ACT Day 01 - Ngadi to Srichaur

Abundant Insects

By now, the cacophony of sounds had returned: the rustling of tiny rivulets and streams that flowed down into the crashing river below; the melodic twittering of birds as they peered down from their branches; and the buzzing and chirping of a multitude of insects. There were also tiny and silent, yet jaunty, movements everywhere that seemed to only materialise when I slowed down to focus on the stillness. Most of the movements were made by grasshoppers that hopped around and a huge and very diverse array of butterflies that flitted around deftly in the air. Most of them were yellow, orange, and brown, and included Indian tortoiseshells (Aglais caschmirensis), common lascars (Pantoporia hordonia), tree yellows (Gandaca harina), and dark Judys (Abisara fylla).

A common lascar butterfly (Pantoporia hordonia); a dark Judy butterfly (Abisara fylla)

Whilst the butterflies were restive, other insects sat so still that they seemed sessile. The only times I would notice them would be when they were perched on the top of plants or at the very edge of leaves. All of them were 'true bugs'--insects that come from the order Hemiptera--with most of them being stink bugs (Family: Pentatomidae). On one occasion however, I spotted a wonderfully vibrant giant jewel bug (Eucorysses grandis), and on another, I spotted a plant stalk that was completely infested with milkweed aphids (Aphis nerii).

Stink bug (Family: Pentatomidae)

Giant jewel bug (Eucorysses grandis)

Aside from the insects, there was also an abundance of arachnids. Their dew-covered cobwebs lined the path and would glisten and catch my eye. Most of the spiders were common orb weavers (Nephila spp.), but a large number of them were signature spiders (Argiope anasuja), which are spiders that leave zig-zagging patterns called 'stabilimenta' on their cobwebs. I had never seen as many argiopes in one area before.

The two sides of a female signature spider (Argiope anasuja). The stabilimenta can just be seen in the lower right corner.

We reached the edge of lower Bahundanda at the curve of a dirt road about 4 kilometres in. The trail passed guesthouses as it continued up a rocky stairwell, which eventually became a curvy uphill dirt road that switch-backed up the steep slopes towards Bahundanda (elevation : 1310 m). The village was nestled on a ridge that lay much higher than its surroundings and it thus provided some great views of the serpentine loops of the Marsyangdi river and the valley just beyond. From there, was just a long descent down to the paddy fields below.

The descent was quite slippery as the trail consisted of damp rocks and boulders that were interspersed with streams that ran across and somethings along the path. We ended up passing a waterfall that lay right next to the trail (7.3 km mark) that had eroded the slopes to such a degree that we were forced to climb carefully over a large landslide almost immediately after it. Rivulets were so ubiquitous here that riparian insects such as damselflies and dragonflies were seen everywhere. Sometimes we would pass through swarms of dragonflies that flitted around, numbering up to thirty individuals, and mostly consisting of both the yellow (female) and black-grey (male) black-headed skimmers (Crocothemis nigrifrons), as well as heavily-armoured Asian pintails (Acisoma panorpoides).

A male Asian pintail (Acisoma panorpoides)

Next (Day 1) : Ngadi to Srichaur (Part 3)

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