Back to Gurje Bhanjyang

Updated: Aug 7



Moist broadleaved forest on the Kathmandu/Nuwakot boundary

It had been a rain-filled night, but the morning weather looked promising, so my brother and I decided that we would walk to Gurje, a pass located in the norther rim of the Kathmandu valley. We started walking at 6:00 in the morning, and soon the sun was shining on us as we walked towards the hills. There were Spotted Doves, Oriental Turtle Doves, Blue-throated Barbets, Oriental Magpie Robins, and White-throated Kingfishers around us, and Red-rumped Swallows and Barn Swallows circled overhead.


After an hour or so we reached our starting point, the border line of Tarkeshwor Municipality and the edge of the village of Jagat. There was a nice view of the city, and the sun shone brightly onto the green terraced fields. We could see the peaks of Phulchowki and Champadevi on the other side on the other side of the valley.


As we started up the road towards Gurje, there were sounds coming from the jungle: Red-billed Blue-Magpies, Great Barbets, a Blue-throated Flycatcher, and Orange-bellied Leafbirds. There was still sunlight on us, but we could see a large cloud on the higher part of the hill. Suddenly, a small party of Black Bulbuls flew by, and one of them landed on a tree that was close to us and almost eye-level. It was rather tame and allowed me to get several photos before it flew on. Though the bird had been close to us, but the bokeh in my photos was quite bad, so my shots didn’t turn out as well as they might have.

Black Bulbul
Black Bulbul

I could hear Pygmy Cupwings, Mountain Bulbuls, and Golden-throated Barbets as we came towards the pass. The sun had disappeared several minutes before, and now we suddenly found ourselves in the clouds. The air turned cooler and damper. Humidity was 99%, my phone said. A slight breeze rustled the treetops and blew large swaths of moisture in front of us, and I could hold up my hand in front of me and see moisture moving in the space between my face and my hand. There were the calls of White-throated Laughingthrushes, but other than that the forest had become silent.

Since our chances for bird photos had now become practically non-existent, we started looking for other photo opportunities. We were walking through a particularly dark stretch of jungle when I turned around and saw that the clouds had parted a little and light was filtering in through an open area. It was the perfect place for a photo, so I had my brother go walk up the road, his silhouette against the lighted clearing. The photo turned out kind of moody, but it was still nice.

Walking along Gurje road at 5,000 feet in elevation

We paused to listen to the voices of some Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babblers. There were two male birds singing their three-noted whistle song, and a presumably female bird calling in between. I stopped and took a recording with my camera, and they kept on, not bothered by our presence. In the distance I could hear the mellow whistles of two Wedge-tailed Green-Pigeons.


As we continued on, the clouds started to clear, blowing rapidly up the ridges. One moment we would be walking, and then the next moment they would be swirling around us. We were at around 6,500 feet in elevation. The valley below us was filled with clouds, and they just kept blowing upwards. We finally got out of the thick of them and into a more open area. There were some Gray Bushchats, a Siberian Stonechat, and some Streaked Laughingthrushes to welcome us.

About to walk into another cloud

The small village of Nayangaun spread out in front of us, and a few of the houses were nestled on the edges of the jungle. I started taking photos of the topmost house as another cloud rolled over the ridge. I quickly experimented with several angles, but my favorite was when I moved the village house to the very bottom of the photo. It emphasized the smalless of the house that was nestled on the edge of the hillside, and the large cloud that was bearing down on it. We watched the cloud for a few moments, and then turned around before we got swallowed up as well.

Clouds sweeping down the hills

eBird: https://ebird.org/checklist/S72032219


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#nuwakot

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All photos © 2020 Ian Hearn

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