In January 1995, I joined a Ben King Bird Tour to Bhutan. The trip was designed to give the 7 participants a thorough coverage of a cross section of Bhutan from Paro in the west to Deothang in the east. The trip took 19 days and we saw 275 species of birds in Bhutan. Birds seen in India are not included in this report.
The time of year was elected in order to see wintering birds. It was mainly clear and frosty in western Bhutan, while it was cold, overcast, foggy and rainy at Lingmithang and Tashingang. However, I would recommend to visit Bhutan in spring from late March to May, and hope I will get such an opportunity.
It is rather expensive to visit Bhutan. The government and the travel agency charges US$ 130 per day in the low season which is between November to March and July to September. In the high season the fee would be US$ 200 per day all inclusive. If the length of a trip is more than 7 days a discount of 25 per cent is given for each extra day. However for trekking trips the fee is US$ 100 per day which does include porters, trekking gear, tents and transfers. The government does not allow groups of less than 3 people to enter the country and everything must be booked beforehand through a Bhutanese travel agency. At the moment only 3000 tourists are allowed to enter the country per year.
If you want to organise a Bhutan Trip contact
Etho Metho Tours & Treks Ltd
P.O. Box No 360
Fax1 00975-22884 or
PS: A new lodge will be constructed near the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary and should be ready to accept visitors after 1997.
The report contains the following:
8.01.95 - Druk air flight Bangkok - Paro. Arrived 14.00. Night in Paro Lodge
9.01.95 - We spent the morning in Paro valley, before we continued along Pachu river to Drukgyal at 2600 meters. We returned to Paro near Taktsang. In the afternoon we drove to Thimphu. Night in hotel Taktsang
10.01.95 - We drove to Begana and Cheri villages at 2500 meters then we walked up to Tango at 2760 meters, afternoon birding near Begana.
11.01.95 - We drove east across Dochula Pass at 3050 meters to Punakha region. Birding was conducted along the road especially between 2700 and 2000 meters east of Dochula. Arrived 8 pm to Hotel Zangobelra.
12.01.95 - All day was spent birding upstream Mochu river in subtropical forest up to 1650 meters. Night in Zangobela.
13.01.95 - We drove and did our birding enroute to Tongsa. Night in Tongsa Lodge.
14.01.95 - We did our birding downstream from Tongsa until lunch time then we returned to Tongsa. In the afternoon we drove up to between 3300 and 3000 meters just west of Yotungla Pass. Night inTongsa Lodge.
15.01.95 - We drove across Yotungla Pass to Bumthang. In the afternoon we did some relaxed birding near our new home the Jakar Lodge, Bumthang.
16.01.95 - Our quest east commenced 4 am in order to see pheasants at Trumshingla Pass 3800 meters at dawn. Most of our time was spent in subtropical forests below 2700 meters. We camped for 4 nights at 950 meters near Lingmithang.
17.01.95 - All day spent at 700 meters among ricefields and deciduous and evergreen forest in ravines. Rain late afternoon.
18.01.95 - Our birding was conducted along Bumthang-Mongar Road between 1600 and 2100 meters.
19.01.95 - Our birding time was spent along same road, but we entered the forest at 2600 meters.
20.01.95 - Our morning birding was conducted at 2200 meters,. After lunch we packed up and continued our quest east to Mongar Lodge.
21.01.95 - Early morning departure for Tashingang. The first stop was at 2400 meters elevation, near a Telegraph tower. We did a 1 hour walk along a forest trail along the ridge. Our night was spent in Kelling motel in Tashingang.
22.01.95 - Most of our birding time was spent 60 km south of Tashingang.
23.01.95 - We drove to our 3 night camp at 1100 meters just 10 km north of Deothang.
24.01.95 - Morning birding near camp. Afternoon birding in between 500 and 300 meters altitude just below Deothang.
25.01.95 - All day birding along road and in forest east near the road between 250 and 500 meters altitude.
26.01.95 - We did our birding in a tropical forest 2 km east of road near river before we packed our camp. In the afternoon we continued to the Indian Border.
27.01.95 - Drive and birding enroute to Guwanti. Afternoon flight to Calcutta, night in Tolly Club.
Bhutan, shielded from the outside world until the 1960s, has retained all the charm of the old world .Like timeless images from the past, the traveller encounters the full glory of this ancient land through its strategic monastic fortresses known as Dzongs, prayer flags which flutter along the ridges, and finally the pristine natural heritage.
Bhutan's forests cover is about 65 per cent of the country's area of 46,000 sq. km. Varying from an altitudinal variation like 150 meters to almost 8000 meters one finds subtropical broadleaf forests, coniferous forest which mainly consists of juniper, hemlock and Himalayan blue pine mixed with rhododendron to alpine meadows. The range after range of untouched forests projects Bhutan as the last hope for many Himalayan birds such as Blyth and Satyr Tragopan, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Ward's Trogon and Blyth Kingfisher. Bhutan is also one of the last strongholds for Snow Leopard, Tiger and the Red Panda.
To get a long list of birds, it is important to visit as many zoogeographic zones and habitats as possible, but is it also equally important to choose the right season. For example, birds such as the Ibisbill and the Black-necked Crane are seen between November and March, and the winter time is also optimal for birding below 1000 meters. Spring is however the prefered time for general birding in mid elevation forest as warblers, flycatchers and robins migrate through the mountains, and the babblers are much more vocal. While winter is ideal for mountain viewing because of clear skies, spring would be nicer as it is warmer and the forests are alive with insects and wildflowers. Most rhododendrons flower in April and May. For trekkers who are planning to visit the high country it would be preferable to visit Bhutan between late spring until early July, when the monsoon rains starts, in order to avoid the snow. Many trekkers visits Bhutan in October, but would be less productive for birders. Trekking would be a good idea if you want to see pheasants, as they are difficult to observe from the road.
Below, the localities birded on our tour are described more or less in the order visited. Altitudinal ranges stated indicate ranges birded by us, not the full range of the locality in question. For each locality, the name of the province is given.
The Paro Valley is relatively dry. Blue pines grow on the slopes, but most of the valley floor is cultivated with rice paddies, which are utilized for wheat during wintertime. Many finches feed on wheat grains. The main attraction is the Pachu riverbed north of the town. We spotted five Ibisbills, and both Common Kingfisher, Crested Kingfisher and some accentors among the rocks and bushes. It is worthwhile to visit the forests near the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. We later saw all the birds encountered in the Paro Valley except the Ibisbill, so it would be worth to visit a few cultural sites such as the hanging temple of Taktsang or do a walk 5 hours up to the Tigers Nest.
