It was a sudden plan to visit Mishmi Hills in April 2015. Although from March to May, every year is the golden period to watch birds in Mishmi Hills, there will always be a very high chance of spoiling your travel plans by insane rain of the hills. I was driving my XUV500 overnight and reached Tinsukia by morning at 4.30 AM. After a quick visit to Maguri bill, little 3 hours of rest and early lunch again started driving towards Mayodia.
At that time Dhola-Sadiya Bridge over river Bramhaputra and the bridge over river Deopani was under construction, and one had to cross the first river in mid-sized boats and second river by driving through it (if the water level is low enough). We finally reached the Coffee House (the only place to stay near Maydoia Pass) by around 8 PM after having the brilliant sighting of Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus), luckily that was the first photographic record of this bird-species from Arunachal Pradesh.
Next day morning was welcomed by the sighting of Gould’s shortwing (Heteroxenicus stellatus) and probably again first photographic record of that species from either Arunachal Pradesh or from Mishmi Hills. Though both of the species mentioned above were never on my target list (None of us were even expecting such unusual sightings), We were more than happy to be so lucky. It was my first Mishmi Trip. I was accompanied by one of the most talented and experienced bird-guide Binanda Hatibaruah. From the very morning, our continuous search was for Mishmi Wren-babbler (Spelaeornis badeigularis) in and around Mayodia Pass at nearly 2500 MSL. After around 3 hours of search, finally, at about 9 AM, we had our first glimpse of this endemic beauty just few hundred meters down from Mayodia Pass. Two Mishmi Wrens welcomed us at the same time.
Photographing a wren in Arunachal is never easy. Its shy nature, its typical dark and thick under growth habitat, cold weather, all will make your life hell as a photographer. I wasn’t using very high-end equipment at that time. My Nikon D610 with 80-400 VR II lens, still it was enough, as I had an excellent experience of shooting these birds in the habitat of North-East India. As a photographer, I think that you need more experience slightly better equipment to shoot such unpredictable birds in the forests of NE India. Better equipment will help to focus bit quickly, and a useful bird guide is a must in any situations. My first Mishmi Wren was accompanied by two most prized sightings of my life, which are Long-Eared Owl (Asio otus) and Gould’s shortwing (Heteroxenicus stellatus). In my birding life, I had many such unexpected events. I will try to share a few in the coming days.