Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Last Saturday Bird Walk...

How quickly this precious time has passed! With that has come some amazing learning and growing on all of our parts - the students of Kailash Hostel Bird Watching Club and all of us who
have been fortunate to be on this wild and wondrous birding adventure with them!

Our last walk was planned from the start to be the culmination of e everything we had learned so far. This trek was going to take us to the place we fondly remembered finishing our time together last year...Sundarijal! We set out just after our goal of 7:00 a.m. and headed through the fields of now finished crops and along ravines where we began to see so many birds we stopped in one place for no less than two hours!

It was really a thrill for all of us to be identifying some new birds for the
group and it seemed like they were coming in a steady stream of different ones! Yellow-bellies Fantails, Verditer Flycatcher, White-rumped Munia, Common Tailorbird...it was so exciting to see and identify them all!

For Sarah Stock and I, it was very impressive to see how many birds these students can name and if they didn't know them, they showed incredible skill and patience in the process of identifying them! A favorite moment came during this long occupation above the ravine - only a 10 minute walk from the hostel, when a student shrieked, "Look at THAT!" We all looked and saw a huge bird moving inside the leaf cover of a nearby tree and ID'd it as a Greater Coucal! A first for most of the group.

The joy of just watching that big bird move and fan its huge tail...together...blissful! Ultimate definition of a dream "teachable moment".

Since we were having such a great time in that place and
nobody wanted to leave, we decided to stay and do some learning of new skills! Sarah taught the students to use a GPS and a range finder that she brought in executing a proper standardized point count with data sheets. We all practiced and learned to use these tools before doing a 5 minute count of every species we could detect using the habitat within our range. The students got good at estimating distances, filling in the data sheets perfectly and
understanding the importance of using standardized methods in collecting data. We also talked about how important this kind of data collecting is for
conservation of birds and other animals and their habitats. It was wonderful to see these bright minds embracing this new and complicated information and putting it to use correctly. They are on their way to careers in conservation biology with this kind of experience!

Our leader for the day was Choegyal Lama who did a great job at tuning in when it was time to move on. Along with our "tail" Sonam Choekyi, Choegyal had the group talk about and come to the conclusion that we were short on time and decided to change our plans and do a shorter loop and not try to get to Sundarijal. It was a great show of group leadership!

On our way back we did another
point count in a
cultivation/human habitation habitat
and discussed what the results revealed and why they were
different from our riverine/forest results. We found more common birds such as Crows, Sparrows,
Pigeons and Stonechats here.

So many mini-adventures on the way
there and back again...pigs,
hoopoes, yellow roses in a greenhouse, tiny sour fruits to taste and teach us about, old bamboo bridge to cross and as always...goats - "sano bakara"!

Every minute with these young friends
has been such a gift. As always, it breaks my heart to leave, but I feel like they have such a great foundation with the information we all have offered and they have devoured!
They are well on their way!

We found a receptacle of some kind of aster-flower as we
headed home, with one tiny seed clinging to its "birth place". As we all wondered in awe at this expression of nature's beauty and perfection, the seed let go and flew away...as we must do this week. I will keep this memory in my heart and mind as I go through the spectrum of emotions, and Let Go...

Our group list for the day...the biggest one yet! Again...this is the list of all birds seen on our walk. So many new ones! 51 species in all:

House Sparrow
Large-billed Crow
House Crow
Spotted Dove
Red-vented Bulbul
Yellow-bellied Fantail
Verditer Flycatcher
Grey-headed Warbler
Black Kite
Oriental White-eye
Great Tit
Black Drongo
Black Bulbul
Rose-ringed Parakeet
Rufous-bellied Woodpecker
White-throated Kingfisher
Red-rumped Swallow
Greater Coucal
Hume's Warbler
Oriental Magpie Robin
Intermediate Egret
Blue Whistling Thrush
Jungle Myna
Slaty Blue Flycatcher
Blue Rock Thrush
Common Buzzard
European Tree Sparrow
Barn Swallow
Eurasian Collared Dove
Rock Pigeon
Hodgson's Redstart
Grey Wagtail
White Wagtail
Common Kestrel
Common Greenshanks
Oriental Turtle Dove
Small Niltava
Scaly-Breasted Munia
White-rumped Munia
Olive-backed Pipit
Long-tailed Shrike
Cattle Egret
Grey Treepie
Large Cuckooshrike
Greenish Warbler
Common Tailorbird
Common Myna
Pied Bushchat
Red-whiskered Bulbul

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