Very few birds are seen in Thimpu, and the interesting birding sites are found around Begana and Cheri villages. We walked up to Tango Dzong 2700 meters. The vegetation around here includes upper and lower temperate broadleaf evergreen; coniferous forests, riversides, subalpine and shrubberies. Spotted Laughingthrush has been seen mainly in spring by other birders. Tango is good for general birding, and Mountain Eagles and Snow Pigeons are common here. Several wallcreepers are seen enroute between Begana and Thimphu.
Good birding sites are found between 3000 and 2000 meters east of Dochula Pass. It is possible on a clear day to see the mountain peaks of the Gangchen Daa (7300 meters), the Masagang (7000 meters), and the Tshedegang (7500 meters) from the pass. The mixed evergreen cloud forest east of the pass was fragmented, but is still quite pristine some places. At lower elevations cattle are left in the forest which does have a negative impact on the undergrowth. We walked down along powerlines from 2600 to 2200 meters, but this is not recommended, as the undergrowth is dense and the terrain hilly. We were told that a forest trail exists in the area, but we failed to find it. From 2200 meters we continued our walk along the road down to 1900 meters. The highlights from this area were Rufous bellied Bush-Robin, Golden-naped Finch, Hoary Barwing, Edwards Rosefinch.
The best area for birding is between 1300 and 1600 meters along the Mochu River in Jigme Dorji Wangchuk Wildlife Sanctuary. The forest is relatively undisturbed, but people collect firewood and cattle are seen along the road. A small village is located at 1600 meters at the end of of the road. Further downstream it is possible to view the rocky riverbeds from a hanging bridge, in order to check for the near extinct White-bellied Heron. Mr Inskipp saw the heron in 1994 along this river. A few common birds were seen between the riversides and farmlands from Lobesa to Taashithang. Some of the birds seen in the sanctuary were White-tailed Eagle, Crested Serpent-Eagle, Golden Eagle, Mountain Eagle, Striated Laughingthrush, Golden Bush-Robin, and Tibet Serin.
This is a very scenic section of the road as it leads through bamboo and rhododendron conifer forests, meadows and river valleys. The first stop occurred in a ravine at 1400 meters at Wangdi Phodrang. The highlight at this stop was a Red-billed Leiothrix together with a flock of Black-eared Shrike-babblers. At 2400 meters near Gangtey I saw a Hill Partridge in a ravine, and a few Dark-breasted Rosefinches were seen near a bamboo thicket. After we had passed Pelela pass at 3300 meters we stopped for lunch near a meadow which was located near a river. A White-browed Bush Robin and a Flock of Brown Parrotbills were seen in a bamboo thicket at 2600 meters. In a bamboo thicket further down the road we located a flock of Streaked Laughingthrushes together with a pair of Stripe-throated Scimitar-babblers. Any stop near good habitat would be productive especially in the spring. In the winter the snowline is found between 2400 and 2600 meters, and it is very chilly.
This warm and sunny valley has been cultivated for a long time, and it is worthwhile to visit some of the cultural sites, such as Tongsa Dzong, rather than going birding all day. However in the morning, it is possible to watch a pair of the Yellow-rumped Honeyguide at nest near the second baileys bridge at 1800 meters 18 km south of Tongsa. We saw a Peregrine Falcon hunting domestic rock doves near the dzong.
The habitat at Yotungla Pass consists of Hemlock and Blue Pines with dense impenetrable dwarf bamboo thickets. Large flocks of Black-throated and Red-throated Thrushes together with a few White-winged Grosbeaks were seen on the west side. On the east side we saw a flock of Blood Pheasants and a pair of White-throated Redstarts. In the conifer forest a pair of Giant Parrotbills was located. For the first time we saw large flocks of tits such as Chestnut-vented, Coral and Gray-bellied Tits.
The boggy meadow at Gatsa is one of the 3 sites for the wintering Black-necked Cranes. Because of heavy snowfall it was not possible to visit the primary crane spot in the Gangtey Valley as the road was closed. However we were lucky to spot 2 adult and 2 immature cranes flying across the road. They continued their flight, before they landed 2-3 km away in the north-east corner of the valley
Jakar Lodge 4 km outside Bumthang is situated near a river. The shrubs and trees in the riverbed are good for birding. We located Beautiful Rosefinches, Brown Parrotbills, Little Buntings and Black-throated Thrushes at the river.
Do not miss this spectacular drive from Trumshingla Pass down to Lingmithang. In bad weather this pass might be closed for weeks, especially as the Bhutanese have decided to take control with all road maintenance in the country. In the past India provided this service for a fee. On that basis it is not recommended to plan a trip which does not allow for a return to Paro. The habitat changes from conifers to subtropical forest as it covers an altitudinal variation from 3800 meters to 750 meters. The broadleaf evergreen forest commerces at 2600 meters, and the cliffs drop vertically into the subtropical valley more than 600 meters below the road. A few exit trails into the forest can be found at 2500 meters near a mountain ridge which lead into a small cattle farm. Most of the birds are seen from the road between 2600 and 1500 meters. Some of the highlights from this area were Satyr Tragopan, Crimson-breasted Woodpecker, Darjeeling Woodpecker, Long-billed Thrush, Blue-winged Laughingthush, Golden-breasted and Yellow throated Fulvetta, Red-headed Parrotbill and Crimson Finch. Birds seen in this area are marked with Lingmithang (altitude).
No accommodation is available, so it is necessary to camp near the river. A reasonable good birding site is found near town at 750 meters from which a bridge crosses the river. Most of the species are generally found in dry subtropical ravine forests and near the rice paddies. To mention a few of the species we observed were Basra, Ashy Bulbul, Sultan Tit, Blue-throated and Golden-throated Barbet, Gray-headed Woodpecker, Kalij Pheasant, Rufous-cheeked Scimitar-babbler, Gray-sided Bushwarbler, and Little Niltava. The habitat in Lingmithang area is fragmented and at best mainly scrubby below 1500 meters. The human population in this area grows fast, as Nepalese peasants settle in the subtropical belt in the southern provinces. Because of the cold weather, very few birds were observed during most days.
