With verdant forests around, the view was to die for. But the birds, worth every moment living for.
Reaching Guwahati in the afternoon, the group stopped over at Tezpur that night; on the way casually dropping by the customary dumpsite to make images of greater adjutant storks, pariah kites and other scavengers.
Departing early next morning for Eaglenest, they reached late in the evening, enjoying a very picturesque drive along the way and stopping for lunch in a shack in a small village which served delicious food.
There wasn’t much daylight left when they checked in to Lama camp, but Skipper Sachin Rai is never one to waste a single minute, so he led the participants on a brief walk, and showed the group around the camp.
Comprising two-person tents with common toilets, the camp offers a rugged but truly authentic experience, all wild and natural, embellished only by the warmth of a very friendly staff. A large dining hall, where homely grub is lovingly served to hungry palates, is where the group would huddle during the evening to keep the cold out.
Steaming soup, followed by a scrumptious dinner, delighted the group’s appetite before they got cosy with hot-water bags tucked in their sleeping bags to keep them warm until comforting sunlight would enter the camp that stands amidst semi-degraded forest at a stately 2350m the next morning, and enwrap them to a nicety.
The next morning, following the sunshine bath, the big bird walk commenced, as Sachin took the group below Lama to look for the Bugun and other birds.
They ended up with pictures of crimson-breasted woodpecker, streak-breasted scimitar babbler, striated laughingthrush, black-throated prinia (earlier called the hill prinia), beautiful sibia and green-tailed sunbird. Little knowing that they’d be treated to a surplus of sights of the same birds, the participants clicked away in feverish enthusiasm, while Sachin let them give vent to their excitement, since it’s never a bad idea to make the most of the opportunities at hand!
A fruitful session of birding later it was time to partake of some fruits of the stomach-filling kind, so Sachin led the group back to camp for a satiating breakfast and some time to put their feet up.
In the afternoon he walked them up the road from the Lama camp, and to what end! The group blazed through the bird list, making images of such beauties as rufous-vented yuhina, verditer flycatcher and bar-throated siva, before the call for lunch arrived.
Then, they walked around the camp and found birds like brown-throated treecreeper, plain-backed thrush, black-faced warbler, olive-backed pipit and blue-fronted redstart – decidedly a list that would make any avid birder grin from ear to ear.
DAYS 4 to 6
On the morning of day four Sachin led the group on a spot of birding around the camp, which led to the augmentation of the species list by a goodly amount.
Then, with hot breakfast having been ingested into their systems, the group packed lunch and left for the last camp for the rest of the Tour, Sunderview, a site that fully lives up to its succinctly suggestive sobriquet.
The journey took them through Eaglenest Pass, the highest motorable road before descending to Sunderview by what was a very hot and windy afternoon. With the sun finely out, it was too hot to pursue birds, and yet they ended up seeing one of the highlights of Eaglenest – the fire-tailed myzornis – apart from other colourful attractions like the Ludlow’s fulvetta, earlier called the brown-throated fulvetta, and ashy-throated warbler. And they had just got started.
Over the next two days they espied quite a few more beauties, which have been photographically reproduced below for your visual pleasure. And as for the pleasure of the participants, we can confidently say that Eaglenest, under the guidance of Sachin Rai, had delivered it in flying colours!