Namdapha - The Story, The adventure, The Phenomenon

March 22, 2013  •  16 Comments

Introduction :

About an year ago, I started writing this and I was hoping to publish it someday.
To describe it in one Word - One of my best journeys in the wild till date.

Myself, Sagar Gosavi.

Network and System Engineer by profession and Wildlife photographer by passion.

Taking a childhood passion of bird watching to the next level, I am photographing the natural history (mainly Fauna) found in various parts of India from past 10 years now.

Through photography, the main intention is to create an awareness about the importance of this natural treasure among people who are otherwise ignorant about it. It is time to understand the need of conservation of the wildlife and hence Nature.

Before photographing wildlife, it is important to study them, their behavior and their habitat. In Wildlife Photography, one needs to develop the bond with the Nature. The attachment , the love and the care about nature what signifies Wildlife Photography.

Destination Namdapha -

I was planning a trip to the wild during most awaited year end shutdown when I get almost a week off from the office.

When I almost zeroed down on Northeast as a location, it was a big question.. Which place to cover?? Kaziranga and Eaglenest were much on the top of my wish list and it would have needed some miracle to change it.

And the The Miracle was Namdapha !!

When browsing the internet I came across the photo of "Clouded Leopard", suddenly looked for the place where it was taken and there I found "Namdapha" .

With the help of my friend who is from Digboi, Asaam, I did detail research on the place and local contacts. As I went deeper to find out more about this virgin forest, I learnt that its a dangerous paradise which resides on the North eastern most tip of India, Arunachal Pradesh. There were very few images of bird life present till that time, which was bit discouraging.

With Lots of If's and But's, made up my mind.
It was like a challenge and, I guess me and my 3 other photographer friends decided to take it up.
And there it all started.. We started gearing up for it ..
Gear lists are prepared, Budgets are targeted, Air tickets are booked ...

 

 

 

 

 

Gearing Up -

The difference between going to any other place and going to Namdapha is, if I go to any other place it would be just like any other wildlife or bird photography tour and going to Namdapha would be an expedition. 
Treating it more like an expedition our gear list was extensive and high tech.
GPS Sets, Radios, Powerful LED torch lights, DSLRS with Tele Lenses, HD Video Cams, Voice recorders, Rain Covers for all the gears, Loads of memory cards, Loads of batteries, Solar Lights, Notebooks, Heavy tripods, Sleeping bags, Camouflaging clothing, Heavy Woolens, Leech Guards and Tough foot wears ..  it was a long list.

We needed to be prepared for anything .. literally anything.

Mission Namdapha -

As i was watching BBC's recent Documentary featuring tigers at high altitude, documented in Bhutan, " The lost land of Tigers", I started imagining vast mountains with sunless forest floors, tall trees, dense green foliage and rivers flowing wildly making the way from that monstrous forest. 
To withstand those tough natural conditions, I started preparing myself physically too.. I started going to Gym before office hours. My extensive training of Martial Arts taken in the past really helps when it comes to stamina. I knew that it would be a test of stamina and physical fitness if I want to make this mission successful...yes it was like a mission now... Mission Namdapha.!!

I knew that trip will be fruitful if I could bring some rare species or atleast some bird species documented.

Days were passing fast ... and finally,

The Day –

Flight from Mumbai landed at Kolkata airstrip cutting through the thick fog and Mist.. Captain Announced - " Welcome to "Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, Outside temperature is 10 Degrees ". Ohh it was cold. The same flight was supposed to depart to Guwahati, my destination. 
A friend of mine joined me at Kolkata, and we started our journey to the next destination. After a "bumpy" ride landed at Gopinath Bardoloi airport of largest metropolis in the land of Rhinos, Brahmaputra and Assam Rifles :) .. Guwahati. Being in the vicinity of the south of the eastern Himalayas, it was bit chilly at 8 degrees.

