a country steeped in tradition but moving towards modernization, has
the highest percentage of remaining forest cover of any country on
earth. Access to this prime birding area, the montane forest of
the eastern Himalayas, has long been difficult, but birders have begun
taking advantage of Bhutan opening its doors to tourists.
This provides access to a wide variety of rare and little-known
birds, many of which we saw on this year's tour, including Satyr
Tragopan, Himalayan Monal, Ward's Trogon, Beautiful Nuthatch,
Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler, Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler,
Dark-rumped Swift, Rufous-necked Hornbill and Yellow-rumped Honeyguide.
The birding was truly exceptional. There always seemed to
be something to look at, and even when there wasn't, there was the
sense that anything was just about to pop up. With so much intact
forest, mammals abound. We had numerous sightings of the
beautiful Yellow-throated Marten, but the undoubted mammal highlight
was having prolonged views of a mother and cub Himalayan black bear
feeding on a hillside opposite where we stood.
the incredible prevalence of birds and mammals, we managed to fit in
some great cultural activities, visiting several of Bhutan's impressive
and imposing dzongs, as well as monasteries, textile factories and
markets. As if that weren't enough, we got to eat delicious
Bhutanese food every day; the camping crew often bringing it to us
right while we were birding in the forest. Bhutan is a remarkable
country--the world's newest democracy, no less--but with modernization
gaining traction, it is best to visit soon!
continued on to Kaziranga National Park in India, home to a very
healthy large mammal population and some excellent birding.
Besides some great birds like Bengal Florican, Greater
Adjutant, Swamp Francolin, Barred Buttonquail, Red-headed and
Slender-billed Vultures, Grey-headed and Pallas' Fish-Eagle, Brown
Fish Owl and Spotted Owlet, Blue-naped Pitta, Yellow-eyed Babbler,
Chestnut-capped Babbler, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Finn's
Weaver, etc. Mammal sightings were plentiful, with daily sigtings
of Indian One-horned Rhino, Asian Elephant, and even a brief Tiger
sighting, and Hoolocks Gibbon being a definite highlight.
In essence, the Bhutan part of the tour yielded 348 species seen (plus 7 heard) and 17 mammals (not including unidentified bats)
the Kaziranga extension added 102 new birds and 10 additional mammals.
This makes the prospect of a combined Bhutan and Kaziranga NP
extension, to yield ca.450 species in 24 days....Superb!!
The flights into Delhi lined up beautifully and by noon most of the
group had gathered in Delhi from the UK, Scotland and South Africa whilst
others had made their way into the kingdom via Bangkok.
At the Delhi airport hall we compared runway sightings gathered during
the transfer between domestic and international terminals.
Everyone has managed to clock Red-wattled Lapwing, Eurasian
Collared Dove, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Common Myna and Pied Bushchat.
Whilst checking in for our Bhutan-bound flight we enjoyed
the peculiar sense of humour of the Druk Air's ground personnel, with
a manager adamant that no flight was scheduled for today, and
a checking staff
determined there was one and to book us on board.
The "laissez faire" looks of our e-tickets did not instill
on us as they carried this weird header titled DYNAMIC
BALLOON HELP....but then when we looked around to search
for peace of mind....a similar sense of helplessness reigned at
the next door booth of Buddha Air and Cosmic Air.
Somehow, it all sorted itself out and before we knew it we were all
seated and headed for Paro via Nepal. Everest was well tucked in the
clouds and did not spare us a view...but no one missed the flying dzongs and chortens streaming past our windows
as we merrily stooped our way into the narrow Paro valley, to finally
yank up the nose before touchdown and doing something that
felt like a
stall and drop landing in the impressive Paro Airport. BOY did it
feel great to be alive!!
Soon enough we were through with custom formalities and meeting our
Norbu. A slight drizzle and fading light was not enough to put off a
lifer-hungry mob to head for the nearest possible site with a chance to
sight Ibisbill...and before we knew it we were birding the Paro
Chhu (river) bagging on the way
We scanned downstream a likely stretch of river, inspecting
Solitary Snipe and other waders...but the clouds, drizzle and
fading light were dampening our hopes...when suddenly ...flying
paddled their way into a chilly breeze and landed on a
rocky stream bed opposite ours. The excitement was palpable as we
and planted our scopes and eventually gorged ourselves in point blank
exquisite views of this
great looking, much longed and dreamt.....highly desirable specialty.
Tom and Wendy who had arrived early and birded the vicinity of
Dzong came across a
With a broad smile across our souls we gathered with the rest of the
group at the Gangtey Palace our royal base to explore Chele La and
the Paro Valley the following
mornings. The Palace now run by the current King´s
First cousin was being managed by his beautiful daughter and
charming wife. The rooms were cozy, en suite, comfortable and
decorated with traditional cloths and drapes, rugs and cushions.
The attention to detail throughout was exquisite, very Zen-like
and it took a while to assimilate the richness in detail that goes into
traditional Bhutanese building. The night views over the floodlit
Paro Dzong were mesmerizing and
the food...DELICIOUS..contrary to many remarks from other travelers
that Bhutan only knows how to cook chili.
Since the main targets of today were three pheasants we scheduled an
early start. By the time the first sun rays tinged the snowcapped
mountains around is into a kaleidoscope of pinks, we were on site and
ready to track down Kalij Pheasant. As it happens we found it
effortlessly, just feeding next to the road...and several times
throughout the morning, nearly always in groups of 3-4 and ended the
day with an impressive tally of
of 17 individuals.
Common as they may have been we enjoyed every single one of
them and their bewitching
indigo hues. Further on we lucked
upon our first covey of
, two females and one male,
which we enjoyed at large as they scurried on crisp white snow showing
off every colour they done. A sense of glee impregnated the group as
the second pheasant was bagged. Finally, whilst snaking our way
towards the summit of Chele La our first of eight
appeared...feeding on the side of the road peacefully yet working its
into some scrub. For a few mega-entertaining seconds we watched
this iridescent beacon in disbelief, trying to recall what other bird
has an equally powerful iridescence whilst a beam of yellows
and oranges glowing into gold smacked our retinas. The feast
continued up the road as another covey was spotted and one
male flew up into a tree providing grandiose and definitive views
The breakfast site, the first one of many, seemed chosen out of a
coffee table book on best picnic spots in the world. Atop Chele La,
embedded in a
plantation of white prayer flags, and strings of smaller colourful
fraying prayer flags...we enjoyed hot cups of coffee and
tea, a full English breakfast and some Bhutanese specialties such as
cheese and chili and more chili with beef and rice, superb warmers.
After breakfast we slowly ambled down the hill, slowly thawing off,
regaining our breath and racking up a healthy list of
welcome species such as
. From a distance we also
got teased by calling
. Shortly before lunch, we came across a great flock of
making it very simple to study and enjoy species such as
. Other familiar species enjoyed
throughout the morning were
. After lunch we birded our way down from
Chele La, but birding became painfully slow and very little was
added with the only remarkable sightings
being a pair of
Another scrumptious meal capped a memorable first day in the Kingdom.
News that Josh Engel (TB Guide) had managed to obtain his visa and was on his way
reached us. Apparently the Indian embassy in Johannesburg was stalling his passport
under suspicion that he may have been a US reporter on his way to China to report on the events taking place.
Soon after breakfast we headed for some boggy swamps near the Paro
River in search of Black-tailed Crakes. As soon as we got
out of the car we flushed a
from the river, and careful
scanning and working of the area yielded another six snipes; enthralled
by the sighting we nearly missed on a few
progress along the river bank. By the end of the morning we managed to clock five different
Before we returned to the hotel we swung by Paro and enjoyed a stroll
through the local open market, which was bustling, colourful and mighty
interesting. The souvenir shops were not worth checking out as
they were highly overpriced and geared for desperate tourists on a last
chance to purchase mission before hitting the airport.
On our drive down to Thimphu we stopped to take a few shots of the
impressive Paro Dzong and the access bridge, whilst doing so we scored
...a bird we never tired of seeing
or photographing. Other birds spotted en route included a rare
that most would not bother looking at but
which later guide in hand proved to contain
the distinct white tail bands noted (by those who never give up on Rock
After lunch in Thimphu we decided to visit the Takin enclosure at the
outskirts of the capital. This is perhaps one´s best chance to
see at close quarter this bizarre goat-antelope and endemic to Bhutan.
The large enclosure also contained Sambar Deer and Barking Deer. Whilst
enjoying these bizarre looking creatures, we also enjoyed good views of
. Soon after we headed for the Thimphu Water
Treatment plant were we were greeted by a large flock of
We ended the day in the warmth of the Druk hotel, pampered by yet
another scrumptious meal and happy to see Josh joining the group.
set off on a day trip from Thimphu up the Cheri Valley towards Jigme
Dorji National Park. Soon after leaving town we stopped for some
roadside action, finding Long-tailed Minivet, Brown Dipper
and what would be our first of many Rufous Sibia.
soon entered the Cheri Valley, parking at a remarkable mural of Guru
Rimpoche on a large rock, and walking along the roadside. We had
soon found some gorgeous Gould's Sunbirds
as well as Rufous-fronted Tit
and Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher
, but the excitement really started when Christian screamed "WALLCREEPER
For some, our first view would be of the Wallcreeper feeding on a
chorten, a typically Bhutanese monument. We rushed into the
village on the other side of the river (pausing briefly for a pair of Maroon-backed Accentors
the way), where the bird had been. After walking around the
village for a tense fifteen minutes, Christian relocated the
Wallcreeper and everyone had good looks at this bizarre montane denizen.
continued on towards the park, arriving to find breakfast (complete
with hot coffee!) at the ready. We ate a distracted breakfast
(there's no other way with so many birds around) and soon we were off
on a walk through the forest. We encountered several small
warbler flocks giving us our first taste of this notoriously
difficult-to-identify group, finding Pale-rumped (Lemon-rumped) Warbler, Blythe's
and Large-billed Leaf-Warblers
and Chestnut-crowned Warbler
We arrived back to the bus to find out that Gerald had hiked to
the monastery and had an up-close encounter with a habituated Goral
one of the Himalaya's famous goat-antelopes. Scoping the hillside
brought us distant views of this animal; fortunately much better views
would come later in the trip.
On our way to lunch we stopped at a cliff to look for the rare Yellow-rumped Honeyguide
We pulled up chairs and waited. Sure enough, we eventually
caught site of a sallying honeyguide which was eventually found
perched. And perch it did, sitting still for over 30 minutes as
we watched and photographed this lovely male honeyguide, the Himalaya's
sole representative of this predominantly African family. After
lunching below the Guru Rimpoche mural, we headed back to Thimphu.
