Nepal Nature dot com Travels (P.) Ltd., Chhetrapaty, Yapinkhya #90, Kathmandu #17, Nepal
Phone: ++ 977 1 4256529        Email: mail@nepalnaturetravels.com
Bird Watching in Nepal
 
Nepal for birdwatchers, old and new

A clear sunny day, mid-March, in Kathmandu reveals in full magnanimity Nepal’s varied topography.  In the backdrop of the snow-capped peaks, the hills encompass the valley revealing and veiling alpine pastures, wind swept gorges, watershed areas, canyons, valleys with terraced fields and the plains covered with lush jungles and farmlands.

While Nepal has been a favoured destination amongst mountain climbers and adventure seekers, naturalists from all over the world flock to the countryside to explore and study the wealth of wilderness the terrain offers.  The biodiversity of Nepal offers 4.2% of butterflies, 2.5 % of flowering plants and 8.5% of bird species found in the world amongst others.  Yet, it is the mammals such as Bengal Tiger and Great One Horned Rhinoceros  that have attracted most of the tourists to Nepal’s National parks.

However, a new tourism package tailored by Nepal Nature dot com Travels offers exclusive packages for avid and novice bird watchers. For this writer, a novice, the experience to join one of the naturalists at Nepal Nature dot com Travels on a whistle-stop tour of the various bird watching locations was an opportunity as incredible as the golden egg.

We started with a visit to the Shivapuri National Park, lying north of Kathmandu, a popular destination for day hikes for both tourists and locals. It is an enchanting hike following the now lorry beaten trail through the forest up to the Nagi Gompa (monastery) and offering a spectacular view of the city. However, there was an added agenda on the early morning hike – birds! I was in the company of ardent birdwatchers and before I could even ask myself about my interest in bird watching, we were greeted by a swoop of Whistling Thrushes. Walking along the trail, the birders kept their eyes peeled for an owl’s roost, often asking locals passing by for clues. I walked along thinking about the empty roost back at home.

Off the trail, a sunny glade uncovered a song of birdcalls and a blur of colours whizzed by overhead in to the trees and the brilliance of red disappeared in to the greens. Locally known as the Rani Chari, the spectacular Long-tailed minivet was the first bird to make my mouth drop in awe. I kept my gaze fixed on the tree it had disappeared in to and a while later I spotted it again “hopping along the branch” or perhaps in reality, feeding.

The vegetation of Shivapuri Mountain is one of the best examples of mid hill forests represented by Schima - Castanopsis and Rhododendron - Oak forest. The birdlife found in this forest is typical of a lower Himalayan belt and include the Kalij pheasant, Nepal Fulvetta, Streaked/White Crested/Chestnut crowned-laughing thrushes, Streak Breasted/Rusty cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Black-faced Warbler, Chestnut/Blue tailed Minla, Black-chinned Babbler, Chestnut-headed Tesia, Bonelli\'s, Booted and Crested Serpent Eagle, while Spotted/Slaty-backed Forktails are found in the stream and moist forest undergrowth.

Pokhara, an idyllic town with a fish eye view of the Annapurna Himalayan range is often the last stop for most backpackers. But that is just the beginning, NepalNature.com leads you in to the forests surrounding the Phewa lake to uncover a world of subtropical forest birds like the Green Magpie, Lesser Racquet-tailed Drongo, Long-tailed Minivets, Barbets and Crimson Sunbird.

A crawling hike following three Spotted Forktails along the streams revealed another sunny creek where its cousins, Little, Slaty and Black-backed basked in the warm sun feeding alongside the Plumbeous and White-capped Water Redstarts and an occasional Brown Dipper. A slow drive paralleling the hills of the valley reveals an astonishing collection of the world’s vulture species, all 8 species including the Lammergeier with 9 feet wingspan, the critically endangered White-rumped and Slender billed vultures and the resident Egyptian vulture can be spotted in Pokhara itself. Each sighting more exotic than the other and yet the owl seemed to be eluding us. No known roost to spot one even in Pokhara.

The drive out of Pokhara towards Chitwan is liberally extended for an opportunity to sight the rare Ibisbill along the way. The pursuit remains in vain – a sense of mysticism cloaks this bird too as stories of sightings fill the remainder of the journey.

Chitwan, a former royal big-game hunting ground, exudes of Kipling’s jungle book world. Best traversed on the back of an elephant, the jungles promise sightings of the Asian Rhinoceros, the Bengal Tiger, wild boars, deers, Gaur bison, sloth bear, civets and langurs. An early morning canoe ride on the river Narayani is a perfect setting to sight the elusive Gharial on the banks. Clouded by the mist on the river, a Gharial remains immersed in the warm waters till the sun hits the sandy banks. As the sun begins to lift the mist off the waters, Sand Martins dance around, burrowing in and out of their nests on the edges of the riverbank. A Pied Kingfisher or two take to flight as the canoes near its perch.