We headed for the Guwahati station from where our train to Tinsukia was scheduled.
Time was just around 4.45 PM and it was already dark.
After having a great time and Mommos at Palton Bazaar, boarded the Rajdhani to Tinsukia.

Tinsukia District of Assam borders Arunachal Pradesh and hence was nearest rail head for us. Early Morning we reached Tinsukia, it was very cold must be around 5 to 8 Degrees.

The plan was to visit and stay at my friend's place at Digboi overnight, from where rest of the three members of our group were supposed to join us for Namdapha. 
Digboi is small town in Assam well known for its oldest Oil Refinery in India. After Breakfast we explored the thick forested patch just outside Digboi town. And we got some real feel of the denseness of the Tropical rain forests in NE.
But it was bit late as per NE standard time and bird movement was less. Spotted a Black-backed Forktail. I never knew that it was a beginning of  "The New Forktail Story" .

Finally after a fantastic Assameese food and meeting lovely people at digboi, next day early morning left for our ultimate destination. The destination, we were dreaming for almost 6 months.

The really long wait came to a halt as we started our road journey from Digboi and crossed Arunachal Pradesh Border Police check-post located at Namchik which is the boundary between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh state. One has to show his ILP (Inner Line Permit) in order to enter Arunachal Pradesh, easternmost state of India.

 After the formalities at the ckeckpost, we entered "The land of the rising sun", Arunachal. In Sanskrit, Arunachal means "The land of dawn-lit Mountains". Located in the far northeast, it borders the states of Assam and Nagaland to the south, and shares international borders with Burma in the east, Bhutan in the west, and the People's Republic of China in the north. We were heading to Further east, towards Burma Border which forms the Boundary of Namdapha .

 In the Land of Rising Sun -

We started heading towards Miao town in Changlang District, which marks the entry point to the pristine forest of Namdapha and also forms the administrative headquarters for Namdapha.We already started seeing the snow capped mountain peaks. Everyone was mesmerized.

After an hour long bumpy ride, we reached Miao FRH. Miao is a small town. The main tribes in this region are the Tangsa, Singpho, and Lisu. A major chunk of Chakma and Tibetan refugees have a settlement area near the town. Miao is located in a region where it gets one of the heaviest rainfall in the north-east India. The Nao-dihing is the most important river flowing through Miao. The mountain range is called Patkai Bum and is the eastern extension of the Himalayas. As Christmas was round the corner, small and handsome Miao town was getting ready for the red day.

I stood at the point at FRH where there is valley in which river flows up looking huge forested mountains above which snow-capped peaks lit in the morning sunlight. It was looking like a Golden Crown of Namdapha.

Excitement had reached to its highest level of saturation.

After a breakfast at FRH, our real journey started. 
Our Cook Krishna, Guide Vidyut and Tent Manager Yesshi joined us from Miao. I was more keen to have a talk with guide Vidyut to know more about the place.

As we left Miao, just outside the town, stopped at Army Checkpost "Elite Eighteen Assam Rifles - E Company". With the Assam Rifles Jawan standing at the gate, heavily armed. That feeling of Proud was clearly seen on his face. I got down from the vehicle to have talk with him. I smiled at him and said, " I am from Mumbai.. always heard about Assam Rifles and today really nice meeting you, we are proud of you that you protect our Borders here, thanks for everything, take care" ... it was like i was just waiting to meet the real soldiers on the front...because of them we stay and feel safe even thousand miles away. Real salute to them.. He smiled back and shook hands saying "Thank you" .

After the formalities, we started our journey on Miao - Vijoynagar Road and our 1st camping site was Deban. It was like, we were going away from the civilization to the core of the forest.

Team grew bigger with some porters, cook and guide Vidyut.
Deban is the last site in namdapha where there are rest houses built by the forest dept. Deban was the point where our 7 days trek was supposed to start.

As we were driving on the Miao-Vijoynagar road having Nao-Dihing flowing in the valley at the other side, the jungle began to become thicker and thicker and we started hearing songs of the winged beauties.

