Trip Report: Northeast India (May 2019) by Tropical Birding

This was a custom tour. Guided by Ken Behrens.

Northeast India, specifically the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, offer a dazzling array of habitats, from Brahmaputra River grasslands, to lush hill rainforests, to montane forest, all the way up to Alpine habitats above treeline. These habitats support a huge array of birds, including some of the best-looking and most sought-after of Asian birds. It’s no exaggeration to say that this area of the eastern Himalayas offers the best montane birding in all of Asia.

This custom tour was build around a short list of target birds. Chief among these were Slender-billed Vulture, Green (see photo above) and Purple Cochoas, and Beautiful Nuthatch. It took a lot of work, but we enjoyed excellent, lengthy views of all of these targets. In general, hard work with great rewards was a theme of this trip. There were a couple dozen other targets, the vast majority of which we found as we put in the time in the field. Birding in this part of the world is never easy. Many of the birds are shy and seem to exist in low densities. But this very fact makes encountering them all the more satisfying!

Although amassing a huge trip list was never a priority on this target-focused custom trip, we still racked up nearly 500 species of birds! Many of the species that were missed, or hear-only, were so simply because we made no effort to target them. There were plenty of challenges on this trip: bumpy and winding mountain roads, very rustic accommodations, simple food, long days in the field, and some ridiculously early wakeup calls. But there were no regrets at the end of the tour. For keen birders who want to enjoy the riches of the richest part of the Himalayas, and to enjoy exploring a still relatively unknown part of the world, this is the place to go.

Full PDF Trip Report (9MB)