The Advisory Boar

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <>

My first Wallcreeper

Late in December 2009, as a birthday present to myself, I went on a solo trek to Dayara Bugyal, a high-altitude alpine meadow in Garhwal. I meant to write about the week I spent in the mountains, but upon my return, I found the experience too overwhelming to try to describe all at once.

Some six months after the trek, I posted a a photograph from my first campsite. Nearly a year later, I wrote about my decision to forego a field guide on the trek; that's where the paragraph quoted above comes from. It's been nearly five years since then, and I've typed that first sentence a dozen more times, but I never got much further.

One of my most enduring memories of the trip is of a small grey bird crawling up the face of a rock cliff just below Barsu village. I was driving back to Uttarkashi in the late afternoon after the trek, and I caught a flicker of movement on the cliff from the corner of my eye. I knew instantly what it was—a Wallcreeper, a bird I had been hoping to find for the past five years. I had barely a minute to admire it, but I'll never forget the sudden flash of scarlet when it flew away.


It's almost Wallcreeper season where I live now. They're a familiar sight in passage to lower altitudes in early winter, but that first sighting will always be the most precious.

Harike, January 30–February 1 2010

I've had a hectic start to the new year as far as bird-watching and travel are concerned. I went on a solo trek to Dayara bugyal in Uttarakhand in late December, participated in the annual waterfowl census at the Pong dam reservoir in Himachal Pradesh in mid-January, did a lightning weekend trip to the Chambal river in UP a week later, and went to Harike in Punjab at the end of the month for another waterfowl survey.

I've had a great time, of course, and it's been wonderful birding in new places, but it's also been demanding and tiring. My memories of the time I spent at Harike are already fragmented, and I don't feel up to writing another exhaustive report. Instead, here's a selection of the more vivid moments that I will remember the trip by—not in any particular order, and with no attempt to fill in the fuzzy grey areas in between.

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One afternoon on the Chambal

I packed a bag and pulled on my boots at a few hours' notice this last weekend for a trip to the Chambal river with Mr. and Mrs. D. S. Pandit and Devashish Deb of Delhibird.

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Pong Dam waterfowl census, January 15–17 2010

My first visit to Pong Dam was to participate in a remarkably well-organised winter waterfowl census conducted by the Himachal Pradesh forest department. Here's a long report.

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Munsiari, April 28—May 09 2009

I had a productive summer bird-watching trip to Munsiari, Uttarakhand. I hiked up to Khalia Danda (3747m) with a group of NOLS students who were learning about the alpine habitat.

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Morni/Sukhna wildlife sanctuary, January 2009

An unofficial report of a two-day checklist review birding event near Chandigarh.

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