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India Assam

Brahminy Kite Haliastur indus ©Laurence Poh http://www.laurencepoh.com/

A Note On Birding In Assam

Assam, the land of mystique blue hills and valleys interspersed by hundreds of rivers and wetlands serve as a rare refuge for diverse life forms. The rare biological diversity of this beautiful province of the Indian subcontinent results from the unique conjunction of four different Biomes (Sino-Himalayan Temperate Forest, Sino-Himalayan Subtropical Forest, Indo-Chinese Tropical Moist Forest and Indo-Gangetic Plain) in one place - Assam. This means that it harbours numerous endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna, which has made this little known area a Global Biodiversity Hotspot.

Assam is home to more than half of about 1200 varieties of avifauna recorded in the Indian subcontinent and also provides shelter to 3107 species of flowering plants, 192 species orchids, 185 species of reptiles, 190 species of mammals and hundreds of species of insects & butterflies.

Besides its widely visited protected areas, Bird life International has notified about 20 different Important Bird Areas in Assam and several others have already added to the proposed list.

Being associated with the GREEN GUARD (a non government organisation working in Assam for nature and natural resource conservation for more than a decade) I personally had the privilege to study birds in poorly known, and at times less-explored, areas of Assam. One such area is Deobali Jalah, (Jalah in Assamese stands for Wetland) which is a proposed Important Bird Area covering an area of around 15sq. km., and which lies between Latitude 26o15' N and longitude 92o32' E Nagaon district of Central Assam.

Studies undertaken so far in this particular area has enabled us to list as many as 109 species of birds including 10 types of Red Data Book species such as Asian Open bill Stork Anastomus oscitans, Lesser Adjutant Stork Leptotilos javanicus, Greater Adjutant Stork Leptotilos dubious, White Eyed or Ferruginous Pochard Aythya nyroca, Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri, Red-necked or Red headed Falcon Falco chicquera, Swamp Francolin or Swamp Partridge Francolinus gularis, Manipur Bush Quail Perdicula manipurensis, Jerdon's Bushchat Saxicola jerdoni, Bristled Grass Warbler Chaetornis straitus. Fairly recently, Java Munia or Java Sparrow Lonchura oryzivora previously unrecorded from the Northeastern region of India, also has been sighted in the Deobali area.

Contributor

Pranab J. Patar

Coordinator, GREEN GUARD-nature organisation

Morigaon - Assam

pronab_2k@yahoo.co.in

Useful Reading

* Field Guides & Bird Song

For a comprehensive list of recommended titles covering India as a whole - please see the main India page of Fatbirder

The Birds of Assam

Anwarddin Choudhury - 240 pages, col photos, illus, maps. The Rhino Foundation

ISBN: 8190086626

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Useful Information

The seventeen restricted-range birds of Assam

Tawny-breasted Wren-babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus
Blackish-breasted Babbler Sphenocichla humei
Snowy-throated Babbler Stachyris oglei
Striped Laughingthrush Garrulax virgatus
Brown-capped Laughingthrush Garrulax austeni
Streak-throated Barwing Actinodura waldeni
Grey Sibia Heterophasia gracilis
Beautiful Sibia Heterophasia pulchella
Marsh Babbler Pellorneum palustre
Black-breasted Parrotbill Paradoxornis flavirostris
White-napped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri
Chestnut-breasted Partridge Arborophila mandellii
Blyth's Tragopan Tragopan blythii
Manipur Bush Quail Perdicula manipurensis No Recent Record.
Yellow-vented Warbler Phylloscopus cantator
Broad-billed Warbler Tickellia hodgsoni
Rusty-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx hyperythra

Reserves

Kaziranga National Park

Website

Satellite View

Situated on the Brahmaputra River, the Kaziranga National Park covers an area of about 430 sq. km. Its swamps and grasslands with tall thickets of elephant grass and patches of evergreen forest, support the largest number of rhino in the subcontinent.