Our driver took us to an overlook where we had stunning views of
the new administrative building (as well as Little Buntings
before doing a bit of souvenir shopping in town. Most interesting
was visiting the post office and learning that photos of Golden Langur
by tour participant Gerald Cubitt were being used on Bhutanese
Having missed the first two days of the
tour, Josh visited the Thimphu Sewage Works while the rest of the group
had a chance to relax and sightsee around the capital. He had soon
found my main target, the absolutely fabulous Ibisbill
, a pair of which fed in the rushing river. Among the other birds present was a very shy but confiding Hume's Short-toed Lark
, one of few records for Bhutan, that allowed me to get close enough for nearly frame-filling photos.
April 1, Day 5: Thimphu to the Mo Chhu Valley via Dochu La and Punakha.
got comfortable while we waited for the rare Yellow-rumped Honeyguide
(right) to show up. It was worth the wait! (left: Christian
Boix, right: Josh Engel)
arrival at high pass of Dochu La coincided with the arrival of an
impressive snowstorm. We tried birding in it, but soon gave up
and opted for the warmth of breakfast in a local restaurant.
Luckily our finishing of breakfast and the end of the snowstorm
coincided; as soon as we stepped out of the restaurant we were swamped
with birds to look at. First was a group of Dark-breasted Rosefinches
perched atop a spruce, but soon Norbu was waving at us. We hurried over to find a group of extremely confiding female Red-headed Bullfinches
. As everyone scrambled to get camera gear ready, a male Dark-rumped Rosefinch
popped up and started feeding on a bright red rhododendron flower!
New birds were rapidly added as we walked down the road: Green-tailed
Sunbird, Rufous-vented Yuhina, White-browed Fulvetta, Stripe-throated
Yuhina, Striated Laughingthrush, White-throated Laughingthrush,
Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, White-tailed Nuthatch, Green Shrike-Babbler,
Many of these birds were part
of a large and--for the most part--very cooperative mixed flock.
As the flock was dwindling the cry of Fire-tailed Myzornis
went up and the group scrambled over. Eventually everyone got
great looks at these improbably green birds feeding on rhododendron
We got back in the bus to head to lunch, but had to stop when we encountered a mixed flock at 2500m. A singing Brown-throated Treecreeper
first caught our attention and our first Gray-hooded Warbler
and Black-throated Tit
held it, while stellar views of Plain-backed Thrush
ended our successful pause.
A short post-lunch photography stop yielded a Slender-billed Oriole
, Ultramarine Flycatcher
and Hair-crested Drongo.
spent the remainder of the afternoon on an unsuccessful hunt for the
rare White-bellied Heron along the Po Chhu River. All was not
lost, of course. Here we found our only Bar-headed Goose
as well as our first Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler
seen by some, White-throated
and Common Kingfishers
, and a very cooperative Crested Bunting.
Finally we made our way to our beautiful campsite set in the midst of the forest alongside the Mo Chhu.
April 2, Day 6: Mo Chhu Valley.
day began with an impressive dawn chorus. Soon we were making our
first of what would be many attempts for tesias, those difficult,
nearly tailless warblers that inhabit dense understory. Chestnut-headed Tesia
was singing loudly, but it only showed itself to a few lucky
participants. Fortunately, most birds were more cooperative, and
we had soon seen Greater Yellownape, Maroon Oriole, Bay Woodpecker, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Small Niltava, Speckled Woodpigeon
and Great Barbet.
A small flock yielded another Ultramarine Flycatcher
and our first Yellow-vented Warbler
, and were starting to get accustomed to the abundant and stunning Verditer Flycatcher
returned to camp for breakfast (and four species of redstarts), before
setting back out along the road downriver from camp. An Oriental Cuckoo
sand from a bare treetop while small groups of Whiskered Yuhinas
bounded through the forest. Black-throated Sunbirds
were common and we caught up with our first Scarlet
and Gray-chinned Minivets
and Mountain Bulbul
, while a male Slaty-backed Flycatcher
showed very well. The highlight of the walk was undoubtedly the pair of Crimson-breasted Woodpeckers
excavating a nest hole at eye level, allowing for great studies and many photographs.
lunch and a short rest back at camp, we set off to explore the roadside
upriver from camp. Things started out slowly but soon picked up
with point-blank looks at a Bay Woodpecker
and great looks at a male Greater Yellownape
It started to drizzle as the afternoon was turning into evening
and several people opted to return to camp. Those who stayed out
spent their time trying to coax two super-skulkers into view: Spotted Wren-Babbler
and Slaty-bellied Tesia
The wren-babbler sang its remarkable loud song and deafeningly
close range, but we never saw more than a shape fly across a small
opening. The tesia was a little better, showing clearly for those
in the right place at the right time! We finished the day with a Golden-throated Barber
before returning to camp.
April 3, Day 7: Mo Chhu Valley to Pele La.
We watched this male Crimson-breasted Woodpecker excavating a nesting cavity along the Mo Chhu River. (Josh Engel)
This White-capped Water-Redstart was a camp resident. (Christian Boix)
A Crested Kingfisher
and perched Mountain Hawk-Eagle
the day started right while we enjoyed our pre-birding (hah!) coffee
and biscuits. After the diversion, we spent the morning birding
upriver from camp along the Mo Chhu. A fruiting tree was near
where we parked the bus was full of birds, including Great
and Golden-throated Barbets.
Christian got lucky with a Blue-capped Redstart
that disappeared before others got onto it, but Yellow-bellied Fantail
and Slaty-backed Flycatcher
were more cooperative. A group of Nepal Fulvettas
as found in the understory and showed well, while a fantastic pair of Fire-capped Tits
showed off in the canopy. We made up for our earlier poor views of Goral
with one on a steep cliff over the river directly opposite us. A singing Spotted Wren-Babbler
wouldn't come out for us, but this was soon forgotten when Wendy found a pair of Pygmy Wren-Babblers
collecting nest material. This normally skulking bird put on quite a show and we returned content to camp for breakfast.
After breakfast we returned to the town of Punakha, stopping along the way for a fantastic pair of Slaty-backed Forktails.
We stopped in town to visit its gorgeous dzong (seeing Chestnut-tailed Starling
and Peregrine Falcon
while doing so), located at the confluence of two rivers. After a
very nice tour of the dzong and photographing it from a great vantage
point nearby, we continued our journey to tonight's camp at Pele La.
stopped to eat lunch alongside a chorten and afterwards Josh went to
explore some scrub along a nearby stream. Soon he came rushing
back to grab the group--it was full of birds! We had soon
relocated Blue-throated Flycatcher
in a large flock which posed for all to admire, but the Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler
was less cooperative. We did have great looks at Speckled Piculet, Nepal Fulvetta
and Fire-capped Tit
, and soon we had relocated a pair of stunning Spotted Forktails
It was incredible finding a small bit of exposed stream where
birds were coming to bathe, in a few minutes of watching we saw Blue-winged Minla, Rufous-capped Babbler, Oriental White-eye
and Nepal Fulvetta
all bathing. Returning to the bus we bumped into a group of at least seven Kalij Pheasants.
Continuing our drive we found a group of Barred Cuckoo-Dove
and parked practically under a Crested Serpent-eagle
nonetheless allowed us to get out of the bus and photograph it before
taking off. We stopped once more for a group of Gray Langurs
before reaching our camp.
April 4, Day 8: Pele La to Trongsa
a failed attempt to chase a calling Satyr Tragopan down a muddy trail,
we decided it would be best to stick to the road. Alas, we heard
tragopans several times but never saw one. Along the road we
found several Fire-tailed Sunbirds
among the abundant Green-tailed,
some brilliant Spotted
and Black-faced Laughingthrushes
and numerous mixed flocks that included Chestnut-tailed Minla, Buff-barred
and Ashy-throated Warblers, Rufous-vented Tit
and White-browed Fulvetta
among others. Two female Crimson-browed Finches
fed quietly near camp. After breakfast we began working our way
back to the main road we continued encountering interesting birds,
including three Himalayan Griffons
that decided it was too foggy to be flying around and landed in a nearby tree. A flock of White-winged Grosbeaks
contained a male Collared Grosbeak
and a group of White-browed Rosefinches
fed along the roadside. Arriving at the main road and its
innumerable prayer flags we found one of our main targets for the
morning after much searching when a group of extremely cooperative Brown Parrotbills
obliged us by feeding in dwarf bamboo mere feet away from our admiring stares.
drove down to our lunch spot adjacent to a typical Bhutanese-style
house. The surrounding scrub contained a few goodies, not least a
pair of Beautiful Rosefinches
and a cooperative Eurasian Treecreeper
. After lunch we forged on towards the town of Trongsa, first finding no fewer than three Wallcreepers
on a single roadcut. Continuing on we made a birding stop in
broadleaf forest and no sooner had we gotten out had we found a large
mixed flock. Rufous-winged
and Golden-breasted Fulvettas
fed in the roadside bamboo, while a pair of White-tailed Nuthatches
worked the branches overhead and White-throated Fantail
and White-spectacled Warbler
in the low trees. Only minutes after leaving this flock had we
found another, this time in bamboo understory that we had the privilege
of looking down into. A Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler
showed well, if briefly, while Yellow-cheeked Tit
was more cooperative. The undoubted highlight of the flock was Black-throated Parrotbill
that unfortunately was only seen by a lucky few. As the flock was moving off we were able to call in a Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler
for excellent views as it emerged from the bamboo below us.
Finally we made our way to our hotel in Trongsa where they had
just begun a three-day maintenance-related power outage!
Fortunately they brought us hot water for bathing and plied us
with free drinks to make up for it.
April 5, Day 9: Trongsa to Shemgang.
Bullfinches were seen several times at higher elevations and were
usually very confiding. (male on left by Ian Fulton, females on
right by Christian Boix)
morning we set off early for three nights of camping along the famed
Shemgang Road. It was to be a long drive, so we scheduled our
day with early morning birding close to Trongsa, then driving through
the middle of the day, then finishing the day with birding closer to
Shemgang. Thus our birding began only a few minutes outside of
Trongsa, where we were quickly inundated with new birds in the scrub
adjacent to the forest, including Gray-winged Blackbird, Russet Bush-Warbler, Hill Prinia
, male and female Crimson-browed Finch
and Streaked Laughingthrush
, a species that had recently been split and is now a near-endemic called Bhutan Laughingthrush.
Moving into the forest, we soon found a flock that included a cracking male Large Niltava
as well as the beautiful Red-tailed Minla
and Short-billed Minivet
. Flocks of Tibetan Siskins
were flying about and were nice enough to perch in the treetops for us. A party of the cute Black-chinned Yuhina
bid us farewell to this stretch of forest as we boarded the bus to drive to Shemgang.
