NE India, Days 1-6, 7-12 March 2023 - Mishmi Hills and Jia Grasslands

We set off east from Dibrugarh on the morning of 7 March with our guide for the first part of the trip and a driver. 

Our first stop was at an area of weedy field near Maguri Beel bridge just around the corner from our guide's house. Here we were pleased to pick up Rosy Pipit, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Citrine Wagtail, Siberian Stonechat, Striated Grassbird, Black-faced Bunting and Black-winged Kite.


On the long drive east we stopped at the roadside a couple of times clocking up a small group of 4 White-rumped Vultures, 2 Himalayan Griffons, Crested Serpent Eagle and Himalayan Buzzard by the large bridge over the Brahmaputra. Also circling were c120 Common Cranes, Black Stork andt Lesser Adjutant. also en-route were c3 Grey-backed Shrikes, Ring-necked Parakeets and Lineated Barbet.


After checking in and having lunch at the disppointing Yatri Niwas 'Goverment Cottage' (pretty primitive living conditions and rock hard inch-thick matresses!) we made our way to the Dibang Jungle Camp. Ironically this was to be our home for 4 nights coming up and has good birding right on the doorstep. In that area and along the only road up into the Mishmi Hills that afternoon we enjoyed our first forest birding with Great Barbet, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Collared Treepie, Yellow-bellied Fantail, White-throated Bulbul, Ashy-throated Warblers, Striated Yuhina, Nepal Fulvetta, Long-tailed Sibia, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush and Blue Rock Thrush the highlights.


The following morning was set aside for a visit to Jia Grasslands in the lowlands about an hour away. This site proved to be excellent and very enjoyable with the main target of the suberb Black-breasted Parrotbill being secured quite quickly. A walk through the grass and reeds also yielded good photographic views of Jerdon's Babbler, a mega male Chinese Rubythroat, Smoky Warbler, Plain Prinia and Grey-throated Martins. Frustratingly we only heard Marsh Babbler. A 1w male Eastern Marsh Harrier also flew through, In the more wooded section along the entrance track we had Rufous-capped Babbler, Buff-chested Babbler, Pin-striped Tit-babbler, Verditer Flycatcher, 4+ Plain Flowerpeckers, 4 Oriental Honey Buzzards and 3 Indian White-eyes.


That afternoon we spent walking c1000m along the Mishmi Hills Road scoring with Golden-throated Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Bay Woodpecker, Himalayan Black Bulbul, a gorgeous Golden Babbler, Black-chinned Yuhina, 2 Striated Laughingthrushes, Beautiful Sibia, Blue-winged Minla, Rufous-gorgetted Flycatcher and Black-throated Sunbird.

The following 4 and a bit days were spent exploring every elevation of the Mishmi Hills road right up to Mayodia Pass and beyond but also the lower elevations near the Dibang Jungle Camp. We walked miles in our quest but had some really memorable birding moments (together with longist periods with nothing it has to be said!). At the Mayodia Pass we hit upon a rich vein with Dark-rumped Rosefinch, Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Streak-throated Barwing, Brown-throated Fulvettas, Himalayan Bluetail, Blue-fronted Redstart and Rufous-fronted Bush Robin. A lunch stop at a ramshackle village curiously called '65' beyond the pass gave us Manipur Fulvetta, Eurasian Jay, Eastern Black Redstart and Yellow-billed Blue Magpie.

The other highlights of the area were unbdoubtedly headed by the incredibly range-restricted Mishmi Wren-babbler, Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler, Beautiful Nuthatch and White-hooded Babbler but with White-browed Piculet, Striated Bulbul, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Buff-barred Warbler, Yellow-vented Warbler, Grey-sided Bush Warbler, Black-faced Warbler, White-breasted Parrotbill, Pale-billed Parrotbill, Green-tailed Sunbird, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Rusty-fronted Barwing, White-tailed Nuthatch, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Silver-eared Mesia, Grey Treepie, Little Forktail and Fire-tailed Sunbird it is rather difficult to choose!



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