NE India, Days 7-8, 13-14 March 2023 - Maguri Beel & Padumoni WLS

After a last couple of hours birding just outside the Jungle Camp we headed off to the lowlands for the next phase of the trip. Retracing our steps back towards Dibrugarh we checked into the Padmini Resort, had lunch and headed out towards the river bridge at Maguri Beel. On this vast wetland we enjoyed an afternoon on punt boats through the various waterways and lagoons. At one point we were also able to disembark on an island and scope the whole 360 degree view. New birds for the burgeoning trip list came thick and fast in this new habitat. The highlights for me were lifers in the form of Indian Spot-billed Duck and Striated Babbler but the place was alive with waders and wildfowl - 55 Lesser Whistling Duck, 2 Eastern Greylag Geese, c150 Ruddy Shelduck and 40 Gadwall were joined by smaller numbers of Ferruginous Ducks, Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal. The waders present were Red-wattled Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Jack Snipe, Pintail Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper with several each of Pheasant-tailed and Bronze-wing Jacanas. Our first Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis and Asian Openbills of the trip and 3 species of kingfisher - White-breasted, Common and Pied Kingfishers were also seen. The most numerous passerine was Citrine Wagtail with 50+ but we also added Bluethroat, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail and Striated Grassbird.


Off the boat a quick stroll over the bridge to the start of the grasslands was an inspired move as we jammed in on a Swamp Francolin, c15 Chestnut Munias and a male Black-faced Bunting

The following morning was dedicated to a thorough exploration of the grasslands at Maguri Beel. And it really was a fantastic and productive visit. We managed views of the incredibly difficult to see Spotted Bush Warbler and Chestnut-crowned Bush Warbler but had to settle for just hearing Baikal Bush Warbler. The stand-out highlight was the rare and difficult Brown-cheeked Rail which Probin knew exactly where to find. Add to that Black-browed Reed Warbler, Paddyfield Warbler, Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Bluethroat, male Siberian Rubythroat, 2 Swamp Francolins that exploded out of the reeds, Smoky Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Striated Babbler, Long-tailed Shrike and Black-faced Bunting shows what a fabulous site this is.


After leaving the grasslands we stopped at several roadside spots in the vicinity scoring with roosting Brown Boobook, 3 Whistler's Warblers (which are very smart birds) and Mountain Tailorbird before a rustic homestay lunch. After that a brief visit to Padumoni WLS set in a wooded 'island' within tea plantations didn't give us much apart from a Crimson Sunbird which was new for the trip. 


That afternoon in a slightly odd way we repeated the boat trip of the previous day adding only Striated Heron to the triplist and seeing much the same birds as the previous day but in smaller numbers. One bonus was a close and photographable Pintail Snipe but we did question the need to repeat what we'd already done. 


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