Birds of Assam & Mishmi Hills

Mishmi Wren-Babbler

The Mishmi Hills is the main focus of this tour, after our main Northeast India trip further west, but the lowland wet forests of Assam have some fantastic birding, and we should manage a brief taster of these in the Jeypore forest area of Dehing Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, before heading to Roing. Finding the rare Brown Hornbill would make this very worthwhile, but we could also be lucky with White-winged Duck, Grey Peacock Pheasant, Ruddy Kingfisher and Silver-breasted Broadbill.

The Mishmi Hills of northeastern Arunachal Pradesh has become popular in recent years as travel restrictions in the state have eased. The area covers a large altitudinal range over a relatively short ground distance which means bird diversity is excellent. With many species being altitudinal migrants according to weather conditions it is also quite difficult to predict! The highlight species is the highly localised Mishmi, or Rusty-throated, Wren-babbler which, after being described from one specimen collected in 1947, was not seen again until 2004. As with most Wren-babblers it can be skulking and difficult to see, but with perseverance we should get good views. Other superb birds in this area include Blyth’s Tragopan, Sclater’s Monal, Himalayan Owl, Chevron-breasted Babbler (Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler), Rusty-bellied and Gould’s Shortwing, Dusky Thrush, Purple and Green Cochoa.

We will spend time at different elevations of the Mishmi Hills in order to see a variety of birds, including a stay at the bizarre Mayodia Coffee House where we can guarantee that you certainly won’t get good coffee, and even a cup of instant would be remarkable!

Our last full day back in the lowlands will be spent exploring some of t he 340 sq km Dibru-Saikhowa National Park encompasses a patchwork of seasonally flooded forests, beels (shallow ponds), and grassy pockets between the arms of the rivers Dibru and the Brahmaputra. Excellent grassland supports a range of rare and specialised birds including the threatened Marsh Babbler, Jerdon’s Babbler, Black-breasted Parrotbill, Swamp Grass-Babbler, and this is the best place in India to see Jerdon’s Bushchat. The wetlands and riverine forests may also produce Baer’s Pochard, White-winged Duck, Bengal Florican, Pale-capped Pigeon and Indian Grassbird.

Itinerary

Day 1: Tinsukia to Roing

This tour starts from Tinsukia so if you are joining it directly as opposed to coming from our main Northeast Highlights tour, you should arrive at Dibrugarh airport the previous day and we will arrange pick up from the airport and transfer to our hotel.

Assam’s lowland wet forests provide excellent birdwatching and we will enjoy a brief taste of this on our journey to the Mishmi Hills. There are various options here which we will decide on at the time. We may spend our morning in the Jeypore or Soraipong areas of Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary where some key targets include White-winged Duck, Austen’s Brown Hornbill and Pale-capped Pigeon. Alternatively, and subject to permissions, we can bird inside the Digboi Oilfields complex where the excellent lowland forest hosts the localised Chestnut-backed Laughingthrush, as well as Collared Treepie, another bird difficult to find elsewhere. Other possibilities include White-cheeked Partridge, Thick-billed Green Pigeon, Square-tailed Drongo Cuckoo, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, and Blue-throated and Pale-chinned Blue Flycatchers.

After our morning here we drive north-east, across the Brahmaputra on the new Dhola–Sadiya Bridge, the longest bridge in India, to the town of Roing at the base of the Mishmi Hills.

Day 2: Mishmi Hills: Roing to 12th Mile

The Brahmaputra branches near where we crossed yesterday, and the northern tributary, the Dibang river, provides access to extensive swampy grasslands. We will spend some time birding these areas, probably near Jia or Nijamgarh, in particular looking for Bengal Florican. Always difficult to find due to their secretive habits, our best chance is often for a bird flying over the grassland or, with luck, from a small watchtower constructed by enterprising locals. Lesser Coucal, Yellow-bellied Prinia, Spotted Bush Warbler, Jerdon’s, Chestnut-capped, Marsh and Striated Babblers, and Black-breasted Parrotbill, are all key birds to look for here.

The rest of the day will be spent birding the lower elevations of the Mishmi Hills, such as at Sally Lake and further up the Mishmi Hills road as far as Baramile ‘12th mile’. This area, which includes the Mehao Wildlife Sanctuary, may produce species such as White-browed Piculet, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Red-headed Trogon, Long-tailed Broadbill, White-throated Bulbul, Slaty-backed Forktail, Spot-throated Babbler, Beautiful and Long-tailed Sibias, Hill Blue Flycatcher, Sultan Tit, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Red-faced Liocichla and Silver-eared Mesia.

