NE India, Day 18, 24 March 2023 - Mandala

A whole day dedicated to visiting Mandala and once again exploring different altitudes.

We began in fine style with a stop at the village of B'asti Domba at the start of the road up to Mandala. Completely unbeknown to us Lobsang walked us to a small sedge bed and began using playback. Immediately a Black-tailed Crake sprang out of the marsh, walked right towards us and began parading up and down in front of us at less than 10 feet range! For a usually shy species it was incredible. Back on the lane we had several Russet Sparrows in the trees and then a Little Pied Flycatcher followed by Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch and a Rufous-breasted Accentor that sat still for photos. A little further along with a little work we got some reasonable views of a typically elusive Russet Bush Warbler plus Grey-backed Shrike.


Moving on we drove the 25km up to the high-altitude village of Mandala. Our first walk was along a winding lane just outside the village. Swirling low cloud was again a bit of a problem but we soon scored with Mrs Gould's Sunbird and a couple of tits which can cause confusion. Rufous-vented Tit and the local race of Coal Tit which like the former has a crest! The photos below show how easy they would be to confuse if not seen well. Graham and I then got on to a roadside Hume's Bush Warbler that showed very close but briefly. A little lower down at another stop I found a group of 5 Crimson-browed Finches in the top of a tree and we eventually got some nice views of a Green Shrike Babbler that refused to stay still. That morning we also saw Hoopoe, Black-throated Prinia, Buff-barred Warbler, Ashy-throated Warbler, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, White-browed Bush Robin, Himalayan Bluetail and Blue-fronted Redstart before we sought some warmth and a noodle lunch in a shop in the village while serenaded by Buddhist prayer chanting. 


Working our way slowly down in the afternoon we initially didn't see much with just 3 Black-faced Laughingthrushes at point blank range in the fog. Lower down the weather was better and we hit a mega patch! One of the most wanted birds on all our minds was Fire-tailed Myzornis and one popped up in roadside trees -  another wow moment with a stunning bird that didn't hang around for a photo! The same spot produced Black-browed Tit, Green-backed Tit, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Green Shrike Babbler, Rufous-capped Babbler, Rufous-winged Fulvetta and Green-tailed Sunbird


Much further down Lobsang stopped us at a spot he obviously knew. A Fire-breasted Flowerpecker showed straight away but the target took a little finding. We were just about to leave when it decided to play ball and after a little wait we got some cracking views of Bhutan Laughingthrush.


On the way back to Dirang and our overnight at the Pemaling Hotel we got a puncture but our ever capable driver changed the wheel and we were only delayed by 15 mins, impressive!       

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