Monday, April 22, 2013

Bird Watching in Nepal

With over 875 species (almost 8% of the world total) of birds, Nepal is a paradise for bird and among
them almost 5 hundred species are found in the Kathmandu Valley alone. The most popular bird
watching spots in Kathmandu are Phulchoki, Godavari, Nagarjun, Bagmati River, Taudaha and so on. Get
your binoculars and look forward to a rewarding experience.
The wetlands and open fields inside the valley make up a diverse habitat for many species of birds.
Besides this, lots of birds but in different species found in Nepal depending on the vegetation and
altitude of Nepal. Some endangered birds like Impeyan Pheasant, Nepal’s national bird and Spiny Babler,
are only found in Nepal.

Bird Watching has evolved as a recreational activity of where people love spending time watching
these magnificent creations of nature. Enthusiasm for birding is generally contained among a select
few, dedicated birders. The striking contrast in the topography of Nepal, from the highest mountains
in the world to flat plains of the southern border makes for a varied ecology and habitat for its wildlife.
The variance of forest systems at different altitudes, abundance of water bodies like lakes, streams
and rivers, apt refuge of the floodplains and wetlands and protected regions like the Annapurna
Conservation Area makes Nepal a sanctuary for diverse species of birds. All you need for a successful
bird watching trip are decent binoculars, right tour operators and lots of luck. You can get started as
soon as you land in Kathmandu as the capital alone plays host to over 500 species of birds in its hills,
wetlands and fields. Then there is always the stretch of the country to take your pick from, from Bardia
in the west to Koshi Tappu in the east. Expect to fill your log book with records of innumerable sightings
of Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Swamp Patridges, Herons, Black headed Oriole, Eurasian Cuckoo,
Chestnut headed bee-eater and more; a fair mix of birds native to this Sub-continent and migrant birds
in the summer and winter months. Rare sightings of the 9 endangered species of Nepal like the Great
Pied Hornbill, Bengal Florican and Crimson-Horned Pheasant, make for an extra special trip.
Popular Places/Location/Geography/Prices:

1. Kathmandu Valley: Kathmandu with its wetlands on the banks of Bagmati and Manohara rivers,
surrounding hills of oak, pine and rhododendron forests and open fields is a happy habitat for over 500
species of birds. A few notable places for eventful day-trips of bird watching are the hills of Phulchowki,
Godavari, Taudaha, Shivapuri and Nagarjuna Royal Forest.
A) Phulchowki: 20 kms southwest of Kathmandu lies Phulchowki, the highest hill on the Kathmandu
valley rim at 2782 m. The Royal Botanical Garden on its foothills and the enclosing hills are a natural
hub for over 256 species of birds. A perennial wet spot by means of receiving the heaviest rain fall in
the valley, the hills of Phulchowki are brimming with wildlife. Start your excursion from the garden
and hike uphill for sightings of Babblers, Minivets, Wablers, Woodpeckers, Tibetan siskin and Spotted
Forktail among others. The stunning views of the valley from the hilltop are a major plus. Entrance to
the garden is NRS 100 per person, Cameras and Video Cameras are charged extra at NRS10 and NRS 100
respectively. Local Buses available from the bus stand in Lagankhel.
B) Shivapuri Watershed and Wildlife Reserve: 12 kms North of Kathmandu, Shivapuri Watershed and
Wildlife Reserve is located in Shivapuri lekh. The Shivapuri hill standing tall at 2732 m is the second
highest in the valley, and home to 177 species of birds like Bonelli’s Eagles, Great Himalayan Barbets,
Laughing Thrush, Crested Serpent Eagle etc. The climate ranges from sub-tropical to temperate which is
reflected on the diversity of the flora and fauna found here. Medicinal herbs, Rhododendrons, Orchids,
129 different Mushrooms, Leopards, Wild boars and Barking deer, make this reserve a haven for nature
lovers. Entrance is NRS 250 per person and Cameras an additional NRS 1000.
C) Nagarjuna Forest Reserve: Nagarjuna also known as Rani Ban (Queen’s Forest) lies North-West of the
city, 2.5 kms from Balaju. It is also a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site, with a shrine dedicated to Guru
Rinpoche built on the summit , at an elevation of 2095 m. The bird calls of magpies, sunbirds, pheasants

among others, ring through the forests and you can observe them in their natural habitat for a small fee
of NRS 10 per person. Additional charge for your mode of transport, NRS 10/30/100 for Bicycle/Bike/Car
2. Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve: Koshi Tappu is a protected network of wetlands in Terai, on the
floodplains of SaptaKoshi, the largest river in Nepal. The Koshi embankment on the southern end of
the reserve creates a perpetual dipping pool for over 300 species of birds including the Water fowl,
Waders and the endangered Swap Partridge among others. You can catch a flight from Kathmandu to
Biratnagar and another two hours ride from the airport will get you to the reserve. A 10 hours drive to
determine the 500 kms from Kathmandu is another alternative. Arguably the best means yet could be to
raft down the SunKoshi River on a 9-10 days trip that ends with a stay in one of the tented camps inside
the reserve. Entrance fee is NRS 1000 for foreign nationals.
3. Annapurna Conservation Area: Covering around 2946 sq kms of North-central Nepal, ACA is the
world’s largest protected region. It is spread over several districts below the Annapurna and Dhaulagiri
massif. The terrain changes significantly with altitudes, ranging from sub-tropical lowlands in the south
to dry subalpine conditions in the north. This makes for a rich bio-diversity that supports over 441
species of birds like Spiny Babbler, Crimson Horned Pheasant, Bearded Vulture etc. Migration coincides
with peak trekking seasons in spring and autumn, making it possible to combine the joys of bird
watching with trekking. The convenient starting point for the foray into ACP is Pokhara, a 35 minutes
flight from the capital. Entrance fee to ACP is Rs 2000 per person.

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