I was having the chat with our Guide Vidyut and simultaneously recording it on my voice recorder.

Namdapha, surrounded by Patkai hills on southeast and high mountain Peaks of Himalayas in the north. It is spread over 2000 sq Km in the form of raw hills with thick forest. Namdapha was established as a wildlife sanctuary in 1972. The international border with Myanmar was demarcated in the same year. The 157 km Miao-Vijaynagar road (M-V Road) that runs through the park was also built in 1972. The road was partially motorable till sometime in the 1980s and has been mostly defunct since the mid 1990s. Namdapha was declared a Tiger Reserve and National Park in 1983. The Lisu people had opposed the demarcation of the eastern park boundary close to their villages as they were dependent on the forests.

It has varied terrain which varies right from 200 meters to as high as 4500 meters above from sea level. Lowland areas form the Rain forests, as you go up it forms sub-tropical and temperate forests on the elevations and alpine and rhododendron forests further up. Its a mix of Bamboo forest along the riverbeds and streams.

Nao-Dihing and Namdapha are the two major rivers flow through this gigantic forest. Addition to this there are numerous small "Nalas" nothing but streams which flow through and meet the rivers at numerous joints.

River Namdapha, flows right thorugh the heart of Namdaph Reserve and divides the park in two zones.. Core Zone and Buffer zone near a place called Firmbase.

Namdapha is situated in the Eastern Himalayan Region.

The southern areas of the park have lower, relatively more undulating hills and shallow valleys, and the north is characteristically Himalayan – with tall peaks and deep gorges. Dapha Bum, the highest point (4571 m) is a ridge of the Mishmi hills, and is at the park boundary with the Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary to the north.

Due to this variations in the habitat, its no surprise that this forest holds one of the most diversified flora and fauna found in India.

Being a part of Eastern Himalayas and Indo-Myanmar region, it is already recognised as one of the biodiversity hotspots. It is a home  for more than 1000 different species of  plants, many of them are endemic i.e. found only in this region. It also includes several species of plants having high medicinal importance.

Namdapha is home to 600 species of birds. This consists of many endangered birds species which include White-winged Wood duck, White-bellied Heron, Snowy-throated babbler and Rufous-naked Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill .

Probably the only place on the face of the earth where you can find all four Big cats, Tiger, Leopard, Snow leopard and Clouded leopard.

Due to very high altitudinal variation many rare and endangered mammals like, Himalayan Black Bear and Namdapha Flying Squirrel  can be found in Namdapha. Prioneris thestylis thestylis _Himalayan Spotted Sawtooth

One can see more than 500 species of butterflies making it more popular amongst butterfly lovers.It also holds magical number of different reptiles, insects and frog species.

After all its amazing diversity, it’s the weather and the terrain which makes it difficult to explore this magical wilderness of Namdapha. Namdapha recives rainfall from both the southwest and the northeast monsoons, resulting in the rains throughout the year.

In the Foot Hills, always wet forest floor and extreme dense forest forms one of the true rainforests found in india. Also due to altitudinal variations, there is a variation in the temperature as well.All these geographical conditions make this as one of the toughest forests to explore.

There are still many species of plants, animals and insects waiting to be explored in this Virgin forest of Namdapha.

Vast mountains with sunless forest floors, tall trees, dens green foliage and rivers flowing wildly making the way from that monstrous forest represents Namdapha.

Though its abundance of one of the most diverse wildlife, sightings are difficult and rare as still animals and birds are hunted by the tribals and poachers. Mammals and Birds are very shy and scared of humans and that makes it even more difficult to photograph them. Lisu tribe still has settlements inside Namdapha.

As we reached Deban, at Deban, there is a beautifully built rest house amidst dense forest with tall trees. There is no electricity provision at Deban and anywhere in Namdapha. Still some lights are there which operate on car battery only at Deban Camp. Besides the camp there flows the beautiful waters of Nao-dihing.

