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2015-12-06 - 5:18 p.m.
Nov. 22, 2015...Sukla Phanta
Here is a quote from the Slender-billed Vulture page at Birdlife.org:
"The species has also declined in Nepal, with recent surveys in the lowland districts of this country recording no birds (Chaudhary et al. 2011). However in 2014 and 2015, one and two individuals respectively, were recorded along annual road transect surveys in Nepal..."
The situation is certainly dire, but there are more than "one or two" individuals left in Nepal. The guides already knew about the location of one nest, and we found another. At one point, we had a total of nine Slender-billed Vultures in view at one time. S. has plenty of photos to document their continued existence. It may be precarious, but since these vultures are feeding on tiger kills, rather than dead cows, they may be able to hang on.
Although we spent much of our time in the grasslands, the "wow" bird of the early morning was in the forest -- an up-close Emerald Dove. Absolutely stunning.A few other goodies:
- Brown-headed Barbet-- finally got one in decent light
- my first male Scarlet Minivet-- excellent
- A day for hornbills -- a troop of Indian Gray Hornbills & a distant but scope-viewable Oriental Pied Hornbill
- Maybe the first day we saw the large Swamp Deer-- our first glimpse through the tall grass were the male's racks
- Great close-up view of an adult Common Hawk Cuckoo
- Sirkeer Malkoha-- I totally didn't understand the name of that bird at the time, but I got the idea-- long cuckoo-like tail, bright bill
Nov. 23, 2015...Sukla Phanta
More poking about in different parts of the park with a special stop at a wetland habitat. For whatever reason, there was an Army truck and a lot of Army activity in that area, but we did find quite a lot of good birds. Best sighting of the day for my money-- a pair of Bonelli's Eagles doing a lazy display flight over us, allowing us views for a long time as they came toward us and then back toward their origin. At one point, the scrappy male had to prove his merit by chasing a Sparrowhawk.
Some other special moments:
- Three male Rubythroats in one bush displaying at each other while we were right there standing in front of them.
- The only Black-headed Ibis of the trip flew quite close by when we were looking at something else-- a delightful surprise
- Many & many Black-crowned Night-herons flying and hanging out with the usual Indian Pond Herons-- nice to see these old friends from home
- A Great-Spotted Eagle adult flew overhead long enough to allow S. to get some nice photos
- We actually heard Swamp Francolin, but I'm not counting it since we never saw it
- Some other new trip or even life birds like Streaked Woodpecker, Blythe's Leaf Warbler, Yellow-eyed Babbler
- Great Slaty Woodpecker was sort of a jinx bird for me. Every time I tried to look, it went around the barn & over the hill. Finally we found a large flock & chased it around until I could get a perched male in the scope. Nice bird. Whew! I'm not sure I ever worked so hard to get a bird that should have been so easy, but it always, ALWAYS knew to go on the other side of the tree trunk the minute I raised my glass...
- A stroll to a beautiful river overlook completely with purring Ruddy Shelducks allowed us to add two new raptors to the trip list-- Osprey and Eurasian Hobby. The Hobby was being harassed by a Rufous Treepie, which hardly seemed sporting, as the Treepie really did seem to be the larger bird.
Toward the end of the day, we found a place where the Langur Monkeys kept breaking off branches and throwing down leaves to feed the already overstuffed Spotted Deer. Awwwwwww. Too cute. Except apparently the monkeys have an ulterior motive... they want to keep the deer around as an early warning system to look out for felines! But more about that later...
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