[ST = Sandakphu trek; ENS = Eagle's Nest Sanctuary; Sh = Shillong]
VU = Vulnerable; NT = Near Threatened; Rr = Restricted range
Hill partridge Arborophila torqueola
Heard on most days at all sites. Good views of a pair on the old road below Sunderview, 8/4.
Blood pheasant Ithaginis cruentus
ST; a pair was seen around noon on the ridge trail north of Sandakphu, 1/4.
Satyr Tragopan Tragopan satyra
ST; heard only, but in several localities including the forest below Megma and c.2km beyond Tonglu 30/3; also in dense bamboo searching for the old jeep track below Kalipokari, 31/3.
Kalij Pheasant Lophura leucomelanos
1 on the main road through the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, 14/4.
Pale-headed Woodpecker Gecinulus grantia
ENS; 2-3 in bamboo below Sessni camp at 1100m, 11/4. Also heard around Bompu, 12-13/4.
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis
ENS; heard regularly below Bompu. Several seen 11/4, one possibly associating with the above species.
Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus
Sh; A pair on the Old Gauhati Road, 15/4.
Rufous-bellied Woodpecker Dendrocopos hyperythus
ENS; A female seen well below Chaku 7/4, and another on the trek to Piri-la 9/4.
Crimson-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopus cathpharius
ST; 1 at Megma, 29/3. ENS; singles above Bompu, 12/4 and 13/4 (all males).
Darjeeling Woodpecker Dendrocopos darjellensis
ST/ENS; 1 at Tonglu 30/3, several at Kalipokari 31/3, and 1 below Sandakphu 2/4. 2-3 around Sunderview 7/4.
Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus
ENS; 1 below Sessni at c.1000m on 11/4.
Greater Yellownape Picus flavinucha
ENS/Sh; 1 below Sessni with Beautiful Nuthatches on 10/4. Also 1 on the Old Gauhati Road 15/4.
Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense
1 at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
Great Barbet Megalaima virens
ST/ENS/Sh; heard and/or seen most days below c.2000m.
Golden-throated Barbet Megalaima franklinii
ENS; several seen below Bompu 11/4, and one above 13/4.
Blue-throated Barbet Megalaima asiatica
Sh; common on the Old Gauhati Road and at Shillong Peak, 15-17/4.
Coppersmith Barbet Megalaima haemacephala
Several at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
Oriental Pied Hornbill Anthracoceros albirostris
A single bird over the Bhorelli River at Tipi FRH, 5/4.
Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis NT
ENS; 1 below Bompu 11/4.
Rufous-necked Hornbill Aceros nipalensis VU
ENS; 1 seen during lunch at Sessni, 11/4. Further singles seen around Bompu 13-14/4. All males.
Common Hoopoe Upupa epops
1 at the Ruby Hospital, Kolkata 28/3.
Red-headed Trogon Harpactes erythrocephalus
ENS; several below Bompu, 10-11/4, and 1 above on 13/4.
Ward's Trogon Harpactes wardi NT/Rr
ENS; a female then the male of a pair were seen in a roadside gully below Sunderview, late on 6/4. The female was seen again 7/4. Heard only on 9/4.
Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis
Several seen from the bus between Tezpur and Gauhati, 15/4.
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
1 at the Nalban wetlands in Kolkata 28/3. Another at Tipi FRH 5/4.
White-throated Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
1 at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
Crested Kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris
1 on the Bhorelli River at Tipi FRH, 28/3.
Large Hawk Cuckoo Hierococcyx sparverioides
ST/ENS; heard most days with 1 seen well between Gurdun/Sirikhola, 2/4.
Indian Cuckoo Cuculus micropterus
Heard only, above Manebhanjang 29/3 and on the Old Gauhati Road 15/4.
Eurasian Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Sh; heard only around Shillong, with one seen 17/4 on the Old Gauhati Road.
Oriental Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
ENS; heard often around Bompu. Singles seen well 12/4 and 13/4.
Drongo Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris
ENS; heard only (below Bompu), 11/4.
Asian Koel Eudynamys scolopacea
1 at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
Greater Coucal Centropus sinensis
1 at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
Alexandrine Parakeet Psittacula eupatria
Several at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3. Apparently feral birds.
Himalayan Swiftlet Collocalia brevirostris
ST/ENS/Sh; Seen below 2000m on most days.
Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis
At Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
House Swift Apus affinis
At Kolkata 28/3 and around Shillong town, 17/4.
Mountain Scops Owl Otus spilocephalus
ENS; heard regularly at and below Bompu, 10-12/4.
Tawny Owl Strix aluco
ENS; 1 between Ramalingam FRH and Eagle's Nest pass, 5/4.
Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei
ST/ENS/Sh; heard regularly most days at all sites.
Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides
ST; heard only, at Kalipokari 31/3.
Spotted Owlet Athene brama
1 roosting in a bandstand at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
Grey Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus
ENS; heard around Sunderview 5-6/4. A bird flushed from the road below Bompu on 10/4 was probably this species.
Large-tailed Nightjar Caprimulgus macrurus
2 flushed from the road between Balukpong and Tezpur, 14/4.
Several in Darjeeling 3/4.
Speckled Wood Pigeon
ENS; a flock of 6 above Bompu on 13/4.
Ashy Wood Pigeon Columba pulchricollis
ENS; 1 below Eagle's Nest pass 8/4, and another above Bompu 13/4.