In Namdapha,

Deban is the last place to have the built rest house available. As everywhere else you need to setup the tents. After Deban, you need to camp in some designated camp sites by Forest Dept. Camp sites are nothing but some place right in the middle of the forest cleared for setting up Tents.

After a brief session of Birding at Deban, figured out the difficulties photographing wildlife there. Wet Floor, hilly terrain, dense vegetation, thick forest, very tall trees and Low light makes photography very difficult and challenging. Leeches were like cherry on top.

Small Niltava - Namdapha With Sultan Tit, White-Throated Bulbul, Long-tailed Sibia, Yuhinas, Orioles, Warblers, Niltava and Forktails spotting was endless. The habitat is so dense with tall trees and birds perch very high on top branches and in dark shadows. Due to typical Canopy layer of the Tropical rain forest, Sunlight hardly reaches ground. And this was the reason for the wet forest floor. Heard so many woodpeckers calling loudly, but did not get not even a glimpse of it.

We were happy to get some good record shots of some species. For us, every species was an addition to our database of the bird species. Came back to the rest house. According to the North East standard time it was getting dark at 4.00 PM itself.

I stood at the view point of the rest house and I was seeing Namdapha getting ready for another starry night.
Venus was so bright in that purple red sky ..
Noa-Dihing river started becoming louder as jungle was getting quieter. Evening never looked so beautiful.

A Whole new life was ready to wake up once again in the land of rising sun and our torches, solar lights were out immediately.

Soon there was a zero light and we saw the whole sky lit up with the zillions of stars. Deban is also known as a one of the best place for star gazing in India from where you can even spot Andromeda Galaxy by naked eye. We did see one.

 

Whats that flying in the night ? Is it a Bat ?? Owl ?? .. No its Namdapha Flying Squirrel. (*ID Not Confirmed)

I read about it and started searching with my powerful torch on the giant tree branches. 

And after some search, atlast i found it...  I quickly called all the gang and we were greeted with great sight of Endangered Namdapha Flying Squirrel just outside our camp. To watch this nocturnal animal flying from one tree to another, was a sight to behold. Thanks to the Powerful torches we were equipped with.

We made some videos and pictures of this amazing creature. Everything was astonishing .. 

As told by our guides, as we were finishing our dinner, "Khichadi" .. The "Peace" got suddenly converted into "Pace" as Wind started blowing whistle. It was getting stronger and stronger. And the whole jungle started roaring.

We could feel that monstrous form which Namdapha represents.

Next day morning we were all geared up for our 6 days trek through that monstrous forest. Punjung, a forest dept guide joined us in the morning and with our heavy gears loaded we started our trek from Deban. There were 9 porters, 1 cook, 1 tent manager and 2 guides, Vidyut and Punjung. 

Route was Deban – Haldibari – Hornbil Camp – Bulbulia – Hornbill camp – Deban.

We were looking more like actual soldiers. I was carrying my heavy camera gear mounted on the tripod which was around 12 Kgs along with the my bag carrying a backup gear and a video camera. So another 10 Kgs.

 

An encounter with the Santa from the north East - Red-headed Trogon.

Red-headed Trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus)

As were about to start our trek, goodluck appeared. We were already scanning the trees ... and there comes the call .. Sagarbhai ... Drongo !!

There was nothing to be excited about Drongo and I knew that was a 'typo' out of excitement... I started looking at the direction, Debashish was pointing at ... And ...

Out of no where here comes the "Santa from the North east" greeting us for our trek. Yes, the amazing sighting of “The Phantom of the North-east Hills”, The Red-headed Trogon. I was feeling blessed to photograph this one of the most beautiful and illusive birds found in the north-east Hills. It took quite a good time to get out of the sighting of one of the most magnificent birds And more than that shooting it at this close in such a setting was hard to be believed. 