A large raptor caught our attention and turned out to be a juvenile Rufous-bellied Eagle
The stop proved convenient as it gave us a chance to wander
around a typical Bhutanese village, poking our heads into shops and
admiring the art and architecture. We stopped again when we
reached Shemgang, and after walking through to the other side of town (full of Large-billed
and House Crows
came across a small flock that included a Little Pied Flycatcher
and several Tickell's Leaf-Warblers
stopped several times on the way to camp. At one point we watched
as a parade of babblers flew across the road, starting with Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes
that perched on the side of the road for great views before continuing across the road. Rusty-fronted Barwings
joined the fray, and some people caught up with an elusive Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush.
trees in the area were covered in Rufous Sibia
, and a chorus of cuckoos led to great views of Common Cuckoo
but only brief views of the vociferous Large Hawk-Cuckoo
. Some saw Brown Bullfinch
and Rufous-bellied Niltava
, while others would have to wait to catch up with them later in the trip. A White-browed Shrike-Babbler
was a treat and a much-hoped-for Rufous-bellied Woodpecker
really showed off on a dead snag. The group was very pleased with a party of typically tame Golden Langur
, a near-endemic primate that we would see many of in the area. As light faded we caught up with a charismatic group of White-crested Laughingthrushes
and we arrived for a three-night stay at our gorgeous camp to a chorus of Mountain Scops-Owls
and Collared Owlets.
April 6-7, Days 10-11: Shemgang Road and Tingtibi.
enjoyed two full days of birding at elevations ranging from 650m to
over 2000m, while based at a perfectly situated camp on the edge of the
forest in the midst of some spectacular birding. We started the
first morning above camp, quickly coming across several mixed flocks.
The first contained the appropriately named Golden Babbler
, lighting up the understory with its bright plumage. A bit further up the road a flock of Rusty-fronted Barwings
(showing off their rusty front, no less) yielded a Blue-winged Laughingthrush
, while a Bar-winged Shrike-Flycatcher
was much less skulking. Soon Norbu was rushing back alerting us to the present of Cutia
just up the road. We showed up to no less than four of these
spectacular babblers poking around mossy branches just above eye
level. A flock was clearly around them, and soon we had found two
more targets: White-browed
and Black-eared Shrike-Babblers.
These were soon forgotten, however, when Christian--somewhat nonchalantly--said 'Beautiful Nuthatch!'
Unfortunately this bird would prove extremely elusive, only
giving brief views to a couple people as it stayed underneath the
epiphytes on the huge trees. It would be hearing from us again,
however. Our drive back to camp for lunch was livened up
by some charming and extremely photogenic Golden Langurs
, as well as by our first Blue-throated Barbet
, it's blue and green perfectly complementing the bright red Erythrina
flower on which it fed.
After lunch we headed to lower elevations, stopping frequently. First we stopped for Gray-faced Woodpecker
, then for a Lesser Yellownape
(where a Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch
also showed up). Arriving lower down we were greeted by a couple new bulbuls, White-throated
noisily making their presence known in the understory and Ashy
higher up, to complement the ever-present Red-vented
The real excitement started a little later, however, when Norbu again came running to fetch us. Hornbills!!!!!
After a few tense minutes of seeing nothing more than shapes flying
occasionally behind the trees, a magnificent pair of the rare Rufous-necked Hornbill
emerged, sitting side by side, in the open, for all to admire.
The cry went up and all of the sudden we didn't know where to look, a brilliant Great Hornbill
flew over, landing in a treetop, right in the open. A perfect way to to end the day's birding.
We spotlighted our way back to camp, finding a night-feeding Goral
(that gave us fits to identify until it finally came into the open), but, alas, all owls remained out of view.
following morning we began our birding at our lowest elevation to date,
walking on a broad trail through scrub and forest edge. We
quickly picked up some quality birds, starting with Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker
and soon followed by a pair of handsome Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes
and a Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler.
Soon Tom picked out the call of Long-tailed Broadbill
responded strongly to tape and flew in to a bare treetop for
outstanding views of this stonker. It was soon vying for
attention with a Drongo Cuckoo
(the square-tailed form) in the same tree. Walking back towards breakfast Christian spotted a Gray-capped Pygmy-Woodpecker
, but most people had moved on a few minutes later when he and Sonia saw a Black-headed Shrike-Babbler
. A small stand of bamboo held a couple of interesting warblers, including a Rufous-faced
that only a few people saw and a Yellow-bellied
that gave everyone great looks. A pair of Pin-tailed Green Pigeons
whizzed past while Asian Palm Swifts
made several passes overhead. The drive back to camp was
punctuated by a walk that a few people embarked on up a small
stream bed. Eventually movement caught our attention and we spent
quite some time sorting out a small and very skulking mixed flock.
It eventually revealed its secrets, highlighted by a Ferruginous Flycatcher
and White-browed Scimitar-Babbler
and also featuring Gray-chinned
and Golden Babblers.
We ate lunch back at camp, where our after-lunch rest was disturbed by the presence of a Rufous-necked Hornbill.
We then spent a rather slow afternoon searching for Beautiful Nuthatch
in the area where had had seen it the previous day. We did find a likely flock, but a thorough search revealed Red-tailed Minla
and White-tailed Nuthatch
but no Beautiful. Just as bird activity was dying down, we heard
it sing, moments later it flew onto a mossy branch far over our heads.
It then flew off to the ridge top, taking a moment to come
slightly lower in response to our playback, but once again it didn't
properly show itself.
April 8, Day 12: Shemgang to Trongsa.
|Hodgson's Redstarts were seen frequently in secondary growth at higher elevations. (Christian Boix)
We devoted our final morning in the area to again searching for Beautiful Nuthatch.
Walking up and down the road, just before we had to
leave, we found a promising flock. Then all of the sudden
there it was! A group of at least three, rapidly making their way
through the treetops climbing up the hillside. Before we knew it
they were gone, but most people caught their flash of brilliant blue
before they disappeared. And speaking of brilliant blue, moments
after the nuthatch disappeared a gorgeous male Sapphire Flycatcher
put in a blazing performance, atypically perching right in the open allowing for great views.
made one more stop along the road near Shemgang. Walking along
the road was rather slow until Norbu caught some motion in the
understory. Josh quickly got on it--Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler!
Eventually the group caught up and this very responsive bird
posed brilliantly at close range, displaying its outrageous bill and
subtly beautiful plumage.
With that final success we headed back to Trongsa, arriving in time for a tour of its
dramatically-situated dzong. We were even allowed into the art
classroom where we could admire the exquisite wall paintings and
beautiful shrine. Finally we made it to our hotel near town,
where a much-anticipated hot shower awaited.
April 9, Day 13: Trongsa to Jakar.
Today we spent a relatively slow day birding our way over Yotongla. A couple Spotted Laughingthrushes
perched out for us on the drive up, while at the pass Yellowish-bellied (Hume's) Bush-Warblers
sang their remarkable song, but showed only briefly, unlike Gray-sided Bush-Warbler
which was much more cooperative. Christian called a Hill Partridge
in very close, but it came into only his line of view. A pair of Alpine Accentors
fed along the roadside. Red-flanked Bluetail
and Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher
showed nicely. We passed through some dry agricultural land that revealed our first Eurasian Magpies
of the trip as well as a couple more Beautiful Rosefinches.
were sure to make it to Jakar in time for some cultural activities,
starting with a textile factory on the way into town. Local women
worked the looms while the shop displayed their beautiful, colorful
wares. In town we visited an incredible monastery, where the
monks and student monks were in the middle of a week-long prayer
session for world peace.
April 10, Day 14: Jakar to Sengor.
We only saw a couple Alpine Accentors. (Ian Fulton)
Golden Langurs were common on the Shemgang Road. (Christian Boix)
Glowing is the adjective one associates with Himalayan Monal
but it truly has to be seen to be appreciated. No sooner had be
exited this bus this morning than a monal, dressed in improbable neon
hues, flushed from the roadside and flew into a fir tree where we could
admire its glow. What a way to start a day! After a showy
start, things slowed down considerably. A few Goldcrests
graced the usual tit flocks and Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrushes
began to dot the roadside. A female White-browed Rosefinch
showed off her white brow in a small roadside flock, while an extremely responsive White-browed Bush-Robin
shot into view and showed off his as well. With lots of bamboo around, Great Parrotbill
was a major target. None were responding to our playback
attempts, so we were quite taken aback when a pair of these giants flew
into the top of a small spruce before shooting across the road.
The briefly came back out to playback but despite our best
efforts they eventually disappeared into the dense scrub.
we were approaching Sengor we had been walking for a few kilometers,
when Gerald came running up from behind. A car problem. We
shouldn't proceed any further until we know what the problem is.
In a remarkable coincidence, just then a caravan of cars pulled
up from the same ground agent and was able to give us a lift to the
bus. We arrived at the bus just as our resourceful driver, Karma,
was finishing up. We decided to get in and continue on our way to
Pandemonium broke out in the bus when Norbu's shout went up.
There it was, in all it's crimson and blue glory, a male Satyr Tragopan
strutting across the road. As it passed into a open area on the
roadside, we scrambled out of the bus and lined up to watch as it made
its way into the bamboo understory and out of view. Spectacular!!
This is a bird that has to be seen to be believed.
As nothing could quite compare with that, we headed down to camp, stopping briefly for a confusing Zoothera
thrush that we eventually decided was a Plain-backed Thrush.
April 11, Day 15: Sengor to Lingmethang Rd.
started the day with a roadside tragopan search, just to be greedy.
A female was seen briefly scurrying off the road, as was a male a
short time later, but no views to compare with yesterday's. A Darjeeling Woodpecker
was found during the search, but not finding a tragopan only made us
appreciate yesterday's amazing male even more. We returned to
camp for breakfast before continuing eastwards towards Yonkola and the
Lingmethang Rd. More tragopanning, so to speak, after breakfast
yielded a female for Christian and a Barking Deer
for Peta, but little else. A roadside stop a little later yielded a distant pair of Little Forktails
active around the waterfall-side nest; we would have much closer looks later in the day of these charming birds.
next productive stop was lunch, not just for the delicious food but
also for the fantastic birds our lunch stop offered. Everyone
finally caught up with great looks at Brown Bullfinch
, quietly feeding in buds, while a Sapphire Flycatcher
was also in the area. Our attention was distracted when female Gold-naped Finches
found and sat feeding on roadside weeds just long enough for everyone
to see. This was followed seconds later by another brilliant Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler
emerging from the bamboo understory below us. Moving on we found
some nice mixed flocks, one of which contained our first Yellow-throated Fulvetta
of the trip. A frustrating Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler
showed for some, while most had only the most fleeting glimpses of this
super skulker. A couple mammals on a distant hillside caught our
attention and turned out be a mother-young pair of Himalayan Serow
another strange goat-antelope feeding calmly on fresh leaves. A
few minutes later Ian spotted another mother-young mammalian pair on
the hillside--Himalayan Black Bear!