Mountain Imperial Pigeon Ducula badia
ENS; small flocks regularly around Bompu 11-13/4.
Oriental Turtle Dove Streptopelia orientalis
ST/ENS/Sh; common lower down at all sites.
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
At Kolkata 28/3, and Sessa Village, 5/4.
Eurasian Collared Dove Streptopelia decaocto
At Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago
Several at the Nalban wetlands, Kolkata 28/3. Apparently Swinhoe's is also here in the winter.
River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii
1 on the Bhorelli, on the way to ENS 5/4.
Black Kite Milvus migrans
Many at Kolkata, Gauhati and near the land-fill site at Shillong.
Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis
ST; the commonest griffon observed, seen as individuals and in loose groups of up to 8 birds on most days of the trek.
Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus
ST; 3 approaching Kalipokari 30/3.
Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis
ENS; seen regularly around Sunderview, with a pair together on 7/4.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
ENS; An untypical female caused us some ID problems at Chaku on 10/4.
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
ST; singles at Megma 29/3 and on the way to Garibans 30/3.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
ST; 1 at the Bikebhanjang tea-shop below Sandakphu, 31/3.
Mountain Hawk-eagle Spizaetus nipalensis
ST/Sh; singles on the way to Kalipokari 30/3, above Rimbik 3/4, and on the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
ST; 1 above Manebhanjang on 29/3.
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
1 on the Bhorelli at Tipi FRH, 5/4.
Indian Pond Heron Ardeola grayii
Several at the Nalban wetlands, Kolkata 28/3.
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
At the Nalban wetlands, Kolkata 28/3.
Little Heron Butorides striatus
1 on the Bhorelli at Tipi FRH, 5/4.
Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax
1 at the Nalban wetlands, Kolkata 28/3.
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala
Feral birds at the Nalban wetlands, Kolkata 28/3.
Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans
Several overhead at Nalban wetlands and Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3 and in the Brahmaputra floodplain from the bus, 15/4.
Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii
ENS/Sh; the only leafbird of this trip, seen at Sessa and the lower sections of ENS. Also on the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Singles at Ruby Hospital, Kolkata 28/3, and Sessa village 5/4.
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
Singles at Banabitan Park (ssp. tricolor) 28/3, and on the way to ENS 5/4.
Grey-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus
1 at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Yellow-billed Blue Magpie Urocissa flavirostris
ST/ENS; seen regularly in small parties at Megma, and once below Sandakphu 31/3. Also at Chaku 10/4.
Common Green Magpie Cissa chinensis
ENS; 2 overflew us below Sessni camp on 10/4.
Grey Treepie Dendrocitta formosae
ENS; 1 high in a tree below Sessni on 11/4.
Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
ST/ENS; Singles at Tonglu 30/3 (basking spread-eagled on a rock), and below Sandakphu 2/4. Also around Eagle's Nest pass 6/4 and 8/4.
House Crow Corvus splendens
At Kolkata and in most lowland towns and villages.
Large-billed Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
Common in the uplands, where confusable with Raven. ST/Sh all days; 5 & 6/4 at ENS.
Common Raven Corvus corax
ST; at least 1 around Sandakphu, 3 & 4/4.
Black-hooded Oriole Oriolus xanthornus
Several at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
Maroon Oriole Oriolus trailii
ENS/Sh; heard frequently and seen once below Sessni 11/4. Also on the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Black-winged Cuckooshrike Coracina melaschistos
ST/ENS; 1 at Megma 30/3, and at Bompu 12/4.
Grey-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
ENS; seen fairly regularly below c.2000m, in Sessa 5/4, and below Bompu 11,13 & 14/4.
Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
ST/ENS; appears to range higher than the former species. On the way to Megma 29/3, and at Sandakphu 31/3 & 1/4. Also around Eagle's Nest pass 8/4, and above Bompu 13 & 14/4.
Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris
ST/ENS/Sh; the most frequently seen minivet, on most days on the Sandakphu trek and at ENS, except at the highest altitudes. Also common around Shillong.
Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
Seen at Sessa village 5/4.
Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus
ENS/Sh; 1 down below Sessni 11/4, and on all days around Shillong.
Yellow-bellied Fantail Rhipidura hypoxantha
ST/ENS/Sh; several between Kalipokari and Sandakphu 31/3, frequent on most days at ENS, and in the ravine at Shillong Peak.
White-throated Fantail Rhipidura albicollis
At Darjeeling zoo; all days at ENS at lower elevations, and several at Shillong Peak/Old Gauhati Road 16 & 17/4.
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Frequent at the Nalban wetlands 28/3, and occasional at other sites in the lowlands.
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
ST/ENS/Sh; common in the uplands, seen at Garibans 30/3, at Gurdun 2/4, regularly below Bombu 10-12/4, and on all days around Shillong.
Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
ENS; in Sessa OS 5/4, and below Bompu 10 & 11/4.
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer
ENS; 1 below Sessni 11/4.
Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii
ST/ENS; pairs on the river below Sirikhola 2/4, and on the Bhorelli on 14/4.
Blue-capped Rock Thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus
1 male on the journey down to Siliguri 4/4, several females around Sunderview 10/4, and another male at Tenga 14/4.
Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush Monticola rufiventris
ST/ENS; 1 at Megma 30/3, and on all days except Easter at ENS.