The Red-headed Trogon (Harpactes erythrocephalus) is a species of bird in the Trogonidae family.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

After the mind blowing start, we started our long walk.

During the trek, we crossed Noa-dihing river many a times. Sometimes in wooden boat, sometimes in the inflatable rubber boat and sometimes barefoot.While crossing it barefoot, as soon as i entered the fast flowing waters of nao-dihing, the chill flew with the speed of light right from the foot to the brain .. thanks to bright sunny day as we recovered fast after crossing it.

 

 

Fighting Spirit - Little Forktail

There I go, spotted Little forktail and Brown dipper were busy with the breakfast right in the middle of wild waters of Nao-dihing. It was amazing how this Little Forktail was searching his food in those wild waters of Nao-dihing. Current there was so strong and this smallest species of forktail was bravely fighting those strong currents for the food. 

Foraging through the grassland, we turned inside from the banks of the river and entered the path through the thickets. Forest floor was completely wet making it slippery. The air was full of fragrance of moist forest. Only few rays of Sun occasionally  peeping out on us through the dense .. no no very dense... wait a min .. the most dense canopies i ever came across...

We could spot some birds but they were perching right on the top of the giant tall trees.

We kept walking and walking, taking small breaks in between to check for leeches. It became very tiring due to all the weight I was carrying. But yes I was prepared for it.

The whole path was like a hurdle race where we crossed numerous huge trees fallen right on the path.

We climbed two hills to reach Haldibari, where we took a much needed breather for Lunch. Legs were tired but minds were fresh.

After some 15 minutes, resumed our journey and then came across something which looked like a Mount Everest though it was just another hill with steeper slope. It took lot of time to reach to the top. and now it was the last mile, and I was just blankly following the footsteps of Vidyut. The only thing on our Mind was .. Keep walking !! That day i realized one thing that you need to be mentally fit when physical side gives up. 

At last reached “Hornbill Camp” our base for next coming days. Porters and Tent manager were there already and guess what our tents were already setup and cook was preparing some snacks. We were dead tired but tiredness vanishes with a sip of hot tea. It was almost evening and we were all excited to spend our 1st night right in the core of the forest. 

At Hornbill, there is a small open patch of the forest surrounded by dense thickets from all directions. We could see the small patch of open sky too.

we discussed the strategies for the next day birding with Vidut and Punjung over the dinner and it was getting chilly.

When i entered my sleeping bag in the tent just checked the time and couldn't believe it . It was just 6.45 PM , it again reminded that we were in the Northeastern time zone where the sun sets at 4:00 pm.

Next day morning I woke up on the 1st light to experience the wakening of the gigantic forest. It was around 4.00 AM.

It was getting brighter and we were getting ready with all our gears assembled for the day's shooting.

Hoolock Gibbons were calling quite aggressively but call was distant.

We saw the tree tops getting golden with the 1st light and guess what, on one of the dry perches of the tallest tree around our camp, there were already some visitors... Pied Falconets, easily one of the rarest species of falconets. We were blessed to photograph and record the videos of the as many as 6 individuals. Pied Falconet

Then we were all ready for the surprises Namdapha offered. Everyone was dispersed in different directions.

I decided to explore the streams near our camp and was sitting quietly to see if there is any movement. When it was all silent except the chirping of birds.

And then suddenly ....  Dhufffffffff !!! a loud sound traveled across all corners of the hills followed by a long silence. It was a gunshot and without a doubt from the Poachers....Felt sad, disgusting and out of frustration came back to the camp to confirm with Vidyut.

Viduyt confirmed the presence of poachers around. Poaching is quite common in Namdapha even today. For such a huge forest with such a difficult terrain, it is merely impossible to control such acts with only handful of forest guards, Punjung (forest dept guide) added.

It was Lunch time, we heard some sound, looked like wing beats ... It was clear and loud .. everone was looking at the sky through the open patch above our camp .. and what a sight!!!! around 10 Wreathed Hornbills flew past over us.