We watched this rarely seen animal for half an hour as they fed on leaves, completely oblivious to our stares.
We then caught up with another pair of Little Forktails
, whose antics we thoroughly enjoyed watching in the raging stream below us, while Yellow-rumped Honeyguides
sallied around the bee hives on the cliffs opposite where we stood. Not finished yet, a flock of dapper White-naped Yuhinas
grabbed our attention and moments later we caught up with our first proper views of Large Hawk-Cuckoo
, while a Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo
in the distance. We finally made our way to our camp, the VIP
camp as it turned out, which would be our home for the next three
April 12-13, Days 16-17: Lingmethang Rd.
The mammal of the trip--mother and cub Himalayan black bear. (Christian Boix)
This White-browed Shrike-Babbler really posed for us. (Christian Boix)
first morning's target was clear: the rare and reclusive Ward's Trogon.
We headed up to the appointed area (stopping on the way for a
remarkable white-winged Gray-winged Blackbird
) and began our search. A Chestnut Thrush
of the pale-headed Himalayan race rubrocanus
was a special treat, not only one of few records for Bhutan but it
fed uncharacteristically our in the open with a Blue Whistling-Thrush
, providing great views. A flock of no fewer than eleven Cutia
fed on mossy branches before flying, one after another, across the road. A snazzy Rufous-bellied Niltava
eventually perched on a bare snag, but all other thoughts disappeared
when Gerald showed up, wildly waving us to come. He was sure he
had just seen a Ward's Trogon
; he even described it perfectly.
few tense minutes--there it is! A brief flight view quickly
morphed into numerous prolonged views of the male (and a few nice views
of the female as well) as we spent half-an-hour watching and
photographing this rare and beautiful trogon. Once the trogons
had had their fun watching us, we moved on to attempting to lure a
couple of skulkers out of the understory, first a Hill Partridge
that only the leaders saw then a Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler
that again proved elusive. As we headed lower, one adorable (and shy) Pygmy Blue Flycatcher
came out for us, while others were heard singing their high pitched tunes.
moved lower as the rain began, and some in the group chose to head back
to camp to relax for the afternoon. Those who stayed out soon
found an outstanding and cooperative mixed flock that held our
attention for an hour in which we ultimately found eighteen species.
Our first Mountain Tailorbird
showed well and added confusion when a possible Broad-billed Warbler
was found. More satisfying was a lovely pair of Black-faced Warblers
, as well as a male Black-eared Shrike-Babbler
and a couple White-naped Yuhinas
, while two stunning Asian Emerald Cuckoos
in the treetops. Our attention was instantaneously diverted from
this flock, however, when Norbu came back reporting parrotbills just a
few meters down the road. Sure enough we showed up and had great
views of a group of beautiful Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbills
feeding in roadside bamboo. Sonia glimpsed a Scaly Laughingthrush
in their midst. Hearing Slaty-bellied Tesia
at close range, we attempted to lure him in. In doing so we
seemed to incite a duel, one male on either side of the road--yet
despite both coming very close, neither showed. After a busy
afternoon the rain arrived in earnest, so we returned to camp, stopping
to see and photograph our first Capped Langurs
. The rain let up a bit, so we took a short walk from camp in the drizzle. It was well worth it when a pair of Rufous-chinned Laughingthrushes
showed up providing scope views for the whole group and a pair of Chestnut-bellied Nuthatches
showed at very close range.
next day began at lower elevations in the fragmented forest below our
camp. A pre-breakfast effort for Red-headed Trogon didn't
succeed, but some people caught up with a White-tailed Robin
singing its melodies. After breakfast we headed to a new area,
where it didn't take long to add a couple great new birds, first when a
cooperative group of Rufous-necked Laughingthrushes
popped out of the scrub, then when a flock was found that contained a stunning Red-faced Liocichla
and a couple of Gray-throated Babblers
Birding in this open habitat allowed us to get some great views
and photographic opportunities of birds we had seen previously, like Great, Golden-throated
and Blue-throated Barbets
, Drongo Cuckoo
, Orange-bellied Leafbird
and Mountain Hawk-Eagle
, as well as a perched Besra
, our first. Blue-throated Flycatchers
were fairly common along this stretch of road, a Lesser Yellownape
was our first since much earlier in the trip and Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler
was seen by some. Open country birds, like Oriental Magpie Robin, Gray Treepie
and Spangled Drongo
were all common and seen well, but only a few people caught up with Bronzed Drongo
. A Mountain Hawk-Eagle
provided nice company during breakfast, watching over us and even calling.
We returned to areas a bit higher in the afternoon. The bus came to a screeching halt when a perfectly posed pair of Rufous-necked Hornbills
was found on a bare snag. We watched and photographed these calm birds for twenty minutes before Norbu came to fetch us: Scarlet Finch!
We had done exceedingly well on finches already and were ecstatic
to have a chance for the brightest of all. The birds had flown by
the time we showed up, but Norbu was determined to find them for us
again and sure enough, he did. We watched flock of these
beautiful finches, the males lighting up the tree like rhododendron
flowers. To cap the excitement, we looked towards the sky where a
was performing its strange display flight.
April 14, Day 18: Lingmethang Rd. to Trashigang.
sights from the Lingmethang Road. Left: male Ward's Trogon, one
of Bhutan's most sought-after species (Josh Engel); right: Capped
Langur, the eastmost ranging of Bhutan's three langurs (Josh Engel).
spent the early morning in the forests above camp. It was fairly
slow, but an incredible encounter with a large group of Cutia
was spectacular to behold. We watched them display--hopping over
each other in groups of three, feed, preen, sing and generally cavort.
We got some great photos and video of these birds which are not
the easiest photo subjects, generally staying in the canopy feeding
among epiphytes. A female Gold-naped Finch
, calmly feeding on roadside grass, likewise made a perfect object of our photographic affections. Blue-winged Laughingthrushes
feeding in the open on the edge of the road provided our best views
yet. On the way down we stopped again to try for Red-headed
Trogon without success, but some people caught a glimpse of Asian Barred Owlet
while everyone caught up with our first Dark-sided Flycatcher.
We continued our journey eastward after breakfast. A Blue-bearded Bee-eater
our first that cooperated, posed for us along the road. We
stopped as we went over Kori La, walking through the interesting forest
that covers its slopes. Gray-winged Blackbird
was fairly common there, with males and females feeding in the open
understory. We came across several mixed flocks, containing
goodies like Red-billed Leiothrix, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Rufous-winged Fulvetta
and Black-eared Shrike Babbler
, while Chestnut-tailed Minla
was very common. A group of handsome Black-faced Laughingthrushes
showed well, while White-tailed Nuthatch
and Verditer Flycatcher
posed for the photographers in the group. The remainder of the
drive was through relatively sterile chir pine forest. An Asian Barred Owlet
provided a momentary distraction before we arrived at our hotel in Trashigang.
April 15, Day 19: Trashigang to Narphung.
decided to take the morning to do a bit of exploring around Trashigang,
with people visiting shops, viewing the architecture and seeing what a
Bhutanese town awaking looks like. Some people chose to go
birding around the edge of town, finding Striated
Prinia, White-cheeked (Himalayan) Bulbul, Blue-throated Flycatcher,
Green-billed Malkoha, Golden-spectacled Warbler, Yellow-breasted
and Common Rosefinch
, while a couple of people who went to get good views of the town's imposing dzong found Eastern Crimson Sunbird
Trashigang our voyage shifted directions and we started heading south
towards the Indian border. A stop at the university campus
yielded a Phylloscopus
flock that included a Hume's Leaf-Warbler
, while Red-rumped
and Barn Swallows
fed overhead. Some
activity caught our attention as we crossed a pass, and getting out
Christian noticed a large female pheasant on the slope below--a tragopan!!
Josh went around the corner where he thought the view would be better and
sure enough there it was. He got it in the scope and everybody
enjoyed scope views of this very shy female as she foraged among the
mossy fallen logs. A Ward's Trogon
singing in the distance, another surprising find, but nobody was too
concerned when it didn't come in to playback considering the fantastic
looks we had a few days prior.
Arriving at our campsite
near Narphung, we had a few minutes of daylight to explore a nearby
trail. Few birds were active in the low-light conditions, but we
saw enough to whet our appetites for the next morning. We did get
very close to calling Chestnut-breasted Partridge
, but they didn't emerge from the dense undergrowth. Back at camp, Mountain Scops-Owls
serenaded us during dinner.
April 16, Day 20: Narphung to Samdrup Jonkhar.
This male Cutia was part of an amazing show of displaying, singing and feeding Cutia. (Ian Fulton)
A striking Crested Serpent-Eagle. (Ian Fulton)
started the morning walking the trail near camp. It was rather
disappointing (in part thanks to intermittent rain showers), but we
made the most of it. A male Rufous-necked Hornbill
interrupted our walk to the trail while nearby a Spotted Bush-Warbler
but wouldn't come out of the scrub. We did find a few mixed
flocks along the trail, containing a good variety of birds we had only
seen once or twice, including Black-faced Warbler
, Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler
, and Yellow-cheeked Tit.
Christian spied a White-browed Shortwing
, but it didn't stick around for others to see. Our first Plaintive Cuckoo
surprised us by perching cooperatively on a fence as we returned to
breakfast. Back at camp Tom heard an unfamiliar call note, which
led he and Josh to an interesting Cettia
warbler, the very yellow Aberrant Bush-Warbler
rest of the day was spent making to lower elevations. Lunch was
spent surrounded by a swirling swift flock that contained at least two
of the rare Dark-rumped Swifts
among the more common Fork-taileds
, as well as the torpedo-like White-throated Needletail.
We stopped several times, picking up a lovely Rufous-backed Sibia
, but singing Snowy-browed Flycatchers
weren't responding to playback. Silver-eared Mesia
had become common and we had many great views of this stunning bird.
Closer to Samdrup we stopped when a couple shorebirds were
spotted in a roadside stream. They turned out to be Green
and Common Sandpipers
, but more exciting was a brilliant Black-backed Forktail
who disappeared before everyone had seen it, only to reemerge and give
us all great views. While waiting for the forktail, a Crested Kingfisher
flew over and briefly alighted on a wire before continuing upriver.
arrived to town with plenty of daylight left, so we birding along the
border, with views of the Indian plains below us. The birding got
hectic here, it seemed that every bird we saw was new! Ashy
Woodswallow, Greater Flameback, Common Iora, White-rumped Shama,
Eastern Crimson Sunbird, Plain Flowerpecker, Large Cuckooshrike,
Oriental Honey-Buzzard, Black Stork, Asian Koel, Lineated Barbet, Hill
Myna, Asian Pied Starling. Greater Racket-tailed Drongos
harassed a Great Hornbill,
while a male Kalij Pheasant
scuttled through the bamboo. We also added a new primate, Rhesus Macaque
, as well as seeing Capped Langur
for the second time. It was certainly a very satisfying final afternoon!
