In early April 2008, Tim and I made a return visit to Koshi, an internationally important wetland in the lowlands of far eastern Nepal. Over 490 bird species have been recorded in the Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve and Koshi Barrage area, including as many as 20 globally threatened species.
This was our fourth visit to Koshi and proved to be as rewarding for birds as our previous trips. Highlights were two Rufous-vented Prinias Prinia burnesii, only found in Nepal in 2005 and described as a new subspecies P.b.nepalicola, see www.birdlifenepal.org/newsletter/danfe_december%2007.pdf and www.birdlifenepal.org/newsletter/danfe_mar_08.pdf
A small population of this species appears to be resident and breeding in riverine grasslands of Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. The site where we saw the birds could only be reached by boat and would have been almost impossible to locate without our guide’s prior knowledge of the area. The same grassland supported good numbers of the globally threatened Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striatus. We counted 15 individuals, many of which were song-flighting from the tops of tall grass stems.
Scrubby areas were very productive and species included an elusive Chinese Bush Warbler Bradypterus tacsanowskius and an even more skulking Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata. Smoky Warblers Phylloscopus fuligiventer and Siberian Rubythroats Luscinia calliope were much more obliging and gave us excellent views.
Other highlights of our visit included a roosting Brown Fish Owl Ketupa zeylonensis, five Grey-headed Lapwings Vanellus cinereus, Pied Harriers Circus melanoleucos each day, three Black Bitterns Dupetor flavicollis,, and daily Lesser Adjutants Leptoptilos javanicus.
Our total bird list was 166 species in two full days’ birding and we regretted not spending an extra couple of days at Koshi.
We stayed at Koshi Camp, a small luxury tented camp situated just outside the reserve boundary and an ideal place to stay when birding in the Koshi area. There is a pleasant dining/bar building and we found the food very good. We were picked up by staff from Biratnagar, the nearest airport after a 45 minute flight from Kathmandu; the drive to the camp took about an hour. After leaving Kathmandu around 0930 hr we were at Koshi Camp by late morning on 5 April and spent two days there. The camp has expert bird guides and we were especially pleased to have Badri Choudhary join us in the field again. Badri has found several new species for the country from Koshi in recent years. Costs of staying at the camp are very reasonable. See www.kosicamp.com/ for full details including a bird list.
Nomenclature and species order follow An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental Region by Tim Inskipp, Nigel Lindsey and Will Duckworth (1996).
BLACK FRANCOLIN Francolinus francolinus 2 heard on 5th and 3 heard on 6th.
SWAMP FRANCOLIN Francolinus gularis Singles heard on 5th and 6th.
LESSER WHISTLING DUCK Dendrocygna javanica Seen daily, max 80 on 6th.
BAR-HEADED GOOSE Anser indicus Six on 5th.
RUDDY SHELDUCK Tadorna ferruginea 3 on 5th and 2 on 6th.
COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE Nettapus coromandelianus1 on 5th.
GADWALL Anas strepera 110 on 5th.
EURASIAN WIGEON Anas penelope 80 on 5th.
NORTHERN SHOVELER Anas clypeata 1 on 5th.
NORTHERN PINTAIL Anas acuta 16 on 5th.
GARGANEY Anas querquedula 20 on 5th.
COMMON TEAL Anas crecca 30 on 5th.
RED-CRESTED POCHARD Rhodonessa rufina 5 on 5th.
COMMON POCHARD Aythya farina 4 on 5th.
FERRUGINOUS POCHARD Aythya nyroca 1 on 6th.
EURASIAN WRYNECK Jynx torquilla 2 on 5th.
BROWN-CAPPED PYGMY WOODPECKER Dendrocopos nanus 2 on 6th.
FULVOUS-BREASTED WOODPECKER Dendrocopos macei 2 on 6th.
STREAK-THROATED WOODPECKER Picus xanthopygaeus 1 on 6th.
BLACK-RUMPED FLAMEBACK Dinopium benghalense Seen daily, max. 6 on 6th.
BLUE-THROATED BARBET Megalaima asiatica Recorded daily, max. 15 on 6th.
