Day 265: Tackling Northern India

From the desert to the western Himalaya.

September 22, 2015: Rohtak, India — After last night’s shenanigans, I woke up at 9:00 this morning. I didn’t know I could sleep that late anymore (I’ve been up by 6 am virtually every day this year)! A quick systems check was good; my iron stomach seems to have returned, none the worse for wear.

Southern India was incredible: Good birds, great food, and excellent company. Harsha Jayaramaiah couldn’t have done a better job of sweeping the field, and I have been impressed with the local birding community. Birdwatching has exploded in India in the past five years or so and almost every birder I met here uses eBird. Thanks to Harsha’s efforts and the support of local birders, this was also a particularly budget-friendly leg; together we managed to keep total daily expenses to less than a typical dinner check in the US. Did I mention you can get an all-you-can eat dinner in southwest India for less than a buck?

Just before noon I caught a short flight up to Delhi, where an enthusiastic, 24-year-old birder and conservationist named Ramit Singal picked me up. We’ll spend the next week in northern India, from the desert to the western Himalaya, meeting local birders along the way. This afternoon Ramit and I had time to stop at an urban marsh on the outskirts of Delhi before heading out of town, where we connected with Rakesh Ahlawad, a birder who has staked out a few things on the outskirts of Rohtak. As it got dark this evening, the three of us were walking in a rain squall, looking for eagle-owls (no luck, but perhaps tomorrow) and chatting with a couple of passers-by who, it seems, had never met a real, live American before. “The statue of liberty!” one said. “You live there? Do people speak Hindi in America?”

New birds today: 10

Year list: 4435

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