April 17, Day 21: Samdrup Jonkhar to Guwahati. Departure.
our final morning upon us, we set out early for Guwahati to ensure
plenty of time for birding stops along the way. This was
definitely the right move--new birds came fast and furious. We
stopped on the bridge at the border crossing where a Thick-billed Warbler
frolicked in the lantana
and Tom spotted a Bengal Bushlark
We had essentially our first wetland birding of the trip, so the
myriad rice paddies and ponds were stocked with new species: Indian Pond Heron, Little, Intermediate
and Great Egrets, Purple Heron, Little Ringed Plover, Asian Openbill Stork, Little Cormorant
, Red-wattled Lapwing
. Better still were Lesser Adjutant, Watercock, Pheasant-tailed
and Bronze-winged Jacana, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Citrine Wagtail, Richard's Pipit
and Pacific Golden-Plover
. The trees held our first Rufous Treepie, Coppersmith Barbet, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
and Red Collared-Dove
and our second sighting of Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker
, while scrubby areas held Nutmeg Manakin, Jungle Myna
and Black Drongo.
we reached the airport, bid farewell, and embarked on our journeys
home or onward to Kaziranga National Park. It had been an incredible tour, and one that both guides very much
look forward to leading again.
Today most of the group parted to their respective homes, but those of
us with a bit more time in hand continued towards Kaziranga National Park in
Assam. Whilst waiting for transport outside Guwahati International Airport
several new species new for the trip were recorded, namely Greater
(35), Brown-headed Gull, Blue-tailed
and Bengal Bushlark.
The drive to Kaziranga was three and a half hours, somehow the poverty,
filth, tension and chaotic driving experienced between Samdrup Jonkhar
and Guwahati subsided as we entered a different atmosphere...filled
with peasant workers, rice paddies, water buffalo, cleaner roads,
relaxed traffic and a lot more trees and peace. We reached
our accommodation at the edge of the park by nightfall.
Kaziranga is an ambassadorial park famous for its large population
of endangered and protected One-horned Asian Rhino
...and it is very safe
to guarantee a sighting of this magnificent creature as there was not a
single a day that we came out of the park having sighted less than 50
individuals. Similarly Asian Elephants
are also very common here and we
often came across large herds, 20-30 strong. Other mammals thoroughly
enjoyed here was a fleeting Tiger
that never really showed up well, and
super views of Barking, Sambar, Swamp
and Hog-nosed Deer
. A highlight
for me was to come across Hoolock Gibbon
at Paamvari Forest...as it is
always great to come across apes...especially after being serenaded by
its howling calls all morning.
Birding was done over two full days and an extra morning, which proved
to be enough and ideal given the are that the park allows one to cover.
Birding was most pleasant and productive on the Central and Eastern
ranges, with the drive to the Bhramaputra Banks being my absolute
favourite and one that epitomizes the natural splendour of this park.
Birding was rather slow in the Western Ranges yet most enjoyable
at adjacent patches of forest fringing the extensive tea estates.
|We saw dozens of Indian one-horned rhinos daily. (Christian Boix)
At Paamvari Forest, birding was good and active throughout, with the
eerie calls of Asian Elephants
bulls in musth fighting in the distance,
yet filling the air with their trumpeting as well as Hoolock
wailing and Capped Langurs
jumping from tree to tree with
loose abandon. An impressive overture of cuckoos started the day, with
Oriental, Eurasian, Large Hawk
and Drongo Cuckoo
all at the same
fruiting tree that else held our first Large Woodshrike.
same tree full of Yellow-fronted Green-Pigeons
one Thick-billed Green-Pigeon
and more than one Blue-eared Barbet
that would take a while to tease out. Inside the forest
Black-naped Monarch, Striped Tit-Babbler
and Asian Fairy Bluebird
incredibly well. At clearings we enjoyed Plain Flowerpecker,
and Little Spiderhunter.
A small stream outside the
forest was being frequented by Brown Crakes,
whilst hooting in the
vicinity alerted us of female Barred Buttonquails
in "musth" and they
were not hard to locate.
At the unassuming Tea Estate Gardens, which we visited several times, we
had several Blue-naped Pitta
from bamboo gullies and tea bushes several times. We
also enjoyed cracking views of the rather large and great looking
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush
and Rufous-necked Laughingthrush
a bit of patience and crouching effort we secured top views of a very responsive
. Playback was the only way we managed to get
decent views of the handsome White-browed Piculet
. A surprising
encounter with a pair
of seldom-seen Chestnut-winged Cuckoos
was perhaps the best bird
that we squeezed out of the estate, though Rafik´s superb
"spotting prowess" yielded a gorgeous Brown Fish Owl
that will never be
forgotten, Asian Bared Owlet
and the rather
large Gray Nightjar
... as well as several Indian Flying Foxes
the night shift at dusk. The scrub surrounding the tea estate was also
productive and here we added White-tailed Rubythroat, Ashy
, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker
, Crimson Sunbird
to our tally.
The Western Range is fairly touristy due to the large observation
tower it is endowed with, offering superb views of the sweeping floodplains and open grasslands
which allow for easy Rhino spotting. The wooded areas to the north were
relatively quite in the afternoon, and here only Pale-chinned Flycatcher
was added. The floodplains were however buzzing with the typical
entourage of Indian wetland "classics" such as Black-necked
Stork, Asian Openbill, Lesser Adjutants, White-breasted Waterhen,
Watercock, Bronze-winged Jacana, Pheasant-tailed Jacana
and flocks of
. One-horned Asian Rhino
was more than abundant...and from
the observation tower we counted over 25 individuals, including two
mating. A carcass near the reeds had gathered
and Slender-billed Vultures
. The search for florican was fruitless, but instead we bagged Alexandrine
, Striated Grassbird
, great views of Swamp Francolin
The Central Range was largely avoided for most of our stay as it was a spring festival dedicated to the reverence of the
Elephant, and although it was not as crowded as one would have expected
by Indian terms, there were caravans of up to 20 vehicles cruising
through this section in the park in almost convoy fashion. We
thus birded this area in the early afternoon and once briefly in the
early morning. The heat of the afternoon did not help at all to locate
, of which we only got very hazy, distant views.
Large pans and river bends were frequented by Bar-headed Goose
, Indian Spot-billed Duck
and Cotton Pygmy-Goose
number of Eurasian species were spotted as well such as the colourful
and Northern Shoveler
, the colourful-less Gadwall
and the rare
. The typical entourage of fresh water waders such as
, and Green, Wood
and Common Sandpiper
there...but perhaps the one to phone home about was a lonely
and several Pintail Snipes
. Elegant River
patrolled the waters and an armada of Spot-billed Pelicans
by. Checking streams and rivulets we eventually caught site of a
beautiful perched Storkbilled Kingfisher.The grasslands were perhaps
more exciting to bird, and the
fact that at many sections the road is elevated, gave us an excellent
chance to scan and spot movement in the reeds and grasses below. Here,
we spotted over two visits Finn´s Weaver
, Striated Babbler
exquisite looking Chestnut-capped Babbler
, fleeting glimpses of Yellow-eyed Babbler, Chestnut Munia, Ashy
and Plain Prinias
views of India Roller
. All the while we were being very cautious not to upset the many
grazing Rhino that frequent the area, and whom have a serious
inferiority complex with their stature and horney lump, whatever it was
it would take very little to enrage them with our stationary
presence....which was amusing and at time fairly exciting. A rather
humbling find, I thought, was a Tiger´s scratch pole (a tree
used to sharpen THE BIG cat´s nails).
|Two frequent roadside sightings in Kaziranga: left, Red Junglefowl; right, Asian elephant. (Chrisitan Boix)
The Eastern Range was so varied and unfrequented, so diverse in
habitats and so extensive that per force it felt the WILDEST section of
the park and the one that I took home as my WILD INDIA experience. The
large floodplains, dense swamp and riparian forests and river's edge
by the mighty Brahmaputra were all awe-inspiring. Birding and
game watching was constant with something new and interesting to look
at every minute. The pans were filled with the usual cast of
herons and egrets with Purple Heron
worth a mention and Indian
and Great Cormorants
were abundant and Oriental Darters
ubiquitous. A flock of lazy
that had not yet departed for the summer was thoroughly enjoyed. Very
easy to spot along the pan's edge perched atop snags were Pallas´s
and Grey-headed Fish Eagles
scanning for fish, and equally abundant were
Crested Serpent Eagle
, Changeable Hawk-Eagle
and one Oriental Honey-Buzzard
. Near a Tiger kill digesting their meal we had our first
, sharing a perch with several other White-rumped
. There was hardly a single kilometer that the common yet
brazen, flighty and actually very beautiful Red Junglefowl
make an appearance and at one instance we even had a group of Kalij
feeding on the road verge. The cooing of Green
and Emerald Doves
set the low bars of the forest
atmosphere, occasionally pierced by the screeches of Red-breasted
and Blossom-headed Parakeets
. Birding the mid strata also
, many Oriental Pied
and Great Hornbills
, Gray-capped Pygmy
as well as Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Bronzed Drongo,
and Rufous Treepie
to mention some. There were
several spots were one could alight of the car and without wandering
too far and from many different forays we manged to bag several goodies
such as a family of Spotted Owlets, Taiga (Red-throated) Flycatcher
, the stunning Greater
, skulking Abbott´s Babbler
, shy Puff-throated
, boring Dusky Warbler
, several White-rumped Shamas
and a nest
building Ruby-cheeked Sunbird
pair. But by far the most enjoyable
sighting was to come upon a pair of Blue-naped Pitta
males having a
territorial dispute and having become intensely unaware of my presence
which gave us a regal chance to enjoy this large and great looking
birds quarreling in an open patch of boggy swamp forest...STUNNING.
It was here too that inadvertently I got caught amidst a Rhino dispute
whilst a dominant Rhino male was chasing away a younger one, but as
soon as it spotted me on the road decided to chase me first, well....15
years telling clients to climb or stand behind a tree when chased
by a Rhino were fully ignored and would you believe it.... I could not
find a tree inside a swamp forest when I needed one...fortunately pure
adrenaline fueled me, my scope, bins, camera with zoom lens and
recording gear into the safety of our jeep...HOW??? I DON¨T
KNOW...I JUST DID.