A walk through the Rhino terrain and to the Elephant breeding centre is an opportune time to spot Peafowl, Bengal Florican, Giant Hornbill, storks of different kinds (Wooly necked, Lesser adjutant, Open-bill, Black, Black-necked), Sultan Tit, Orange Breasted Green Pigeon, Red Headed Trogon, Indian Pitta etc. As birding customs go, a few hoots are called out amidst the crackle of a campfire, a minute or two of silence for a reply and the bon fire continues. The night passes silently.

No drive in Nepal goes without a couple of stops at strategic locations to spot a bird or two. The drive to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha is no different.  However, the drive to the Jagdishpur Reservoir, from Lumbini is uninterrupted except by the magnanimity of the reservoir itself. Rising up in the middle of farmed lands, the reservoir is nestled on a plateau surrounded by trees and flocked by nine different species of ducks including Ferruginous ducks, cotton pygmy goose, Lesser Whistling Duck, Red-crested Pochard, Eurasian Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, and tufted ducks. The sun dips into the lake as we exit and head back to Lumbini.

While one must set aside time to visit the Maya Devi Gardens, the wetlands in Lumbini housing the tallest flying birds in the world, the Sarus Crane is a must visit for all birders. The wooded areas around these wetlands are also good for sighting Large Grey Babbler, Black Shouldered Kite, Barn Owl and Crested Serpent Eagle. While circling the wetlands and watching the cranes, one may even spot a Jackal and the Neel gai (Blue Bull Antelope).  Treading quietly we are determined to spot an owl. Every foot step echoes into the distance and with each one hope falters till we come to a complete halt. Everyone’s eyes are fixed in the direction, a couple of trees away, a couple of branches above – a large brown speckled owl with big round eyes and pointy ears – an Eurasian Eagle Owl! And as we returned excitedly having spotted the first one, we saw three more in flight! After a dearth of owl spotting, the Eurasian Eagle Owl was definitely worth the wait and the thrill.

Furthermore, Koshi Tappu, the first Ramsar site, is better known in Nepal for birding destination with its extensive wetlands, grasslands and islets offering excellent wintering and staging areas for many migrating waterfowls and waders. It is also equally good for birds of prey and bush birds. Specialties include globally endangered Swamp Francolin, Imperial Eagle, Red Headed Falcon, Falcated Teal, Ferruginous Ducks, White Ibis, Black Ibis, Striated Marsh-bird, Brown Fish Owl, Brown Hawk Owl, Purple Swamp Hen, and so on. Vistors frequently observe pod of fresh water Gangetic Dolphin surfacing on the Koshi River. Those interested in throwing in some scenic trekking with their birding can also visit Langtang National Park, Manang Valley, or Everest Base Camp to view Himalayan species including the Himalayan Monal, Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, and Himalayan Snow Cock, to name a few. A good two weeks birding in Nepal offers you no less than 200 bird species. Average bird species sighting in a day differs from 120 species in Koshi Tappu, 80 in Chitwan to about 60 in Shivapuri.

With Nepal Nature dot com Travels birding in Nepal is the epitome of indulgence for veterans and an eye-opener for the novices. Working in collaboration offer you the best services in nature recreation and hospitality. For more information, visit www.nepalnaturetravels.com and let the professionals lead you into the pristine wilderness of Nepal.
             
Suvani Singh and Rajendra Suwal

Bird Watching Destination
Shivapuri/Nagarjung National Park - Hike/Drive
Chitwan National Park - Hike/Drive/Canoe/Elephants
Langtang National Park - Hike Drive
Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve - Hike/Drive/Boating
Annapurna Conservation Area - Hike/Drive/Fly
Makalu Barun National Park - Hike/Fly
Bardia National Park - Hike/Raft/Drive

Bird Watching, Wildlife Safari and Fishing Vacations

Two nights in Shivapuri Nagarjung, 2 nights in Pokhara, 4 nights in Chitwan, 2 nights in Lumbini and 4 nights in Bardia provide an opportunity to understand Nepalese birds and wildlife at its best. Birding trek in Langtang, Annapurna Base Camp, Upper Mustang and Everest shall provide an opportunity to watch the Himalayan species including the spectacular Himalayan Monal along with Musk Deer, Red Panda and Snow Leopard.