On this drive you will cross a few dry mountain ridges with chirpines and scrubby valleys. Very few birds are seen in this area.
10 km east of Mongar the road reach a pass at 2450 meters elevation. Temperate broadleaf forests grow on the ridge north of the Telegraph tower which is 1/2 [?] km. to the left of the pass. Just to the left (North) of a few houses near the tower a small path leads into more undisturbed forests with bamboo. Not much was seen here apart from a flock of Grey-sided Laughingthrushes and a pair of Fire-tailed Myzornis. Most of the original vegetation between Mongar and Tashingang has been removed, and near Tashingang a large forest fire smoked the sky. The Tashingang province is very densely populated and the hills are cultivated. The few remnant trees were cut for firewood. Every time a large truck loaded with firewood passed by, we were reminded that Tashingang is undergoing severe deforestation.
We did not spent much time on birding near Tashingang, as we continued more than 2 hours south to an area near Samorubjonkhar in order to find a suitable habitat. The site is found enroute to Deothang. Drive 19 km along Khaling Road south, then turn off towards Samorubjonkar and continue south further 41 km. Most of the area is converted into villages, clearings, cattle pastures and ricefields. Some patches of oak and rhododendrons are found at 2400 meters. The area had some interesting species such as Rufous-throated Partridge, Green Shrike-babbler, Northern Goshawk, Fire-tailed Myzornis and Yellow-breasted Greenfinch.
On our way to Deothang we passed the same area as above, but as soon we left Tashingang Province the landscape improved in terms of bird habitat. Good subtropical forests are found along the last 40 km before Deothang.
This is an interesting area with much remaining habitats. Semitropical forests full of Long-tailed Macaques are found not far from the road, and the rivers had otters. Flocks up to 15 Wreathed Hornbills passed across the road in the late afternoon or morning. At 300 meters elevation just 400 meters before the bridge a dirt road leads to a power house and continues east along the river for 2 km. After having crossed a small stream and a fruit plantation it is possible to penetrate into an old growth forest on a trail. We saw some damage to the trail and some large droppings which indicated that a flock of elephants had been around the previous day. Some of the species observed in this forest were Gray-breasted Tesia, White-spectacled Warbler, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Scaly Thrush and Snowy-browed Flycatcher. Along the main road to the check point we observed Pale-headed Woodpecker, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Pygmy Blue Flycatcher, Pale-chinned (Brooks) Flycatcher, 3 species of forktail in the river and many others. Near the camp we got good views in the scope of the rare Pied Falconet perched on a dead tree-stump and close-up views of a Red-faced Liocichla and many others. Unlike the previous areas we visited, the birds in the Deothang area were active and noisy, which was a positive change.
Start : 08/01/95, Finish : 28/01/95
Ben King Bird Tours Inc.
PHALACROCORACIDAE (PHALACROCORACINAE): CORMORANTS
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo
4 Drukgyal, 2 Paro Valley, 8 Punahha Valley, 20 Tongsa, 2 Bumthang, 1 Mongar-Tashingang
CICONIIDAE (CICONIINI): STORKS
Black Stork Ciconia nigra
1 Deothang 250 m. altitude 26/1
ACCIPITRIDAE (ACCIPTRINAE): HAWKS, EAGLES
Black Kite Milvus migrans
1 Deothang, 24/1, 1 25/1, 3 26/1
White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla
2 Punakha valley 1470 m. altitude in river
White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus
Himalayan Griffon Gyps himalayensis
1 Lingmithang, 1 Deothang 25/1 & 26/1
Cinereous Vulture Aegypius monachus
1 Deothang 24/1
Crested Serpent-Eagle Spilornis cheela
2 Punhakha valley 1400 m. altitude, Deothang 2 24/1, 3 25/1, 4 26/1
Northern Harrier Circus cyaneus
1 Tongsa, 2 Tashingang
Northern Goshawk Accipiter gentilis
1 Tashingang 22/1
Besra Accipiter virgatus
1 Lingmithang 16/1
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus
1 Paro, 1 Drukgyal, 1 Tango,1 Punakha valley, 1 Tongsa 14/1, 2 Lingmithang, 1 Mongor, 4 Tashingang 22/1, 4 Deothang 24/1, 1 26/1
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo
1 Pachu River, Dochula Pass, 1 Tongsa, 1 Lingmithang 16/1 & 17/1, 20/1, 1 Tashingang, 1 Deothang
Upland Buzzard Buteo hemilasius
1 Yutongla Pass 18/1
Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis
1 seen every day at 2200 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 Tashingang, 1 Deothang every day
