Nepal, 4th - 28th April 2001

Published by Surfbirds Admin (surfbirds AT


Tim and Carol Inskipp


Swamp Francolin Francolinus gularis Max. 5 heard on 10th and one plus 6 chicks on 12th at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (with BC, SGC); 2 heard on 25th at Jhilmile, Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve (with HB).

Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis 3 males and 1 female on 20th and 21st on Lamkhole and Baghoura grasslands, Royal Bardia National Park (with SK). 5-6 males and 1 female on 22nd and 24th on main grassland, Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve (with HB).

Swinhoe's Snipe Gallinago megala 1 on 10th on bank of Koshi River, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (with SGC, NG). 2nd record for Nepal.

Grey-headed Lapwing Vanellus cinereus 1 on 13th in fallow field by Koshi River embankment between Koshi Barrage and Kosi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (with BC).

Jerdon's Baza Aviceda jerdoni a pair on 11th at Patnali Forest, near Dharan (with BC, SGC, NG).

Black Baza Aviceda leuphotes 1 on 11th at Patnali Forest (with BC, SGC, NG), 1 on 15th at Bhandara, near Chitwan, 1 displaying on 16th (with BM) and four on 18th at Royal Chitwan National Park (with HSB, BM).

A large flock of vultures on 23rd near Andiya village just outside Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve: 58 White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, 13 Slender-billed Vulture G. tenuirostris and 12 Eurasian Griffon Gyps fulvus.

Eurasian Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus 1 adult spilonotus on 10th at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (with SGC, NG).

Pied Harrier Circus melanoleucos 19 on 13th flying east from roost over Koshi Camp (with BC).

Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera 1 on 10th, 12th and 13th hunting in Koshi Camp (with BC, SGC, NG).

Rosy Starling Sturnus roseus 5 on 11th at Patnali Forest, near Dharan (with BC, SGC, NG).

Lanceolated Warbler Locustella lanceolata 1 on 25th at Jhilmile, Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve.

Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia 1 on 23rd on main grassland Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve.

Blunt-winged Warbler Acrocephala concinens 1 on 8th and 9th in Koshi Camp (with SGC).

Booted Warbler Hippolais caligata 2 rama on 10th at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (with SGC, NG), 1 rama on 13th at Koshi Barrage (with BC) and 1 caligata on 25th at Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve.

Smoky Warbler Phylloscopus fuligiventer Singles on 12th at Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, 13th at Koshi Barrage, 16th at 20,000 Lakes near Chitwan, 22nd at Royal Bardia National Park and 23rd Royal Sukila Wildlife Reserve.

Bristled Grassbird Chaetornis striatus 1 on 9th, 10th and 11th in Koshi Camp (with BC, SGC, NG), 3 on 25th on main grassland, Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve (with HB).

Rufous-rumped Grassbird Graminicola bengalensis Near Gaida Wildlife and Tented Camps, Royal Chitwan National Park, max. three on 15th; main grassland Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve, max. six on 24th and 25th.

Nepal Wren Babbler Pnoepyga immaculata 1 on 7th on Phulchowki at approx. 2200 m (with SGC, HR) - first confirmed record for the Kathmandu Valley. A report of one here on 5 March 2001 seen by Peter (surname unknown) from the Netherlands. Confirmation of this record would be much appreciated.

Black-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis nipalensis Flock of 30 on 7th on Phulchowki at approx. 2100 m (with SGC, HR).

Jerdon's Babbler Chrysomma altirostre 2+ on 25th in wet grassland behind Rani Tal, Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve.

Slender-billed Babbler Turdoides longirostris 4 on 17th and 10 on 18th near Gaida Camp, Royal Chitwan National Park (with HSB, BM).

Blyth's Pipit Anthus godlewskii Max. 12+ on 10th Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve (with SGC, NG), 6 on 20th Royal Bardia National Park (with SK, 1st record for the park), 1 on 22nd Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve.

Finn's Weaver Ploceus megarhynchus 2 on 23rd and flock of 24 on 24th main grassland, Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve.

Other observers:

HB Col. Hikmat Bisht, HSB, Hem Sagar Baral, SGC. Som G. C., NG Narayan Giri, SK Sukra Kumal, BM Bishnu Mahato, HR Haris Rai.


