Sunday, April 9, 2017

Achievers Who Came Along In My Life: II

“Congratulations, Yeshey! It was all due to your guidance and service to TWS that resulted in the great success of Mr. Kaestner’s visit. I really believe that we achieve great things for our country in small steps like these - winning one heart at a time and you made a great contribution to this one!”

This is how an official of the Royal Government of Bhutan wrote to me - to thank me for my part in the success of Mr. Kaestner’s Bhutan visit, during October of 2009. The retired US diplomat Mr. Peter G. Kaestner was then posted at the US Embassy, New Delhi.

Among the world birding community, he is an achiever and a luminary. Mr. Peter G. Kaestner is acknowledged as one of the world’s TOP TEN BIRDERS.

Peter G Kaestner, one of world's top 10 birders at 8,666 life birds

The International Ornithologists’ Union places the total number of known bird species at 10,500. Ofcourse this number does not stay static - while some bird species regularly go extinct, new ones are constantly discovered. Of this many known species, as on last count (as per his mail to me dated 21st March, 2017) Mr. Peter G. Kaestner has recorded 8,666 life birds - a staggering more than 82% of the world’s entire bird species!

Bhutan is listed among the world’s top 10 birding destinations. And this is where Mr. Kaestner got two of his life birds: the extremely rare White-bellied Heron (Ardea insignis) - in Lekeythang, Punakha on 28th October, 2009, and the Fulvous Parrotbill (Suthora fulvifrons) - in Dochula, the next day.

Having guided Mr. Kaestner for two days, the following was my trip report to the government:

Hi All,

I am happy to let you know that Mr. Peter Kaestner was fortunate enough to sight his life bird – White-bellied Heron on the evening of 28th October, 2009 - the same evening we travelled to Punakha. The original plan was that we would stop over at Dochula and look for his other life bird – Fulvous Parrotbill. However, I changed the plan and decided that we will leave that for the return trip – since the White-bellied Heron was more important for Peter than the Parrotbill.

Upon reaching Punakha past 4.30PM, we decided to go straight to look for the bird and leave the check-in into the hotel for later in the late evening. That was a good decision. Twenty minutes on the road to Puna Phochhu, the bird flew in and landed by the river bank at Lekeythang.

The most beautiful part of the close to half an hour of wonderful viewing of the bird was that Peter actually saw the bird take a huge fish – a
Snow Trout (Yuel-Nya) and swallow it whole. The fish was so big that it got stuck in the slender neck of the bird and despite the bird trying to shake it down, it remained stuck there. I know that the fish will eventually die and then the bird will be able to shake it in – but we decided we had enough and left the bird in the middle of the small rush – still trying to shake the fish down.

Next day he sighted is other life bird - Fulvous Parrotbill, at Dochula.

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