Some birds are always present in the “most wanted birds checklists” by default, and the Ward’s Trogon is certainly no exception. Even before my trip to Mishmi Hills in Arunachal Pradesh began, I’d convinced myself that if I failed to see this bird then I could consider my trip unsuccessful, such is the aura of this bird.
t was 13th April, 2021, the last of our 4-day excursion to Mishmi Hills. The previous days were largely washed out due to rain and heavy fog, but we did manage to get a few good birds when it did stop raining for a while. However, we dipped on Ward’s Trogon; neither did we hear any calls nor did we get any updates from other groups if they had sighted it. On 13th however, while we were descending from Mayodia Pass (which, again, was soaked in fog), we stopped at a place where our guide, Anupam Nahardeka, had seen the Ward’s Trogon a couple of times. It wasn’t a spot that many knew, so we thought that it had potential to become a good sighting. This place was at a bend, and the habitat was exactly what the trogon prefers - temperate broadleaf forests with moss-laden creepers and vines. We stayed put in the car as it rained cats and dogs. Anupam, with his years of experience, told us that if rain stops completely, then there’s a high chance of being able to locate the trogon. After an hour of waiting, the rain subsided and we could finally get out of the car. As soon as we walked down a bit, bang, we heard the typical “klu” notes of the trogon in succession. Anupam mimicked its call, and it duly gave a response. Its call came from the next bend above us. As we looked up, a purple-ish ribbon like thing separated itself from the tree it was perched on and landed right on the tree next to us. As we hurriedly photographed this stunning male, I heard something swoop by above my head. Before I had time to recover and realise what had just happened, a female Ward’s Trogon had just appeared on a branch adjacent to the male. In a forest that is predominantly green, it was refreshing to see the vibrant yellow of the female and the muted purple of the male. It really looked like a match made in heaven! The pair duly obliged us for half an hour after which we left the place.
This is one of my most memorable bird sightings, and I will never forget the sight of the male flying towards us as if a red ribbon was floating in the air.