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos
3 Punakha valley 12/1
Rufous-bellied Eagle Hieraaetus kienerii
2 Tongsa 1500 m. altitude, 2 Lingmithang 2200 m. altitude
Mountain Hawk-Eagle Spizaetus nipalensis
1 Punakha 1500 m. altitude, 6 Wangdi 13/1, 1 Tongsa, 1 Lingmithang, 1 Mongor, 1 Daothang 1300 m. altitude
FALCONIDAE (FALCONINAE): FALCONS
Pied Falconet Microhierax melanoleucus
1 Deothang 1100 m. altitude 26/1
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus
2 Paro, 4 Tongsa,1 13/1, 1 Yotong La, 2 Tashingang, 1 Daothang
Eurasian Hobby Falco subbuteo
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus
1 Tongsa 2300 m. altitude near monastry
ANATIDAE (TADORNINAE): SHELDUCKS
Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea
18 Punakha valley
ANATIDAE (ANATINAE): TYPICAL DUCKS
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos
2 Punakha valley
ANATIDAE (MERGINAE): SEA DUCKS
Common Merganser Mergus merganser
8 Pachu river, Paro, 12 Punalha valley
PHASIANIDAE (PHASIANINAE): PARTRIDGES, QUAILS, PHEASANTS
Hill Partridge Arborophila torqueola
1 seen 2400 m. altitude Gangtey, 1 heard Lingmithang
Rufous-throated Partridge Arborophila rufogularis
2 seen at 2600 m. altitude 41 km south of Tashingang Samorubjunkhar 22/1
Blood Pheasant Ithaginis cruentus
9 Yutong La 2800 m. altitude, 30 Trumshing La Pass 3300 m. altitude
Satyr Tragopan Tragopan satyra
1 female seen at 4 m. distance Lingmithang 2200 m. altitude on Mongor Rd
Kalij Pheasant Lophura leucomelanos
1 Paro, 2 Dochula, 3 Yotungla Pass, 1 Lingmithang 740 m. altitude
GRUIDAE (GRUINAE): CRANES
Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis
2 adult, 2 immature Gatsa Valley Bumthang 2850 m. altitude
RALLIDAE: RAILS, GALLINULES
Ruddy-breasted Crake Porzana fusca
1 in rice field Linghmintang 650 m. altitude
CHARADRIIDAE (VANELLINAE): LAPWINGS
River Lapwing Vanellus duvaucellii
2 Punakha river near town.
SCOLOPACIDAE (TRINGINAE): SANDPIPERS
Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos
SCOLOPACIDAE (SCOLOPACINAE): WOODCOCKS, SNIPE
Solitary Snipe Gallinago solitaria
1 at 3000 m. altitude in cleared boggy meadow Trumshingla Pass
Eurasian Woodcock Scolopax rusticola
1 Tongsa, 1 Yotungla, 1 2700 m. altitude Mongor Rd to Lighmitang, 1 enroute from Mongor to Tashingang
RECURVIROSTRIDAE (IBIDORHYNCHINAE): IBISBILL
Ibisbill Ibidorhyncha struthersii
5 Pachu River 2400 m. altitude at Paro 9/1
COLUMBIDAE (TRERONINAE): FRUIT-PIGEONS
Pin-tailed Green-Pigeon Treron apicauda
1 Deothang 240 m 26/1
Wedge-tailed Green-Pigeon Treron sphenura
6 Punakha 1400 m, 1 Lingmithang 16/1 & 18/1 2200 m. altitude, 16 Tashingang 2600-2300 m, 3 Deothang 26/1
Mountain Imperial-Pigeon Ducula badia
3 Lingmithang 2200-1500, 10 Deothang 1100 m
COLUMBIDAE (COLUMBINAE): PIGEONS, DOVES
Snow Pigeon Columba leuconota
40 Tango 2600 m, 30 at 2700 m. altitude Thumphu - Tongsa, 50 Tongsa 1860 m. altitude
Rock Pigeon Columba livia
Speckled Wood-Pigeon Columba hodgsonii
60 1800 m. altitude Dochula - Punakha, 15 Tongsa
Barred Cuckoo-Dove Macropygia unchall
4 2300 m. altitude Dochula Pass, east, 1 south of Tashingang 2600 m, 3 Deothang 24/1, 1 Deothang 26/1
Oriental Turtle-Dove Streptopelia orientalis
Spotted Dove Streptopelia chinensis
10 Deothang 25/1
CUCULIDAE (CUCULINAE): CUCKOOS
Large Hawk-Cuckoo Cuculus sparverioides
1 south of Tashingang 2500 m
CUCULIDAE (PHAENICOPHAEINAE): AMERICAN CUCKOOS, MALKOHAS
Green-billed Malkoha Phaenicophaeus tristis
1 Tongsa valley 1400 m
STRIGIDAE (BUBONINAE): TYPICAL OWLS
Collared Owlet Glaucidium brodiei
Heard Tongsa, 2 Lingmithang 1600 m, 1 camp 750, heard every day Deothang
Asian Barred Owlet Glaucidium cuculoides
1 seen Lingmithang 1500 m 17/1 & 18/1, 1 Deothang
Red-headed Trogon Harpactes erythrocephalus
1 Punakha 1400, 1 Lingmithang 1700 17/1 and 18/1, 3 Deothang 300 m altitude 24/1 and 2 seen both 25/1 & 26/1
ALCEDINIDAE (CERYLINAE): CERYLID KINGFISHERS
Crested Kingfisher Megaceryle lugubris
1 Paro valley, 1 Tongsa 1200, 1 Jakar, 1 Deothang
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
1 Pachu , Paro
Blue-bearded Bee-eater Nyctiornis athertoni
1 Lingmithang 1800 altitude, 1 Deothang 24/1, 2 25/1, 1 26/1
CORACIIDAE (CORACIINAE): TYPICAL ROLLERS
Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
1 Paro Valley
Eurasian Hoopoe Upupa epops
5 Paro Valley, 2 Tongsa
Wreathed Hornbill Aceros undulatus
2 Deothang 24/1, 12 25/1, 11 26/1 all between 200-400 m altitude
Great Barbet Megalaima virens
13 between 1600- 2600 m. altitude, Dochula Pass, 15 Punakha, H Wangdi Tongsa, 8 Lingmithang 16/1, 1 17/1, H 19/1, 2 Mongor - Tashingang, 2 Tashingang, 4 Deothang 24/1,1 Deothang 26/1
Golden-throated Barbet Megalaima franklinii
