Once upon a time, I used to be absolutely ignorant of the diversity of birds. I could see them, hear them, but had no clue about their names or species or anything else. I am no better now. But I have learned to spot them and have learned to capture them with my camera. I am still learning, but in my last few trips in the wild, I have been able to go on bird spotting walks and capture some birds. How can I not share these ‘chanchal’ characters captured during my recent trip to Chitwan National Park with you – as and when they were stationary enough for me to catch them.
Birds of Chitwan National Park
At Chitwan National Park in the Terai region of Nepal, I found birds right outside my room at Barahi Jungle Lodge. I found them on the banks of river Rapti along with the lazy crocodiles and gharials. We found them on the boat safari where we even saw them sitting nicely on the Rhino backs. We found them on way to our elephant ride. And of course, we found them on the walking safari in the jungle.
We landed at Chitwan in the evening. So my first rendezvous with the birds were – waking up to their chirping in the morning. It was early morning, the river next to Barahi Jungle Lodge was wrapped in the mist that was slowly moving up. From the elephant back, we could see the big birds like Storks on the banks of the river though we could hear much more.
Our only clear sighting was that of Asian-openbill Stork – perched on top of Semal or silk cotton tree full of orange flowers, but bearing no leaves. How my camera loves the birds who choose to sit on the bare branches and giving the full view of their lovely little bodies.
We did see some storks walking leisurely on the other bank of the Rapti River.
Post Breakfast we crossed the river. And set out on a Jeep Safari to meet the forest of Chitwan National Park. We first met some common birds like Jungle Maina and Bulbuls.
Riu River Banks
On the banks of Riu river, we met this small bird strolling on the rocky bed of the narrow river.
Close to our lunch place, we met darter or the snake bird with its enviably long neck.
Towards evening, birds started making an appearance on dried tree branches. See who all we met:
Grey-headed Fish Eagle
A Red-breasted Parakeet was playing with the orange cotton silk flower.
Many peacocks crossed our way. Some were sitting with a poise on the tree branches while the others were trying to seduce the peahens with their dance.
On the tall elephant grass, delicately balanced sat a White-tailed Stonechat bird.
Next day on a walking safari through the jungle we met this common kingfisher – scanning the water below for the potential food. In the jungle, you can see the birds but it is almost impossible to capture them.
The roadside trees are the best places for bird photography, followed by naked trees in the fields. This ashy blue bird with an orange beak vanished after this one shot like a pricey model.
A scarlet bird made an appearance and vanished before we could even focus our cameras.
Evening Boat Safari
In the evening boat safari, we finally got to see the Rhodesian ducks. We had been hearing their chatter all this while. These are migratory birds that visit Chitwan every year from across the Himalayas.
Others ducks too loitered around making loud noises. Reminded me of the phrase fish market and then I realized the river is the fish market for them. Next minute I even saw local Nepalis fishing using a small net in their hands.
Colorful birds of Chitwan National Park
I saw many colorful birds near the Barahi Jungle Lodge itself:
This little yellow bird with a striped-back called common Iora, posing perfectly for few seconds that it sat on the tree.
This green one camouflages itself so well that I was about a delete a photograph assuming there is no bird in it. Just in time I realized, this fellow Lineated Barbet is merrily sitting on a branch.
There was a tiny round bird called warbler – its motion would tell you where the word wobble came from.
Before we were ready to say bye to Chitwan National Park, vultures decided to make an appearance. As if to tell us that they too exist even if we failed to notice them in the last 3-4 days.
Our last sighting was that of a group of flying egrets on the Rapti river.
Fire & the Birds of Chitwan National Park
We meet birds in almost every wildlife trip we take. This trip was special because we saw a unique behavior of birds. The tall elephant grass was being set on fire in the forest to make way for the new grass that the rhinos love.
We saw lots of small birds like Drongos and Bulbuls gathering around the fire. Guess what – the fire becomes a means for them to get ample food in one place. All the insects and worms gather near the fire and the birds come there to feed on them.
A pretty usual phenomenon for those who know the jungle fires. But for me, this was the first time I saw and was quite in awe of what I saw. It almost felt that birds are heading into the fire by mistake, but then not all of them could be making the same mistake. On the other hand, it was an opportunity to see so many birds together in one frame.
Birding in Chitwan
In conclusion, we met birds on our every excursion at Chitwan National Park including in the premises of Barahi Jungle Lodge – our hosts for the trip. They appeared one by one in every outing as if telling me to better remember them well and not confuse their names.
I shall remember that I promise.
Recommend you read following travel blog on my birding trails.