Crows and kites over Kathmandu: Nepal field trip part 1


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On Monday I returned from a 10 day trip to Nepal to support an undergraduate field course run by one of the University of Northampton’s partner colleges, NAMI.  It was my first time in that country, actually my first time in the Indian subcontinent, and it was quite a trip.  I want to share some thoughts and experiences over a few blog posts.  They will be light on text and heavy on imagery, because Nepal is such a spectacular country in so many ways, and the Kathmandu Valley has an abundance of ancient temples, palaces and other sites, many of which survived the 2015 earthquake that flattened more recent buildings:

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But first, what of those crows and kites?  They are actually Black kites (Milvus migrans), dozens of them, and hundreds of Indian house crows (Corvus splendens), all providing an important service in Kathmandu: clearing some of the rubbish from the streets.  They were especially spectacular in the evening, around 5.30 pm, when I would watch them circling and moving towards their nightly roost:

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It’s a really stunning urban wildlife spectacle that none of my pictures do justice to, so here’s a close up of one of the crows:

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Kathmandu has a serious problem with waste and pollution, as do many large cities in that region:

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But the NAMI campus itself is very nice, clean and well presented:

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And it has wildlife of its own, including and array of birds, butterflies and bees, and at least one species of lizard:

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But beyond that, the staff and students I worked with were just great, a real pleasure to meet, the staff committed and the students very engaged with their studies:

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This one was taken the day that we set off for the field trip, in a bus that was driving us from Kathmandu to Kutumsang at 2470 metres above sea level.  The two NAMI staff members who led the field trip, Narayan Prasad Koju and Sanu Raja Maharjan, are both highly experienced Nepalese ecologists:

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We spent one night at Kutumsang then trekked to Mangengoth at 3420 masl, then Thadepati (3690 masl).  It was unseasonably cold up there and quite a lot of snow was still on the ground.  At that point I started suffering from altitude sickness and was happy to descend back to Kutumsang.  During our trek the students established 20m x 20m quadrats at 200 m intervals and recorded woody plant diversity and abundance, and which plants were in flower.  In addition they recorded the tracks and scats of any mammals they encountered.  Here are some shots of the students in action and the general landscape:

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Part 2 to follow.




2 thoughts on “Crows and kites over Kathmandu: Nepal field trip part 1

  1. Pingback: The persistent crisp packet: 23 years in the environment and still going strong | Jeff Ollerton's Biodiversity Blog

  2. Pingback: Just published: Interactions between birds and flowers of Rhododendron spp., and their implications for mountain communities in Nepal – download it for free | Jeff Ollerton's Biodiversity Blog

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