1. Shivapuri Nagarjung Bird Watching Retreat    

Birding in the forest of Kathmandu provides a good opportunity to understand the richness of avifaunal diversity in Nepal. This trip follows the trails of Brian Hodgson a diplomat and a naturalist who explored the Shivapuri Nagarjung over a century ago. Although Kathmandu has been urbanized a lot since then but the charm of the rural characters and the ambiance of medieval Nepal are still preserved. Pristine ecosystems in the surrounding hills of the Kathmandu Valley are still intact. More than 500 species of birds still fly in the forest of this valley. This tour provides unique birding opportunities for amateurs as well as professional birders.

Special bird includes: Kalij Pheasant, Spiny Babbler, Hoary-throated Barwing, Speckled Piculet, Booted and Bonelli’s Eagle. Slaty-headed Parakeet, Rusty-Cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Green Shrike-babblers, Small Niltava, Black-backed Forktails.

 

2. Langtang Kyanjing Trek                                                                        

Langtang Valley is a moderate trek destination.  It is recommended for family trek. The accommodation and food is in the Tea House. Like in other tea house treks food availability varies from pasta, Chinese and Nepali and shall have plenty supply of local yak cheese. The trail follows the rushing Lantang River. Kyangjing Monastery is a prominent site of Langtang Valley. The valley is inhabited by Tamang community of Buddhist followers. The forest is Mixed broad leaved and needle leaved. The prominent peaks are Mt Lantang Lirung, Mt Langshisha Naya Kanga.

 

There are myriads of bird, butterflies and alpine flowers including Himalayan Monal, and Lammergeier.

 

3. Pokhara the Scenic Valley

Pokhara is one of the dazzling places of the world. The microclimate of this region is created by the thermals of subtropical and the cold draft from the Himalaya enabling birds of prey to soar high. This trip provides an opportunity to observe birds of prey soaring in the sky with a back drop of majestic Machhapuchhre (Mt. Fishtail) and Annapurna Range. This trip will take you to a scenic drive along Trishuli River and through the gorges of Marshyangdi and Seti River. The scenic landscape of Annapurna, Machhapuchhre and Dhaulagiri Range is just stunning. Phewa and other lakes provide a unique birding opportunity to watch wetland and forest birds.

Highlights of this trip includes: Ibisbill, Wall Creeper, Spotted Forktails, , Spiny Babbler, Rusty Cheeked Scimitar Babbler, Hoary Throated Barwings, Golden Spectacled Warbler, Beautiful Niltava, Steppe Eagle, Crested Serpent Eagle, Lammergeier, Egyptian, Red-headed White-rumped Vultures and Himalayan Griffons.

4. Fishing Vacation Pokhara                                                                      

Fewa and Begnas Lake offers an opportunity for fishing of Mahasheer, Catfish, and Carps. Karnali River is recommended for the serious anglers. Mahasheer is a monster fish that weigh over 50 kg. It could be tailor-made depending upon the fish species and or the destinations preferred. Mahsheer and Catfish are attracted to both the lure and baits.

5. Annapurna Bird and Wildlife Trek      

Trek to Annapurna Base Camp provides an opportunity to explore the cross section from Subtropical forest to the Alpine pastures. The trail follows the lush green Modi River valley. The sunrise and sun set over Annapurna Range is just spectacular from the ABC.

Special birds to be seen are Golden Eagle, Himalayan Munal, Kalij Pheasant, Spiny Babbler, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Small Racquet tailed Drongo, Green-shrike Babbler, Green-tailed Sunbird, Booted and Bonelli’s Eagle, Ibisbill, Slaty-backed Forktails, Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, and Crested Serpent Eagle.

6. Upper Mustang the Lost Tibetan Kingdom

A journey to the world behind the Himalaya takes you to the high arid land that follows Tibetan tradition and life style. There are several monasteries including the first ever built Tibetan Buddhist Monastery at Ghargumba. The trail follows the trails of Padmasambhava the originator of Tibetan Buddhism. The Chungsi Cave is where Padmasambhava meditated. The landscape and the color of the mountain rocks and soil are unique and dazzling. This is probably one of the most photogenic destinations of Nepal. The ruins of a palace in Tsarang hint the centuries old civilization. There are options of Jeep drives at certain locations. One can also visit the nomadic Yak herding community living in the yak wool tents. Other attractions include ancient cave dwelling and cave paintings


7. Migrating of Demoiselle Crane

The objective of this trip is to watch annual migration of Demoiselle Cranes flying from Mongolia to southern Indian Sub-continent during the first week of October. The flight of the birds takes place from the Steppe grassland of Mongolia, Tibet and finally flies over the Great Himalayan range. The highlight of this “once-in-a-life-time-trip” is to watch a rare sight of Golden Eagles attacking the cranes in the air. This unique tour takes you to Jomsom and enter unique trans-Himalayan highland. This is a historic salt trade route to Tibet through the culturally rich village system of Marpha, Kagbeni and other Thakali neighborhood. From Pokhara we take an exciting flight along the Kali Gandaki, the deepest gorge in the world to Lower Mustang.

