Trip Report – February 2011
Comments: Unlike most of our trips this trip wasn’t just about birding as we had gone to Kathmandu to visit my daughter. Of course we did go birding but much of it was day trips in and around Kathmandu. So I have listed some suggested day trips that can enable you to combine birding with sightseeing. There is also a summary of our trip to Chitwan.
Clearly there are many other great birding locations in Nepal which we hope to cover next year but this was all we had time for this year.
Day 1: Hire a car and driver (see below) and head to Shivapuri & Nagerjung National Park north of the city. If you want to make a whole day of it you can hike all the way to the top (take a lunch with you if you do)– we only had half a day so we had our driver take us up to the monastery and then he waited for us back at the gates. The monastery is a beautiful spot and you can see right across the Katmandu Valley on a clear day.
As we walked down we had a number of mixed flocks which gave us over 30 species including Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher, Himalayan & Mountain Bulbul, Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler, Black-lored Tit and four species of warbler. Great place to start your birding and you can manage it without a guide.
In the afternoon you can go to the Buddhist temple at Boudhanath (could get lunch there) which is fabulous and then also cover the Hindu temple and cremation grounds at Pashnupati.
You could complete your day by having dinner at Dwarikas Hotel – especially if it is a Friday because they do an amazing BBQ outside by the swimming pool. If it isn’t a Friday then try the Krishnarpan Dinner – quite an experience.
Day 2: Once again hire a driver and make an early start heading to Phulchowki – I would also recommend a bird guide for this trip. A picnic lunch would also be a good idea.
The mountain offers great birding (Maroon Oriole, Orange-flanked Bush Robin, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush.) although we were
advised not to leave our car on the bottom section because of potential kidnapping (!!!!) but from the middle up is apparently OK – we bumped into some other birders and figure safety in numbers. It is certainly great birding from the middle up so don’t be put off.
Afterwards you can go to the Botanical Gardens at the base of the mountain. We picked a day when there were hundreds of school kids there so the birding wasn’t great but we still had Asian Barred Owlet, Black Bulbul and Blue-fronted Redstart as new birds for the trip..
On the way back to Kathmandu, spend some time at Durbar Square in Paton. This is quite stunning and if you are there long enough you could have dinner at the café by the museum
Day 3: Another day another driver – this time spend the morning back in the Shivapuri & Nagerjung National Park but by going in the Nagerjung entrance. Walk up the path on the right as you go in – it says 5 km to the top. The first part of this is VERY steep but don’t panic it it doesn’t last for too long and then it flattens out. Rufous-breasted Nuthatch, Whistler’s Warbler,Grey-winged Thrush and Greater Yellownape were easily seen and we had incredible views of Long-tailed Broadbill although a local birder who was with us told us he had never seen them here before!
On your way back take some time at the Swyamnbhunath Temple ( or Monkey Temple as it is known) which it quite something. If you still need some more sightseeing you could continue on to the Durbar Square in Katmandu, although the Paton square is more impressive.
Day 4: Another possible day trip would be to head out to Gokarna – there is a golf course and hotel here (good for lunch) – you need to hire one of the caddys to take you around but birds are great. The highlights for us – Great Barbet, Ashy Woodpigeon, Yellow-breasted Greenfinch, Plain Flowerpecker and Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike.
In all we had 36 species – and a great lunch at the club house. On the way back into town you can stop off at Boudhanath which is a real treat.
Nagerkot: This is really an overnight trip. The main reason people go is for a spectacular view of the Himalayas – we didn’t get to see it because of the weather, but the birding was great. We stayed at a really lovely lodge and we simply clambered around on the terraces below the lodge.
Lots of raptors – we had great views of Steppe Eagle. And also Scaly-breasted Wren-babbler, Golden Bush Robin, Rusty-cheeled Scimitar-Babbler, Grey-throated Babbler, Pink-browed Rosefinch.
One night is enough and then you can stop at the Dubar Square in Bhaktapur on the way back into town.
Chitwan – We were unable to get into Tiger Tops which is THE place to stay so we went to Tiger Temple Jungle Resort. The birding was excellent and we really lucked out with an excellent bird guide (Bikram) who was provided by the resort. We insisted that we didn’t want to follow the normal activities schedule but wanted a personal guide just for the 2 of us and just to bird and the resort was very accommodating
Day 1: The camp will arrange to meet you at the airport and then part of the journey will include being taken across the river by canoe – you can start your birding with great views of Ruddy Shelduck. Then when you arrive at the camp itself there is a fantastic viewing platform overlooking a lake and wetland. While you are watching the rhino you will also be able to add about 40 species to your list including
Alexandine Parakeet, Orange-breasted and Pompadour Dove and Grey-headed Fish eagle to name a few.
Day 2: As mentioned above, get the camp to arrange for you to have your own bird guide and then spend the walking through the jungle . We added 50 species to our trip list – and despite being somewhat wary of tigers and rhino we have a fantastic, if tiring day from 7.30 am to 4.30 pm. Red-headed Trogon, Nepal Fulvetta, Black-chinned and Grey-throated Babbler and several flycatchers. There are also dozens of woodpeckers in this forest – we had 8 species with numerous views – we also had a Banded Bay Cuckoo that is quite unusual.
Day 3: Ask today for the guide to take you out behind the camp before breakfast to see the Great Slaty Woodpecker – which is almost a given. There are also Greater-necklaced laughing thrush, Chestnut capped Babbler and Himalayan Woodpecker in this area.
Then after breakfast ( and by now you will know that the food here is really awful) have him walk you back toward the river on the route that you took on you way to the camp so that you can walk through some of the grassland and other dry forest habitat. Aberrant’s Bushwarbler, Blue-throated Barbet, Grey breasted Prinia, White-bellied Drongo and Striated Babbler.
Day 4: This was our last morning and we felt it 3 days had been enough. Before breakfast we did an elephant ride out to some more grassland in order to pick up a few new species – it seemed a little tacky but we were glad to do it because not only did we add some bird to our list (White-tailed Stonechat, Graceful Prinia, Black Francolin) we also saw dozens of rhino – some only a few yards from where we were on the elephant. Nice end to the stay!
Guides & Resources
Field Guide: Birds of Nepal – Richard Grimmett, Carol & Tim Inskipp
Where to bird: A bird watchers guide to Nepal – Carol Inskipp
Bird Song: We used Birdsongs of the Himalayas by Scott Connop PLUS Indian Bird Sounds C.Chappuis F. Deroussen and D Warakagoda.
Guides: We bumped into a guide named Hathan 98510 84484 – might be worth a try for Katmandu.
Drivers: You can book cars through Binod Paudyal at 98510 33087 or [email protected] – he is very good and he can also assist you with reservations for your hotels, flights and any other trips. (www.bonpotravel.com)
Lonely Planet guide for points of interest.