Kaziranga National Park

Website

Satellite View

Kaziranga is a vast expanse of tall elephant grass, marshland, and dense tropical moist broadleaf forests, crisscrossed by four major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, and the park includes numerous small bodies of water…

Trip Reports

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2004 [January] - Neils P Dryer & Peter Lobo

Report

North East India is a vast area comprising of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram. The variations of altitude, diversity of habitat, and extreme precipitation are factors which are responsible for the diversity and abundance of resident birds in this region. Some of the rare birds which occur are the Bengal Florican, Dark rumped Swift, White-Winged Duck, and the Marsh Babbler, Black breasted Parrotbill, White-belied Heron, Snowy-throated Babbler, Rufus -Vented Laughing thrush, Rufus-backed Sibia and the Beautiful Nuthatch.

2004 [January] - Steve Lister and Megan Hall

Report

The trip was arranged with Gurudongma Tours, via the internet. The ten day period was all that Peter Lobo, their main birdguide, was available, otherwise we would have liked to spend longer in the state. We also spent four days around Delhi at the end of the trip, with arrangements again made by Gurudongma. Using a local company to make all the ground arrangements worked very well, as they were totally efficient and insulated us from the idiosyncrasies of Indian bureaucracy such as obtaining permits and guards for entry into the national park. We thoroughly recommend Gurudongma Tours to anyone wanting a smoothly organised trip to north-east India, their main area of operation, or indeed anywhere in India, as they have contacts in many areas…

2005 [April] - Paul Prevett & Candy McManiman

Report

Kaziranga is renowned as one of the great national parks in Asia to view wildlife, and birds are an important component. When combined with the complementary and contrasting habitat types of the lesser known Nameri National Park an even greater and more exciting range of birds is accessible to the birder…

2005 [February] - Julian Hughes

Report

Seven of us spent two weeks' birding in Northeast India, visiting three sites: Namdapha National Park in Arunchal Pradesh, then Dibru Saikhowa and Kaziranga National Park in Assam…

2007 [December] - Nicolaas & Robert van Zalinge

Report

The nine other top birds that we did see were: White-winged Wood Duck (2 in Nameri), Ibisbill (6 in Nameri), Ward’s Trogon (1 in Eaglenest), Bugun Liocichla (3 in Eaglenest), Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler (2 on the Mandala road), Wedge-billed Wren Babbler (2 in Eaglenest), Rufous-necked Hornbill (7 in Eaglenest), Fire-tailed Myzornis (2 on the Mandala road) and Beautiful Nuthatch (2 at Eaglenest). For one of us a pair of Black-breasted Parrotbills in Dibru-Saikhowa definitely rated as a topper…

2008 [April] - John Hornbuckle

Report

This tour to the wilds of northeast India, organised by Ashley Banwell of World Birders in conjunction with Ramana Athreya of Kaati Tours, concentrated on the Eaglenest Road in western Arunachal Pradesh. Some 420 bird species were recorded including the mega Bugun Liocichla, Sikkim Wedge-billed Wren-babbler and Beautiful Nuthatch, in outstanding scenery…

2008 [February] - John van der Dol

Report

Kaziranga, Nameri Tiger Reserve(Assam), Dirang and the Sangti Valley and Eagle’s Nest (Uranachal Pradesh) NE India…

2010 [February] - Robert Oates - Rajasthan and Assam

Report

This tour comprised one week in the desert and semi-desert habitats of the Rajasthan region in the north west of India, by the border with Pakistan; followed by one week in the wetland and woodland habitats of the Assam region, in the far north east of India by the border with Burma. These two very different locations made for an interesting contrast, for the numbers and types of birds and other wildlife seen, and for their different faces of India…

2011 [April] - Glen Valentine - Bhutan & Assam

Report

India and Bhutan are two truly magical countries, both offering a wealth of fabulous birds, impressive mammals, awe-inspiring scenery and fascinating and unique cultures. Very few tours can combine such a diversity of habitats, scenery and culture with the likes of some of Asia’s most sought-after birds….