COPPERSMITH BARBET Megalaima haemacephala 2 on 6th and 1 on 7th.
COMMON HOOPOE Upupa epops 1 on 6th.
INDIAN ROLLER Coracias benghalensis 2 on 6th.
COMMON KINGFISHER Alcedo atthis Singles on 5th and 6th.
STORK-BILLED KINGFISHER Halcyon capensis Singles on 6th and 7th.
WHITE-THROATED KINGFISHER Halcyon smyrnensis Recorded daily, max. 10 on 5th and 6th.
PIED KINGFISHER Ceryle rudis 5 on 5th and 12 on 6th.
GREEN BEE-EATER Merops orientalis Seen daily, max. 15 on 6th.
BLUE-TAILED BEE-EATER Merops philippinus Seen daily, max. 60 on 6th.
COMMON HAWK CUCKOO Hierococcyx varius Heard daily, max. 10 on 6th.
INDIAN CUCKOO Cuculus micropterus 5 heard on 6th and 2 heard on 7th.
ASIAN KOEL Eudynamys scolopacea Recorded daily, max. 8 on 5th and 6th.
GREATER COUCAL Centropus sinensis Recorded daily, max. 10 on 6th.
LESSER COUCAL Centropus bengalensis 2 on 6th.
ROSE-RINGED PARAKEET Psittacula krameri 20 on 6th and 10 on 7th.
RED-BREASTED PARAKEET Psittacula alexandri 1 on 6th.
ASIAN PALM SWIFT Cypsiurus balasiensis 1 on 6th.
BROWN FISH OWL Ketupa zeylonensis 1 on 6th.
JUNGLE OWLET Glaucidium radiatum Ten recorded on 6th.
SPOTTED OWLET Athene brama Recorded daily, max. 4 on 6th.
BROWN HAWK OWL Ninox scutulata 2 heard on 5th and 5 heard, 1 seen on 6th.
SPOTTED DOVE Streptopelia chinensis Recorded daily, max. 30 on 6th.
EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE Streptopelia decaocto 2 on 5th and 5 on 6th.
ORANGE-BREASTED GREEN PIGEON Treron bicincta 3 on 6th.
YELLOW-FOOTED GREEN PIGEON Treron phoenicoptera 6 on 6th.
WHITE-BREASTED WATERHEN Amaurornis phoenicurus Recorded daily, max. 10 on 6th and 7th.
RUDDY-BREASTED CRAKE Porzana fusca 1 on 7th.
PURPLE SWAMPHEN Porphyrio porphyrio 15 on 6th.
COMMON MOORHEN Gallinula chloropus Recorded daily, max. 30 on 6th.
COMMON SNIPE Gallinago gallinago 1 on 6th.
COMMON GREENSHANK Tringa nebularia 3 on 5th and 1 heard on 6th..
GREEN SANDPIPER Tringa ochropus 1 on 6th.
WOOD SANDPIPER Tringa glareola 1 on 5th.
LITTLE STINT Calidris minuta 10 on 6th.
TEMMINCK’S STINT Calidris temminckii 2 on 6th.
PHEASANT-TAILED JACANA Hydrophasianus chirurgus 2 on 5th.
BRONZE-WINGED JACANA Metopidius indicus Seen daily, max. 25 on 6th.
PIED AVOCET Recurvirostra avosetta 6 on 5th.
LITTLE RINGED PLOVER Charadrius dubius 3 on 6th.
KENTISH PLOVER Charadrius alexandrinus 5 on 6th.
GREY-HEADED LAPWING Vanellus cinereus 5 on 6th.
RED-WATTLED LAPWING Vanellus indicus 3 on 5th and 6th.
SMALL PRATINCOLE Glareola lactea 8 on 6th.
YELLOW-LEGGED/HEUGLIN’S GULL Larus cachinnans/heuglini 1 onn 6th.
PALLAS’S GULL Larus ichthyaetus 2 on 5th.
BROWN-HEADED GULL Larus brunnicephalus 2 on 5th.
LITTLE TERN Sterna albifrons 5 on 6th.
WHISKERED TERN Chlidonias hybridus1 on 5th.
OSPREY Pandion haliaetus Singles on 5th and 6th.