Note : To watch this video, make sure your speakers are not mute, Keep the Volume to Full, just to experience the wing beats of Hornbills. 

In Namdapha, you can also find Rufous-necked Horbill, Brown Hornbills and Great Hornbills.

 

 

 

 

 

So our expedition continued, we decided to make Hornbill as our base camp for 2 more days.Next day Morning we had Great Indian Horbill as a Visitor right besides the camp.

Days were busy with trekking, searching, observing and shooting birds in one of the most difficult shooting conditions, and nights were all about discussions over species, identifications of the new species and then witnessing some breathtaking jumps from Namdapha 

 

Flying Squirrel. You will have to visit Namdapha to understand the meaning of Denseness. The canopies are so dense and that too sometimes without any small paths or tracks. While walking through it I was feeling like a huge giant snake is gulping me inside it. 

 

And When its night in the jungle - 

It was insect time, and our Macro gears were out. We were prepared with some macro lens system specifically made for inspect photography. Each passing night we encountered with different new spiders and other insects. To photograph them in the night made easy with our special LED White lights meant for such purpose. We also did a moth show in the midnight, where a white cloth and a strong light source is used to attract Moths at night. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namdapha is a paradise when it comes to Macro Photography. One can find as many as 20 different species of leeches in Namdapha. Green Leech is one of the most beautiful. We came across such an amazing insect life that we spent hours shooting various reptiles, spiders and insects in the night.

We recorded atleast 20 different species of Spiders.

 

 

 

 

 

In the Pursuit of Ape - 

Each day we traveled almost 15 kms, sometimes up the hill sometimes down the steep slopes.While exploring wildest place, greeted with some amazing sightings of rare and illusive birds and mammals.

Note : To watch this video, make sure your speakers are not mute, Keep the Volume to Full, just to experience the sound of Gibbons.

That day was for Hoolock Gibbon. Started our search in the direction of Hoolock Gibbon - Namdapha

the loud call from distance, As we were approaching closer call was getting louder and more spooky. While we were following the call, making our way from the thickets. It was so thick that i had to use my tripod to make a way through it. Suddenly I realised that there is something more on my shoulder than just a tripod and guess what, a beautiful Green Vine snake was right on my shoulder. God only knows from where i was was carrying it and how long it spent on my shoulder.

We took some photos and videos of this beautiful non poisonous snake and watched it disappearing in the thickets.

At last the sight met the sounds, with a family of these gentle apes. It was very tough to get a clear shot as these apes can spot slightest activity down very easily from the top of the branches and they get freak out to see humans. So it was another challenge. Trick was that they call loudly after certain interval of time and when they call, they shake the tree bnach aggressively and that is time when we assumed that they won't look down. Trick worked. But as soon as i put the tripod down to rest atleast one leg of it somewhere on the ground, they sighted us and the whole family began to jump. But This bold dominant male hung to this branch for just split of a sec to inspect us and I got my 6 frames.

So After a day long tiring trek finally we successfully photographed illusive Hoolock Gibbon, the only ape species found in india.

They are diurnal and arboreal jumping through the trees with their long arms. They live together in monogamous pairs, which stake out a territory. Their calls serve to locate family members and ward off other gibbons from their territory. It is so loud sometimes that it becomes spooky in the denseness of Namdapha. They make this call at the beginning of the day and towards the end of the day to declare their territory.

Bulbulia - 

One day we visited  a place called Bulbulia, is the site of a sulphur-methane spring. Tribal people call it as “Aji polo” which means – place 

of bubbling hot water.  This place is another 3 hours long walk from Hornbill camp on the way to Firmbase. Path is all through the moist dense evergreen patch with some bamboo thickets. At some places there is no sign of tracks. 

Bulbulia is a place where one can see some mammals visiting the spring. Though its not easy as with the slight hint and they will vanish in the thickets. We heard of Tiger Pugmarks seen near the spring  few months before our visit.

