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ASSAM & THE NORTHEAST FRONTIER

Thursday 15th March - Thursday 5th April 2012

Craig Robson

This was the seventh Birdquest tour to the remote north-east corner of the Indian subcontinent, and the fourth to take in the rugged Mishmi Hills. Conditions were mostly fine and sunny but, unfortunately, some appalling stormy wet weather engulfed the Mishmi Hills for a large part of our stay there, and we also encountered rather more than our fair share of logistical hiccups. Despite all this, our ever burgeoning checklist for this trip continues to grow, and there were a further 24 write-ins amongst the huge total of 481 species that we encountered. The numerous avian highlights included Greater Adjutant, Jerdon’s Baza, six Slender-billed Vultures at their nesting trees, Pied Harrier, Pallas’s Fish-eagle, multiple Pied falconets, Swamp Francolin, both the rare Chestnut-breasted and White-cheeked Partridges, an amazingly confiding Grey Peacock-pheasant, many Kalij Pheasants, male and female Bengal Florican, Brown Crake, Ibisbill, Indian Stone-curlew, Speckled Woodpigeon, 12 species of owl (eight of which were seen), walk-away views of a male Hodgson’s Frogmouth, Dark-rumped Swift, lengthy scope views of a perched Blyth’s Kingfisher, a lovely male Ward’s Trogon, 17 species of Woodpecker, good views for all of the tricky Blue-naped Pitta, Maroon-backed Accentor, Long-billed Thrush, two different male Green Cochoas, Pygmy Blue and Pale-chinned Flycatchers, many Himalayan Rubythroats, White-browed and Rufous-breasted Bush-robins, five species of forktail, Chestnut-backed, Rufous-necked and Assam Laughingthrushes, amazing views of Sickle- (or Slender-billed) Scimitar-babbler, Coral-billed Scimitar-babbler, Mishmi, Bar-winged and Tawny-breasted Wren-babblers, a very obliging Chevron-breasted (or Cachar Wedge-billed) Babbler, Jerdon’s Babbler, best ever views of the rare Snowy-throated Babbler, White-hooded Babbler, Streak-throated Barwing, Golden-breasted, Yellow-throated, Streak-throated (or Manipur), Ludlow’s, Rusty-capped, and Rufous-throated Fulvettas, Grey, Beautiful, and Long-tailed Sibias, White-naped Yuhina, both Greater and Lesser Rufous-headed Parrotbills, a fantastic flock of 60 Fulvous Parrotbills, eight species of prinia, all three tesias, Smoky Leaf-, Yellow-vented, White-spectacled, Grey-cheeked, Rufous-faced, and Black-faced Warblers, Brown Bush-warbler, Rufous-browed, Rufous-vented and Grey Crested Tits, Beautiful Nuthatch, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Dark-rumped Rosefinch, and Collared Treepie. There was also an impressive movement of raptors and other migrants over the Mishmi Hills and adjacent river-plains. Mammals were a big deal on this tour of course, and we had some great encounters with Hoolock Gibbon, Ganges-Indus Dolphin, Asian Elephant, Asian One-horned Rhinoceros, Swamp Deer, and wild Water Buffalo, amongst many others.