There are few sights in the birding world as remarkable as the migration of Amur Falcons. Migrating from their homeland of eastern Russia and China all the way to southern Africa, the falcons congregate for a short window in Nagaland, in northeast India, to feed and roost in almost
The only thing more remarkable than this spectacle is their story. Unfortunately, hunting is so engrained in the local Naga culture that few birds are found outside of the protected areas. Here though we, and the birds, benefit from this protection, and we hope to find. From large-scale hunting to a local community conservation success, the story of the Amur Falcon and its conservation is truly amazing and inspiring.
In this tour we will be staying in local homestays, and understanding more about the Naga communities in this area, whilst enjoying what probably will be the most amazing birding experience we will ever have. To stand at dusk with hundreds of thousands of Amur Falcons swirling
around above our heads, and in total silence except for their calls, is truly awe-inspiring.
Before we enjoy our Amur spectacle, we will also have the opportunity to spend some time birding in the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary, set up by the local village council, from the first Naga village to ban hunting, in 1998, where you have the chance to see Mountain
Bamboo Partridge, Black-tailed Crake, Grey-headed Parakeet, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Naga Wren Babbler, Striped, Spot-breasted and Brown-capped Laughingthrushes, Spot-breasted Scimitar- Babbler, Rusty-capped Fulvetta, Crested Finchbill, and more!
This tour has been specially designed so that just one unforgettable week off work is all you need to have the best birding experience ever!
The tour begins as you arrive in Delhi or Kolkata. You have some time to relax before catching your flight to Nagaland the next day.
Arrive in Dimapur just after midday, after which we will drive to the village of Khonoma. We will be staying in a homestay just outside the sanctuary for the next three nights.
Two days to explore the birdlife of the areas around Khonoma. Khonoma, like much of the rest of Nagaland, has had strong traditions of hunting, until 1998, when the tribe themselves decided to stop hunting and instead established the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary. We can expect some special birds here such as Mountain Bamboo Partridge, Naga Wren Babbler, Moustached, Striped, Assam and Brown-capped Laughingthrushes, Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Grey Sibia, Crested Finchbill, Striated Prinia, Rusty-capped Fulvetta and Mrs Gould’s Sunbird.
After a morning session of birding, we start on a long drive north to the village of Pangti, where streams of Amur Falcons have been roosting for the last few years.
Most of the day today is dedicated to the star of this tour: the Amur Falcon. These birds are passage migrants through India, migrating from their breeding grounds in eastern Russia and China to southern Africa. The scale of this migration has only been known in the last ten or so years, when it was also discovered that birds were being hunted in alarming numbers: it was estimated that as many as 140,000 birds were slaughtered every autumn. Thankfully, due to a remarkable and rapid conservation effort, hunting has stopped completely, and local tribesfolk now have a sense of pride about "their" falcons. We will be able to enjoy the privilege of their hospitality and find out more about this fantastic effort, and the culture of these tribal communities. We also have a chance to see species like Yellow-throated Laughingthrush, with Green-billed Malkoha, Black-throated Prinia, Buff-chested Babbler, White-tailed Robin, Crested Finchbill and Flavescent Bulbul here.
From Nagaland we move into Assam, where we have some time for afternoon birding in the Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary. Most of the semi-evergreen forest in this area has long been converted to tea plantations, but this small sanctuary provides a remnant patch with excellent low elevation birding. Apart from the Hoolock Gibbon, India's only ape, we have a chance of seeing Green-billed Malkoha, Red-headed Trogon, Great and Oriental Pied Hornbills, Large Niltava, Beautiful and Long-tailed Sibias, Sultan Tit, Collared Treepie, Mountain Tailorbird, both Greater and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes, Pale-chinned Flycatcher, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker and Ruby-cheeked Sunbird.
After a morning birding session at Hoollongapar, we sadly have to bid this area goodbye. While some may move to Tinsukia for another tour, others will be leaving via Delhi.
North India, the land of Ladakh, looks as though it was made for birdwatching and photography.
Gir National Park Gujarat
Sometimes it is not just the species spotted but also the amazing moments. Some of our guests had the unique opportunity to witness the mating of Asiatic Lions in the Gir Forest, truly a special moment.
Surajpur is an amazing wetland close to the nation’s capital. Apart from being one of the monsoon homes for the Bristled Grassbird, it is also home to another sought-after species: the Bengal Bush Lark.
One advantage of living near the birding hotspot of Bharatpur is that you can see some amazing birds, like the graceful Sarus Crane, in your backyard during this lockdown