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  • Photograph of Himalayan Monal

    A rare image of a rare and beautiful Himalayan Monal at Sela Pass by Ian Merrill.

    NORTHEASTERN INDIA

    Best Wildlife in Northeastern India

    Mammals
    Indian Rhinoceros, Asian Elephant, Hoolock Gibbon, Ganges River Dolphin, Asian Water Buffalo, Capped and Golden Langurs, Assamese/Rhesus Macaques, Red Giant Flying Squirrel, Black Giant Squirrel and Sambar. Also a chance of Tiger and Gaur, and an outside chance of Red Panda.

    Birds
    Black-necked Stork, Brown Fish Owl, Ibisbill (mostly Nov-Mar), Crested Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Blue Magpie, Asian Fairy Bluebird, Long-tailed Broadbill, Sultan Tit, White-crested Laughingthrush, Wallcreeper, Himalayan Monal, Bengal Florican, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Fire-tailed Sunbird, Ward's Trogon, Green Cochoa, Grandala, Himalayan Cutia, Fire-tailed Myzornis, babblers such as Buff-breasted, Cachar Wedge-billed, Jerdon's, Marsh and White-hooded, Large and Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, Bar-winged Wren Babbler, Spotted Elachura (formerly a Wren Babbler, now in a family of its own) and Beautiful Nuthatch, four of the 40 or so Indian endemics; Bugun Liocichla, Mishmi (Rusty-throated) and Tawny-breasted Wren Babblers, and Snowy-throated Babbler, as well as Bar-headed Goose (mostly Nov-Mar), Ruddy Shelduck (mostly Nov-Mar), Snow Partridge, Grey Peacock Pheasant, Blood and Kalij Pheasants, Red Junglefowl, Swamp Francolin, Spot-billed Pelican, Oriental Darter, Indian Pond Heron, Black Stork (mostly Nov-Mar), Lesser and Greater Adjutants, vultures including Himalayan Griffon, Grey-headed and Pallas's Fish Eagles, Pied Harrier (mostly Nov-Mar), Black, Great Spotted (mostly Nov-Mar) and Rufous-bellied Eagles, Collared Falconet, Black-tailed Crake, Grey-headed and River Lapwings, Bronze-winged Jacana, Small Pratincole, Great Black-headed Gull (mostly Nov-Mar), River Tern, Snow Pigeon, Vernal Hanging Parrot, parakeets, Green-billed Malkoha, owls including Dusky Eagle Owl and Brown Hawk Owl, Crested Treeswift, White-throated Needletail (mostly Apr-Sep), Red-headed Trogon, Pied, Stork-billed and White-throated Kingfishers, Blue-bearded, Blue-tailed and Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters, Indian Roller, Dollarbird, Hoopoe, Great and Oriental Pied Hornbills, barbets, woodpeckers including Great Slaty, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Ashy Woodswallow, Common Iora, minivets, Long-tailed Shrike, Maroon Oriole, drongos including Greater Racket-tailed, Green Magpie, (Eurasian) Nutcracker, Red-billed Chough, Black-naped Monarch, Black-throated and Yellow-cheeked Tits, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Brown and White-throated Dippers, bulbuls, leaf warblers, Chestnut-headed Tesia, tailorbirds, niltavas, shortwings, Siberian and White-tailed Rubythroats (both mostly Nov-Mar), Indian Blue Robin (mostly May-Sep), (Himalayan) Red-flanked Bluetail, bush robins, White-rumped Shama, redstarts, forktails, Blue-capped (mostly May-Sep) and Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrushes, thrushes, laughingthrushes, scimitar, shrike and wren babblers, Silver-eared Mesia, Red-billed Leiothrix, minlas including Red-tailed, fulvettas, sibias, yuhinas, parrotbills including Black-breasted, starlings such as Spot-winged, mynas, leafbirds, flowerpeckers, Gould's and Green-tailed Sunbirds, Streaked Spiderhunter, accentors, rosefinches, bullfinches, and Gold-naped and Scarlet Finches. Also a chance of Sclater's Monal, Blyth's, Satyr and Temminck's Tragopans, Baikal, Falcated and White-winged Ducks, Baer's Pochard, Black-tailed Crake, Long-billed Plover, Hodgson's Frogmouth, Brown Hornbill, Blue-naped Pitta, Collared Treepie, Purple Cochoa, Orange-headed Thrush and Maroon-backed Accentor.

    Plants
    The amazing flora of the eastern Himalayas includes a great variety of rhododendrons, cobra-lilies and epiphytic orchids (although these are perhaps at their most diverse in the nearby Indian state of Sikkim, notably in Kangchenjunga NP).

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Northeastern India

    Photograph of Greater Adjutants

    Greater Adjutants at the dump by Jon Hornbuckle.

    Best Times for Wildlife in Northeastern India

    The best time to visit the lowlands is between mid-November and March, especially mid-February to the end of March, when the numbers of wintering birds from the north and high Himalayas usually reach their peak. Kaziranga NP in the lowlands does not usually open to visitors before mid-November because it is usually flooded during the monsoon, from May to October. High altitude areas, notably Sela Pass, may not be accessible until April at the earliest hence mid-April to May is arguably the best time to look for the many mountain birds, although a few wintering species and some species which pass through the mountains during the northern spring may have already left by early April at the latest.

    Recommended Books etc. for Northeastern India

    Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by K Kazmierczak. Helm, 2008.

    Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 1999.

    Field Guide to the Birds of Nepal by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2000 (Second Edition due September 2016).

    Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide Volumes 1 and 2 by P C Rasmussen and J C Anderton. Lynx Edicions and Smithsonian Institution, 2012.

    Indian Mammals: A Field Guide by V Menon. Hachette, 2014.

    Field Guide to the Mammals of the Indian Subcontinent by K K Gurung and R Singh. Helm, 1998.


    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Northeastern India

    Many trip reports, some for Northeastern India, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Northeastern India. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Northeastern India' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Northeastern India

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Northeastern India

    Some Organized Tours to Northeastern India

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Northeastern India include the following.