Blue Rock Thrush Monticola solitarius
1 on the way to Sessa 5/4.
Blue Whistling Thrush Myophonus caeruleus
ST/ENS; common both sites below 2000m.
Orange-headed Thrush Zoothera citrina
Sh; 2 on the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Plain-backed Thrush Zoothera mollisima
ST; several below Megma 29/3, and between Garibans and Kalipokari 30/3.
Scaly Thrush Zoothera dauma
ST; 2 probables flushed from the Rimbik trail, 1/4.
Tickell's Thrush Turdus unicolor
ST; a female at Manebhanjang 29/3.
White-collared Blackbird Turdus albocinctus
ST; common below Megma 29-30/3, and 1 at Sandakphu 1/4.
Grey-winged Blackbird Turdus boulboul
ENS; 1 on the morning of our last day at Bompu, 14/4.
Dark-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis
ST; 1 approaching Rimbik (ssp. atrogularis) 2/4.
Gould's Shortwing Brachypteryx stellata
ENS; a probable (see Diary) between Lamacamp and Eagle's Nest pass, 8/4.
Lesser Shortwing Brachypteryx leucophrys
Sh; An immature male in the ravine at Shillong Peak 16/4. Another the next day on the Old Gauhati Road, 17/4.
White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx montana
ST/ENS; an immature male in brief flight below Sandakphu 31/3 caused confusion as it was my first (I was unfamiliar with the habit of puffing-out the supercilia to all but cover the forehead). Below Chaku on 10/4, a mature male could only be seen by each of us crawling in turn beneath vegetation on all fours! Once we learned the song, the bird appeared to be fairly common between Bompu and Chaku.
Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica
1 at Sessa village 5/4.
Ferruginous Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea
1 at Darjeeling zoo, 3/4.
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata
ST/ENS; frequent on all days during the trek, and every day 8-13/4 inclusive at ENS.
White-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula monileger
ENS; a confiding pair below Bompu, 11/4.
Snowy-browed Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra
ENS; singles at Sessa 5/4, at Sunderview 9/4 (male), and on the Piri-la trek 10/4.
Little Pied Flycatcher Ficedula westermanni
ST/Sh; singles at Gurdun 2/4, Rimbik 3/4, and the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Slaty-blue Flycatcher Ficedula tricolor
ST/ENS; single males above Gurdun 2/4 and above Bompu 12/4, and a probable at Bompu 14/4.
Sapphire Flycatcher Ficedula sapphira
ENS; brief views of a male at Sunderview, 6/4.
Verditer Flycatcher Eumyias thalassina
ST/ENS/Sh; around Megma 29-30/3, at Sessa and most days at ENS, and the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Large Niltava Niltava grandis
A pair at Darjeeling zoo 3/4; around and below Bompu 11-13/4, and on the Old Gauhati Road 15/4.
Small Niltava Niltava macgrigoriae
ENS; singles at Sessa 5/4 and below Bompu 11/4.
Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
At Darjeeling zoo 3/4; several on all days at ENS and around Shillong.
Orange-flanked Bush Robin Tarsiger cyanurus
ST/ENS; singles on the earlier days of the trek to Sandakphu 29-31/3, around Sunderview and Eagle's Nest pass 6-9/4, and around Bompu 12-14/4.
Golden Bush Robin Tarsiger chrysaeus
ENS; several around Sunderview 7/4 and between Chaku/Bompu 10/4 (all females/imm. males).
White-browed Bush Robin Tarsiger indicus
ST; close views of a female approaching Garibans 30/3, and another at Sandakphu 31/3.
Rufous-breasted Bush Robin Tarsiger hyperythrus
ENS; the elusive male of a pair was finally seen well by all above Bompu, 13/4. Well worth the wait!
Oriental Magpie Robin Copsychus saularis
Singles at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3 and at Sessa village 5/4.
Hodgson's Redstart Phoenicurus hodgsoni
ENS; a pair at Bompu camp 12/4, with a probable female there again on 14/4.
White-throated Redstart Phoenicurus schisticeps
ST; a couple of imm. males/females at Sandakphu, 1-2/4.
Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
ST/ENS; frequent approaching and around Megma 30/3, at Sandakphu (with the above species) 1/4. Several on all days except Easter at ENS.
White-capped Water Redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus
ST/ENS; singles at Sirikhola 2/4, Tipi FRH 5/4 and around Sunderview 6-9/4. Also below Bompu 11/4 and returning to Assam 14/4.
Plumbeous Water Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus
A pair at Sirikhola 2/4 and approaching ENS 5/4.
White-tailed Robin Myiomela leucura
Sh; this species is readily seen in ravines at Shillong peak 16/4. My final sighting was of a bird appearing to lack white in the (longish) tail. Briefly in sunlight the bird had a distinct inky-blue cast. I have never seen Blue-fronted Robin Cinclidium frontale and would be extremely hesitant to claim that ultra-rare species. However, future birders to this site take note!
Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri
ENS; 1 below Eagle's Nest pass 8/4.
Slaty-backed Forktail Enicurus schistaceus
ENS; 1 below Bompu 10/4.
Spotted Forktail Enicurus maculatus
ENS/Sh; singles on streams at Sunderview camp 8-9/4, and a pair in the ravine at Shillong Peak 16/4. Also heard on the Old Gauhati road 17/4.
Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata
1 on the approach to ENS, 5/4.
Grey Bushchat Saxicola ferrea
ST/Sh; several at Rimbik 3/4, and at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnus malabaricus
Several at Balukpong waiting for a replacement vehicle, 5/4. Also around Shillong 16-17/4.
Asian Pied Starling Sturnus contra
At Nalban wetlands, Kolkata 28/3 and in the lowlands 5/4 and 15/4.
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Noted at Manebhanjang 29/3, Tezpur 15/4 and around Shillong 15-17/4.
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Sitta castanea
At Darjeeling zoo 3/4, and on both days at the Old Gauhati Road 15/4 & 17/4.
White-tailed Nuthatch Sitta himalayensis
ST/ENS; singles, often within mixed flocks, between Tonglu/Garibans 30/3, at Kalipokari 31/3 and at Sandakphu 1/4. Also Sunderview 8/4, between Chaku/Bompu 10/4, and above Bompu 13/4.
Beautiful Nuthatch Sitta formosa VU
ENS; our first encounter with this species occurred late on 10/4, below Sessni at c.1200m. We saw at least 6 birds associating with as many Long-tailed Sibias and a Greater Yellownape. On 11/4, possibly the same birds were observed again between Bompu and Sessni at c.1500m, here with Long-tailed, Beautiful and Rufous-backed Sibias, and a White-browed Shrike Babbler. Again, there were at least 6 birds present. The closest nuthatch must have been no more than 8m from us!
Velvet-fronted Nuthatch Sitta frontalis
Sh; 1 at Shillong Peak 16/4 and a pair on the Old Gauhati Road, 17/4.
Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
ST; around Sandakphu, singles on 31/3-2/4.
Rusty-flanked Treecreeper Certhia nipalensis
ST; singles at Sandakphu 1/4, and between there and Gurdun, 2/4.
Brown-throated Treecreeper Certhia discolor
ENS; singles between Chaku/Bompu 10/4, and above Bompu 13/4.
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
ST; singles between Tonglu/Garibans 30/3, and below Sandakphu 31/3.
Rufous-vented Tit Parus rubidiventris
ST; up to 3 birds daily, 29/3-2/4.
Coal Tit Parus ater
ST; at Sandakphu only, 1-5 birds daily 31/3-2/4.
Grey-crested Tit Parus dichrous
ST; below and at Sandakphu, 2-3 on 31/3 & 1/4.
Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus
ST/ENS/Sh; common at and below Megma 29-30/3, and from above Gurdun to Rimbik 2-3/4. Singles near Sunderview 6/4 & at Chaku 8/4. Several at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Yellow-cheeked Tit Parus spilonotus
ENS/Sh; 1-2 below Chaku 7/4, between Chaku/Bompu 10/4, and above Bompu 12-13/4. Also common around Shillong; up to 3 daily 15-17/4.
Yellow-browed Tit Sylviparus modestus
ST/ENS; singles in mixed flocks below Kalipokari 30/3, and on most days at ENS.
Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea
ENS; a flock of 5-6 birds below Sessni at c.1000m, 11/4.
Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus
ST; several at Garibans 30/3, above Rimbik 2/4 and at Darjeeling zoo 3/4.
Rufous-fronted Tit Aegithalos iouschistos
ST; a flock of 6 about 2 hours below Sandakphu, 2/4.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica
ST; at Manebhanjang 29/3 and Rimbik 3/4.
Red-rumped Swallow Hirundo daurica
ST; 2 with the above species at Rimbik 3/4.
Asian House Martin Delichon dasypus
ENS; a large flock above Bompu 13/4.
Nepal House Martin Delichon nipalensis
ST; at Manebhanjang 29/3 and above Sirikhola 2/4.
Crested Finchbill Spizixos canifrons
Sh; several with Red-vented Bulbuls at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Striated Bulbul Pycnonotus striatus
ENS; singles above and below Bompu, 11-13/4.
Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
At Banabitan Park 28/3, at Sessa 5/4, and all days at Shillong 15-17/4.
Mountain Bulbul Hypsipetes mcclellandii
ENS/Sh; Singles below Bompu 10/4, and in the ravine at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus
Sh; common on the Old Gauhati Road, 15 & 17/4.
Hill Prinia Prinia atrogularis
ENS/Sh; heard more often than seen. Sightings in tall grassland at Chaku 7 & 8/4, and below Sessni 11/4. Also on the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Rufescent Prinia Prinia rufescens
Sh; this perky little prinia is common in roadside grass on the Old Gauhati Road, 15 & 17/4.
Plain Prinia Prinia inornata
Several seen in reeds at the Ruby Hospital, Kolkata 28/3.
Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis
2 displaying at the Ruby Hospital, Kolkata 28/3.
Slaty-bellied Tesia Tesia olivea
ENS; heard often but also seen well, below Sessa 5/4, at Bompu 11/4 and below Bompu 12/4.
Grey-bellied Tesia Tesia cyaniventer
ENS; we began picking up this species above Bompu at c.2000m; 1 finally seen well 13/4.
Chestnut-headed Tesia Tesia castaneocoronata
ENS; common around Sunderview and down to Chaku. We saw 1-2 birds daily, 6-8/4.