2 at 2400 m Dochula pass, 1 seen each day Lingmithang
Blue-throated Barbet Megalaima asiatica
1 Lingmithang 16/1 750 m, 19/1 1500m, 1 24/1, 2 25/1, 1 26/1 Deothang
Yellow-rumped Honeyguide Indicator xanthonotus
1 near honey nest at 1800 m. altitude, the second bridge down hill from Tongsa
PICIDAE (PICUMNINAE): PICULETS
White-browed Piculet Sasia ochracea
2 at 1400 m. altitude Lingmithang 18/1, 1 at 350 m. altitude Deothang 25/1 and same bird 26/1
PICIDAE (PICINAE): WOODPECKERS
Rufous Woodpecker Celeus brachyurus
2 Deothang 24/1
Streak-throated Woodpecker Picus xanthopygaeus
1 Tongsa 1500 m. altitude
Greater Yellownape Picus flavinucha
2 Dochula 2000 m. altitude 11/1
Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus
1 Mongar Rd 2600 m. altitude to Lingmithang, 1 1500 m. altitude Lingmithang 19/1, 2 at 1000 m. altitude Deothang
Pale-headed Woodpecker Gecinulus grantia
2 seen in bamboo growth at 300 m. altitude Deothang 25/1
Gray-headed Woodpecker Dendropicos spodocephalus
3 750m. altitude Lingmithang 17/1, 1 near camp Lingmithang 18/1
Darjeeling Woodpecker Dendrocopos darjellensis
1 close view at 2550 m. altitude Lingmithang (mongor rd) 27/1,
Crimson-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos cathpharius
2 at 2000 m. altitude Mongar Rd to Lingmithang 18/1
Rufous-bellied Woodpecker Dendrocopos hyperythrus
1 Tango near Thimphu 10/1, 1 Dochula 2600 m. altitude, 2 Tashingang 2600 m. altitude 22/1, 1 Enroute to Daothang 23/1
Gray-capped Woodpecker Dendrocopos canicapillus
1 24/1, 2 25/1, 1 26/1 Deothang
Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis
Up to 5 heard every day between 1400 - 2000 m. altitude Lingmithang, heard in Tashingang area and 1 seen at 1100 m. altitude near camp Deothang 24/1
Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus
2 seen 25/1 & 26/1 Deothang at 250 m. altitude
EURYLAIMIDAE (EURYLAIMINAE): BROADBILLS
Silver-breasted Broadbill Serilophus lunatus
5 seen near bridge at 250 m. altitude Deothang
Oriental Skylark Alauda gulgula
1 Gatsa valley 2850 m. altitude 15/1, 20 near Tashingang
HIRUNDINIDAE (HIRUNDININAE): SWALLOWS
Eurasian Crag-Martin Hirundo rupestris
8 at 1000 m. altitude in Manas river valley enroute to Tashingang 21/1
Nepal House-Martin Delichon nipalensis
Seen often below 2000 m. altitude most places
MOTACILLIDAE: WAGTAILS AND PIPITS
Gray Wagtail Motacilla cinerea
2 Punakha, 1 Deothang both 24/1 and 26/1
White Wagtail Motacilla alba
12 Paro Valley, 1 Dochula, 2 Punakha, 2 Pelela, 12 Yotongla, 1 Jakar, 1 Mongar, 2 Tashingang, 4 Deothang, 2 camp Deothang
Olive-backed Pipit Anthus hodgsoni
Black-winged Cuckooshrike Coracina melaschistos
2 seen 24/1 and 1 25/1 Deothang
Gray-chinned Minivet Pericrocotus solaris
4 at 1800 18/1, 2 same place 19/1, 20 at 2200 m. altitude Lingmithang, 20 at 2200 m. altitude 23/1 enroute to Deothang
Long-tailed Minivet Pericrocotus ethologus
1 Tongsa valley at 1500 m. altitude 14/1
Short-billed Minivet Pericrocotus brevirostris
4 at 300 m. altitude 25/1 & 26/1 Deothang
Scarlet Minivet Pericrocotus flammeus
2 enroute to Tongsa at 2000 m. altitude 13/1, 8 25/1 and 2 26/1 Deothang
Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike Hemipus picatus
7 at 750 m. altitude Lingmithang, 2 near Mongar 21/1, 20 enroute to Deothang 23/1, 6 Deothang 26/1
Striated Bulbul Pycnonotus striatus
6 at 1200 m. altitude enroute to Deothang 23/1, 20 at 1100 m. altitude near camp 24/1
Black-crested Bulbul Pycnonotus melanicterus
2 at 300 m. altitude 24/1, 10 25/1, 20 26/1 Deothang
Red-whiskered Bulbul Pycnonotus jocosus
4 25/1 and 10 26/1 Deothang
Himalayan Bulbul Pycnonotus leucogenys
1 at 750 m. altitude Lingmithang, 25 enroute to Mongar 20/1,
Red-vented Bulbul Pycnonotus cafer
common below 2000 m. altitude
White-throated Bulbul Alophoixus flaveolus
5 below 500 m. altitude 24/1, 10 25/1, 5 26/1 Deothang
Ashy Bulbul Hemixos flavala
12 at 700 m. altitude Lingmithang, 8 near camp 1000 m. altitude Lingmithang 19/1, 25 at 600 m. altitude Deothang 24/1, 20 25/1 and 20 26/1 Deothang
Mountain Bulbul Hypsipetes mcclellandii
4 Dochula 2200, 6 Punkaha 1400 m. altitude- 1600 m. altitude, 2 at 2500 m. altitude Tashingang, 2 enroute to Deothang at 2000 m. altitude
Black Bulbul Hypsipetes leucocephalus
25 Punkaha valley 1200 m. altitude, 100 Lingmithang - Mongar 20/1, 20 Mongar - Tashingang,10 Deothang 25/1
Orange-bellied Leafbird Chloropsis hardwickii
1 at 2000 m. altitude east of Dachula 11/1, 1 Punakha at 1250 m. altitude, 1 at 1400 m. altitude near Wanggdi Phudrang, 5 at 700 m. altitude Lingmithang, 2 enroute to Mongar 20/1, 3 Tashingang area, 4 24/1, 12 25/1, 8 26/1 all at Deothang between 1000 and 400 m. altitude altitude.