TRIP LIST--Main tour
Taxonomy follows Clements, James F. 2007. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World
6th Edition. Cornell University Press. Alternate
names are in parentheses. An (I) after the common name means the
species was only seen in India, on the drive from Samdrup Jonkhar to
Guwahati. 355 species were observed on the main part of the tour
(Paro to Guwahati), including 7 species that were only heard. See
separate list below for the species seen on the Kaziranga extension.
Cormorant (I) Phalacrocorax niger
A few seen on the drive to Guwahati.
Egret (I) Ardea alba
(Yellow-billed) Egret (I) Egretta intermedia
Egret (I) Egretta garzetta
Pond-Heron (I) Ardeola grayii
Egret (I) Bubulcus ibis
Openbill (I) Anastomus oscitans
Stork Ciconia nigra
One flew over us near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Adjutant (I) Leptoptilos javanicus
Common on the drive to Guwahati.
Whistling-Duck (I) Dendrocygna javanica
Goose Anser indicus
One was in the river near Punakha while we searched for
Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
Seen first at the Thimphu Sewage Works.
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope
Two males and two females were at the Thimphu Sewage Works.
Pygmy-Goose (I) Nettapus coromandelianus
A lovely male at a wetlands on the drive to Guwahati.
Pochard Aythya ferina
A male was at the Thimphu Sewage Works.
Duck Aythya fuligula
One in Thimphu and one on the Mo Chhu.
Merganser (Goosander) Mergus merganser
One seen on the drive from Paro to Thimphu.
Honey-buzzard Pernis ptilorhynchus
One was seen soaring near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Kite (I) Milvus migrans
Griffon Gyps himalayensis
Excellent views both in flight and perched at Pele La.
Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela
This beautiful raptor was widespread. Our first was an extremely close perched individual
on the drive to Pele La.
Northern (Hen) Harrier Circus cyaneus
Tom saw one near Paro.
Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus
One was seen displaying overhead on the Lingmethang Rd.
Our first was a great perched individual on the lower
Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
Widespread at higher elevations.
Goshawk Accipiter gentiles
Seen twice, first in the Cheri Valley and again later
harassing a Large-billed Crow near Thrumsing La.
Buzzard Buteo buteo
Seen a few times, first near Thimphu. A perched individual also watched over us as
we ate breakfast at Sengor.
Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis
Eagle Aquila kienerii
Only juveniles seen, first on the drive to Shemgang and
again at Kori La.
Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus nipalensis
Widepread, we had a number of excellent studies perched
and in flight.
Falconet Microhierax caerulescens
A very surprising find was one in degraded forest near
Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
Josh saw one flying past at Samdrup Jonkhar.
Falcon Falco peregrinus
One was chasing pigeons at the Puhakha Dzong.
Partridge Arborophila torqueola
Heard abundantly, especially at higher elevations, it was
seen briefly by Christian and Josh.
Partridge Arborophila mandellii
Heard several times including very close at Narphung La,
but never seen.
Partridge Arborophila rufogularis
Another extremely shy partridge, heard a number of times
but never glimpsed.
Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus
Great views at Chele La walking around in the open. Wendy saw another near Sengor.
Tragopan Tragopan satyra
A definite trip highlight was an incredible male that
walked across the road in front of the bus near Sengor. And to think we only saw it because of car
troubles! We also had scope looks at a
female at a pass in eastern Bhutan.
Monal Lophophorus impejanus
A truly spectacular bird, we saw it first at Chele La,
then another male at Thrumsing La.
Pheasant Lophura leucomelanos
Very widespread, we saw 17 (!) on our first full day in
Bhutan at Chele La. Our last was a bird
in bamboo understory near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Crake Amaurornis bicolor
This sought after bird was seen by everybody present at a
wetlands near Paro.
(I) Gallicrex cinerea
A handsome breeding male was in a rice paddy on the drive
Moorhen (I) Gallinula chloropus
Jacana (I) Hydrophasianus chirurgus
Several at a very productive pond on the drive to
Jacana (I) Metopidius indicus
Several at the same pond as Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Cotton
Pygmy-Goose and others on the drive to Guwahati.
Many views of this remarkable mountain bird around Paro
Lapwing Vanellus duvaucelii
Lapwing (I) Vanellus indicus
Golden-Plover (I) Pluvialis fulva
One rice paddy on the drive to Guwahati held a good sized
flock of birds displaying a wide variety of plumages, including some in close
to full breeding garb.
Ringed Plover (I) Charadrius dubius
Snipe Gallinago solitaria
Always an uncommon species, we saw at least eight in rice
paddies near Paro, possibly the highest count ever for the country.
Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos
Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
One in a river near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Pigeon Columba livia
Pigeon Columba leuconota
We had excellent views near Paro of this beautiful pigeon,
and then saw it a couple more times near passes in central Bhutan.
Wood-Pigeon Columba hodgsonii
Seen well in the Mo Chhu Valley and again near Deothang.
Turtle-Dove Streptopelia orientalis
Collared-Dove (I) Streptopelia tranquebarica
Dove Streptopelia chinensis
Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia unchall
Seen first on the drive to Pele La and subsequently a few
more times in mid-elevation broadleaved forest.
Dove Chalcophaps indica
Heard at Tingtibi and the lower Lingmethang Rd., Tom and
Josh got brief flyby views near Tingtibi.
Pigeon Treron apicauda
A pair did a brief flyby near Tingtibi, showing off their
Pigeon Treron sphenurus
Excellent views in a fruiting tree near Tingtibi.
Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus sparverioides
Heard abundantly, we got our best views near dusk on the
Lingmethang Rd. and in the rain as we drove towards Narphung.
(Whistling) Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus nisicolor
Heard a couple of times, but never glimpsed.
Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
Seen well near Shemgang, heard at a couple other places
further east as well.
(Oriental) Cuckoo Cuculus saturatus
First seen in the Mo Chhu Valley, its characteristic call
was heard nearly daily.
Cuckoo Cacomantis merulinus
One seen very well at Narphung La.
Emerald Cuckoo Chrysococcyx maculates
A couple excellent views were had, first near Tingtibi and
then again later on the Lingmethang Rd.
Drongo-Cuckoo Surniculus lugubris
Seen near Tingtibi and on the lower Lingmethang Rd.; this
is the ‘square-tailed’ form that will likely be split.
Koel Eudynamys scolopaceus
Heard in Punakha, we had to wait until Samdrup Jonkhar to
see one. Very common on the drive to
Guwahati as well.
Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
A pair was seen near Trashigang.
Scops-Owl Otus spilocephalus
Heard a number of times, perhaps most incessantly at our
camp near Shemgang, but never seen.
Scops-Owl Otus lettia
Heard at close range at our camp near Shemgang, it wouldn’t
Owlet Glaucidium brodiei
Heard commonly, one was seen by Christian on the
Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides
Heard fairly commonly, some people glimpsed one on the
Lingmethang Rd and others saw one from the bus near Trashigang.
Nightjar Caprimulgus indicus
Surprisingly elusive, we heard them several times but only
some people saw one near Shemgang.
Swiftlet Aerodramus brevirostris
Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus
Only seen a couple
of times, it wasn’t until near Trashigang that we finally caught up with
it. We saw it again near Deothang.
Palm-Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis
First seen near Tingtibi, we saw additional ones near
Swift Apus acuticauda
A pair of these rare swifts were seen near Deothang while
we ate lunch.
(Pacific) Swift Apus pacificus
Swift Apus nipalensis
Trogon Harpactes wardi
We had spectacular views of this rare trogon on the
Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
One was seen near Punakha.
Kingfisher Halcyon smyrnensis
Kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris
First seen while we ate breakfast along the Mo Chhu, we
caught up with another one at the end of the trip near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Bee-eater Nyctyornis athertoni
After several too-brief encounters, we had great looks at
one on the lower Lingmethang Rd.
Hoopoe Upupa epops
Hornbill Buceros bicornis
Great views first near Tingtibi, we saw another one at
closer range near Samdrup Jonkhar being dive-bombed by a pair of Greater
Hornbill Aceros nipalensis
One of Bhutan’s key species, we saw an excellent number of
birds, first near Tingtibi and later several well-photographed birds on the
Barbet Megalaima virens
Common and widespread, we had some great looks at these
Barbet Megalaima lineate
Only seen at lower elevations near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Barbet Megalaima franklinii
Barbet Megalaima asiatica
Barbet Megalaima haemacephala
Heard near Samdrup Jonkhar, we didn’t actually see one
until we were in India.
Honeyguide Indicator xanthonotus
We first came across this scarce species near Thimphu,
then found a couple more on the Lingmethang Rd.
Piculet Picumnus innominatus
Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus
A pair was seen well near Tingtibi.
Woodpecker Dendrocopos macei
An excellent pair was near Tingtibi and another was in
Woodpecker Dendrocopos hyperythrus
Great views of one near Shemgang.
Woodpecker Dendrocopos cathpharius
We spent a very enjoyable half-hour watching and
photographing a pair excavating a nest cavity in the Mo Chhu Valley.
Woodpecker Dendrocopos darjellensis
We finally caught up with this large woodpecker near
Woodpecker Celeus brachyurus
Heard near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Yellownape Picus chlorolophus
Very nice views on the Shemgang Rd. and on the Lingmethang
Yellownape Picus flavinucha
Great views in the
Mo Chhu Valley.
Woodpecker Picus canus
Seen well near our camp on the Shemgang Rd.
Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus
Brief but good looks near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis
Widespread by voice and seen several times. Best was a seriously up-close encounter with one in the Mo Chhu Valley.
Broadbill Psarisomus dalhousiae
Great views of one near Tingtibi after Tom heard one and
called it in.
Hume's (Short-toed) Lark Calandrella acutirostris
Josh saw and photographed one at the Thimphu Sewage Works. This is one of very few records for Bhutan.
Pale Sand Martin Riparia diluta
A few were seen near Paro. A rare record for Bhutan.
Swallow Hirundo rustica
(House-) Martin Delichon dasypus
(House-) Martin Delichon nipalense
The most widespread and common swallow, usually seen in
Swallow Cecropis daurica
Pipit (I) Anthus richardi
A couple were in a rice paddy on the drive to Guwahati.
Pipit Anthus roseatus
Some nice views near Paro and Thimphu including some with
Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
Quite widespread, we saw migrants at various locations as
well as birds on territory at some of the higher passes.
Widespread, these birds represent the subspecies alboides.
Wagtail (I) Motacilla citreola
A male and female of the gray-backed nominate subspecies
were seen in a rice paddy in India.
Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
Cuckoo-shrike Coracina macei
One seen near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Cuckoo-shrike Coracina melaschistos
Fairly common in broadleaved forest at mid-altitudes, we
first saw it in the Mo Chhu Valley.
Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
Common, especially at higher altitudes.
Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris
Fairly common, we typically saw this species at middle
Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
Common over a wide range of altitudes, but particularly
common lower down.
Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
Seen regularly, mostly at middle elevations.