Grey-sided Bush Warbler Cettia brunnifrons
ST/ENS; common in scrub approaching Gurdun 2/4, 1 also seen well above Bompu 13/4.
Yellowish-bellied Bush Warbler Cettia acanthizoides
ST/ENS; a upper altitude bamboo specialist, common below Sandakphu 1-2/4. Also at Eagle's Nest pass 6/4 and Piri-la 9/4.
Brownish-flanked Bush Warbler Cettia fortipes
ST/ENS; heard often (esp. around Bompu camp), and 1 seen well at Manebhanjang 29/3.
Chestnut-crowned Bush Warbler Cettia major
ST; 1 just below Megma 29/3.
Russet Bush Warbler Bradypterus seebohmi
ST; heard only, just above Gurdun village 2/4.
Blunt-winged Warbler Acrocephalus concinens
A brief view of the well-publicised wintering bird at the Nalban wetlands, 28/3.
Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum
Several at the Nalban wetlands and Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3.
Clamorous Reed Warbler Acrocephalus stentoreus
Several at the Nalban wetlands and 1 at Banabitan Park, Kolkata 28/3
Striated Grassbird Megalurus palustris
Common at the Nalban wetlands, Kolkata 28/3.
Mountain Tailorbird Orthotomus cuculatus
ENS/Sh; singles below Sessni 11/4, above Bompu 13/4, and at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
Singles at Banabitan Park 28/3, and at Balukpong 5/4.
Common Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita
ST; heard only, above Sirikhola 2/4
Tickell's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus affinis
ST; 2 at Rimbik, 3/4.
Buff-throated Warbler Phylloscopus subaffinis
Sh; 1 at Shillong Peak, 16/4. Reputedly becoming regular here.
Buff-barred Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher
ST/ENS/Sh; frequent on most days of the trek, and apparently common at ENS. Several also at Shillong Peak, 16/4.
Ashy-throated Warbler Phylloscopus maculipennis
ST/ENS; 2-3 birds on most days of the trek, and above c.2000m at ENS.
Lemon-rumped Warbler Phylloscopus chloronotus
ENS; singles at Sunderview 7/4, and below Sessni 11/4.
Hume's [Yellow-browed] Warbler Phylloscopus humei
ST/ENS/Sh; several noted between Manebhanjang/Megma 29/3. There was some confusion between this and P. inornatus at ENS. Singles believed to be this species were seen on 8, 9 and 13/4. Also on the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Yellow-browed Warbler Phylloscopus inornatus
ENS; 1 at least below Sessni on 11/4.
Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
ST/ENS/Sh; several on 29/3, 1 & 2/4 on the trek, and on 7 & 11/4 at ENS. 1 on Old Gauhati Road 15/4.
Blyth's Leaf Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides
ST/ENS/Sh; several below Megma 19/3, and before Garibans 30/3. Singles 8 & 10/4 at ENS. Also at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Whistler's [Golden-spectacled] Warbler Seicercus whistleri
ST/ENS; common at lower altitudes on the trek. Seen also at Darjeeling zoo. 4-6 birds daily at ENS.
Grey-hooded Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistus
ENS/Sh; Singles at Sessa 5/4, below Bompu 11/4, at Shillong Peak 16/4, and the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis
ENS; where there was some confusion between this and S. poliogenys. At least 1 noted below Bompu on 10/4.
Grey-cheeked Warbler Seicercus poliogenys
ENS; more frequent than the above species, and noted daily 11-14/4 above and below Bompu.
Chestnut-crowned Warbler Seicercus castaniceps
Singles at Darjeeling zoo 3/4, every day except Piri-la at ENS, and at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Broad-billed Warbler Tickellia hodgsoni Rr
ENS; 2 below Chaku 7/4, 1 below Eagle's Nest pass 8/4, and 2 more between Chaku/Bompu 10/4.
Black-faced Warbler Abroscopus schisticeps
ENS; up to 6 daily in fast-moving mixed flocks above Bompu 12-14/4.
Goldcrest Regulus regulus
ST; 1-2 daily at Sandakphu, 31/3 and 1/4.
White-throated Laughingthrush Garrulax albogularis
ENS; 6+ birds between Lamacamp and Eagle's Nest pass, 8/4.
White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus
ENS; flocks heard most days below Bompu, 2 seen well 11/4.
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax pectoralis
ENS; a lone individual below Sessni 11/4.
Striated Laughingthrush Garrulax striatus
ST/ENS; singles at Megma and Tonglu, 30/3, between Bompu/Sessni 11/4, and above Bompu 13/4.
Spotted Laughingthrush Garrulax ocellatus
ST; more elusive than I expected; several heard approaching Sandakphu. 1 finally seen on the trek path east of Sandakphu, 31/3.
Streaked Laughingthrush Garrulax lineatus
ST; 1 probable in the burned-over scrub before Gurdun, 2/4.
Blue-winged Laughingthrush Garrulax squamatus
ENS; heard above and below Sessni, with 1 seen briefly 11/4.
Black-faced Laughingthrush Garrulax affinis
ST/ENS; the most conspicuous laughingthrush at both sites. Parties of up to 8 birds seen most days on the trek, and above c. 2000m at ENS.
Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush Garrulax erythrocephalus
ST/ENS; seen just as regularly as the above species, but usually fewer to a group. Birds here are ssp. nigrimentus.