ORIENTAL HONEY-BUZZARD Pernis ptilorhyncus 5 on 6th and 1 on 7th.
BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE Elanus caeruleus 2 on 5th and 1 on 7th.
WHITE-RUMPED/SLENDER-BILLED VULTURE Gyps bengalensis/tenuirostris 1 on 5th.
PIED HARRIER Circus melanoleucos Seen daily, max. 4 on 6th.
SHIKRA Accipiter badius Seen daily, max. 3 on 6th.
COMMON BUZZARD Buteo buteo 1 on 5th.
BONELLI'S EAGLE Hieraaetus fasciatus 1 on 6th.
COMMON KESTREL Falco tinnunculus 1 on 5th.
LITTLE GREBE Tachybaptus ruficollis 2 on 6th and 1 on 7th.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus 20 on 5th.
DARTER Anhinga melanogaster 2 on 6th.
LITTLE CORMORANT Phalacrocorax niger Seen daily, max. 20 on 5th.
GREAT CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo 1 on 6th and 5 on 7th.
LITTLE EGRET Egretta garzetta 10+ on 5th and 5 on 6th.
GREY HERON Ardea cinerea 2 on 6th
PURPLE HERON Ardea purpurea 2 on 5th and 3 on 6th.
GREAT EGRET Casmerodius albus Seen daily, max. 20+ on 5th.
INTERMEDIATE EGRET Mesophoyx intermedia 10 on 5th.
CATTLE EGRET Bubulcus ibis Seen daily, max. 100+ on 5th.
INDIAN POND HERON Ardeola grayii Seen daily, max. 15 on 6th.
LITTLE HERON Butorides striatus 1 on 5th and 2 on 6th.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON Nycticorax nycticorax 150 on 6th.
CINNAMON BITTERN Ixobrychus cinnamomeus Singles on 5th and 7th.
BLACK BITTERN Dupetor flavicollis 3 on 5th and 6th.
BLACK-HEADED IBIS Threskiornis melanocephalus 25 on 5th and 6th.
BLACK IBIS Pseudibis papillosa 1 on 6th.
ASIAN OPENBILL Anastomus oscitans Seen daily, max. 50 on 5th.
LESSER ADJUTANT Leptoptilos javanicus 5 on 5th and 3 on 6th.
BROWN SHRIKE Lanius cristatus Seen daily, max. 5 on 5th.
GREY-BACKED SHRIKE Lanius tephronotus Singles on 5th and 6th.
RUFOUS TREEPIE Dendrocitta vagabunda Two seen daily.
HOUSE CROW Corvus splendens.
LARGE-BILLED CROW Corvus macrorhynchos 50 on 6th and 4 on 7th.
ASHY WOODSWALLOW Artamus fuscus 2 on 6th.
EURASIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE Oriolus oriolus Seen daily, max. 4 on 6th.
BLACK-HOODED ORIOLE Oriolus xanthornus Seen daily, max. 5 on 6th.
LARGE CUCKOOSHRIKE Coracina macei 1 on 6th and 2 on 7th.
WHITE-THROATED FANTAIL Rhipidura albicollis 5 on 6th and 1 on 7th.
BLACK DRONGO Dicrurus macrocercus Seen daily, maax. 50 on 6th.
ASHY DRONGO Dicrurus leucophaeus 10+ on 6th.
BLACK-NAPED MONARCH Hypothymis azurea 1 on 6th.
ASIAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER Terpsiphone paradise Recorded daily, max. 2 on 6th.
COMMON IORA Aegithina tiphia Recorded daily, max. 3 on 6th.
ASIAN BROWN FLYCATCHER Muscicapa dauurica 1 on 6th.
RED-THROATED FLYCATCHER Ficedula parva Recorded daily, max. 3 on 6th and 7th.
BLUE-THROATED FLYCATCHER Cyornis rubecloides Singles on 6th and 7th.
SIBERIAN RUBYTHROAT Luscinia calliope 2 on 5th and 3 on 6th.
BLUETHROAT Luscinia svecica 4 on 6th.
ORIENTAL MAGPIE ROBIN Copsychus saularis Seen daily, max. 5 on 6th.
