Saturday, 20 February 2016

Friday 12th February – Corbett Tiger Reserve (Outskirts of) and Ksosi River

With the holiday fast drawing to a close the last few days had been a lot more relaxing with most of the distance behind us we were spending more time birding than travelling.

The morning started with a trip to the Kosi River with the nearby Darjiya Temple we arrived early but there were already a good number of worshippers present in the make shift village, although it was mainly shops selling trinkets and food. The pilgrims bathed themselves in the clear waters of the river and they all looked to be enjoying themselves, even if they were freezing. Unfortunately downstream there were a number of people using the river for other purposes, the water looked clear enough to drink, but I don’t think I will bother.

We worked our way upstream, eventually getting views of two Ibisbill which unfortunately were on the other side of the river. Lokesh spoke to the driver who took his shoes off and rolled up his trousers and made his way gingerly through the fast flowing water “The man is a legend”. He had only just crossed when some villagers appeared with their washing and the birds flew a good way upstream!

The  camp by the river with Ibisbill habitat in front.
The driver re-crossing the river having completed his task.
Next we birded on a road that bordered the Corbett Tiger Reserve where there was thick jungle on the other side of the stream that ran alongside the road. A bird was calling from the undergrowth at our feet and it eventually revealed itself. Lokesh was momentarily confused, the field guide came out and he announced that it was a female White-browed Shortwing! This was only the second time that he had seen the species. With that there was an alarm call from both Rhesus Langur and Barking Deer – there was a big cat around! The driver was summoned and we quickly boarded the bus. The Grave yards are full of dead heroes – and I for one didn’t qualify! We drove further up the road for a couple of kilometres and disembarked again, with the bus following us closely we made our way downhill.

White-browed Shorting (female)
The target species was Snowy-browed Flycatcher and The Captain picked one up deep in the undergrowth and what a bird it was. We continued walking downstream looking for Little Forktail but we were to draw a blank with that one. A Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch performed well and before long it was time to eat again.

Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch
The afternoon session started about four miles from Tiger Camp we parked by the roadside and made our way towards the river. A mud hut there held a family of seven the oldest of which was about six, they looked happy but one wonders what the future holds for a population that is growing so fast with limited opportunities. More subsistence farming, more goats more habitat destruction! Anyway a muddy cliff face lay about 400 yards away, on the other side of the river and Lokesh who had promised up we had a 99% chance of Wallcreeper was getting a bit of a sweat on. Ten minutes later I picked up a Wallcreeper, it was absolutely tiny but utterly captivating as it was a species I had always wanted to see.

We then returned to the Temple for better views of Ibisbill we made our way upstream when another Wallcreeper flew past us and started feeding on the boulders at the rivers edge, it was incredibly difficult to pick up in the boulder field and over the next 20 minutes we had several brief sightings. It then flew off and disappeared into the distance. Lokesh announced that he thought he had heard Ibisbill, we scanned the shoreline and just across the river from where the Wallcreeper had been were the two Ibisbill. We could have had both species in our bins at the same time had we known!

There is a Wallcreeper in this picture, it just give an ideal of how small they are.
We made so much noise shouting instructions we flushed the birds, I was not impressed, I exclude myself from blame – I was quiet! It’s too easy for excitement to take over and my sulk lasted little more than a few seconds and we were all buzzing about the birds we had seen in the last hour or so.

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