Saturday, November 5, 2011

Birding Bairab Temple

Today Karen took a taxi out to Kailash Hostel with a new guest to the bird program - Sarah Inskeep. Sarah is from Kansas and is doing a "Where There Be Dragons" course here in Nepal for her fall college semester. Paul and Karen met her while hiking in Shivapuri National Park here in Kathmandu when we first got here a few weeks ago and of course had much in common. Sarah will be teaching a bird class to a group of kids in a village near Pokhara in a couple of weeks so we invited her to join us.

We arrived at 7a.m. and got moving soon after feasting on Tibetan bread and hard-boiled eggs and guess what...chai! The
northeastern corner of Kathmandu Valley wore a thick cloak of fog though we warmed up more with every bird we saw as we made our way through the fields. We were heading to the Gokarna
Forest near the Bairab Temple and the birds seemed to be following us!

We watched a flock of 32 Intermediate Egrets swooping high and low then decorating the top of a tree with
their whiteness. The trees edging the potato fields were burbling with Red-vented Bulbuls and Olive-backed Pipits while White and White-browed Wagtails seemed to tip their tails to the tunes. We watched a flock of Black Drongos performing stunning aerobatics and a Common Kingfisher dive from a tree 8 meters above a pond and fly back up to enjoy a tiny fishy meal!

Upon arrival at the Baghmati River's edge Bairab temple in Gokarna, the group with Urken at the lead, decided to get through the temple quickly and head for the forest on the other side. The huge Saturday temple crowd was not the setting for bird watching, though it was so
colorful and the mood was quite jovial. The music was turned up to Nepal's usual volume...11!

So we made for the trees on the opposite side, stopping on the
bridge first to check downstream. The group watched three Redstarts - White-capped Water Redstart, Plumbeous Water Redstart and Hodgson's Redstart and a Grey Wagtail and wondered at this riverine tail wagging habit! Is it a dance? Why wouldn't they dance with the Bollywood beat issuing from the temple picnic grounds?

The forest itself was quiet; not many bird sounds.
Two warblers and a nuthatch
checked us out right away, then the monkeys seemed to know about the snacks in our backpacks filling the trees with their slightly menacing presence.

We all chose relatively quiet places to sit and enjoy the forest...the tree was the best!

A grassy spot beside the river gave us a good
vantage to watch
for the river birds
and to eat our sumptuous Nepali biscuits in view of (but not as targets of) the monkeys across the river.
Only one person got to experience leeches (note foot rinsing) and this time I was not the one person! I got to see one completely fill and pop off last time! So cool.

On the return trip we saw many more birds
and had a great mystery bird that was solved by a team of "bird detectives" who
took all features into account, then nailed the flock as juvenile Scaly-breasted Munias (aka. Nutmeg Mannikin). The Whole flock of eight birds was completely scale-less making it a worthy challenge for our heroes!

As always, we had a marvelous day with memorable adventures, enjoying each other's company until our cheeks needed a rest from all the smiling. The group bird list for the day is exciting, but doesn't sum up all that we learned from the birds and from the people
we shared this blessed day with.

We are always so fortunate to be greeted with a hot plate
of dal baht and spicy veggies! Sarah was happy to have lunch waiting for us. I am always deeply impressed with the spontaneous hosting by these young people who serve us visitors of their own graciousness. What a beautiful gift.

On my way home I stopped by Namgyal Higher Secondary School
where some of our former students from last year
(Manosarovar Academy) live and study. The hugs, tears in my eyes, shared stories,
excitement and laughter made it seem like no time had passed since we said "Good-bye" last December. They are our family here in Kathmandu. It did my heart so much good to see how well they are all doing! Big love there.

No comments:

Post a Comment