Asian Fairy-Bluebird Irena puella
1 at 1800 m. altitude Tongsa valley 14/1, 2 Deothang
Brown Dipper Cinclus pallasii
8 Pachu River, 4 enroute to Tango, 5 Punakha River, 15 seen between Punakha and Tongsa, 2 Tongsa River, 1 Jakar near Bumthang, 3 in the river near Lingmithang 17/1, 1 Manas River, 1 Deothang
Winter Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
2 Tango 10/1, 1 Tongsa valley, 1 Jakar, 1 Lingmithang camp 950 m. altitude
Alpine Accentor Prunella collaris
Rufous-streaked Accentor Prunella himalayana
12 Pachu River, 200 near Dzong Tango, 1 Pelela, 2 Yotungla
Rufous-breasted Accentor Prunella strophiata
10 Drukgyal, 2 Tango, 1 Dochula, 1 Pelela, 1 Tongsa, 6 Yotongla, 20 Jakar, 1 Lingmithang both 19/1 and 20/1, 5 Tashingang 22/1 and 23/1
Maroon-backed Accentor Prunella immaculata
6 Dochula, 35 Pelela area, 2 Yotungla, 4 Tashingang, 2 enroute to Deothang
LANIIDAE (LANIINAE): TRUE SHRIKES
Brown Shrike Lanius cristatus
Long-tailed Shrike Lanius schach
4 Dochula at 2200 meters, 1 Tongsa, 1 Tashingang, 1 Deothang
Gray-backed Shrike Lanius tephronotus
common between 2 - 10 seen every day except in areas above 3000 meters
Orange-flanked Bush-Robin Tarsiger cyanurus
1 Tango, 4 Dochula 11/1, 2 Pelela, 1 16/1, 2 18/1, 1 19/1, 1 20/1 Ligmithang, 1 Mongar, 2 Tashingang area 22/1 & 23/1, 2 24/1 & 25/1 Deothang, 1 26/1 Deothang
Golden Bush-Robin Tarsiger chrysaeus
1 Punakha, 2 Ligmithang at 1500 m. altitude, 3 at 2000 m. altitude enroute to Deothang 23/1
White-browed Bush-Robin Tarsiger indicus
1 at 3000 m. altitude Pelela pass, 2 Yotungla, 1 at 2600 m. altitude 19/1 Ligmithang, 1 Tashingang 2500 m, 1 enroute to Deothang at 2000 m. altitude 23/1
Rufous-breasted Bush-Robin Tarsiger hyperythrus
1 at 2200 m. altitude west of Dochula, 5 Punakha, 1 Yotungla, 1 Tongsa, 1-4 seen every day Lingmithang between 2000-2500 m. altitude, 1 near camp 24/1, 26/1 Deothang
Oriental Magpie-Robin Copsychus saularis
1 Punakha valley, 2 at 750 m. altitude Lingmithang, 2 Mongar 750 m. altitude 20/1, 1 23/1 and 5 25/1 Deothang
Hodgson's Redstart Phoenicurus hodgsoni
2 hotel Paro, 8/1, 10 seen in Paro valley, 3 Punakha, 3 Pelela, 3 Tongsa, 6 enroute tp Bumthang, 2 at 750 m. altitude 17/1 Lingmithang, 1 Mongar, 2 Tashingang, 1 Deothang
Blue-fronted Redstart Phoenicurus frontalis
2 Paro hotel, 8 Paro valley to Thimphu, 3 Tango, 2 Dochula 2200 m. altitude,2 Pelela, 2 Tongsa, 4 enroute to Bumthang, 4 Jakar, 1 after Trumshingla, 3-5 Lingmithang 1100-1500 m. altitude seen almost every day, 2 Mongar, 5 Tashingang 22/1 and 10 enroute to Deothang, 1 near camp at 1100 m. altitude Deothang 26/1.
White-throated Redstart Phoenicurus schisticeps
2 at 3200 m. altitude in a partly cleared and grazed patch Yotungla, 1 near Trumshingla at 3300 m. altitude
Daurian Redstart Phoenicurus auroreus
1 Ligmithang to Mongar 20/1
Plumbeous Water-Redstart Rhyacornis fuliginosus
5 Pachu river Paro, 4 Punakha river, 2 Pelela and streams enroute, 6 Tongsa river, 4 near 750 m. altitude at river Lingmithang, 1 Mongar-Tashingang, 3 Deothang at 300 m. altitude 25/1 and 1 same place 26/1
Little Forktail Enicurus scouleri
1 Punakha at 1200 m. altitude, 1 Pelela, 1 at 2600 m. altitude, Lingmithang
Black-backed Forktail Enicurus immaculatus
2 at a stream 250 m. altitude below Deothang 25/1 & 26/1
Slaty-backed Forktail Enicurus schistaceus
1 Tango, 1 Duchula 1900 m. altitude, 5 Punakha, 1 at 750 m. altitude Lingmithang, 2 at 1800 m. altitude Lingmithang 18/1, 1 Tashingang 22/1, 1 enroute to Deothang, 1 24/1, 2 25/1, 1 26/1 Deothang
White-crowned Forktail Enicurus leschenaulti
1 together with back-backed forktail seen both 25/1 and 26/1 Deothang
Spotted Forktail Enicurus maculatus
1 Tango, 1 Pelela, 1 enroute to Lingmithang 16/1, 1 seen near camp 900 m. altitude 17/1 Ligmithang, 2 seen near road 1600-2000 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 enroute to Deothang, 1 camp 1100 m. altitude Deothang 24/1
Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata
2 Punakha, 1 Tongsa, 2 Lingmithang 17/1, 1 Deothang 23/1 and 26/1
Gray Bushchat Saxicola ferrea
1 Punakha, 1 Pelela, 3 Tongsa, 6 Lingmithang, 1 Mongar, 2 Tashingang, 4 Tashingang 22/1, 8 enroute to Deothang, 2 24/1 & 4 26/1 Deothang
White-capped Water-Redstart Chaimarrornis leucocephalus
3 Pachu river, Paro, 3 Dochula enroute, 1 Punakha, 6 enroute via Pelela, 2 Tongsa, 2 Jakar, 1 Yotungla, 3 Trumshingala,2 Lingmithang 17/1, 4 23/1,1 24/1, 4 25/1, 2 26/1 Deothang
Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush Monticola rufiventris
1 Punakha, 1 Pelela, 2 Tongsa, 1 Yotungla, 1 Jakar, 1 Trumshingla, 1 seen every day at 1500-1100 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 seen every day Deothang
Blue Rock-Thrush Monticola solitarius
Almost one seen every day enroute except at higher altitude
Blue Whistling-Thrush Myiophonus caeruleus
Almost 100 counted along the road every day.
Plain-backed Thrush Zoothera mollissima
2 Tango, 1 at 2200 m. altitude Dochula, 8 Pelela, 1 at 1800 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 Tashingang 2500 m. altitude 22/1 and 23/1
Long-tailed Thrush Zoothera dixoni
2 Tango, 1 Dochula, 8 Pelela, 1 at 1800 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 Tashingang seen both 22/1 and 23/1
Scaly Thrush Zoothera dauma
1 at the forest 250 m. altitude Deothang 26/1
Long-billed Thrush Zoothera monticola
1 near ravine at 2600 m. altitude on Mongar road near Lingmithang 16/1
White-collared Blackbird Turdus albocinctus
3 near hotel Paro, 1 Tango, 1 Dochula west, 3 Tongsa near Yotungla pass
Dark-throated Thrush Turdus ruficollis
5 ruficollis together with 20 atrogularis seen at 2700-3000 m. altitude Yotungla Pass and 2 at Jakar.
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus erythrogenys
2 at 750 m. altitude in dry scrub Lingmithang, 1 at 950 m. altitude below Tashingang 21/1, 1 at 1100 m. altitude Deothang 24/1
White-browed Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus schisticeps
2 at 550 m. altitude together with Necklaced Laughingthrushes 24/1, 2 seen in another flock 25/1 Deothang.
