06 November, 2014

2014 Pakke Bird Estimate, Arunachal Pradesh

June 2013 with lots of preparations and dreams we planned for our 2013 Pakke Bird Estimate, Arunachal Pradesh trip. But due to my bad health forced to cancel it at the end moment. After discharged from hospital, first booked the tickets for Nov 2014. This time we (Me & wife Suba) decided to do the trip, at any cost.

Day 1 : 01 Nov 2014: The dream day, woke up early and got dropped at Kempegowda International Aiport @ 06:00 Hrs. Without any difficulties boarded Indigo @ 7:40 and reached Guwahati 25 min earlier than schedule.

First time to North Eastern Zone. The moment we came-out, spotted a pair of white wagtails and few different species of mynas. Keeping all my gear in complete packed condition on my back, could not able to do shoot. We had little difficulties in identifying the taxi who is supposed to pick up us at the Airport. Somehow managed to reach the taxi, there we met Mr.Amish and Ms.Nazeem from Mumbai arrived early and was waiting for us. Meantime Mr.Shankar from Bangalore also joined us at Airport. Three more members (Mr.Deepak, Mr.Harish & Mr.Amith) are to join with us, but later learned that they arrived a day early and doing birding near Tezhpur.

With 15 minutes tea break @ 12:15, our Two Tata Sumo's started moving towards Pakke. On the way not many birds spotted, all we observed are mynas, rollers, crows and herons.
Again after 45 min lunch break, we resumed our journey, Nearing Tezpur, the missed tri-murthies joined with us.
All the way roads were nice. Express way was under completion stage. The tolls were not ready we were lucky to escape from toll fees. Our cab driver was an amazing personality, through-out the trip he not even shouted or cursed anybody on the way. At 4:30 when it started to get dark, driver started worrying about reaching Pakke Canp. We heard that due to high militant's movement, vehicles were not allowed beyond Balipara. After reaching Balipara, we saw many black dressed commandos which added made is to worry more. One of the officer Mr.Uttam, provided his phone number and asked us to call him, if we encounter any trouble. Fortunately, nothing happened. All of us reached our destination Pakke Eco Camp @ 8:00 pm. Almost after Tezpur the road was not good and after Balipara there were no road.
Ms.Geethanjalli and their team where waiting for us with feast. In place where even tomato is considered luxury, the team prepared and greeted us with high tea and followed by delicious feast.
With little introduction and dinner we departed to our own cottage. The facilities provided are basics, but even to provide those facilities, the team worked day and night. We shared our cottage with 4 slugs and several unknown moths. The room was provided with enough basic amenities, water, cot, mattress, spread, western commode. No mosquito bites. After hectic travel and heavy dinner, me chasing birds in dreams, fell asleep.

Day 2 : Nov 2: Original plan is to start to our home stay, due to vehicle non-availability the things got little delayed. At 5:00 morning, it was almost clear bright. Immediately after hot chai and cookies, left outside the campus with my gears to start shooting, along Pakke river. My foolishness, for almost 2 hrs all my images I clicked where either blurred or out of focus, later I realized the nasty cheap lens filter I added to protect my lens was not removed. Luckily, I could realize it, but all my images I shot during that time were deleted mercilessly :(. 

Plover_Long billed | Pakke Eco Camp | 02 Nov 2014
Buzzard_Oriental-honey | Pakke Eco Camp | 02 Nov 2014

The vehicles were ready to drop us at our respective home stay. Meanwhile, few more participants from other part also joined and the group grown to approx 15 members. Now entire group vacated the camp in 3 SUV and dumped all our luggage in one tempo. The designated home stay was approx 9 km away from the base camp. The team was divided into small groups of 5 or 6. After 6 km, vehicles could not move further, road condition was so bad. Ms.Geethanjali & his Pakke camp team manager Mr.Suresh arranged the tempo to carry our luggage to our respective home-stay. After that point, 4 team of us started to move on foot towards East "Mabusa ii", little village!! Comprised of exactly 4 houses. Other teams proceeded towards West zone in luggage carrier.
While walking, spotted huge conglomeration of Amur Falcons at great height, to confuse us at low height lots of swallows were flying. On the way we saw varieties of butterflies, grasshoppers, giant spiders. The terrain was so tough to walk, under scorching sun we walked approx one and half hours to cross a little distance of two km or so. Finally we reached our designated home stay @ 4:30 pm. Mr.Phaghe, the chief of the village and our host greeted us with tea. All of us are so hungry and tired, Phaghe family started preparing food for us. Approx 5:30 a call from kitchen, announcing lunch ready. All of us rushed to kitchen. It's simple white rice, dhal and vegetable subji. Still it tasted very good. After lunch all sat around and chat for some time. Few of us took a small nap. Again 7:00 dinner call, the same white rice & dhal. Dinner finished. Nothing to do. Decided to go to bed @7:30 pm. 

Our Host in their traditional dress
Our Host Mr.Paghe
Mr.Paghe's cute grand-daughter Elisa
Suba with our Mrs.Paghe
:: Birds & Insects we spotted during our trail ::

Day 3 : Nov 3 : Its decided to do the bird count between prime time 06~08 & 14~16 Hrs. We were give the same previous day trail route along Dibru river for some distance and there after inside the jungle.

Un ID Wrabbler
Common Stonechat
Shrike Longtail
Kestral - Interestingly this Kestral cooled his heels at the river for 10 minutes. Also noticed this raptor was drinking water. 
Malkoha Green billed
Hornbill Oriental Pied

Day 4 : Nov 4 : The teams shuffled with new routes. This time we got a chance to do a trial in the deep forest area.
Bee-eater Blue-beared
Cuckoo Shrike Black winged
Drongo Crow Billed
Pin-tailed Green Pigeon
Stonechat Common
Plover Long-billed
Kingfisher Crested
Plumbeous Water Redstart - Female
Peacock Pansy Butterfly
Common Lascar
At 4:30 pm, started getting dark. Previous day of  Full moon day

Day 5 : Nov 5 : Last day of the bird count. First half we did the counting, and second half we checked-out the home-stay and moved-on to Eco camp for count compilation. Evening the local panchayat officials along with MLA visited our camp. 
After the dinner, compilation was completed and handed over the list.
Heron Striated
Eagle_Crested Serpent
Giant Red Wood Spider
Pallas's Squirrel 

 Day 6 : Nov 6 : Final day, as per the schedule the bird count completed. But we decided to stay back for one more night. to spot Ibisbills, but bad luck we couldn't. Around 10 am we left to Langka trail, 4km away from the eco camp. For bird lovers and photographers its place, must to visit. Mr.Oye, guide join with us. Second half we planned to go to Pakke Tiger reserve. No big cat sighting. Spotted a huge Wreathed Hornbill.
Bulbul Black-crested 
Canary Flycatcher_Grey-headed
Kestrel Common
Mesia_Silver eared
Thrush_Blue rock_Female

Warbler_Tickell's Leaf
Bushchat  Grey - Male
Hornbill Wreathed

 Day 7 : Nov 7 : Morning @ 06 am we started to Kaziranga National Park. Vehicle dropped us at Tezpur, from there took a local bus to Kaziranga. Bus fare Rs 80/-. Bus exactly dropped us in front of Main gate of Kaziranga Park. We went to local eatery and finished our lunch. 

Kaziranga park visit details in next blog.

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