Spring is definitely on its way!
After a four-mile bike ride over dusty dirt roads, I had reached my starting point: the edge of the Chhatre Deurali valley. Chhatre Deurali is a rural area nestled under the northwest side of Nagarjun.
I took a small dirt road that wound down into the valley. As soon as I left the main road, birds were everywhere. Gray-headed Canary Flycatchers and Black-lored Tits called from the canopy. A pair of Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babblers called from lantana. And Black Kites and Steppe Eagles soared overhead.
The 15-minute bike ride down went smoothly. But in Nepal there is always a bitter twist to the landscape: for every downhill, there is another, and often steeper uphill.
There was a small stream after I reached the hill. Two pairs of Bronzed Drongos hawked insects from trees, And Great Barbets and Blue-throated Barbets called from inside the forest. A Collared Owlet also called twice, but it was too far into the jungle to try to locate.
After the road wound down to the creek, it went uphill again, and as I pedaled uphill, a male Crimson Sunbird and two Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters revealed themselves.
Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters are fairly common in rural areas in Nepal, and they are found at higher elevations during their breeding season. This was my second sighting of the species during the year: the first being near my house two days before.
Right near the bee-eaters were a pair of Gray Bushchats. Gray Bushchats are typically found on shrubby hillsides, and this was the perfect habitat for them. Pied Bushchats, their more common cousin that’s also found in suburban areas, were also present.
After finding the Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, I turned around. I had a long uphill in front of me, and then four more miles till I reached home.
Though the uphill was hard, everything was going fine till I accidently flushed a Great Barbet from a branch right in front of me, where I could have got an excellent photo. I’ve been trying to get a nice shot of a Great Barbets for months, but so far, I haven’t been able to. I stopped my bike to look for it, and although I didn’t find the barbet, a stumbled across more bulbuls: numerous Himalayan and Red-vented Bulbuls, and four Black Bulbuls. I was able to get a nice shot of a Himalayan Bulbul.
Besides the bulbuls, there were also several other species present: Oriental White-eyes and Hume’s and Gray-headed Warblers. A Black-winged Cuckooshrike also called from a nearby tree: a whistled heee-heee-hew. The Cuckooshrike was another sign that spring was coming; Black-winged Cuckooshrikes are shy and secluded during the winter months, but very vocal during breeding season. This was the first bird that I’d heard singing this year.
As I was nearing the end of my uphill, I came across another bird wave with Himalayan Black-lored Tits, Gray-hooded Warblers, and one Velvet fronted Nuthatch. The nuthatch brough my checklist total to 43 species.
Later, when I was almost home, I stopped to check a tree where I’ve previously seen Spotted Owlets, and I was able to get a nice shot, though I hope to obtain a better one in the future.