Red-faced Liocichla Liocichla phoenicea
Sh; 1 at Shillong Peak 16/4, and another seen well in a flock where the landfill site overspills the top end of the Old Gauhati Road, 17/4.
Spot-throated Babbler Pellorneum albiventre
Sh; persistence earned me good views of a pair of these subtly marked little babblers in scrub towards the top end of the Old Gauhati Road, 15/4.
Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus hypoleucos
ENS; 1 with several of the following species at Bompu on our last morning, 14/4.
Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler Pomatorhinus ferruginosus
ENS/Sh; a speciality of dense bamboo around Bompu, although Claudio had a probable well below there on 11/4. At least 2 showed very well just above Bompu 12/4, and again close to the camp 14/4. Also 1 about halfway down the Old Gauhati Road, 17/4.
Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler Xiphirhynchus superciliaris
ST/ENS; several heard in dense bamboo below Kalipokari. Heard regularly around Eagle's Nest pass, with 1 being seen there by Ramana on 7/4. Our tape failed to attract the species here, which was surprising as it worked well for me at Tiger Hill (Darjeeling) on a previous trip.
Scaly-breasted Wren-babbler Pnoepyga albiventer
ENS; 1 was brought in by tape playback and gave excellent views on the Piri-la trek, 9/4.
Pygmy Wren-babbler Pnoepyga pusilla
ST/ENS/Sh; heard approaching Rimbik 2/4, in Darjeeling town 3/4, and on most days at ENS. 1 brought in by playback above Bompu on 13/4 provided an excellent opportunity for comparison with the above species.
Rufous-throated Wren-babbler Spelaeornis caudatus NT/Rr
ENS; 2 attracted by tape at a previously noted site below Chaku, on 7/4.
Bar-winged Wren-babbler Spelaeornis troglodytoides
ENS; 1 attracted by tape c.1km above a previously noted site between Lamacamp and Eagle's Nest pass, 8/4.
[Tawny-breasted Wren-babbler Spelaeornis longicaudatus VU/Rr
Sh; 1 possible in the ravine below the football field at Shillong Peak, 16/4 (see Diary). The bird did not respond to a tape of this species' call, however.]
Wedge-billed Wren-babbler Sphenocichla humei NT/Rr
ENS; at least 2 birds attracted by tape at a previously noted site between Bompu and Sessni on 11/4, and another at Bompu 12/4. The Easter day birds were quite confiding, and Claudio 'scoped one for a good minute from a range of about 8m. Undoubtedly of ssp. humei, but Claudio reported a suggestion of rufous on the forehead, while I felt the bird appeared rather scaled (ie. as roberti) on the throat and breast.
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps
ENS; 2-3 birds on all days, often in mixed flocks.
Golden Babbler Stachyris chrysaea
ENS; several birds daily following our shift to Bompu (11-14/4), always in fast-moving mixed flocks with the above species and Yellow-throated Fulvettas.
Grey-throated Babbler Stachyris nigriceps
2 at Sessa, approaching ENS on 5/4.
Silver-eared Mesia Leiothrix argentauris
ENS/Sh; several in Darjeeling town 3/4, at Sessa OS 5/4, below Sessni 11/4, and on the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea
ST/ENS/Sh; 1 at Manebanjang 29/3, several in Darjeeling town 3/4, and below Sessni 11/4 and at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Cutia Cutia nipalensis
ENS; below Sessni on 11/4. Our first encounter was with a pair in a mixed flock, while the second came later in the day, involving at least 4 birds (3 males, 1 female) again within a mixed flock.
White-browed Shrike Babbler Pteruthius flaviscapis
ST/ENS; 1 male above Sirikhola 2/4, a female at Darjeeling zoo 3/4. A male between Chaku/Bompu 10/4 and a female with the Beautiful Nuthatches 11/4.
Green Shrike Babbler Pteruthius xanthochlorus
ST/ENS; singles below Kalipokari 31/3, and in a mixed babbler flock below Eagle's nest pass, 8/4.
Black-eared Shrike Babbler Pteruthius melanotis
ENS; singles in mixed flocks below Chaku 7/4, and below Bompu 11/4.
Rusty-fronted Barwing Actinodura egertoni
ENS; at and below Bompu, 2-3 daily 11, 12 & 14/4. Often with Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbills.
Hoary-throated Barwing Actinodura nipalensis Rr
ST; common below Megma 29-30/3, 1 also below Sandakphu 2/4.
Streak-throated Barwing Actinodura waldeni Rr
ENS; the upper altitude barwing (ssp. daflaensis - very similar to the above species) at ENS, 1-2 daily 6-10/4.
Blue-winged Minla Minla cyanouroptera
ENS/Sh; several below Sessni 11/4, and above Bompu 13/4. Also at Shillong Peak and on the Old Gauhati Road, 16 & 17/4, and in Darjeeling town, 3/4.
Chestnut-tailed Minla Minla strigula
ST/ENS; 3-4 birds all days on the trek, often in mixed flocks. Similarly on most days at ENS, 6-11/4.
Red-tailed Minla Minla ignotincta
ST/ENS; 2-3 birds within mixed flocks between Manebhanjang/Megma 29/3, Garibans/Kalipokari 30/3, and at Darjeeling zoo 3/4. Similarly around Sunderview 6-8/4, and between Chaku/Bompu 10/4, and Bompu/Sessni 11/4.