Special bird to be seen include: Demoiselle Crane, Chukor Partridge, Golden Eagle, Alpine Accentor, Rock Bunting, White-browed Tit Warbler, Wall Creeper, Spotted Forktail, Lammergeier,  and Himalayan Griffon,

8. Everest Wildlife Trek                                                                          

The attraction of this trekking is to enjoy the birding and at the same time watch a unique wildlife diversity of the world famous Everest region. We fly to Lukla and trek to Namche and Tengboche. Then Proceed to Phortse and explore the wilderness area harboring Musk Deer, Red Panda, Himalayan Thar and if luck prevails see elusive Snow Leopard.

Special birds and wildlife to be seen include: Himalayan Munal, Satyr Tragopan, Blood Pheasant, Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon, Snow Pigeon, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Kalij Pheasant, Streaked Laughing thrushes,  and also Himalayan Musk Deer and Red Panda.

9. Lumbini Crane Watch

Visit to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. This sacred birthplace of Buddha is also listed in the World Heritage Site. The wetland site of Lumbini provides healthy habitat for many birds including an endangered Sarus Crane, the tallest flying bird in the world. Young Prince Siddhartha saved a crane shot by his cousin. These cranes still fly over skies of Lumbini and wetlands of Banganga Reservoir.

Special bird include: Sarus Crane, Lesser Adjutant Stork, Gray Hornbill, parakeets, Blue Bull Antelope and Wild Boar.

10. Chitwan Safari

Traveling to Chitwan is a rewarding trip to see rare and endangered wildlife such as Rhino, Royal Tiger, Gaur Bison, Sloth bear, and different species of deer's. The highlight of this trip is to traverse in the tallest grassland of the world on the back of the elephant. Chitwan National Park is composed one of the finest Sal forests. It provides unique bird habitat because of its position between the Mahabharat Range and Churia hills.

Special bird include: Giant Hornbill, Bengal Florican, Orange-breasted Green-pigeons, Ruddy Shelduck, Bar-headed Geese, Sultan Tit, Red-headed Trogon, Hill Myna, Plum-headed Parakeet.

11. Call of the Wild Bardia

Bardia National Park is recommended for a thrilling experience of the mammoth and felines of the present day on the banks of the Karnali River. This is the park where Leonardo de Capriato experienced the infra-red camera trap technology to study the Bengal Tigers. It is also home to the ungulates species such as Swamp, Sambar, Cheetal, Hog and Barking Deer.

Bird species include the Giant Horbills, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Sarus Crane, and Bengal Florican, Giant Hornbill, Orange-breasted Green-pigeons, Ruddy Shelduck, Orange-breasted Green Pigeons, Ruddy Shelduck, Bar-headed Geese.

 

12 Kathmandu Festivals, feast and home-stay

In Cat Steven words "Katmandu, I'll soon be seein' you And your strange bewilderin' time Will hold me down". Kathmandu Valley was once described "As many days as many festivals; as many houses as many temples and as many people as many idols". Experience the festivals and feast and lifestyle by walking in the alleys and courtyard and taking part in the festivals and feasts. Treat yourself by in a home stay at Krishna House to experience medieval Bhaktapur.  

 

Costing

Cost is prepared by consultation and calculated upon the level of comfort, luxury and services required.

 


 
General Travel Services
Special Interest Tours
Nature package
Crane Watch (Lumbini)
Best of Wildlife and Wetlands (Shivapuri – Chitwan and Koshi)
Best of Nepal Wildlife (Shivapuri – Pokhara – Lumbini – Chitwan)
Best of Nepal Birding Safari (Shivapuri – Lumbini – Chitwan and Koshi)
Filming /Photography
Conference & Seminars
Educational Packages
Ticketing
Rescue
 
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Recommended Destinations
  Kathmandu Valley   Bhaktapur Durbar Square   Chitwan
Recommended Activities
Bird watching and hike in Shivapuri Nagarjung, Elephant Safari, River safari and Jeep safari in Chitwan, Trek to Everest, Langtang, Annapurna and Mustang, Scenic Mountain tour of Pokhara, Sarus Crane and Bird Watching in Lumbini the birthplace of Buddha, Sunrise and Sunset view from Nagarkot, Mountain Flight to see Mt. Everest and Himalayan Range, Tracking Wild Bengal Tigers and Wild Asian Elephants in Bardia, Mahasheer Fishing in Karnali River, White water rafting in Bhote Koshi and Trishuli River, Journey to the valley of Snow Leopards,