 

 

We returned from Bulbulia, as in typical rain forest, after a clear day, We were about to wrap up for the day and in the evening, suddenly clouds started to gather with some thunder storms announcing the arrival of The Rain God. After few minutes it started raining very heavily with lightening. Then came the best fragrance i ever smelt ... :) Everything experienced was just in its purest form and I guess that is why we call it “Natural”.

It rained for almost 3 hours or so. Temperature dropped even more. I was more excited to see the jungle in the morning just after the rains. Next day Morning was humid..it was a weird combination of cold and humidity. 

Butterflies and insects were everywhere, One Green leech was trying enter our tent.

 

We came across scats and pugmarks of many lesser cats which are mainly active in the night time hence very illusive.

Malayan Giant Squirrel, Hoary-bellied squirrel, Yellow throated marten are some of other mammals we were greeted with.

Sultan Tit Bird list got very big which includes, Silver-eared Mesia, Red-headed trogon, Yellow-footed green pigeon, Rufous-bellied eagle, Black-backed forktail, Slaty-backed forktail, Striped Spider Hunter, Black-throated sunbird, Orange-bellied leafbird, Maroon oriole, Snowy-browed flycatcher, Great Hornbill, Wrethed Hornbill, Rufous-necked hornbill, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Grey-cheecked Warbler, Pied Falconet, Ibis Bill and number of other flycatchers, barbets and woodpecker species.

On a last day we suddenly decided to move our camp right on the banks of Nao-dihing, Everyone started packing and by hook or crook we had to reach on the banks before its dark.

Within no time team was ready with everything packed on loaded on our backs. Legs were in hurry. We decided to make our last night in the jungle the most memorable by camping right on the banks of those wild waters.

 

Beneath the zillions of stars - 

As we crossed the dense patch of the canopies, it was dark and last patch we made with the help of special solar caps. Stars already gathered to welcome us right beneath the sky. Assamese Macaques on the tree on other side of the banks also were looking at our handful heads in that vastness of Jungle.

Tents were put up and now begins the party.. Wind was no late arriving to the party .. Bonfire, Wind, Zero Degrees, Hot Coffee and a Assamese song ... it was all beyond words.

As i was talking with porters, they saw a tiger photograph of mine from ranthmabhore and all were stunned. Then we all watched one documentary on Tigers while having our dinner. There were stars, Jungle, Wild waters, the chilly wind at zero dregrees and a Macbook playing this documentry ... all in the core of that most beautiful darkness i ever experienced.

The wind was becoming stronger and stronger. Tents were tied up to big stones to withstand the mighty Wind god. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next day morning started early as we decided to scan maximum area along the river bank. Golden rays were started arriving and Nao-dihing was in its full beauty, flowing wildly and rapidly. It was like Waters were destined to meet the Jungle God, Namdapha.

Next day, there was an aim on my mind to complete the Forktail Story. After successfully photographing 4 species of forktails, its now only White-crowned forktail which was giving me the tough time. Spent many hours, multiple times but that shy guy never gave even an opportunity to shoot it. 

Note : To watch this video, make sure your speakers are not mute, Keep the Volume to Full, just to experience the wild waters of Nao-dihing

 

 

End of the Forktail Story - 

Crossing the the river twice i went on the other side of the banks where one small stream was meeting the river . Area found to be very productive for me and my mates.

White-crowned Forktail Guess what, to my luck, spotted this skulker, The White-crowned forktail at far distance hopping between the big round stones in the middle of stream.Observed it very carefully first and then decided to approach it. When i was hiding behind the big stone, out of no where one scaly thrush arrived at the stream ... it was there to quench its thurst. Sometimes you get unexpected when you are behind something else to be expected :) It spent some good 10 mins in the stream... then i was back in business with forktail. 