Golden-breasted Fulvetta Alcippe chrysotis
ENS; several on the Piri-la trek 9/4, and around Bompu 12 & 14/4, always in bamboo and often with Black-throated Parrotbills.
Yellow-throated Fulvetta Alcippe cinerea
ENS; in parties of 4-5 birds, often with other babblers and apparently within a distinct altitudinal belt between c.2200-1500m. Seen on all days 10-14/4.
Rufous-winged Fulvetta Alcippe castaneceps
ST/ENS; 2-3 birds daily at lower altitude on the trek (29-31/3), and on all days at ENS, usually in mixed flocks.
White-browed Fulvetta Alcippe vinipectus
ST; 2-3 seen daily 29/3-2/4, not so often in mixed flocks as the above species.
Brown-throated Fulvetta Alcippe ludlowi Rr
ENS; singles below Eagle's Nest pass 6/4 and 8/4.
Brown-cheeked Fulvetta Alcippe poioicephala
Sh; 2 on the Old Gauhati Road 15/4.
Nepal Fulvetta Alcippe nipalensis
1 below Sessa, approaching ENS 5/4.
Rufous-backed Sibia Heterophasia annectans
ENS; at least 2 with Beautiful Nuthatches, 11/4. Several more later below Sessni (1 with the Cutias at c.1000m).
Rufous Sibia Heterophasia capistrata
ST; common in parties of +6 birds at lower altitudes on the trek, seen 29/3, 30/3 and 2/4. Also in Darjeeling town 29/3 and 3/4.
Beautiful Sibia Heterophasia pulchella Rr
ENS; equivalent to the above species in terms of status, seen in groups usually as mixed flocks on all days 6-14/4 (ssp. nigroaurita).
Grey Sibia Heterophasia gracilis Rr
Sh; a speciality of the area, as with the previous two species this is an easy bird to see. 4-5 seen daily 15-17/4, at Shillong Peak and on the Old Gauhati Road.
Long-tailed Sibia Heterophasia picaoides
ENS; at Sessa 5/4 and regularly below Bompu, 10 & 11/4.
Striated Yuhina Yuhina castaniceps
ST/Sh; 1 amongst a large mixed flock above Garibans, 30/3 (ssp. rufigenis), and several on both days at the Old Gauhati Road 15 & 17/4 (ssp. castaniceps).
White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri Rr
ST/ENS; several in the same mixed flock above Garibans, 30/3. Seen at Sessa OS 5/4, and fairly regularly at mid-lower altitude in ENS, 10-13/4, usually with Y. flavicollis.
Whiskered Yuhina Yuhina flavicollis
ST/ENS; also in the mixed flock above Garibans, 30/3, and in Darjeeling zoo 3/4. Regular below 2000m in ENS, 10-12/4 & 14/4, always in mixed flocks.
Stripe-throated Yuhina Yuhina gularis
ST/ENS; the commonest yuhina on the trek, seen all days. At ENS more of an upper species, and very common above 2000m. The most numerous species in mixed flocks on all days 6-10/4.
Rufous-vented Yuhina Yuhina occipitalis
ST/ENS; also common on the trek, 2-3 seen on all days. At ENS, a similar pattern of observation to Y. gularis and nearly always accompanying it.
Black-chinned Yuhina Yuhina nigrimenta
A small party with White-naped Yuhinas at Sessa OS, 5/4.
Fire-tailed Myzornis Myzornis pyrrhoura
ST; believe it or not my top-most target for this trip, with my best chance felt to be at ENS. However, on 1/4 I saw 4 birds of a larger group in low bamboo/rhododendron shrubbery, about 1 hour below Sandakphu (c.3400m) beside the Rimbik trekking path. Extremely confiding, I was able to squat within a metre of them hovering to nectar-feed at rhododendron blooms. Absolutely priceless!
Great Parrotbill Conostoma oemodium
ST; 2 attracted by tape below Sandakphu on the trekking path to Rimbik, 1/4 (just after the Myzornis). A further 2 in the basin between the two ridge trails at Sandakphu later in the day.
Brown Parrotbill Paradoxornis unicolor
ST/ENS; 1 at Megma 30/3, and 2 below Eagle's Nest pass 6/4.
Grey-headed Parrotbill Paradoxornis gularis
ENS; several birds within mixed flocks below Sessni, 11/4.
Black-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis nipalensis
ENS; parties of 6-10 birds below Eagle's Nest pass 6/4, on the Piri-la trek 9/4, and around Bompu 12 & 14/4.
Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill Paradoxornis ruficeps
ENS; another Bompu bamboo speciality, at least 10 birds in a flock just above the camp on 12/4.
Bengal [Rufous-winged] Bushlark Mirafra assamica
Several sitting on low walls at Ruby Hospital, Kolkata 28/3.
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
Also at Ruby Hospital, 28/3.
Yellow-bellied Flowerpecker Dicaeum melanoxanthum
ENS; a pair briefly between Chaku/Bompu, 10/4.
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus
ENS/Sh; 1-2 birds daily below Bompu, 11-13/4, at Shillong Peak 16/4, and the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Mrs Gould's Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
ST/ENS; singles between Garibans/Kalipokari 30/3, Sandakphu/Gurdun 2/4, and below Eagle's Nest pass 6-8/4.
Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis
ST/ENS; common approaching and at Megma 29 & 30/3, and 3-4 every day at ENS 6-10/4 & 13/4.
Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata
ENS; singles at Sessa 5/4 and below Sessni 11/4.
Fire-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga ignicauda
ST; singles and occasional pairs on every day of the trek 29/3-2/4, often within mixed flocks.
Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna
ENS/Sh; singles at Sessa 5/4 and below Sessni 11/4. Also at Shillong Peak 16/4.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus
Noted at Kolkata and Darjeeling.
Russet Sparrow Passer rutilans
Sh; a pair at Shillong Peak, 16/4.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
ST/Sh; noted at Gurdun and Rimbik 2/4, Darjeeling 3/4, and on the Old Gauhati Road 15 & 17/4.
Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava
Common at the Nalban wetlands, Kolkata 28/3.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
ST/ENS; singles on the Sirikhola 2/4, and a small tributary of the Bhorelli, 5/4.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis
ENS; singles at Sessa village 5/4 and below Sessni 11/4.
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
ST/ENS/Sh; small flocks noted every day of the trek, and on most days at ENS. Also on the Old Gauhati Road 17/4.
Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata
ST/ENS; several at Sandakphu 1/4, and below Eagle's Nest pass 6-8/4. 2 at Bompu 13/4.
Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata
ENS; several below Eagle's Nest pass 6/4, around Sunderview 8 & 9/4, and at Bompu 14/4.
Baya Weaver Ploceus philippinus
A large flock at Ruby Hospital, Kolkata 28/3.
Scaly-breasted Munia Lonchura punctulata
Also at Ruby Hospital, Kolkata 28/3.
Yellow-breasted Greenfinch Carduelis spinoides
ST; 1 between Sandakphu/Gurdun, 2/4.
Plain Mountain Finch Leucosticte nemoricola
ST; several Kalipokari 30/3, and a flock of c. 20 birds around Sandakphu, 1/4
Dark-breasted Rosefinch Carpodacus nipalensis
ENS; single females below Chaku 7 & 10/4.
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
ST/ENS; 1 at Megma 30/3, and another around Bompu camp 12 & 14/4.
Dark-rumped Rosefinch Carpodacus edwardsii
ST; a female at Megma 29/3, then several more at Sandakphu 1 & 2/4.
White-browed Rosefinch Carpodacus thura
ST; a female below Sandakphu on the trekking path to Rimbik, 1/4.
Brown Bullfinch Pyrrula nipalensis
ENS; 3-4 birds at Sunderview and later below Eagle's Nest pass 6/4, and below Chaku 7/4.
Red-headed Bullfinch Pyrrula erythrocephala
ST/ENS; 3 below Kalipokari 31/3, and several associating with the above species at Sunderview 6/4.
Grey-headed Bullfinch Pyrrula erythaca
ENS; 4-5 below Eagle's Nest pass 6/4, and below Chaku 7/4.
Collared Grosbeak Mycerobas affinis
ENS; an elusive pair below Eagle's Nest pass 8/4, then regular around Bompu with up to 3 birds on all days 10-14/4.
Gold-naped Finch Pyrrhoplectes epauletta
ST/ENS; single males at Tonglu 30/3, and between Sandakphu/Gurdun 2/4. Singles and a pair below Eagle's Nest pass 6 & 8/4, a female Chaku/Bompu 10/4 and another at Bompu 14/4.
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
ENS/Sh; 1 around Bompu camp 12 & 13/4, and 4 at Shillong Peak 16/4.
Assamese Macaque Macaca assamensis
Several on the way to Darjeeling 28/3.
Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula
1 just below Megma, 29/3.
Red-cheeked squirrel Dremomys rufigenis
1 on the Old Gauhati Road, 15/4.
Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel Dremomys lokriah
Several on the Sandakphu trek.
Himalayan Striped Squirrel Tamiops macclellandi
Several on the Sandakphu trek and at ENS.
Indian muntjac Muntiacus muntjak
Heard below Kalipokari on the Sandakphu trek, and at ENS.
6. References & further reading
1. Choudhury A (2003); Birds of Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary and Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh, India, in Forktail 19: 1-13
2. Kazmierczak K & Singh R (1998). A Birdwatcher's Guide to India. Prion
3. Birdlife International website (www.birdlife.net/datazone).
4. Waite M (2003); Namdapha & Manas National Parks, Northeast India Nov-Dec 2002 (on Surfbirds)
5. Athreya, R M & Karthikeyan S (1995); The Wildlife Sanctuaries in the Dafla Hills of Arunachal Pradesh
6. Birdlife International (2000). Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Ediciones
Grimmett R, Inskipp C & Inskipp T (1998). Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. Oxford
For the Sandakphu trek:
Benstead P & C (2003); Darjeeling, India 2003 (on Birdtours)
Prasad A (1999); Lava, Darjeeling, North Bengal, India Birding Trip Report (on WorldTwitch)
Buckton S & Morris P North India and Nepal, December 1989-June 1990. (OBC sales)
Useful email addresses;
Mike Waite: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sujan Chatterjee (Northeast Indian birding guide/photographer): email@example.com
Ramana Athreya (for future trips to Eagle's Nest/Pakhui Wildlife Sanctuaries: firstname.lastname@example.org
All India birding tours (Peter & Catherine Lobo): email@example.com