The Search for the Pink-Headed Duck
A Journey into the Himalayas and Down the Brahmaputra
Fifty-two years after the pink-headed duck was last seen in the wild, Rory Nugent set off for India in search of this exceptionally rare bird. In Calcutta he prowled the fowl market, where a few of the ducks used to appear during the Raj. Traveling on to Delhi, he was befriended by a Cambridge-educated smuggler, and he learned of remote regions to the north where the duck might be found. In Sikkim, following the trail of a Yeti, he became lost in the Valley of Bliss and nearly imprisoned inside a forest of rhododendrons, each the size of a ranch house. Making his way to Assam, he bought a 13-foot skiff and paddled the Brahmaputra River from Burma to Bangladesh, with stops on an island, considered to be Kali’s left breast, and at a Tantrist temple, where he stumbled on a grisly ritual in a graveyard. In a secluded marsh along the river he may have spotted the world’s rarest duck.