Wednesday 29 January 2014

Bet you weren't expecting this!

Here is what we hope is one of Wader Quest's best kept secrets. We secretly planned to go out with a bang.

We widely advertised the fact that we'd end our quest in Thailand to try and see the Spoonies one more time, but we didn't tell anyone we were going to go to the Himalayan foothills while in India on a rather risky gamble. The trip involved an overnight sleeper train from Delhi to Ramnagar, a day in the field, one night in an hotel another day birding and then another night train back to Delhi. Indian sleeper trains are not for the faint hearted! On the return journey a rat chewed through my rucksack to get at the food inside as I slept just inches away... nice!

Fortunately the gamble paid off and we completed our tally of waders for the quest on the first morning in Ramnagar with a real stonker... IBISBILL!!
Ibisbill; Kosi River, Ramnagar, India.
This species was one that at first I didn't think we would get a chance to see but my determination to see a River Lapwing brought us to within twitching distance of this bird and the temptation was too much to resist. It could have gone horribly wrong, these birds are far from reliable and we had very little time.
River Lapwing; Kosi River, Ramnagar, India.
In fact it was a River Lapwing that led me to these birds. We were searching our last spot for Ibisbill when I saw a River Lapwing in the distance. I couldn't resist looking at this splendid bird again and noticed, to the left what I thought could possibly be an Ibisbill. With my heart stopped I held my breath and waited for the bird to move, if indeed it was a bird at all! It did move and I thought I got the flash of a red bill. I announced to Elis and Anil our guide that I had found the bird. Elis of course set off in hot pursuit before they flew off. Anil didn't believe a word of it thinking it would not be possible to ID the bird from that range.
Ibisbill; Kosi River, Ramnagar, India.
Eventually we were close enough that Anil could see the bird and it was he that discovered there were in fact two!
Ibisbill; two birds, these are very cryptically camouflaged birds and quite hard to locate in the rocky habitat where their plumage blends in perfectly.
We spent a very long time watching these birds well aware that this was probably the end of Wader Quest in a sense although we are mapping out some long term plans for the future. A feeling of great tranquillity came over me as I watched this incredibly sought after bird in such magnificent surroundings suddenly all the stress and angst of the last 15 months flowed from me and I sat smiling to myself with a feeling of great satisfaction.
Ibisbill; Kosi River, Ramnagar, India.
Of course it is possible that we might strike lucky in Thailand with an out of season migrant, but the chances are that Ibisbill is to be our swan song, and we can think of few other species that would create such a feeling of dramatic climax than this bird.
Elis and me enjoying the Ibisbills.
Me and Anil watching the Ibisbills.
So now it is off to Thailand and hopefully some 'quality time' with the spoonies before we return home for the last time.
Couldn't resist another River Lapwing shot to finish off.


  1. Oh My... This is awesome. I have to say that I have seen that stone... no the other one... probably all, but not the Ibisbill. What a luck. Fantastic bird. Congrats to your new lifer. In the meantime I try to narrow the gap for GBP3.000. ;)

    Best wishes, Szimi

    1. Hi Szimi. Missed this comment, so sorry. Have you been to the Kosi River looking for these then? We are very lucky to have found them for sure. Thanks for your continuing support, obviously now we can say that that gap was not just closed, but exceeded, for which we are very happy and grateful to you and everyone else who donated. Cheers. Rick and Elis.