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Sunday, 24 January 2016

Ghandruk, Nepal

This is my home for the next month. Annapurna South, Nepal, is the tenth highest peak in the world and is part of the Annapurna massif in the Himalayas in north-central Nepal.

  I was hoping to update the blog on a daily basis, but where I'm based at Panorama View, Ghandruk, section 4, the net can be very hard to come by. Also, electricity goes off now and then. I'm here doing bird and butterfly surveys with another four volunteers. Camera traps are also involved to hopefully catch a Common Leapod, but all we've had of interest so far is Barking Deer and Kalij Pheasant. My first two hours of arriving at Ghandruk on the 11th, I managed to see Wallcreeper, Lammergeier (over the house) and Long-billed Thrush. Later on in the week I had another of the latter species at a different site and another Lammergier. Every morning in the garden there is Olive-backed Pipits, Oriental Turtle Doves, Lemmon-rumped and Grey-hooded Warbler, Blue-whistlering Thrush and Blue-fronted Redstart. Himalayan Bluetail, Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Ashy-throated Warbler pop in once and a while. Overhead you will very often see, Steppe Eagle and Himalayan Vulture. Most of the birds I observe have been seen just a few minutes from where I'm living.

  As I can't update my blog as much as I would like to, I've uploaded photos of most of the birds I've observed in the area of where I'm based. Most were taken in or a short distance from the garden.

Male and female Blue-fronted Redstart

Grey-hooded Warbler

Male and female Dark-breasted Rosefinch

Grey-sided Bush warbler

Himalayan Bulbul

Asian Barred Owlet

Streaked-breasted babbler

Bar-throated Siva

Humes Warbler

Black-lored Tit

Female Pink-browed Rosefinch

Female Spot-winged Rosefinch

Himalayan Vulture

Large-billed Crow

Male Grey Bushchat

Male and female Mrs goulds Sunbird

Olive-backed Pipit
Rock Bunting

Oriental Turtle Dove

Male Rufus-breasted Accenter

Rufus-winged Fulvetta


Whistlers Warbler

Yellow-bellied Fantail

Record shot of a pair of Red-headed Vultures displaying just before dark

Sunday, 10 January 2016

I'm in Dogwomandon't, Nepal!

Female Plumbeous Water Redstart

  That's Kathmandu! A day late, but I finally made it to the capital yesterday evening. The following morning, it was an early bus NW to Pokhara. In the eight hour trip we stopped off four times. The first stop was only for ten minutes but at the side of the road I managed to see Black-lored Tit, Grey-headed and Hume's Warbler, female Orange-bellied Leafbird. pair of Pied Bushchat, male Stonechat, 3 Coppersmiths Barbet and Himalayan Swift. Not a bad start in a short space of time and I saw some of these species later on during the journey. However, the last stop, just before hitting Pokhara, turned out to be an eventful one. We were told that we had 30 minutes to eat before returning to the bus. I went and got a curry from the cafe nearby and the last 15 minutes was spent around a stream at the back of the building. Immediately I was looking at a stunning Grey-backed Shrike followed by an equal stunning White-crowned Redstart.  Infact, everything that I looked at was stunning, A pair of Plumbeous Water Redstart, 2 Rufus Treepie and both Himalayan and Red-vented Bulbul. I had five minutes to get back to the wagon and as I stepped onto the road, I saw a bus driving away from me. I thought, that's funny, it looks just like the bus I was traveling in. It is the bloody bus that I was traveling in and it's going!! I heard the driver change into second gear and dodging all the traffic, I ran like the devil, I had a long ways to catch up and didn't think I was going to do it as it was starting to disappear around the bend. With my 500mm lens and bins, by determination and guts, I found myself banging so hard with my fist at the left side rear end of the bus. This is when playing football twice a week pays off for occasions like this.There was a screech of the brakes and I stepped aboard. I was very carm towards the teenager sidekick of the driver and said 'What the hell are doin man?' Then I broke into a smile. He looked at me rather sheepish. I went over about, why did you leave early and without me? With his head down he said quietly 'Sorry' After what happened to me, a lot of folk would of been so angry, swearing and cussing, stranding miles from nowhere, but I just couldn't see the point in shouting and we starting talking about football instead. I asked him, what team do you follow? Just what I expected his reply to be, Manchester United. Not Shrewsbury Town then?
  From the wagon while moving I managed to see lots of Black Drongo, long-tailed and Grey-backed Shrike on roadside wires. As the day heated up from the sun, it brought out the hirindines including Swallow and Plain Martin. On the deck at the side of the road were 2 White-rumped Vulture.

The bus that took me to Pokhara from Kathmandu and left me behind just before we arrived at my destination. 

selling fruit just before I board. Tasted good as well

The roads were moving, but not as busy as usual. Because of the fuel crises in the country, only 30-40% of vehicles are on the road. 

Three Coppersmith Barbet were feeding in a Fig Tree

male and female Plumbeous Water Redstart

White-crowned Redstart

Grey-backed Shrike

Saw lots of Black Drongo from the wagon but this Bronzed Drongo was 1 of 3 that I got at the last stop of the eight hour trip just before Pokhara.

  In Pokhara, I had an hour before I met the project coordinator. Only minutes away from Middle path Hotel where I was staying was Lake Pokhara and the path that follows the lake around, was crowded with people. I still saw single female Scarlet MinivetWhite-brested Kingfisher, Spotted Dove and a cracking Long-tailed Shrike. While taking pics of a Kingfisher, I could hear Siberian Chiffchaff and found 5 birds. At the same time a Hume's Warbler called and there was a very vocal Dusky Warbler only a meter away from me. There was only a small tree it could be in, but could I see the damn thing? It still carried on calling when some guy was trying to start a motor only a meter away from the tree to where the warbler was!
  My first day in Nepal and it was spent  mostly travelling and I didn't do so bad with just less than two hours of birding. Tomorrow, a jeep picks me up early and on the dirt track continuing NW, I'll be taken to Ghandruk where I'll be working for the next month.

3 White Wagtail sp (pernostawere feeding at the waters edge

I didn't expect to see a Long-tailed Shrike next to the main path

This White-breasted Kingfisher and Kingfisher shared the same concrete pool. 

A familiar sound was Siberian Chiffchaff with up to 5 birds feeding together

Like Black Kite and Common Myna, House Crow are everywhere.

Chestnut-tailed Starling were in the hotel garden with Jungle Myna

Mist rolling in from the mountains over Lake Pokhara

View from the hotel balcony

JamintheVan with the great Gary Clark Jr. born February 15, 1984) is an American guitarist and actor based in Austin, Texas. Clark shared the stage with various legends of rock and roll, and has stated that he is "influenced by blues, jazz, soul [and] country, as well as hip hop". Clark's musical trademarks are his distorted guitar sound and smooth vocal style. On May 13, 2013, Clark opened for Eric Clapton & His Band at the LG Arena, Birmingham, England. Many of the audience felt that he stole the show on the night, with Clapton being castigated by many for being unengaged with his audience. My opinion clark is a lot better guitarist than Clapton will ever be!