Streak-breasted Scimitar-Babbler Pomatorhinus ruficollis
2 at 2600 seen below Pelala pass 13/1, 2 Mongar pass 2400 m. altitude 21/1, heard Samorubjonkhar south of Tashingang 22/1, 5 seen enroute to Deothang at 2000 m. altitude 23/1
Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga albiventer
2 at 1600 m. altitude Lingmithang 19/1, 1 Tashingang 21/1
Pygmy Wren-Babbler Pnoepyga pusilla
1 25/1 Deothang
Buff-chested Babbler Stachyris ambigua
6 seen 24/1 and 3 25/1 Deothang
Rufous-capped Babbler Stachyris ruficeps
Found in large numbers and generally dominant in mixed species flocks in subtropical forests below 2000 m. altitude to 1000 m. altitude. Absent in Deothang.
Golden Babbler Stachyris chrysaea
2 Punakha 1300-1500 m. altitude, common in flocks between 2400-1600 m. altitude Lingmithang
Gray-throated Babbler Stachyris nigriceps
5 seen 24/1 and 1 25/1 Deothang
White-throated Laughingthrush Garrulax albogularis
Huge flock observed in dry deciduous scrub and in open country most places between 2200 m. altitude and 1000 m. altitude, also seen feeding on corn and wheat fields
White-crested Laughingthrush Garrulax leucolophus
10-20 seen every day on Mongar Rd Lingmithang between camp and 1600 m. altitude, 5-10 seen near Deothang 24/1 and 25/1
Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax monileger
10 seen at 350 m. altitude 25/1 Deothang
Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush Garrulax pectoralis
6 at 500 m. altitude 24/1 Deothang
Striated Laughingthrush Garrulax striatus
2 Punakha vally 1500 m. altitude, 1 Tongsa, 20-100 seen every day Lingmithang 1500-2000 m. altitude, 4 Tashingang area 2500 m. altitude, 2 Mongar, common south of Tashingang enroute to Deothang, not observed below 1000 m. altitude
Gray-sided Laughingthrush Garrulax caerulatus
8 seen near telegraph tower at 2500 m. altitude east of Mongar 21/1
Streaked Laughingthrush Garrulax lineatus
2 Punakha 1500 m. altitude, 3 Mongar-Tashingang, 12 South of Tashingang 2500 m. altitude, 20 enroute to Deothang 2000-2500 m. altitude 23/1
Blue-winged Laughingthrush Garrulax squamatus
3 seen at 2000 m. altitude 18/1 and 2 19/1 Lingmithang, 2 near camp at 1100 m. altitude 24/1 and 25/1 Deothang
Scaly Laughingthrush Garrulax subunicolor
1 Pelela 2500 m. altitude 13/1, 1 16/1, 4 18/1, 10 19/1, 4 20/1 Lingmithang, 5 Tashinggang 2500 m. altitude, 2 enroute to Deothang 23/1
Black-faced Laughingthrush Garrulax affinis
6 Dochula 3000 m. altitude, 20 Yotungla 3000-3300, 15 Yotungla, 1 Trumshingla
Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush Garrulax erythrocephalus
Generally very common in forest, edges of scrub and near town. Observed above 1400 m. altitude and below 3000 m. altitude.
Red-faced Liocichla Liocichla phoenicea
3 at 1200 m. altitude in subtropical forest Deothang area 24/1
Silver-eared Mesia Leiothrix argentauris
20 on Mongar Rd 2600 m. altitude enroute to Lingmithang 16/1
Red-billed Leiothrix Leiothrix lutea
1 Wangdi Phodrang, 10 south of Tashingang 22/1 and 23/1
White-browed Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius flaviscapis
1 Tango 10/1
Green Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius xanthochlorus
8 south of Tashingang 2500 m. altitude 22/1
Black-eared Shrike-Babbler Pteruthius melanotis
2 Punakha vally 1300 m. altitude, 2 Wangdi Phudrang, 2-5 seen every day between 1700 and 2200 m. altitude altitude Lingmithang, 1 enroute to Deothang 23/1, 1 near camp 1100 m. altitude Deothang.
White-hooded Babbler Gampsorhynchus rufulus
20 at 350 m. altitude 26/1 Deothang
Rusty-fronted Barwing Actinodura egertoni
10 at 1700 m. altitude 19/1 Lingmithang, 4 seen 24/1, 50 25/1 Deothang
Hoary-throated Barwing Actinodura nipalensis
8 near powerline at 2400 m. altitude Dochula Pass, 1 Yotungla at 3000 m. altitude
Blue-winged Minla Minla cyanouroptera
35 or more Punakha, 20 Wangdi -Tongsa at 1400 m. altitude 13/1
Chestnut-tailed Minla Minla strigula
1 Drukcyal, 1 Tango, 4 at 2200 m. altitude Dochula, common Tongsa, 20 Lingmithang-Mongar, 15 Enroute to Deothang 23/1
Red-tailed Minla Minla ignotincta
50 Punakha valley 1300-1600 m. altitude, 8 Wangdi 1400 m. altitude, 1 Mongar Lingmithang 16/1, 5 at 2000 m. altitude Ligmithang 19/1, common near camp at 1100 m. altitude Deothang
Golden-breasted Fulvetta Alcippe chrysotis
This rare fulvetta is observed in flocks up to 35 between 2000 and 2600 m. altitude on Trumshingla-Mongar Rd near Lingmithang between 16/1 and 20/1
Yellow-throated Fulvetta Alcippe cinerea
50 at 2500 m. altitude 16/1, 20 at 2200 m. altitude 18/1, 25 between 1600-2000 m. altitude 19/1, 35 same place 20/1. All observations in Lingmithang area.
Rufous-winged Fulvetta Alcippe castaneceps
Common Punakha vally above 1300 m. altitude, 10-50 seen above 1500 m. altitude Lingmithang every day, 2 enroute to at 2000 m. altitude to Deothang
White-browed Fulvetta Alcippe vinipectus
Dominant species in mixed species flocks in Juniper and Blue Pine forest in Western Bhutan above 2200 m. altitude. Not observed in broadleaf forest east of Trumshingla Pass.
Nepal Fulvetta Alcippe nipalensis
3-6 seen above 1500 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 at 1100 m. altitude Deothang 25/1
Rufous Sibia Heterophasia capistrata
Dominant bird in all habitats above 1000 m. altitude
Long-tailed Sibia Heterophasia picaoides
10 Deothang at 800 m. altitude 24/1
Striated Yuhina Yuhina castaniceps
20 Lingmithang 17/1, 20 Deothang 1000 m. altitude 24/1
White-naped Yuhina Yuhina bakeri
50 or more seen in big mixed species flocks between 1500-2000 m. altitude Lingmithang, 25 Deothang near camp at 1100 m. altitude 24/1
Whiskered Yuhina Yuhina flavicollis
Very common and seen more often in both pine and broadleaf forests, not seen in Paro and Tongsa valleys.