Flycatcher-shrike Hemipus picatus
Seen a couple of times along the Shemgang Rd.
Bulbul Pycnonotus striatus
Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus
Seen at lower altitudes near Tingtibi and Samdrup Jonkhar.
Bulbul (I) Pycnonotus jocosus
(Himalayan) Bulbul Pycnonotus leucogenys
Seen in the drier valleys of eastern Bhutan.
Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
Bulbul Alophoixus flaveolus
These noisy birds were seen well near Tingtibi.
Bulbul Ixos mcclellandii
Bulbul Hemixos flavala
Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus
Leafbird Chloropsis aurifrons
Replaced the following species at low elevations near
Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii
Common at middle elevations.
Iora Aegithina tiphia
One seen briefly near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Dipper Cinclus pallasii
Common in fast-flowing rivers at upper and middle
Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
Accentor Prunella collaris
Seen very well at Yatong La.
Accentor Prunella strophiata
Widespread in small numbers, we encountered singles or
pairs regularly at a wide range of altitudes.
Accentor Prunella immaculate
Three enounters, first was a pair in the Cheri Valley, then a single at Pele La, then Josh saw a pair near Sengor.
Rock-Thrush Monticola cinclorhynchus
A common and welcome sight along many roadsides.
Rock-Thrush Monticola rufiventris
Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius
One male near Punakha.
Whistling-Thrush Myophonus caeruleus
Thrush Zoothera mollissima
Seen very well as we descended Dochu La and again near
Blackbird Turdus albocinctus
Blackbird Turdus boulboul
Seen several times, our best views were at Kori La. An amazing individual with white (as opposed
to gray) in the wings was seen on the Lingmethang Rd.
Thrush Turdus rubrocanus
A male of the pale headed nominate Himalayan subspecies
was seen very well on the upper Lingmethang Rd. This form has only been recorded a couple times previously in
Shortwing Brachypteryx leucophrys
Heard on the Lingmethang Rd.
Shortwing Brachypteryx Montana
Christian caught a glimpse of one at Narphung La, while
the rest of us only heard it.
Prinia Prinia crinigera
Several were seen at Trashigang in the scrub around the
Prinia Prinia atrogularis
Seen a few times, best on the Lingmethang Rd. This form is often split as Black-throated
Prinia Prinia rufescens
Seen on the lower Lingmethang Rd.
Tesia Tesia castaneocoronata
Seen well by a few people in the Mo Chhu Valley and by
others on the Lingmethang Rd.
Tesia Tesia olivea
Very widespread by voice, it was a real bugger to see,
with most people eventually seeing one.
Tesia Tesia cyaniventer
A few people got on one on the Lingmethang Rd, where
several were heard.
Bush-Warbler Cettia fortipes
Aberrant Bush-Warbler Cettia flavolivacea
One was seen by Tom and Josh at our campsite near Narphung.
Bush-Warbler Cettia acanthizoides
Only seen by a few people, its extremely characteristic
voice was heard at Yatong La.
Bush-Warbler Cettia brunnifrons
Bush-Warbler Bradypterus seebohmi
Seen by a couple people and heard by others near Trongsa.
Warbler (I) Acrocephalus aedon
One seen well just past the border in India.
Tailorbird Orthotomus cuculatus
Seen along the Lingmethang Rd.
Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus affinis
This migrant was first seen in Shemgang.
Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher
Common at high
Warbler Phylloscopus maculipennis
Fairly common at high and mid-elevations.
(Lemon-rumped) Warbler Phylloscopus chloronotus
Common, especially at middle elevations.
Warbler Phylloscopus humei
First heard in the Mo Chhu Valley, one was seen later near
Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
A couple of these migrants were seen with mixed flocks.
Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus magnirostris
Only seen a couple times, first in the Cheri Valley.
Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides
Common, especially at middle elevations.
Warbler Phylloscopus cantator
Common, particularly along the Shemgang Rd.
(Green-crowned) Warbler Seicercus burkii
Two members of the Golden-spectacled Warbler complex occur
in Bhutan. This one occurs lower; best
was a singing bird at Trashigang.
Warbler Seicercus whistleri
The higher altitude of the Golden-spectacled complex, we
saw it first at Dochu La.
Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos
Common at middle elevations. This species has recently been shown to be a member of the genus Phylloscopus.
Warbler Seicercus affinis
Seen several times in mid-altitude forests.
Warbler Seicercus poliogenys
Seen a number of times in mid-altitude forests, seemed
especially common on the Lingmethang Rd.
Warbler Seicercus castaniceps
Common, especially with mixed flocks in mid-altiture
Warbler Abroscopus albogularis
A couple were seen near Tingtibi.
Warbler Abroscopus superciliaris
One seen very well in a bamboo patch near Tingtibi.
Warbler Abroscopus schisticeps
A very handsome warbler, common in eastern Bhutan, mostly
in mid-altitude forests.
(Siberian) Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica
First seen by Christian only on the Shemgang Rd., everyone
else caught up with one on the Lingmethang Rd.
Flycatcher Muscicapa ferruginea
One seen by those who scrambled up a streambed near
Flycatcher Ficedula hodgsonii
Seen very well with a mixed flock in the Mo Chhu Valley.
Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata
Quite common in the understory at mid- and
Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra
Heard only near Deothang.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula westermanni
Fairly common, seen first in Shemgang.
Flycatcher Ficedula superciliaris
A good number near Punakha, the only place where we saw
Flycatcher Ficedula sapphire
Great views of this little gem, first near Shemgang and
again on the Lingmethang Rd.
Flycatcher Eumyias thalassinus
A very common bird, but one that you can never tire of.
Niltava Niltava grandis
First seen well near Trongsa, we would see it again on the
Niltava Niltava macgrigoriae
Common, especially by voice, we saw it best in the Mo Chhu
Niltava Niltava sundara
Not too many seen, but we saw them very well on the
Lingmethang Rd. and at Korila.
Blue-Flycatcher Cyornis unicolor
Seen very well on the Shemgang Rd.
Flycatcher Cyornis rubeculoides
Seen well several times, first at our lunch stop on the
way to Pele La then again on the Lingmethang Rd.
Blue-Flycatcher Muscicapella hodgsoni
A tough bird to see, we heard several on the Lingmethang
Rd. and some people had very nice views.
Canary-flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
A common bird, most mixed flocks contained a pair.
Bluetail (Bush-Robin) Tarsiger cyanurus
Seen very well at some of the high passes, including near Paro, Chele
La and Thrumsing La.
Bush-Robin Tarsiger indicus
A brilliant and responsive male showed superbly near
Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
Shama Copsychus malabaricus
One near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Blue-capped Redstart Phoenicurus caeruleocephala
Christian caught a glimpse of a male in a fruiting tree in a the Mo Chhu Valley.
Redstart Phoenicurus ochruros
Christian and Tom saw one near Sengor.
Redstart Phoenicurus hodgsoni
Rather common and
widespread, we saw mostly females. A
male was at our camp in the Mo Chhu Valley.
Redstart Phoenicurus schisticeps
A winter resident nearing the end of its stay, we saw
females at Chele La and later a male near Sengor.
Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
(Water-) Redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus
This stunning redstart was seen throughout the trip in
Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosa
A common denizen of streams and rivers in Bhutan.
Robin Cinclidium leucurum
Heard frequently at the appropriate altitudes, only one
was seen on the Lingmethang Rd.
Forktail Enicurus scouleri
A wonderful pair was watched on the Lingmethang Rd.
Forktail Enicurus immaculatus
A very responsive male was near Sandrup Jonkhar.
Forktail Enicurus schistaceus
A beautiful pair was in the Mo Chhu Valley on our way back
Forktail Enicurus maculates
We first caught up with this stunner at our lunch stop on
the drive to Pele La, we saw another pair briefly near Tingtibi.
(Common) Stonechat Saxicola maurus
Bushchat Saxicola ferreus
Fantail Rhipidura hypoxantha
A regular mixed-flock follower at mid- to
Fantail Rhipidura albicollis
A lively bird that was seen a number of times at middle
Laughingthrush Garrulax albogularis
A gregarious and bold laughingthrush that was seen a
number of times.
Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus
A very noisy laughingthrush, we saw it several times,
including a group feeding in the middle of the road on our way to Trashigang.
Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax monileger
A beautiful pair was well seen near Tingtibi.
Laughingthrush Garrulax striatus
A common and vocal resident, we saw them numerous times.
Laughingthrush Garrulax ruficollis
Beautiful views on the lower Lingmethang Rd.
Laughingthrush Garrulax rufogularis
Seen briefly the first time around near Shemgang, we had
scope views near our camp on the Lingmethang Rd.
Laughingthrush Garrulax ocellatus
A big and beautiful laughingthrush that we saw very well
at Pele La and Thrumsing La.
Laughingthrush Garrulax lineatus
Seen several times in scrubby habitats, this form is sometimes split as Bhutan Laughingthrush G. imbricatum.
Scaly Laughingthrush Garrulax subunicolor
Sonia spied one of these skulkers with the flock of Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbills on the Lingmethang Rd.
Laughingthrush Garrulax squamatus
Seen a couple times, best was a very cooperative pair on
the roadside of the Lingmethang Rd.
Laughingthrush Garrulax affinis
Another handsome laughingthrush, we had scope views at
Pele La and more great views at Korila.
(Red-headed) Laughingthrush Garrulax erythrocephalus
Common by voice, we saw them several times, including very
well near Shemgang.
(Crimson-faced) Liocichla Liocichla phoenicea
Great views were had of this beauty on the Lingmethang Rd.
Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrogenys
Seen furtively several times, including near Punakha,
Tingtibi, the Lingmethang Rd. and Narphung La.
Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus schisticeps
Only seen once by those who scrambled up a streambed near
Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis
Seen a few times, perhaps best with a large mixed flock in
bamboo on the Shemgang Rd.
Scimitar-Babbler Xiphirhynchus superciliaris
A trip highlight, we had great views of this amazing bird
first on the Shemgang Rd, then again on the Lingmethang Rd.
Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga pusilla
Great views of a pair gathering nesting materials that Wendy found in the Mo Chhu Valley.
Wren-Babbler Spelaeornis caudatus
It took a few tries, but everyone got good looks at this
skulker on the Linmethang Rd.
Wren-Babbler Spelaeornis formosus
Another skulker, we saw this one best on the Shemgang Rd.
Babbler Stachyris ruficeps
A common resident of mid-altitude forests, most mixed
flocks had a pair.
Babbler Stachyris chrysaea
A beautiful and fairly common bird of the understory in
Babbler Stachyris nigriceps
First seen by a few people near Tingtibi, we saw it again
for everyone on the Lingmethang Rd.
Babbler (I) Turdoides striata
A couple groups were seen on the drive to Guwahati.
