Chitwan National Park
After making all the preparations, we headed out for the mountains full of enthusiasm. Our destination, Langtang, is one of the best places for trekking and to see the forest and mountain birds of Nepal.
It is late April and the rhododendrons are starting to bloom in the Himalayan foothills, offering a tremendous visual spectacle while also sheltering a wide variety of birds: Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes leucocephalus), Darjeeling Woodpecker (Dendrocopos darjellensis), Streaked Laughingthrush (Trochalopteron lineatum), Green-tailed Sunbird (Aethopyga nipalensis), Nepal Wren Babbler (Pnoepyga immaculata) and White-browed Fulvetta (Fulvetta vinipectus), to name a few. Sometimes woodpeckers, nuthatches, sunbirds, and other passerines formed in large mixed flocks that kept us busy for hours.
We continue to walk, and the road gets a little steeper, but there is no rush. We stop frequently to enjoy the scenery and add more species to our growing list. On one of our stops we see a Black Bear of the Himalayas (Ursus thibetanus)! As well as some species of ungulates. I can’t help but imagine that there is a Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia) lurking somewhere closeby, too, as the Langtang National Park is home to this rare cat.
The landscape continues to change as we climb higher and higher. The valley opens, the snowy peaks get closer and we leave behind the tree line. On the slopes we catch our first glimspes of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and Bearded Vultures (Gypaetus barbatus). The grandeur of the Himalayas is breathtaking. An experience both moving and unique. Those lucky enough to have walked these trails know that this is not a sensation that can be described. It needs to be lived.
In total, birding in Nepal yielded 370 species of birds and 23 mammals, including the Spiny Babbler (Turdoides nipalensis), the only endemic for Nepal, a rarity for the country -the Malayan Night Heron (Gorsachius melanolophus) and ¡A cetacean! the Ganges Dolphin (Platanista gangetica) showed us its tiny dorsal fin on more than one occasion. We marveled at the beauty of many birds, like laughingthrushes, parrotbills an yuhinas among many other species. The raptors, like the Black Eagle (Ictinaetus malayensis), the Grey-headed Fish Eagle (Icthyophaga ichthyaetus) and the Black Baza (Aviceda leuphotes) left us in awe. Not to mention the spectacular Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus) and, one of the most charistmatic owls of the region, the Brown Wood-Owl (Strix leptogrammica).
This fall, Whitehawk will be offering an intense journey through Nepal with tour guide Hem Subedi, one of the best ornithological guides in the country. The mountain and forest combined in two weeks full of birds, landscapes and unforgettable lifetime experiences! Of the latter, there is no doubt.