1 year ago
Koshi Tappu, paradise for bird lovers
Whenever I plan to go somewhere, I always opt for an intensive search about biodiversity of the place, and mostly on birds, as I am a bird lover. I still remember the feeling that I had while visiting Ramsar site for the first time in my life. Ramsar is the only wetland of international importance in Nepal.
It is also known as paradise for birds, as it accommodates amazing variety of bird’s including wetland migratory birds that varies according to the season. For my Master’s thesis, I got the chance to visit Koshi Tappu in four different seasons of a year. I was excited to witness and capture all the possible wildlife of Koshi Tappu.
A total of three teams with students under the thesis grant of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia and Himalyan Nature (HN), studied the effect of water level on macro-invertebrates, macrophytes, and wetland birds in Koshi Tappu. And I was in the team that looked after the condition of birds there.
During the time of study and field visit, I walked for 11 km daily in cold frosty winter to scorching heat of summer. However, it was an amazing experience for me.
Koshi basin harbors 526 bird species so far as mentioned in book “Birds of SaptaKoshi Floodplains”. Birders mostly visit Koshi for its wetland migratory bird and grassland birds. For me, the first exciting sighting was of Swamp francolin and collared falconet which were rare sighting of Great thick-knee in first field visit.
In the spring season, the majestic Indian Paradise flycatcher and songs of Cuckoo and Koel was mesmerizing. In the winter, Bar-headed goose is of particular interest for birders as this bird comes to winter in Koshi area, crossing the Himalayas. We had close encounter with this fascinating species. Last field visit was filled with excitement, where we were lucky enough to see Bengal florican, a critically endangered bird found largely in grasslands of Koshi Tappu and Ashy minivet, a vagrant species in Nepal only recorded from Koshi area. Sighting of black baza and Brown fish owl was breathtaking.
As soon as I returned from my first field visit, I uploaded my bird’s list and few photographs on eBird (an online database of bird observations) which provides researchers with real time data of birds around the world. From there I got queries from the birders abroad on how to reach Koshi Tappu. Flight of 30 minutes from capital city Kathmandu to Biratnagar airport, and from there one can drive to Koshi which takes 2 hours to reach. On the other hand, by bus it takes 11 hours from Kathmandu, in which one can witness how landscape of a country changes with few hour of drive from mid hills to lowlands.
Birds are bio-indicator of environmental changes. Water level and even water quality can be predicted by bird’s community assemblage. During my study in four seasons, it was noticeable that when water level decreased from summer season to winter and spring, dominance of wetland birds changed from swimming ducks to long-legged waders.
Pal is a Master’s student at Central Department of Zoology, Tribhuvan University.