3rd/4th Flight to Kathmandu
5th Kathmandu and Pashupatinath
6th Kathmandu
7th Phulchowki
8th Flight to Biratnagar, by road to Koshi Camp, Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve
8-13th Koshi Camp
11th Day visit to Patnali Forest, near Dharan from Koshi Camp
13th Visit to Koshi Barrage from Koshi Camp
14th Koshi Camp - Hetauda, Orchid Resort, Hetauda, Samsiri River near Hetauda
15th Parsa Wildlife Reserve, Hetauda - Gaida Wildlife Camp, Royal Chitwan National Park
16th Gaida Wildlife Camp, Chitwan, 20,000 Lakes
17-18th Gaida Wildlife Camp, Chitwan
19th Gaida, Chitwan - Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge, Royal Bardia National Park
20th-21st Tiger Tops Lodge Karnali Lodge, Bardia
22nd Karnali Lodge, Bardia - Silent Safari Camp Tented Camp, Royal Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve
23rd-25th Silent Safari Camp, Sukila Phanta
26th Silent Safari, Sukila Phanta - Nepalganj - Kathmandu
27th Kathmandu
28th Flight to UK

Nature Safari Tours P.O. Box 21016, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Fax 00977 1 439331, e-mail website organised our itinerary after we let them know our birding priorities. They made all our travel arrangements and booked our accommodation. While we could have done this ourselves, especially after visiting Nepal many times, it was much easier going through Nature Safari Tours who did an excellent job. They made much more efficient use of our time than we could have done, so giving us more time birding instead of travelling. We had no hitches at all as a result of their arrangements. Nature Safari Tours has a team of experienced ornithologist guides who offer tailor-made bird trekking holidays in Nepal.

In Kathmandu we stayed at the Hotel Dynasty P.O. Box 9020, Thamel, Kathmandu, fax 00977 1 250793, 250169, e-mail, website, which we can highly recommend. It is comfortable, has friendly staff and is centrally located in Thamel, but is on a side street so is quiet as well. There is a lovely roof garden that is a good vantage point over the city to watch birds flying to and from roost and birds migrating over the Kathmandu Valley.

We flew to Biratnagar from Kathmandu (1hr) and then went by road (1¼hrs) to Koshi Camp in far eastern Nepal. From here we mainly travelled by express bus to Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve. We found the express buses to be fast, reliable and quite comfortable nowadays. Between Bardia National Park and Sukila Phanta, and from Sukila Phanta to Nepalganj, we hired a car and driver to gain more birding time as the express buses left at times that were inconvenient for us. This was expensive. We flew back to Kathmandu from Nepalganj.

Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is Nepal's only Ramsar Site and must surely be one of the best wetlands in Asia for birds. Over 460 species have been recorded, including 16 globally threatened species. Here we stayed at Koshi Camp P.O. Box 21016, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Fax 00977 1 439331, e-mail website This is a luxury tented camp for birdwatchers just outside Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve. The staff are enthusiastic, helpful and friendly, and the naturalists are highly knowledgeable about birds and other wildlife in the area. The camp has an excellent location with an open view so you can watch birds moving up and down the Koshi River from your tent. Habitats for birds are totally protected in the camp and have been improved for birds, for instance some former paddyfields have been restored to rough grassland and this year attracted two Bristled Grassbirds. One sang persistently just behind our tent every morning during our stay. The camp has some disused fishponds which were literally heaving with waterbirds, including Ruddy-breasted Crake, Yellow and Cinnamon Bitterns, as well as passerines such as Blunt-winged and Thick-billed Warblers in the surrounding marshes. A Red-necked Falcon hunted small birds in the camp on three mornings and Pied Harriers regularly flew over the camp to and from roost. We had some very rewarding excursions: a rafting trip on the river where species included Spot-billed Pelican, Pallid Harrier and Black-necked Stork, walks in riverine forest where we saw Siberian Rubythroat, and visits to Koshi Barrage (numerous waterbirds including Grey-headed Lapwing) and to Patnali forest where we saw a pair of Jerdon's Bazas - a raptor only recently found in Nepal. Altogether we saw 200 bird species during our six stay at Koshi. A visit between January and March could produce a significantly higher total.

