An amazing visit to Nameri and Eaglenest

Nameri Tiger Reserve and Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary are one of those dream destinations in North East India that every birder aspires to visit for the sheer diversity of its flora and fauna. Indeed the North-east Himalayas have the distinction of being one of the two Bio-diversity Hot- spots of India (the other being the Western ghats or Sahyadris). Nameri is located in the State of Assam while Eaglenest is in the West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. A map on page 2 of this blog will give you an idea of the location.

For a birder, this is an exciting place to see new species and you would surely see a jump in your lifer list. So here is a photo tour of my eventful and amazing foray into this heaven on earth. Hope you enjoy the cyber-journey as much as I enjoyed blogging it!

Birding at Gauhati

The flight from Mumbai takes a long halt at Kolkatta and thereafter lands at Gauhati's - Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport. it has been a 4 1/2 hour flight. Fortunately, the airport is quiet compared to the bustling Mumbai airport and the 14 of us excited hard-core birders get our baggage quickly and head out to catch our waiting jeeps only to be told that one jeep has developed some problems so they are sending a car for us. First event of the trip as we hang around outside the airport for what seems like eternity. This is the first orientation to Assam - learn patience. But being birders, we did choose to make the best of our situation and trained our Binoculars in every direction - Were amply rewarded with few bird sightings. at last a car arrives and we load ourselves into 3 vehicles and head for our first lifer of our trip -guess where? Well hold your breath (literally)! To the Garbage dump of Gauhati - ughhh!!! But that is just the place to see the Critically Endangered Greater Adjutant Storks Leptoptilos dubius . In addition got to see some more lifers to. Here are some photos of them.
Greater Adjutant
Above & below - Greater Adjutant in flight

Paddyfield Pipit - a commoner
Black-headed Munia
Striated Grassbird

It is a long drive to Nameri especially through a traffic jam and some not so good roads and we reach the Nameri Eco Camp at 11 p.m. We are also duly informed that the day is ULFA foundation day. ULFA is a separatist movement which has ravaged the state of Assam for few years. It has since lost its steam.

Nameri - Balinkpong & arriving at Eaglenest

Despite a late night, we are excited enough to wake up early to explore this beautiful place on the border of Assam and Arunachal. Our Campsite is the Nameri Eco Camp run by Assam Bhorelli Anglers Association and true to its name it is built on sound ecological principles. Accomodation is in very comfortable and well equiped tents. My room mate Soma Jha from Kolkatta and I are however assigned unit no 12 which is built in a traditional Assamese style house with wooden flooring and thatched roof - very cozy feel except that to reach our room we need to climb some extra high stairs and to access the washroom we need to bound down those stairs. Now that's sure is some early morning excercise!

A short drive from our resort brings us to the banks of the Jia Bhorelli river which cuts through the reserve forest. We cross the river in small fishing boats that can carry a maximum of 7 persons. So it is 2 rounds for us. There are wild elephants around, so we are warned to take care and for additional security we have an armed forest guard accompanying us. as it is raining photos are few, however we are treated to some good birdlife - Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon etc. and some of the best views of the Bar-headed Geese. The Photo below is of the Forest Rest house on the Opposite side of the river
Half our team crossing the Jia Bhorelli River
Osprey in flight over the Jia bhorolli River

This and the following two pictures are a flock of the Bar-headed Geese - a winter visitor to Western India
Buffaloes in the park give us very suspicous looks

My cottage no 12 at the camp
Add caption

A view of the tented accomodation

Giant Wood Spider

Ha Ha - I think I should put this sign outside my house too
A sudden surprsie near our campsite - Black-capped Langurs
Entry to Arunachal Pradesh at Balinkpong

Balinkpong - the place where you show your Inner Line Permits (ILP) before you are allowed to proceed further
Loved this saying
The drive from Nameri to the Lama Camp at Eaglenest is a long one through a winding mountain road that passes through the Military camp at Tenga. An eventful drive indeed with one vehicle running out of fuel in the midst of nowehere. The Army Garrison nearby helped to save the day. Getting fuel is one of the challenges and it had to be purchased at a premium from a wayside vendor (not petrol Pump), so no guarantee of its quality. But that is one of the many experiences and learnings that added excitement. You never know what can go wrong in the North-East. So leave expectations at home and pack in enthusiasm and lots of your sense of humour to get the most out of this trip and you will come away the richer for it.

By the time we reach the Lama Camp it is 1 a.m. in the morning and we have a feast of magi noodles before checking into our spartan tents (all the campsites in this area a very spartan). It is pitch dark and we use the lanterns and torches to find our way around.

In and around the Lama Camp

It is a late start to the day at the Lama camp. Nevertheless, the view form our tents atop the hill is truly stunning as we look across the mixture of white puffy clouds envelping the green mountains. Promise of good birdlife around is enough to wash away our late night blues. Some interesting plant life around too. So here are some shots of the 2 days at the Lama Camp. This is the first and main camp in Eaglenest and since the present Dalai Lama crossed through this path when he fled from Tibet to India in 1958, it has derived its name as the Lama Camp. Some views of the interesting flora and fauna as well as our campsite are shown in this section
Yellow-browed Tit
From L to R - the dining area of the Lama camp followed by our tents. the first tent is where Soma Jha & I stayed

Early morning view from my tent
One of the many small gems of the area - Green-tailed Sunbird

Chestnut-tailed Minla also called Bar-throated Siva
another Small Gem - Mrs. Gould's Sunbird

Magnolia Tree
Black-headed Shrike Babbler

Bhutan Laughing Thrush
Can you spot the Gold-naped Finch enjoying his nectar? Just behind our tents

Grey-headed Bullfinch
a commoner in the Himalayas - Green-backed Tit

Lemon-rumped Warbler
A wide angle view of the Lama Camp nestled on the hill side

Group Leader Adesh Shivkar in ecstasy
The Kitchen at the Lama Camp

View of Tenga valley from my tent

Short-billed Minivet
ID Please - could be the Grey-headed Warbler???
ID Please
After a short drizzle
White-browed Shrike Babbler
Please click on "Older Posts" below right to go the next page. You will see pictures of the Sunderview camp, Eaglenest Pass as well as more info about this beautiful place