Day 3: Mishmi Hills: Roing to Tiwari Gaon to Mayodia

Today we head up in altitude, concentrating our birding on the middle elevations, particularly around the small hamlet of Tiwari Gaon. Birdlife varies considerably with altitude, and here we may see Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler, Chestnut-crowned Warbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Mountain Tailorbird, Chevron-breasted Babbler, Long-billed Wren-Babbler, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Beautiful Nuthatch, both Purple and Green Cochoas, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, Large Niltava and White-tailed Robin.

We will continue up to our overnight halt for the next three nights, the bizarre Mayodia Coffee House!

Days 4 – 5: Mishmi Hills: Mayodia Pass

The Mayodia Pass at 2,666 m is the highest point on the road in this part of eastern Arunachal Pradesh. Sclater’s Monal is a very rarely encountered species in India, with the few records usually coming from near the Mayodia Pass. Other good species here include Blyth’s Tragopan, Himalayan Owl, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Ward’s Trogon, Grey-sided and Spotted Laughingthrushes, Gould’s and Rusty-bellied Shortwing, Fire-tailed Myzornis and, of course, Rusty-throated or Mishmi Wren-Babbler. This was known from just a single specimen collected in the 1940s until it’s rediscovery in 2004. It appears to be locally common although, as with all wren-babblers, we might need some luck to get clear views.

We have two full days to explore the higher elevations of the Mishmi Hills.

Day 6: Mishmi Hills to Tinsukia

Our day to leave Mishmi Hills and our birding plan will largely depend on what we have and haven’t managed to see over the past few days. We may spend more time at Mayodia Pass (maybe for a final attempt at Sclater’s Monal!) and will undoubtedly stop for a while at middle or low elevations. We can again try one of the grassland areas near Roing, or make progress to our base at Tinsukia to spend time at Maguri Beel or nearby.

Day 7: Dibru-Saikhowa National Park

Our final full day’s birding has some flexibility in the plan, but we will probably explore the alluvial flood plains of the Brahmaputra, in the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. The landscape consists of wetland, grassland and small patches of forest, but it is likely to be the grassland we concentrate on, visiting by boat and on foot. A major target here, seldom seen elsewhere in India, is the declining Jerdon’s Bushchat. We’ll also be looking for the rare Swamp Grass-Babbler, previously treated as a subspecies of Rufous-vented Prinia, now split with both forms being recategorised much more appropriately. Baer’s Pochard is occasionally found on the wetlands here, whilst we may also find Black-breasted Parrotbill and Indian Grassbird.

Alternatively, we could head inland to the lowland forests of Dehing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, which we definitely did not do justice do on our first day!

Day 8: Depart from Dibrugarh

This morning we will make our way to Dibrugarh airport where our tour ends, and from where we can catch flights to Delhi and onward as necessary.

Target Species

  • White-winged Duck
  • Baer's Pochard
  • Blyth's Tragopan
  • Sclater's Monal 
  • Grey Peacock-Pheasant
  • Bengal Florican
  • Pale-capped Pigeon
  • Himalayan Owl
  • Ruddy Kingfisher
  • Austen's Brown Hornbill
  • Silver-breasted Broadbill
  • Rusty-throated Wren-Babbler 
  • Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler 
  • Swamp Grass Babbler 
  • Indian Grassbird 
  • Marsh Babbler 
  • Jerdon's Babbler 
  • Black-breasted Parrotbill 
  • Dusky Thrush
  • Purple Cochoa
  • Green Cochoa
  • Gould's Shortwing
  • Rusty-bellied Shortwing 
  • Jerdon's Bush Chat
  •   Endemic
  •   Near Endemic

Species Checklist

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Important information

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As with all Bubo Birding tours, your booking is handled by Asian Adventures.
This tour is guided by Mike Prince, plus local birding guides.

Prices quoted are per person, assuming an exclusive 2 person tour. Larger group sizes attract a discounted per person price, which we will confirm to you on enquiry.
International flights are excluded.
The final price and itinerary will be confirmed before booking and depending on your expected arrival and departure plans.

See Asian Adventures for full tour details, including accommodation, what's included, other exclusions, prices for larger groups, single room supplements, and booking details.

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