking for sea eagles but although they were present I failed to catch up with them. A visit to one of the camps at Tappu and a river raft might help.
An “un-named” tour saw Dusky Thrush but didn't tell me where!
A bloke on the bus whilst still struggling with the Flemming book saw my Pocket Inskipp and realized he had seen Kessler's Thrush on the Annapurna Trek.
I'm ashamed to say I failed to really scan a flock of Lesser Whistling Duck (2nd pond on right from Barrage to Kosi) as the tour had been scoping them for ages. A Danish friend saw Baer's Pochard there. So make sure you scan the small ponds as well as the river.
The teashop at Kosi barrage is 50rps (ask for Shankar's) is not nearly so bad as expected and you get to like Nepali music (certainly better than Indian Pop). dhal bhat is 30rps. You can not lock the room but it feels safe. But better you can somehow lock your bags just to discourage curious hands. I repaired the mosquito net he has, with plaster.
Bus from Narayanghat (Chitwan) is only 6 hrs and 11 hrs back to Kathmandu. Ask for Mekalu luxury buses. Shankar's brother went to Ithahari to get me the ticket back and wouldn't accept a fee.
Ithahari (Dharan) I will visit at a later time of year when Black Baza is there.
Tamaspur (15th Feb.)
Tamaspur was 1500rps (15 pounds) for the whole day from Narayanghat. There is not much else there.
Megauli, Chitwan (5th-14th Feb.)
Other goodies include Smokey and Dusky Warblers and many Bush Warblers which I will have to read up on but I have so far as Aberrant Spotted and a possible Pale-footed. I have some tapes of the calls but had no speaker for playback.
Also Black-backed Forktail (common), Hill Myna ssp. intermedia, Bengal Florican which Jib the owner of the lodge guarantees (no Florican no pay), Collared Falconet (scoped from one of the Florican sites), Silver-backed Needletail (from same site), White-tailed Robin (ravine near TT, ask Jib for the Trogon areas). Many more brilliant common birds (fantastic to see immature Lesser Coucal) but Slender-billed Babbler and Rufous-necked Laughing Thrush were very difficult to catch up with in February!
The river course has changed and moved further towards the park so some of the old sites and ditches are invalid or at least have different species.
You can rent a bike (50rps) and cycle to as far as Bhimle checkpost. You don't have to have a guide. Also in Feb. there is fog in the morning which may not clear until 10am.
There is also a new lodge near Megauli called Rhino Lodge. It is $30 per day (I don't know if this is all-inclusive). It is farther to the ferry, but you can wade the river from here and you can probably see flying Floricans from the lodge as the Florican area is about a km East of the crossing.
Pulchowki, Kathmandu (23rd Feb.)
In one day I saw Slaty-backed and Ultramarine Flycatchers, Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker, Speckled Piculet, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Nepal Fulveta, Rufous-chinned Laughing Thrush, Scaly Thrush, Kalij and Hill Partridge.
The taxi to Godavari is 300rps plus 50 for his return. Last bus back 6.30pm.
I had a back problem and had to cancel the Ilam treks and Assam. At least I have plenty to see next year.