The moment it used to climb on the stone i used to become a statue and once its down in the stream i used to move forward lying low right in the middle of the stream. In the process i fall down infinite times as walking low on the round stones in the middle of the stream with my heavy gears was something which was more than a challenge. It was only me and that bird on my mind and nothing else for that moment. Moment grew longer. It took me an hour just to go closer to the bird without letting it know. Now i am set to shoot it waiting for it to climb one of the stones again and that million dollar moment arrived ... Shot it successfully to photograph all the species of forktails found in India. White-crowned forktail is easily the most difficult to shoot bird in my 10 years bird photography career.

Concluded the trip with, again one of the rarest birds known as “White-crowned Forktail”.One of the rarest forktail species found in india. One of the Bird from Bikram Grewal’s “50 birds to see before you die” . It took almost 3 long days and number of long waits to click this beauty finally on the last day of the expedition. And it proved to be one of the very few records of the bird from India.

 

Time to say Goodbye - 

It was late, and we started our journey back to Deban.

Crossing the river again now with wooden and inflatable boat, reach deban. Legs were way too tired after 7 days of walking and heart was heavy as we left Deban. I again stood on that view point at Deban and stretched my hands to embrace mother nature. Eyes were reluctant to close to gather all of that purest form of Nature as we began our journey back to the civilization toward Miao. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For all these days we, guide and porters became like one family and it was difficult to part with everyone. It was time .. 

 

Namdapha was not yet over, we sighted, a flock of 20 Ibis bills near one small stream which flows across the road. Few kilometers ahead, spotted one Himalayan Yellow Throated Marten feeding on something right in the middle of the road. 

So these Gems were enough to ignore infinite insect bites and leech bites after all. These Insect bites remained as much as for 3 months after our visit with itchy skin disease.

I treasure every moment spent in that paradise which I live again and again by remembering it.

The story, the adventure has now become The Phenomenon..

Only waiting to be there once again in that Mother of all forests.. Namdapha.

Special Thanks to my 3 mates - Pratim Borah, Debashish Mishra and Subhodip Biswas who made this trip a most memorable and fruitful in terms of natural history photography and filming and for their endless support.

There is one name I can not finish my blog without its mention. He is the one who made the whole trip possible, Mr. Phupla Singpho from Miao who provided the excellent logistic support throughout. 

Sagar Gosavi.

More Photos From Namdapha - 

Little Forktail

Slaty-backed Forktail

Scaly Thrush

 

 

 

 

 

Snowy-browed Flycatcher - Female

Red-Headed Trogon

Rusty-fronted Barwing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To View All the Photos - 

http://www.alchemyofnature.net/p411098990 

Other Photo & Video credits - Sagar Gosavi, Debashish Mishra, Pratim Borah.

Note : All the photos, videos and content is Copyrighted by Sagar Gosavi.

© By alchemyofnature.net By Sagar Gosavi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

20.Bobby(non-registered)
Hey man, great to read about your trip . We did a similar trip including the Myanmar cross over the Stilwell and Pangsau pass in November 2014. It was brilliant! Unfortunate apart is the itching from the insect bites from the trip. It's still itching and has left scars. Any remedies that worked for you. Thought I'd check before I really make it to a dermatologist.

Cheers
Bobby
18.Roshani Gaonkar(non-registered)
Amazing photography.... Excellent writeup .....realllyyy gooddd
16.Birendar Singh Waldiya(non-registered)
Unlike you I am not fascinated by birds but mountain and valleys do!!, hence every time I visit your adventure stories on web I feel it and love it.
Actually inspire & reminds me to "live the life" .
14.Deepty Bansal(non-registered)
Excellent Narration and beautiful photography.Felt as if I am in Namdapha.you always make us feel near to nature even being 1000 miles away.Would love to read/see many more...All the Best
13.Saleel Tambe(non-registered)
A wonderfully rendered report of an equally exciting exploration-expedition. Enjoyed reading every bit of it. I like it very much when such write ups are done after these kind of visits. I myself try to do that after every trip.
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