Birding, Learning, and Adventure in the Foothills of the Himalayas

photo of a great hornbill

Hollywood parodies of a typical American vacation invoke imagery of a testy ride in a wood-paneled station wagon to sandy beaches, log cabins, or theme parks.

In the real world, vacation travel has rapidly evolved: Many modern travelers are eager consumers of adventure and enlightenment that take them to exotic, less familiar destinations.

Many rewards await birders, adventure travelers, and nature enthusiasts on this trip, including the sizzling colors of Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird, the majesty of Pallas’s Fish-Eagle, and the large and vocal Great Slaty Woodpecker.

In some cases, the adventure focuses on an experience that’s exclusive to locations. These travelers are looking for an underwater cave to explore, an ashram for spiritual nourishment, or rainforests full of exotic species of plants and animals.

Similar to the adventure traveler, the birder targets destinations that are home to winged species they haven’t seen and documented on, what birders call, their formal “life list.” The foothills of the Himalayas in India are known as a birder’s dream, with more than 1,300 species in one of the world’s most breathtaking natural settings.

Morgan Tingley, UConn associate professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is leading a UConn Alumni Relations tour titled, “India—Birding the Foothills of the Himalayas,” scheduled for May 7-19, 2018.

Many rewards await birders, adventure travelers, and nature enthusiasts on this trip, including the sizzling colors of Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird, the majesty of Pallas’s Fish-Eagle, and the large and vocal Great Slaty Woodpecker.

When travelers aren’t focused on the sheer delight of spotting a new avian species, they can soak in panoramic views of the Himalayas and the natural beauty of mountain forests and wetlands. Toward the end of the journey, a morning tiger safari safely takes you to the natural home of one of the earth’s largest felines.

photo of a purple sunbirdThis trip offers the camaraderie of traveling with fellow members of UConn Nation. Plus, it offers the enrichments of tour leader, Prof. Tingley who received the Young Professional Award by the Cooper Ornithological Society in 2012 and, in 2014, a “Wings Across America” award from the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

All of Tingley’s knowledge and expertise is accessible throughout the trip, fielding questions and verifying species along the way. “One of the important things I can do is talk about bird biology and their behavior,” said Tingley. Given his background, Tingley can discuss regional and environmental issues. “I can add a broader educational environment and connect their lives to what they’re experiencing on the trip.”

Tingley is also accompanied by a local, Indian bird guide with intimate knowledge of the birds and the land, offering further insights and observations.

“Some travelers will view this tour as an opportunity to experience the sheer beauty of nature in this part of the world,” said Tingley. “Others will relish both the aesthetics and the chance to understand what bird populations can tell us about anthropogenic change.”

Deb Crary, Director of Alumni Events, organizes the Alumni Travel program at UConn, and said, “It might be hard to imagine experiencing this natural grandeur narrated by a renowned, academic expert. But this trip to the foothills of the Himalayas is a real opportunity for birders, adventurers, and anyone who would welcome the chance to step into the pages of National Geographic magazine.”

For more information or to register for this trip, visit our UConn Alumni Relations website or call (877) 907-5360.


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