En route to Chitwan, we spent a night at Hetauda, staying at the comfortable Orchid Resort. The Motel Avocado is in the same grounds and offers budget accommodation, which is also pleasant. P.O. Box 19, Hetauda, Nepal, Fax 00977 57 20611, 20655, e-mail Both are located in a beautiful orchid garden with mature trees, where we found Hill Myna and Orange-headed Thrush. The Motel Avocado is walking distance from a traditional wintering site on the Rapti River for Ibisbill. We were too late in the season to find this species, but we did see a good variety of other river birds, including Black-backed Forktail. From the hotel we also paid a visit to Parsa Wildlife Reserve just half an hour's drive away, a reserve which has been almost totally neglected by birders. Here we saw a good variety of lowland forest birds.

Chitwan is justifiably a popular destination for visiting birdwatchers. Its wide range of forest, wetland and grassland habitats, hills and lowlands support a greater variety of bird species than is found in the rest of Nepal's protected areas. Around 530 species have been recorded to date. At Chitwan we stayed at Gaida Wildlife Camp, P.O. Box 2056, Kamalpokhari, Kathmandu. Fax 00977-1-434297, e-mail website

We spent two nights at the main camp, which has a beautiful forested riverside location, and then two nights at their luxury tented camp, which is a particularly good area for birding, situated under forest, by a stream with a pair of Blue-eared Kingfishers close to the tents. Gaida is well known as a highly professionally-run camp. Once again we found the staff very efficient, helpful and friendly and the guides very knowledgeable on birds. The park has a mix of forest, grassland and wetland habitats. Highlights included Slender-billed Babbler (Chitwan is the only Nepal site for this species) and Grey-crowned Prinia and Pale-footed Bush Warbler which are rare in Nepal outside Chitwan. We had two elephant rides that were especially good for grassland birds, a really pleasant canoe ride where waterbirds included Brown Crake and Cinnamon Bittern. Gaida is also a good base for a day trek to the Churia hills which is rewarding for hill birds, such as Red-headed Trogon.

We stayed for three nights at Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge P.O. Box 242, Kathmandu. Fax 00977-1-414075/419126, e-mail website which lies just on the edge of Bardia National Park, west Nepal. We recommend spending at least two nights at the tented camp in Bardia, although we were unable to do so as we arrived when the camp had just closed for the season. Tiger Tops is famous for its professionally-run naturalist lodges and most helpful staff with expert guides. Karnali Lodge is no exception. Highlights included Bengal Florican which can easily be seen in the park's grasslands, a flock of six Great Slaty Woodpeckers (a species which is fairly common near the main lodge), and Sulphur-bellied and Western Crowned Warblers and Blyth's Pipit that were passage migrants. We had two exciting elephant rides that were again very productive for grassland birds. Species included White-tailed Stonechat and Tawny-bellied Babbler. Raft trips on the river are rewarding for waterbirds in winter.

Situated in far west Nepal, Sukila Phanta Wildlife Reserve remains the most remote of the country's lowland protected areas. It is well worth a visit and is relatively easy to reach nowadays, being just four hours by road from Nepalganj, from where there are daily flights to Kathmandu. There is currently only one place to stay - the Silent Safari Tented Camp P.O. Box 4631, Kathmandu or P.O. Box 1, Mahendranagar, Kanchanpur, Fax 00977 1 536941, e-mail This camp has a beautiful site within the reserve, under mature broadleaved trees by a river and just half an hours walk from the main grassland. The staff are friendly and helpful and the camp provides everything you need. Grassland birds are the specialities of this reserve. We saw good numbers of Bengal Florican, Bright-headed Cisticola, Rufous-rumped Grassbird, Bristled Grassbird and Finn's Weaver and all on the main grassland. Hodgsons' Bushchat can easily be seen at Sukila Phanta in winter and there is a small population of Jerdon's Bushchat Saxicola jerdoni. We found a variety of wetland birds on two small lakes in the reserve including Jerdon's Babbler and Black Bittern which is probably resident here.

click here for full species list