2011 [May] - Glen Valentine - Bhutan & Assam

Report

Our second scheduled tour of 2011 to the spectacular Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan and adjacent Assam was timed to coincide with the end of spring and the beginning of summer, offering an exceptional visual and cultural spectacle like nothing on earth. We were treated to a banquet of fantastic and little known species during this magical birding adventure including Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, Himalayan Monal, White-bellied Heron, White-winged Duck….

2012 [April] - Glen Valentine - Bhutan & Assam

Report

Our birding adventure to the north-east Indian national parks of Kaziranga and Nameri and the Himalayan birding paradise of Bhutan was timed perfectly to coincide with the onset of spring. This ensured that we scored a host of exciting winter visitors that were still present before migrating to higher altitudes to breed. Our trip succeeded in recording an impressive 467 species, which included some of Asia’s (and the world’s) most exciting and highly desired species….

2012 [November] - Mike Nelson - Bhutan & Assam

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…It was time for a scrumptious lunch at our base in Paro – the beautiful Ugyen Phendeyling Resort & Meditation Center. After lunch, a visit to the nearby river delivered a group of Rufous-breasted Accentors but the strong winds were not in our favor. We also enjoyed further views of Plumbeous and White-capped Water Redstarts – both common species that always impress. In the later afternoon it was time for another attempt at Ibisbill…

2013 [April] - Niels Poul Dreyer

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…Our trip to Arunachal Pradesh (mainly Eagle’s Nest) was a great success. The highlight for me was our sighting of Blyth’s Tragopan, which showed up in the dark forest like a fireball! It has always been a dream of mine to see a male Tragopan. For the Erards, it was also our sighting of the Himalayan Monal at Se-La Pass, plus many other species. It required a lot of effort to see those marvels after many failed attempts….

2013 [April] - James Eaton

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…At a large waterbody, up to 200 Temminck’s Stints were busy feeding on the muddy margins with a range of other waterbirds and an impressive Pallas’s Fish Eagle circled and flew just over our heads. In the skies Himalayan Griffons were floating by, with a few huge Greater Adjutants mixed in. The park now has a silly new rule, with only two hours allowed inside the ‘Western Range’, though we managed to stretch this by a further 30 minutes we could do no more…

2013 [April] - Keith Valentine - Bhutan & Assam

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…Legendary birds included Satyr Tragopan, resplendent Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant, bizarre Ibisbill, monotypic Wallcreeper, all 7 Wren-Babblers including the extremely localized and rare Long-billed and Bar-winged Wren-Babblers, Sikkim Wedge-billed Babbler, 2 species of parrotbill (including the rare Pale-billed), seldom-seen White-hooded Babbler, impressive Rufous-necked, Great and Wreathed Hornbills, extremely rare White-bellied Heron, much- regarded Beautiful Nuthatch, spectacular Long-tailed Broadbill, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Himalayan Cutia, stunning Fire-tailed Sunbird, Golden-naped Finch, endangered Greater Adjutant, Swamp Francolin and Pied Harrier, these being just some of the many exciting species that were sighted on this fabulous birding tour!…

2013 [May] - Craig Robson

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…A few Lesser Adjutants were also present for comparison, while a swirling mass of kites seemed to comprise mostly Black-eared, with lesser numbers of resident Black, and there were also three young Steppe Eagles. We headed off for Nameri along the southern route, taking lunch on the outskirts of Nagaon, before crossing the Brahmaputra River south of Tezpur. A birding stop by the Brahmaputra brought two Ferruginous Pochards, a single Eurasian Curlew, a Brown-headed Gull and a small group of Bank Mynas amongst many other birds…

2013 [May] - Dave Farrow

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…Guwahati dump! This provided some memorable birding, mainly because of the hundreds of Greater Adjutants standing about in the squalor of the rubbish, plus we found Lesser Adjutants, Citrine and Swinhoe's Wagtails, Black-necked Stork, Ruddy Shelduck and Garganey and swarms of Black-eared Kites….