Mesia Leiothrix argentauris
After getting glimpses at Narphung La, we had many great
views near Deothang.
Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea
Only seen a couple times, best was at Korila.
Another tour highlight were the many Cutia we saw. They put on a particularly incredible show
on our last morning on the Lingmethang Rd.
Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius rufiventer
This rare bird was only seen by Christian and Sonia, near
Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius flaviscapis
Seen very well several times, including one that posed for
the photographers on the Shemgang Rd.
Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius xanthochlorus
Seen a few times at higher elevations than the other
shrike-babblers, first in a large mixed flock at Dochu La.
Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius melanotis
A diminutive but striking shrike-babbler, seen several
times, including on the Shemgang Rd, Lingmethang Rd. and at Korila.
Barwing Actinodura egertoni
Seen a number of times in mid-altitude forests, it was
first seen on the Shemgang Rd.
Barwing Actinodura nipalensis
Seen a couple times, first (and best) at Dochu La.
Minla Minla cyanouroptera
Common in mid-altitude forests, usually with mixed flocks.
Minla Minla strigula
Numerous, often with other minlas but also occurs higher than the others.
Minla Minla ignotincta
Common with mixed flocks in mid-altitude forests. About 30 formed the core of one flock that
we found in the rain on the Lingmethang Rd.
Fulvetta Alcippe chrysotis
This beautiful fulvetta was seen a few times with mixed
species flocks, first on the Shemgang Rd.
Fulvetta Alcippe cinerea
Fairly common in eastern Bhutan, this warbler-like
fulvetta was most numerous on the Lingmethang Rd.
Fulvetta Alcippe castaneceps
Fairly widespread, we first saw this handsome little bird
at Pele La.
Fulvetta Alcippe vinipectus
at higher altitudes.
Fulvetta Alcippe nipalensis
Common and not too difficult to see despite residing in the understory, we first saw it in the Mo Chhu Valley.
Sibia Heterophasia annectens
One seen well near Deothang.
Sibia Heterophasia capistrata
One of the most common and widespread birds in Bhutan, we saw some impressive gatherings in flowering Erythrina trees on the Shemgang Rd.
Yuhina Yuhina castaniceps
Seen regularly at fairly low altitudes, first near
Yuhina Yuhina bakeri
This handsome yuhina was first seen on the Lingmethang Rd.
Yuhina Yuhina flavicollis
A common resident of mid-altitude forests, often moving
about in flocks.
Yuhina Yuhina gularis
Common and vocal at high altitudes.
Yuhina Yuhina occipitalis
Seems to replace Whiskered Yuhina at higher altitudes,
where it was common.
Yuhina Yuhina nigrimenta
A small yuhina typically seen in flocks at mid and lower
altitudes, we first saw it near Trongsa.
Yuhina (Erpornis) Yuhina zantholeuca
No longer considered a yuhina, this species is generally places in the enigmatic genus Erpornis. We saw it only a couple times, first on the Shemgang Rd.
Myzornis Myzornis pyrrhoura
This sought after bird was seen twice, first at Dochu La
by everybody, then seen again by some near Sengor.
Parrotbill Conostoma oemodium
Only one pair was found, near Sengor, where most people
Parrotbill Paradoxornis unicolor
Outstanding looks were had of a group of about eight of
these parrotbills at Pele La.
Parrotbill Paradoxornis nipalensis
A couple of these handsome birds were seen in a mixed
flock in bamboo on the Shemgang Rd.
Rufous-headed Parrotbill Paradoxornis ruficeps
One group of these beautiful parrotbills was seen on the
Tit Aegithalos concinnus
Flocks of this species were regularly seen at middle
elevations, below the following species.
(Rufous-fronted) Tit Aegithalos iouschistos
The higher elevation of the Aegithalos in Bhutan,
this species is often split from the Chinese form as Rufous-fronted Tit.
Coal Tit Periparus
Tit Periparus rubidiventris
Tit Lophophanes dichrous
Tit Parus monticolus
Tit Parus spilonotus
This handsome tit was seen several times in mid-elevation
forests, first along the Shemgang Rd.
Tit Sylviparus modestus
Tit Melanochlora sultanea
This huge tit was seen three times, first along the
Nuthatch Sitta castanea
Nuthatch Sitta himalayensis
Nuthatch Sitta Formosa
Although we saw it three times, it proved remarkably
elusive and not everybody saw it well.
This winter resident was seen several times, first in the Cheri Valley (on a chorten!). Later
three were seen on the same road cut between Pele La and Trongsa.
Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
Treecreeper Certhia nipalensis
Seen well a couple times at higher altitudes such as Dochu La and Pele La.
Treecreeper Certhia discolor
Seen at lower altitudes than Rusty-flanked, it was seen
very well the first time we found it as we descended Dochu La.
Tit Cephalopyrus flammiceps
Seen well twice, first in the Mo Chhu Valley then again at
our lunch stop on the way to Pele La.
Gould's Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
Seen best in the Cheri Valley where it was rather
common, but numbers dropped off further east.
Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis
The common sunbird at high altitudes.
Sunbird Aethopyga saturate
The common sunbird at mid-altitudes.
Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja
First seen by some people at Trashigang, the rest caught
up with a male near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Sunbird Aethopyga ignicauda
A few pairs were seen at Pele La, where they were
outnumbered by Green-tailed Sunbirds.
Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna
A few were seen at lower elevations, such as the lower
Flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor
One was seen very well near Sandrup Jonkhar.
Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectum
White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus
Oriole Oriolus tenuirostris
One was seen well near Punakha.
Oriole Oriolus traillii
A common resident of mid-altitude forests, we saw them
first in the Mo Chhu Valley.
Shrike Lanius schach
Shrike Lanius tephronotus
Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
First seen near Punakha, we also saw them in India.
Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer
(Spangled) Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus
Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
Seen harassing a Great Hornbill near Samdrup Jonkhar.
Woodswallow Artamus fuscus
(Yellow-billed Blue) Magpie Urocissa flavirostris
Green Magpie Cissa chinensis
This beautiful corvid was seen well near Tingtibi.
Treepie (I) Dendrocitta vagabunda
It became common on the Indian plains.
Treepie Dendrocitta formosae
Magpie Pica pica
Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Chough Pyrrhocorax graculus
One seen only briefly at Chele La.
Crow Corvus splendens
Crow Corvus macrorhynchos
Common and widespread. The lowland form, which we saw near Sandrup Jonkhar, is sometimes split as Eastern Jungle Crow, C. levaillantii.
Hill Myna Gracula religiosa
A few were seen well near Sandrup Jonkhar.
These were common once we entered India.
Myna Acridotheres tristis
Pied Starling Gracupica contra
Starling Sturnia malabarica
First seen at the Punakha Dzong, we saw many more of them
near Sandrup Jonkhar.
Sparrow Passer domesticus
Sparrow Passer rutilans
Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
Mannikin (Scaly-breasted Munia) Lonchura punctulata
Mountain-Finch Leucosticte nemoricola
Common, especially at high altitudes, it was not unusual
to see flocks of over 100 birds twirling around.
Finch Pinicola subhimachala
Males and females both seen very well, first at Pele La
then again near Trongsa.
Rosefinch Carpodacus nipalensis
A small group at Dochu La were a welcome sight after the
Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
We saw females a few times, first on the Shemgang Rd. Males were seen only near Trashigang.
Rosefinch Carpodacus pulcherrimus
Seen a couple times in scrubby habitat, first near Pele
La. The nominate form from the
Himalayas is sometimes split from the Chinese form as Himalayan Beautiful
Rosefinch Carpodacus edwardsii
One male was seen well just after the snow cleared at
Rosefinch Carpodacus thura
a couple times, first at Chele La, then males and females at Pele
La and finally a female was with a mixed flock at Thrumsing La.
The nominate form from the Himalayas is sometimes split from the
Chinese form as Himalayan White-browed Rosefinch.
(Himalayan) Greenfinch Carduelis spinoides
Seen only a handful of times, first near Thimphu.
Serin Serinus thibetanus
Only Ian and Josh saw a flock winging its way down the Mo
Chhu Valley, fortunately we found more cooperative flocks near Trongsa that
perched for us.
Bullfinch Pyrrhula nipalensis
This sluggish bird was seen a few times, first along the
Shemgang Rd. then better the next time around with scope views on the
Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythrocephala
A very confiding group of females was a welcome sight after
the snowstorm at Dochu La. Further down
the slope we would find males and females.
Grosbeak Mycerobas affinis
First seen well at Chele La, another male was at Pele La
with a group of White-winged Grosbeaks.
Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes
Seen a number of times mostly at high altitudes, such as
Chele La and Pele La.
Finch Pyrrhoplectes epaulette
We had nice views of two females early on the Lingmethang
Rd., then spectacular looks at another confiding female lower down a few days
Finch Haematospiza sipahi
A brilliant group that Norbu found showed very well on the
Bunting Melophus lathami
First was a singing bird near Punakha, we saw a number of
others in agricultural areas later on.
Bunting Emberiza pusilla
This winter visitor was seen several times in scrubby
habitats as far west as Thimphu and as far east as Narphung.
Langur Presbytis geei
monkey was common and very confiding on the Shemgang Rd.
Langur Trachypithecus pileatus
Seen only a couple times, first on the Lingmethang Rd.
then again near Sandrup Jonkhar.
Gray Langur Semnopithecus schistaceus
The highest ranging of the langurs, we saw them in the
west such as at Pele La.
Macaque Macaca assemensis
The most widespread primate we saw.
Macaque Macaca mulatto
Seen only near Sandrup Jonkhar.
Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula
This beautiful mustelid was seen a number of times,
including feeding on rhododendron nectar in the Cheri Valley.
Deer Muntiacus muntjac
Seen only by Peta near Sengor, the rest of us heard them
at night on the Lingmethang Rd.
Pika Ochotona roylei
Large-eared Pika Ochotona macrotis
Flying-Squirrel Petaurista magnificus
One of these huge flying squirrels was seen while
spotlighting on the Lingmethang Rd.
Giant Squirrel Ratuga bicolor
This beautiful behemoth was seen on the Shemgang Rd.
Squirrel Dremomys lokriah
Squirrel Callosciurus pygerythrus
Striped Squirrel Tamiops mcclellandii
This wonderful animal was first seen in the Cheri
Valley, but was seen much better in the Mo Chhu Valley.
Serow Capricornis sumatraensis
A mother and her single young were seen on a hillside on
the Lingmethang Rd.
Black Bear Ursus thibetanus
KAZIRANGA EXTENSION TRIP LIST
A mother and her cub were seen very well on the
Lingmethang Rd. just after seeing the Serow.
Certainly the mammal of the trip!!
215 species. Species marked with an asterisk (*) were seen only on the extension.