Thursday, 15 April 1982

30 years ago: 13-15 April 1982, Ilam trek, East Nepal

Tuesday 13th April 1982:  Kosi Barrage and journey to Sukhari (c3 miles)
Our last morning at Kosi was quiet and we were ready to move on, although it has been a very successful visit - I've seen 120 species including much wanted Indian Courser, Bengal Florican and Hodgson's Stonechat.  We started waiting for a bus at 10:30 and one to Itauri (7 rupees) stopped for us at 12:00.  Not far east of Kosi I saw a large looking Adjutant Stork from the bus window which appeared best to fit the illustration of Greater in the field guide although the view wasn’t good (as is usually the case from a moving vehicule) and the field guide perhaps not too accurate?  Frustrating whatever.  After a short wait at Itauri we got another bus to Birtamore (11 rupees) arriving there at 16:15.  Here we got on a jeep to Sunischare (2 rupees each) and from there walked quite fast to Sukhari, seeing little in heavily cultivated habitat and arriving at dusk.  My makeshift shoe repair started rubbing after 15 minutes of walking so I removed the bit of karimat and wrapped a handkerchief around my foot but it only made a small improvement.  My rucksack seems far too heavy too – I’ve become too used to not carrying it around!  Rice and vegetable/curried potato stew in the lodge was OK but very spicy and my stomach felt really bad after eating it.

Birds seen at Kosi included:  Indian Pond Heron 10, Great White Egret 3, Black-necked Stork 1, Spoonbill 23, Ruddy Shelduck 1, Teal 1, Osprey 2, Little Pratincole 1, Kentish Plover 2, Temminck’s Stint 1, Great Black-headed Gull 1, Brown-headed Gull 15, Gull-billed Tern 3, Caspian Tern 1, River Tern 15, Common Tern 1, Black-bellied Tern 5, Little Tern 10, Whiskered Tern 2, Little Green Bee-eater 2, Purple Sunbird 1.

Birds seen subsequently:  Adjutant sp. 1, Woolly-necked Stork 5, Black Ibis 4, Pied Harrier 1 male, Green Sandpiper 9, Spotted Owlet 1, Ashy-crowned Finch Lark 1, Ashy Wood Swallow 10, Brown Shrike 4.

farm between Sunischare and Sukhari

fields between Sunischare and Sukari

Wednesday 14th April 1982:  Sukhari to Ghorowa (c5 miles)
I slept well but was feeling bad when we got up at 06:00.  We walked slowly along a flat easy trail to Ghorowa through patches of scrub and secondary forest which held lots of birds.  I was walking very slowly and kept getting left behind, only seeming to catch up with the others when they stopped to look at something, which too often had gone by the time I arrived.  Despite this I did see 4 new birds but missing a highly sought after male Indian Blue Robin was very hard to take.  My stomach felt bad all day and I was very weak - probably due to lack of food.  My rucksack feels really heavy and my sore foot troubles me periodically.  Our plan is to go up the Arun Valley to Ilam and then through more remote country as far west as Lukla but in my current state even the climb to Ilam would be hard to manage.  The distance from any roads is also a concern should I worsen and I wouldn’t want to hold the others up or fall too far behind them.  Certainly it is my lowest point in the three months I’ve been away and I’m seriously thinking about leaving the others and returning to Kathmandu early if I do not improve quickly. 
Birds seen included:  Woolly-necked Stork 1, Black Ibis 3, Black Baza 2, Crested Honey Buzzard 2, Shikra 1, *White-eyed Buzzard 3, River Lapwing 4, Red-wattled Lapwing 1, Red Turtle Dove 2, Emerald Dove 2, Thick-billed Pigeon 1, Alexandrine Parakeet 10, Ring-necked Parakeet 100, Red-breasted Parakeet 30, Green-billed Malkoha 3, *Indian Cuckoo 1, *White-throated Needletail 3, Crested Treeswift 2, Chestnut-headed Bee-eater 6, Indian Roller 15, Dollarbird 2, Lineated Barbet 3, Blue-throated Barbet 5, Speckled Piculet 1, Rufous Woodpecker 1, Greater Yellownape 2, Lesser Yellownape 4, Grey-headed Woodpecker 1, Grey-capped Woodpecker 6, Greater Goldenback 3, Rufous-winged Bush Lark 2, Paddyfield Pipit 3, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike 5, Large Cuckoo Shrike 3, Scarlet Minivet 10, Gold-fronted Leafbird 10, Orange-bellied Leafbird 1, Black-crested Bulbul 30, *White-throated Bulbul 6, Ashy Bulbul 4, Black Bulbul 6, White-rumped Shama 6, Black-backed Forktail 5, Blyth’s Reed Warbler 1, Hume’s Leaf Warbler 2, Yellow-bellied Warbler 1, Pale-chinned Niltava 5, Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher 3, Brown Flycatcher 1, Black-naped Monarch 10, Spotted Babbler 2, Abbott’s Babbler 4, Striped Tit-Babbler 15, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush 6, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch 3, Ruby-cheeked Sunbird 2, Crimson Sunbird 2, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker 2, Plain Flowerpecker 2, Black-hooded Oriole 4, Hair-crested Drongo 4, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo 3, Ashy Wood Swallow 1, Chestnut-tailed Starling 5, Hill Myna 20, White-rumped Munia 40, Scarlet Rosefinch 20.

