10 days in Nepal: (2) Phulchowki & Godawari

When: December 2014   Temp:  10-15C

With 3 days in kathmandu, my research for ornithological outings suggested that Phulchowki Hills/Godawari Botanic Gardens would be worth a visit. The bonus was that it was just over an hour away from Kathmandu. We opted to drive to the very top to get the mountain views first and then bird on our way down.

Arriving at the foothill of Phulchowki, we almost immediately saw the beautiful Khalij Pheasant, the national bird of Nepal.  A pair of them were on the grass next to the road, 20-30 m away. Unfortunately the light was not good at this time so the pics are poor…

Khalij phesant: male

Khalij phesant: male

 

Khalij pheasant: female

Khalij pheasant: female

 

this magnificent fellow popped up several times usually on the road..the blue whistling thrush

this magnificent fellow popped up several times usually on the road..the blue whistling thrush

 

and again...

and again…

We then drove right up to the top, stopping from time to time when there was a bird to see….

 

there is a securit checkpoint at the top, but if you ask nicely, they will let you in...to see these views

there is a securit checkpoint at the top, but if you ask nicely, they will let you in…to see these views

trigonometrical station at the very top of Phulchowki..about 3000m

trigonometrical station at the very top of Phulchowki..about 3000m

the soldiers were playing carroms

the soldiers were playing carroms

 

We then started birding by walking down the hill with the car tracking us…almost immediately, we saw a brilliant scarlet minivet…

scarlet minivet

scarlet minivet

Truth be told, the birding at the top of the hill was not as spectacular as the views…so having walked down for an hour or so with little else to see, we went down to the lower reaches of the hill and immediately I saw what I thought was a pair of spotty forktails flitting about the edge of the road..they didn’t settle for me to shoot though.

Saw this unidentifiable fellow first..

Saw this unidentifiable fellow first..

 

probable Asian Barred owlet

probable Asian Barred owlet

 

Rufous Sibia

Rufous Sibia

black drongos were common

black drongos were common

Then on to the Godawari Botanic Gardens where there were some good sightings.  Only problem was that despite it being weekday, there were scores of school children on an outing and they were blaring loud music out.  Avoiding them, it was still an enjoyable way to end the morning…

Godawari Botanic Gardens

Godawari Botanic Gardens

 

First up, this plumbeous redstart was hopping in and out of the stream

First up, this plumbeous redstart was hopping in and out of the stream

 

Another one with his prize

Another one with his prize

 

Oriental turtle dove

Oriental turtle dove

 

Blyth's leaf warbler?

Blyth’s leaf warbler?

Green backed tit

Green backed tit

 

Long tailed minivet in Godawari for comparison...this is redder

Another scarlet minivet…no apologies for posting again..it’s just so pretty

 

And then I saw this largish bird skulking among the branches from afar....brilliant green

And then I saw this largish bird skulking among the branches from afar….brilliant green and blue and yellow

 

And it turned and showed itself to be a Great Barbet...just beautiful

And it turned and showed itself to be a Great Barbet…just beautiful

And this black kite bade us farewell..

And this black kite bade us farewell..

 

So for just a morning’s birding, I saw many lifers in an area just an hour out of Kathmandu.  If I were to do it again, I would skip the drive up to the top of Phulchowki Hill cos you get many such wonderful views from Everest flights or at other resorts like Nagarkot. Save the time and use it to bird the lower reaches ofPhulchowki Hill and spend more time at the Godawari Botanical Gardens which is just a couple of minutes away.  Highly recommended trip for birders!

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