September 29, 2015: Ramnagar, India — The foothills of the west Himalaya are hot, humid, and covered with teak and sal forest near Jim Corbett National Park in northern India. Upwards of 70,000 people visit this park each year to look for wild Bengal tigers, but Ramit and I had birds on the brain when we arrived here this afternoon. This is my last real birding stop in India and we’re down to a few remaining targets on the way through.
The day kicked off spectacularly when Hari, Ramit and I found a group of Cheer Pheasants after dawn this morning at a higher elevation grassland. We actually saw three species of pheasants within an hour: Cheer, Kalij, and Koklass. Not bad! Hari’s local knowledge really paid off, and Ramit and I were sorry to leave him when we continued downslope after lunch.
By the time we reached Corbett, the temperature was one notch below blast furnace and birds were taking quiet siestas in the forest. We met a local guide named Vijay who seemed surprised at our plan to bird all afternoon, but he was game for the challenge. The three of us meandered and sweated for hours until dark, picking up a bird here and there and planning our strategy for the dawn rush tomorrow. It’s incredible how activity shuts down around here after about nine a.m. If I were a bird, I suppose I’d go into hiding during the hot part of the day, too.
New birds today: 7
Year list: 4551