Thursday 15th April 1982:  Ghorowa to Sunischare (c8 miles) and Kathmandu
Feeling no better when I woke I quickly decided not to continue walking to Ilam with Colin, Dave and Nick.  I rather reluctantly left them at 07:50 and walked directly back to Sunischare before I changed my mind.  I arrived at Sunischare at 11:20 unsurprisingly having seen very little.  A jeep was leaving just as I got there but it waited for me - 24+ people in/on a Wiley X Jeep with me standing on the rear bumper, although I doubt it was a record!  I was in Birtamore soon after 12:00 and quickly decided to return to Kathmandu and, when feeling stronger, go on the Everest Trek alone - something I was keen to do despite it not being known to be that 'birdy'.  The alternative was to get a bus up to Ilam and wait for the others there but we’d made no plan to do this when I left them and I wasn't sure how long it would be before they'd arrive.  I hadn't particularly taken to Ilam when returning from Hanga Than on my previous trip to Nepal and  it wasn't the sort of place I was keen to spend more time in.  That visit did have its lighter moments however when a guard at the police checkpoint struggled to understand my passport, doubtless with no help from me, before transcribing just 'Brown' and 'Brown' in his ledger not realising he'd noted my eye and hair colour rather than my name or number!   Then, due to a bus strike, I had walked 50 miles (less a few short cuts) down to the main road overnight on Christmas Eve 1979 to avoid staying there,  although I did find Nepal's first Radde's Warbler early the next morning and, almost as memorably, was given a glass of tea laced with pepper (yuk).   Decision made, and feeling better for having done so, Brown Brown would not be returning to Ilam but had a short wait at Birtamore before getting a bus to Kaknvitta (2.50 rupees), actually in the wrong direction but it was where the fast buses to Kathmandu started from.  There I booked a seat on the Rajdoot night coach leaving at 18:00 (for 125 rupees).  I waited in Kaknvitta drinking tea (thankfully without pepper) and reading.  The bus left on time and was at Kosi by 20:00, Hetauda by 01:30 and Kathmandu by 07:30.  A reasonable journey with plenty of leg room, but the seat got very hard after a while and I only slept fitfully.

Birds seen included:  Cattle Egret 50, Black Ibis 1, Black Baza 2, River Lapwing 3, Red-wattled Lapwing 1, Red Turtle Dove 6, Emerald Dove 1, Alexandrine Parakeet 5, Ring-necked Parakeet 50, Red-breasted Parakeet 100, Indian Roller 5, Dollarbird 1, Common Grey Hornbill 1, Lesser Yellownape 1, Greater Goldenback 1, Rufous-winged Bush Lark 2, Ashy-crowned Finch Lark 1, Bar-winged Flycatcher Shrike 5, Orange-bellied Leafbird 1, Black-crested Bulbul 10, White-cheeked Bulbul 5, Magpie Robin 5, White-rumped Shama 1, Black-backed Forktail 1, Yellow-bellied Warbler 2, Pale-chinned Niltava 2, Red-breasted Flycatcher 1, Black-naped Monarch 4, Spotted Babbler 3, Abbott’s Babbler 2, Striped Tit-Babbler 5, Hill Myna 15, Scarlet Rosefinch 40.

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