2013 [May] - Erik Klop

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…At the outskirts of town we first visited the famous rubbish dump, where we saw several tens of Greater Adjutants as well as Lesser Adjutant, before we continued our long drive to Nameri Tiger Reserve. Driving through the plains of Assam produced roadside birds including Little Cormorant, Indian (Black-billed) Roller, White-throated Kingfisher, Yellow- footed Green Pigeon and Oriental Magpie-robin….

2013 [May] - Frank Lambert

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…Since we had missed Chestnut-backed Laughingthrush on our first visit to Digboi we returned there on our last morning, and after some time heard one singing. It could not be enticed into close proximity however, but eventually Simon spotted a pair of birds foraging on and near the ground on the other side of a deep ravine and most of us had good views….

2014 [April] - Hannu Jannes - Northeast frontier

PDF

…Some of the more memorable bird highlights of the tour included White-bellied Heron, Greater Adjutant, Jerdon’s Baza, Changeable, Mountain and Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagles, the critically endangered Slender-billed and White-backed Vultures, Pied Harrier, Pallas’s and Grey-headed Fish Eagles, Oriental Hobby, a heard only Sclater's Monal, Swamp Francolin, White-cheeked Partridge at its roost, Grey Peacock- Pheasant, Watercock, great views of a male Hodgson’s Frogmouth, memorable encounters with Dark- rumped Swifts, five species of hornbill including some really obliging Rufous-necked Hornbills, a lovely male Ward’s Trogon…

Guides & Tour Operators

Birding Pal

Information

Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…

Tragopan Tours

Tour Operator

Highlights: The Great and Little Rann, Asiatic Lion, Crab Plover and search for the Stoliczka’s Bushchat, White-naped Tit and Gray Hypocolius….

Places to Stay

Bansbani Lodge Manas

Accommodation

Bansbani Lodge is near the entrance of Manas National Park, one of the top birding sites of Assam…

Chang Bungalows - Diburgarh

Accommodation

Accommodations in tea-plantation bungalows at Diburgarh, organise trips to good birding sites of Assam like Dibru-Saikhowa National Park which is important site for endangered birds like White-backed and Slender-billed Vultures, White-bellied Heron, Greater Adjutant, White-winged Wood Duck, Bengal Florican, etc, and for numerous other birds, Digboi, etc. Also, arranges trips to Arunachal sites.

Kaziranga National Park - Lodges

Accommodation

The Forest Lodges of the forest and wild life department are located at Baguri and Kohora. Of these lodges, Aranya has the maximum accommodation space available with Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned rooms available. These rooms are available with attached baths, private balconies, room service and an in house restaurant.

Wild Grass Resort - Kaziranga National Park

Accommodation

This is one of the top lodges at Kaziranga National Park with birding guides, library and other facilities. A good number of birds come into the property itself…

Blogs

Assambirds

Blog

Assam is home of more than 800 species of birds; with sub-species the number will rise to 960 species! Among these birds 8 are listed as critically endangered, 9 as endangered and 29 as Vulnerable in the IUCN Redlist. An additional 31 species are listed in the Near Threatened category. Also, there are seventeen restricted-range birds found in Assam . This blog aim to provide information and photographs of all the endangered birds of Assam as well as exchange ideas on their conservation related issues. 'Assambirds' is created by Mithu Das in August 2011. Mithu loves bird…. He Lives in Golaghat, Assam (India)…

Other Links

Assam Birds

Website

The Critically Endangered and Endangered Birds of Assam…

Bengal Birds

Website

Bengalbirds is an initiative made by some amateur birders who aims to guide common people to identify local birds, know about different types and helps to understand bird conservation…

National Parks of Assam

Website

Map of all sanctuaries…