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Eaglenest

When Gaurav Kataria, a birder and tour operator, invited me to go along with him to Eaglenest during March of 2015 …….., I had loads of apprehension about the weather, terrain and the proximity to medical assistance. Earlier, before my trip to Namdhapha, It was Gaurav who counselled me on similar fears and he egged me on. Namdhapha, a lowland rainforest with its empty forest syndrome calls out to only a handful few who are fortunate, he said and having competed that, Eaglenest is a cakewalk, was his opinion. In the presence of intense birders, tough itineraries become a joyous holiday. Eaglenest and Bompu camp was no exception. As the jeep, loaded with breakfast and Lunch, followed us at intervals, I never felt the need to hop onto it. We would walk with our gear on the shoulders for 6 to 8 hours each day. Invigorating days

With Gaurav Kataria

The virgin forests of Mandala, Eaglenest and the trek between Bompu camp to Haathi Naala and Lower Kellong threw up surprises at each bend. The change in habitat and seeing different flocks or individuals after very 500 meters is a photographer/birder’s delight.
We had Phurpa Arteju as our guide. This kid was a big surprise. He could call out the names of a dozen birds in a flock by their calls alone.
We heard and saw 220 species and photographed around 75 species.
The moment you cross into Arunachal Pradesh the change in air quality and visuals is palpable. Cross Balukpong and the festival begins. We were welcomed by Rufous woodpecker amongst the bamboos and 500 meters later we were wondering which bird to focus on. My jaw just dropped looking at the activity of the hunting flocks

Green Tailed Sunbird

The virgin forests of Mandala, Eaglenest and the trek between Bompu camp to Haathi Naala and Lower Kellong threw up surprises at each bend. The change in habitat and seeing different flocks or individuals after very 500 meters is a photographer/birder’s delight.
We had Phurpa Arteju as our guide. This kid was a big surprise. He could call out the names of a dozen birds in a flock by their calls alone.
We heard and saw 220 species and photographed around 75 species.
The moment you cross into Arunachal Pradesh the change in air quality and visuals is palpable. Cross Balukpong and the festival begins. We were welcomed by Rufous woodpecker amongst the bamboos and 500 meters later we were wondering which bird to focus on. My jaw just dropped looking at the activity of the hunting flocks

Mandala throws surprise at each bend and the birds were quite comfortable in our presence. At Eaglenest, the Bugun gave us the slip. 6 trips later, it showed up as the "Year Bird" in 2018. Rofikul and I had to leave the pair of Bugun Liochicla after watching it to our hearts content.
Bompu camp is a visual delight. The stay and food are both excellent.
It was here I met Marmot Snetsinger, daughter of Phoebe Snetsinger, my idol, the record holder for seeing the highest number of birds. That meeting was more precious than the sighting and shooting of the Chestnut Breasted Partridge. Believed to have been photographed for the first time. The moment Marmot slung Phoebe’s binoculars around my neck, patted my back and asked me to go watch birds….. was the most magical moment in my bird photography life.

As far as the story on shooting the Chestnut Breasted Partridge goes…..
On the way up from Haathi Naala to Bompu Camp towards evening, Phurpha heard the call. It was from 100 metres from where we were walking. I was looking forward to the local brew which was organised by Gaurav’s Partners at Bompu- Camp and was happy with the day’s catch. I reluctantly halted and on looking back at Gaurav Kataria’s face, I sensed his seriousness to get this bird. I dragged my feet back and positioned on the far end of the track. The call came a bit closer by the minute. After a seriously long wait, we could sense movement behind a pile of dry leaves. When the crest appeared a few centimetres above the pile of dry leaves, Gaurav Kataria and Gaurav Deshmukh pressed the click button till almost to the bottom of the camera and held it there. The bird kept moving to and fro, feeding and finally, he just stood before us with his head cocked up and started calling. It was my turn to hit the trigger now. The trigger fingers of all three needed traction after about 2 minutes of frenzied action. For a change, what appeared like a first in my photography times, the ear-to-ear grins, backslapping and fist pumping happened even before we reached for the LCD display, to have a peep at the pictures.
Very few place on this planet offer you endless serendipities other than the one main reason you have travelled to experience… Maybe a couple more, if you are fortunate. But to witness serial sequence of value pile-up at the end of every third bend is beyond my comprehension.

Chestnut Brested Partridge

Eaglenest in Arunachal Pradesh is that rare bonus on earth. The habitat and the avian residents morph into a new avatar at an average of each kilometre… With each habitat a new beauty beckon you and most often the cacophony of a mixed hunting flock with their captivating acrobats will whizz past you nose.
You could be anybody or everybody in a magical merge… A birder… Photographer… Honeymooner… Drifter… your time hangs still and you begin to transcend into pure bliss.
The mist hangs over the thick forest like a shimmering sheer and drifts across the hills bringing in the right amount of pleasing light for photographers.
The camping experience is magical and at the same time offer you a mood of luxury. I customised my tour plan and the programme was conducted flawlessly. Each meal of the day was nutritious and a veritable spread.
Would I go back...? Definitely yes. At the first opportunity, I would be back in Eaglenest and Arunachal Pradesh….

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17 thoughts on “Eaglenest

  1. moorching says:

    Ttt

  2. Ravindra says:

    Guru that was an amazing read !!! Your speeches list is amazing!
    Eagle nest in particular and north east in general have been on my bucket list for a long time!!! Till then I can have the pleasure of watching it through your photographs!!!
    Cheers!!

  3. Manash jyoti Talukdar says:

    Very beautifully written and amazing photographs, just loved it..

  4. Revath B C says:

    Amazing experience!! Wonderful read!

  5. Lata Roddam says:

    “ your time hangs still and you begin to transcend into pure bliss”.
    Your words certainly takes me into that magical world. Keep them coming Guruavvare!

  6. Dhruv Tripathi says:

    I’m so glad you started writing. It’s such a pleasure to be with you on these journeys. Your writing is wonderful and I thank you for sharing it with us. Look forward to a book someday if we can be so fortunate!

  7. Pranava G B says:

    Beautiful experience and what an achievement! So glad that you’re sharing your adventures 🙂

  8. Pranava G B says:

    Beautiful experience and what an achievement! So glad that you’re sharing your adventures. Looking forward to read about the rest of them 🙂

  9. Sathya Narayanan KD says:

    Lovely description and images make me want to visit this place for sure.

  10. Thank you for taking your time to share such valuable insights. It’s always great to get new perspectives on important topics like this.

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