BLACK REDSTART Phoenicurus ochruros Seen daily, max. 10 on 6th.
COMMON STONECHAT Saxicola torquata 6 on 6th and 1 on 7th.
CHESTNUT-TAILED STARLING Sturnus malabaricus Seen daily, max 6 on 6th.
ASIAN PIED STARLING Sturnus contra Seen daily, max. 60 on 6th.
COMMON MYNA Acridotheres tristis Seen daily, max. 50 on 6th.
JUNGLE MYNA Acridotheres fuscus 15 on 6th.
GREAT TIT Parus major 1 on 6th.
PLAIN MARTIN Riparia paludicola Seen daily, max. 20 on 6th.
BARN SWALLOW Hirundo rustica 10 on 5th and 3 on 6th.
RED-WHISKERED BULBUL Pycnonotus jocosus Seen daily, max. 15 on 6th.
RED-VENTED BULBUL Pycnonotus cafer Seen daily, max. 50 on 5th.
RUFOUS-VENTED PRINIA Prinia burnesii nepalicola 2 on 6th.
GRACEFUL PRINIA Prinia gracilis 5 on 6th.
PLAIN PRINIA Prinia inornata 10 on 6th.
ZITTING CISTICOLA Cisticola juncidis 20 on 6th.
BRIGHT-HEADED CISTICOLA Cisticola exilis 5 on 6th.
ORIENTAL WHITE-EYE Zosterops palpebrosus 2 heard on 6th and 1 heard on 7th.
CHINESE BUSH WARBLER Bradypterus tacsanowskius 1 seen on 6th.
LANCEOLATED WARBLER Locustella lanceolata 1 seen on 6th.
BLYTH'S REED WARBLER Acrocephalus dumetorum Recorded daily, max. 15 on 7th.
CLAMOROUS REED WARBLER Acrocephalus stentoreus 1 seen on 6th.
THICK-BILLED WARBLER Acrocephalus aedon Recorded daily, max 2 on 5th and 7th.
BOOTED WARBLER Hippolais caligata 1 on 6th.
COMMON TAILORBIRD Orthotomus sutorius Recorded daily, max. 10 on 6th.
COMMON CHIFFCHAFF Phylloscopus collybita 1 on 6th.
DUSKY WARBLER Phylloscopus fuscatus 6 on 6th and 1 on 7th.
SMOKY WARBLER Phylloscopus fuligiventer 6 on 6th.
TICKELL'S LEAF WARBLER Phylloscopus affinis 5 on 7th.
HUME'S WARBLER Phylloscopus humei mandelli 1 on 6th.
GREENISH WARBLER Phylloscopus trochiloides Recorded daily, max. 20 on 7th.
WESTERN CROWNED WARBLER Phylloscopus occipitalis Singles on 5th and 7th.
GOLDEN-SPECTACLED WARBLER Seicercus burkii Singles on 5th and 6th.
STRIATED GRASSBIRD Megalurus palustris 1 on 6th.
BRISTLED GRASSBIRD Chaetornis striatus 15 on 6th.
STRIATED BABBLER Turdoides earlei 20 on 6th.
JUNGLE BABBLER Turdoides striatus 3 on 5th and 20 on 6th.
BENGAL BUSHLARK Mirafra assamica 5 on 6th.
PURPLE SUNBIRD Nectarinia asiatica 4 on 6th and 2 on 7th.
HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus Seen daily, max. 20 on 6th.
WHITE-BROWED WAGTAIL Motacilla maderaspatensis 1 on 5th.
CITRINE WAGTAIL Motacilla citreola Recorded daily, max. 10 on 6th.
GREY WAGTAIL Motacilla cinerea 1 on 7th.
PADDYFIELD PIPIT Anthus rufulus 2 on 5th and 6th.
OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT Anthus hodgsoni 3 on 6th and 5 on 7th..
BAYA WEAVER Ploceus philippinus 5 on 6th and 2 on 7th.
SCALY-BREASTED MUNIA Lonchura punctulata 4 on 6th and 10 on 7th
CRESTED BUNTING Melophus lathami 1 on 7th.