Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Monday, 1 June 2015

North-East India Part 3: Eaglehawk Wildlife Sanctuary

Ward's Trogon
After checking out the Sangti Valley (see following post) we began our much anticipated week-long visit to the famed Eaglehawk Wildlife Sanctuary. From the town of Tenga, we wound our way up yet another steep mountain road before birding a nice area of bamboo and mossy forest a few hundred metres below Lama Camp - our destination for the first two nights in the reserve. We were in the forest a short time before we saw at close range the recently discovered Bugun Liocichla, endemic to this region and a major target for birding tours. At the same time, we saw a party of its cousin, the Red-faced Liocichla, foraging in a gully below. We were astonished when a little while later, we stumbled upon another Bugun Leiocichla right by the track; this species is usually cryptic and difficult to find.

Lama Camp
We were fortunate to secure good views of another elusive species - Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush. Other birds chalked up before we arrived at Lama Camp (altitude 2300 metres) included White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Scaly Laughingthrush, Black-throated Prinia and Striated Bulbul. Like Bompu, the other camp in the sanctuary, Lama was comprised of a line of suitably comfortable tents with camp beds; outside toilets and bathing cubicles; and a built dining room.

Below Eaglehawk Pass
The next morning saw us up early at Eaglehawk Pass (altitude 2750 metres) where Temminck's Tragopan was heard. In dense stands of bamboo and pockets of mossy forest we saw Black-headed Shrike-Babbler and Rufous-fronted Tit. The bamboo had seeded and died, so we failed to see Brown Parrotbill. A pair of Mountain Hawk-Eagles soared overhead. Signs of elephant were everywhere; this is the highest site anywhere frequented by Asian Elephants.

Eaglehawk Wildlife Reserve near Lama Camp
Back around Lama Camp, we had fine views of two skulkers - Blue-winged Laughingthrush and Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler. Yellow-throated Marten was a nice find at the camp. More common species around Lama included Green-tailed Sunbird, Scarlet Finch, and Bhutan and Grey-sided Laughingthrushes.

Green-tailed Sunbird
The scenery along the road was spectacular, with clouds swirling between and around the forest-clad Himalayan peaks amid a landscape that was a kaleidoscope, ablaze with an abundance of glorious flowering Rhododenron and other flowers.

Flowering Rhododendron
The following day saw us shifting camp and heading south along the road - built in 1962 by the Indian Army during a time of border tensions with neighbouring China - to Bompu Camp (altitude 1900 metres), our stop for the next three nights.

En route between Lama and Bompu Camps
On the way (again doing our best to ignore the huge roadside drops)_we were pleased to connect with a Long-billed Thrush, a rarity in this region, while other goodies included Broad-billed Warbler, Streak-throated Barwing, Brown Bullfinch and Yellow-browed Tit. Probably the commonest bird in the area was Stripe-throated Yuhina, followed by its close relative, Rufous-vented Yuhina.

Stripe-throated Yuhina
Shortly before Bompu, we stopped at a gully to play the tape for our Number One target for the trip - Spotted Elachura. This bird was wanted especially by Tony and I as we are both keen on ticking families; the species had been split recently from the wren-babblers and put in its own family.

Spotted Elachura - Pic by Tony Palliser
We had an immediate response and were soon enjoying close views of a  Spotted Elachura singing loudly a couple of metres above us in a small gully. This species is often missed on trips so we were mightily relieved.

Bompu Camp
Soon after, just below the camp, we had close views of another prime target - Blackish-breasted (Sikkim Wedge-billed) Wren-Babbler, also by the road. We then had close but brief views of a skulking White-gorgeted Flycatcher. Late in the afternoon we headed into an area of bamboo where we managed just brief glimpses of another target - Blyth's Tragopan.

Rufous-vented Yuhina
The next morning, we headed downhill, birding bamboo and forest above and below the old camp of Sessne (1200 metres). We had fine views of a Pale-headed Woodpecker in the bamboo along with a party of Black-browed (Lesser Rufous-headed) Parrotbills and a Large Blue Flycatcher. Lower down, around Khelong (700 metres) we saw a Spot-throated Babbler at a place evidently once visited by the Dalai Lama.

Plaque commemorating Dalai Lamai visit - Khelong
Lowland species such as Blue-throated Barbet, that we first encountered at the beginning of the trip, put in further appearances.

Blue-throated Barbet
On the way back we had close views of a Long-billed Wren-Babbler, again right by the road. A male Rufous-necked Hornbill flew close overhead when we stopped again at Sessne. Shortly afterwards, we enjoyed the sight of a pair of Beautiful Nuthatches foraging along a moss-laden branch. Other birds seen or heard this day included Kalij Pheasant, Rufous-throated Partridge, Red-headed Trogon, Pin-tailed Green-Pigeon, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, White-browed Scimitar-Babbler, Nepal Fulvetta , Rufous-backed Sibia, Long-tailed Broadbill, Black-chinned Yuhina, Rufous Sibia, Sultan Tit, Long-legged and Himalayan (Common) Buzzard.

Long-billed Wren-Babbler
During our second full day in the Bompu area, above and below the camp, a Chesnut-breasted Partridge was seen nicely on the road, while Himalayan Cutias showed somewhat distantly. A party of Black-throated Parrotbills put in an appearance while another search for Blyth's Tragopan was again frustratingly fruitless (this problem would be resolved later in the trip). We opted to do this trip in May largely because Spotted Elachura and other birds would be singing; May is the beginning of the wet season, which coincides with their nesting. However, the cost was that some time was lost due to rain and fog, including this day.

Grey-sided Laughingthrush
We returned from Bompu to Lama Camp for our final night in Eaglehawk, adding Black-eared Shrike-Babbler, Yellow-bellied Fantail and Ferruginous Flycatcher to the list. Leaving Lama on our last morning in the reserve, we retraced the road we had traversed when driving from Nameri to Dirang. At a roadside stop, we were pleased to find a  Blyth's Kingfisher on a branch above the rapidly-flowing stream. We then moved on to Karizanga and Mishmi Hills.


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  2. You know guys in Dudhwa National park you will find about 430 bird species...

    Dudhwa National Park