December 30, 2015: Tinsukia, India — It’s starting to sink in, but this week has gone so fast. Twenty-four hours to go, whoa!
I spent the day with Ramit, Binanda, Bidyut, and two more locals named Deborshee Gogoi and Pritam Baruah near Tinsukia. At dawn our group was at a place called Maguri Bill, a massive wetland complex with some marquee birds. We took a boat into the marsh where thousands of ducks, geese, and other waterbirds congregated in dense flocks. “It’s more fun to see ten new birds out of a hundred than just ten new birds,” I said to Ramit. By that definition, today was a blast: We spied more than 130 species of birds and cleaned up many of my remaining targets.
One of my most wished-for turned out to be among the most common. I’ve long wanted to see a Bar-headed Goose because, each year, these birds migrate straight over the Himalayas. They have even been recorded flying over Mount Everest! The locals laughed and told me not to worry; we saw hundreds of Bar-headed Geese throughout the morning. It’s easy to get jaded on common birds if you see them all the time, but a newcomer can appreciate them with fresh eyes.
At the other end of the spectrum were some rare and range-restricted skulkers, including Jerdon’s and Marsh babblers and a little bugger called the Pallas’s Grasshopper-Warbler that eventually gave stunning views. Our boatman poled us gently around the marsh until we’d tracked down a Baikal Teal and Falcated Duck among the masses of waterfowl. With no motor and no wind, birding by boat was a contemplative experience.
Tomorrow will be my last post for this blog, but that’s another day. Tonight I am ensconced in northeast India, sitting with a samosa and a cup of tea, plotting strategy for the morning with a group of friends.
Happy New Year’s Eve Eve!
New birds today: 24
Year list: 6031