Day 363: 6,000 Birds!

On a freezing morning on the edge of the Himalayas, Noah sees his 6,000th species of the year.

December 29, 2015: ​Tinsukia, India — Ramit, Binanda, Bidyut and I woke up at 3:30 this morning in a building without heat or electricity near 8,000 feet in the Mishmi Hills. The temperature plunged well below freezing overnight with snow on the groundquite a difference from the 100-degree days I had last week in Australia!

We were up early to stake out a steep hillside for mountain birds. As dawn broke, we shivered and stamped our feet to keep warm, and glacier-capped peaks caught the first rays of the sun.

The four of us spent the day birding from 8,500 feet to sea level along a twisty road that passed through successive forest types. Many of the birds I’d already seen in Myanmar or China, but new sightings steadily piled up throughout the morning, including a Rusty-throated (Mishmi) Wren-Babbler, a local specialty.

At 11:15, Binanda spotted another unusual bird called a Yellow-rumped Honeyguide perched alongside a rocky outcrop in the forest. This species is typically found near beehives and rocky cliffs, and it’s a rare resident in this area. We had great (though distant) views and a small celebration followed: The Yellow-rumped Honeyguide is officially my 6,000th bird of the year!

If you’d told me last January that I’d hit 6K before New Year, I would have laughed. It wasn’t until about May that I realized 6,000 might be possible, and even a month ago I didn’t think I’d reach the mark. An amazing run in New Guinea and Australia put 6,000 within reach, though, and today was the day.

Passing my original goal by a thousand feels pretty sweet, especially just two days before the New Year. I’m down to the last 48 hours… the clock is ticking, and there are still a few more birds to see before midnight strikes.

New birds today: 17

Year list: 6007

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