Stripe-throated Yuhina Yuhina gularis
5 Dochula 2200 m. altitude, 2 Wangi-Tongsa, 5 seen 18/1 at 2000 m. altitude and 2 at 2200 m. altitude 20/1 Lingmithang, 1 Mongar, 1 enroute to Deothang, 2 Deothang 24/1
Rufous-vented Yuhina Yuhina occipitalis
50 seen at 2600-2300 Mongar Rd, Lingmithang 16/1, 25 at 2000 m. altitude Lingmithang 18/1, 25 Tashingang at 2200-2600 m. altitude 22/1
Black-chinned Yuhina Yuhina nigrimenta
10-20 seen above 1500 m. altitude at Lingmithang
White-bellied Yuhina Yuhina zantholeuca
4 Wangdi 1400 m. altitude, 2 near camp Deothang
GENERA SEDIS INCERTAE
Fire-tailed Myzornis Myzornis pyrrhoura
1 at 2200 m. altitude in Juniper Pine Tango, 1 at 1800 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 at 2400 m. altitude Lingmithang, 3 Mongar at 2500 m. altitude, 1 Tashingang 2500 m. altitude seen 22/1, 3 same place 23/1
Great Parrotbill Conostoma oemodium
2 Yotungla Pass at 2900 m. altitude. Huge parrotbills in the Pine trees 15/1
Brown Parrotbill Paradoxornis unicolor
6 Jakar at 2600 m. altitude 15/1
Red-headed Parrotbill Paradoxornis ruficeps
20 at 1900 m. altitude in bamboo 18/1 and 40 19/1 Lingmithang, 10 at 1100 m. altitude near camp Deothang 24/1
SYLVIIDAE: OLD WORLD WARBLERS
Gray-bellied Tesia Tesia cyaniventer
3 in dark forest at 300 m. altitude Deothang seen the 26/1
Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler Cettia fortipes
1 at 1500 m. altitude Tongsa, 1 Lingmithang 1500 m. altitude, 1 enroute to Deothang 23/1
Aberrant Bush-Warbler Cettia flavolivacea
1 at 1000 m. altitude Deothang 25/1
Yellowish-bellied Bush-Warbler Cettia acanthizoides
1 at 2200 m. altitude enroute to Lingmithang 16/1
Gray-sided Bush-Warbler Cettia brunnifrons
1 750 m. altitude 17/1, 1 at 1500 m. altitude 18/1 Lingmithang
Buff-barred Warbler Phylloscopus pulcher
1 at 2500 m. altitude south of Tashingang 22/1
Ashy-throated Warbler Phylloscopus maculipennis
This is the dominant Phylloscopus warbler in mixed species flocks, more than 25 warblers were seen every day, absent from lower valleys with sparse vegetation
Lemon-rumped Warbler Phylloscopus proregulus
5 Observed at Tango, very common at Lingmithang and Tashingang, seen near camp Deothang
Buff-browed warbler Phylloscopus humii
1 Tango, 1 Pelela, 2 Deothang 350 m. altitude
Greenish Warbler Phylloscopus trochiloides
10 25/1 and 5 26/1 at 350 m. altitude Deothang
Blyth's Leaf-Warbler Phylloscopus reguloides
2 at 250 m. altitude Deothang 25/1 & 26/1
Golden-spectacled Warbler Seicercus burkii
2 Punakha vally 1400 m. altitude, 1 seen 24/1 & 2 25/1, 2 26/1 Deothang below 500 m. altitude
Gray-hooded Warbler Seicercus xanthoschistos
2 Punakha, 4 Pelela, 2 Tongsa, 4 at 2600 Ligmithang 16/1, 1 17/1, 2 18/1, 1 19/1 Lingmithang, 2 Tashingang at 2500 m. altitude, 4 enroute to Deothang 23/1, 4 camp Deothang 24/1, 5 below 500 m. altitude 25/1 and 1 26/1 Deothang
White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis
5 in forest at 250 m. altitude Deothang 26/1
Gray-cheeked Warbler Seicercus poliogenys
2-5 seen every day between 1500-2000 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 Mongar at 2500 m. altitude, 1 near camp Deothang
Chestnut-crowned Warbler Seicercus castaniceps
4 Punakha valley, 1 at 2600 m. altitude Mongar rd to Lingmithang, 1 at 1800 m. altitude 18/1 Lingmithang, 2 19/1 at 2000 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 enroute to Deothang, 1 camp at 1100 m. altitude 25/1 and 2 at 250 m. altitude Deothang
Black-faced Warbler Abroscopus schisticeps
3 at 2400 m. altitude Lingmithang, 4 Tashingang at 2500 m. altitude, 2 same place 23/1
Yellow-bellied Warbler Abroscopus superciliaris
1 seen at 300 m. altitude 25/1 and 26/1 Deothang
Striated Prinia Prinia criniger
1 Lingmithang 750 m. altitude
Hill Prinia Prinia atrogularis
1 Tongsa at 1300 m. altitude, 1 Lingmithang 1500 m. altitude
Gray-breasted Prinia Prinia hodgsonii
3 24/1 & 1 25/1 Deothang
Mountain Tailorbird Orthotomus cuculatus
2 at 2200 meters altitude Lingmithang
Common Tailorbird Orthotomus sutorius
common below 1000 m. Lingmithang, 2 24/1 & 1 25/1 Deothang
Dark-necked Tailorbird Orthotomus atrogularis
1 Lingmithang- Mongar
AEGITHALIDAE: LONG-TAILED TITS, BUSHTITS
Black-throated Tit Aegithalos concinnus
20 Dachula Pass between 2600-2200 m. altitude, 20 Punakha- 1400-1600 m. altitude, common enroute Punakha, common at Tongsa and Yotungla, 50 seen Lingmithang between 1300 and 2200 m. altitude every day and common in forests near Tashingang
Black-browed Tit Aegithalos iouschistos
5 Paro 8/1, 20 Drukgyal 9/1, common Tango 10/1, common Wangdi - Tongsa 13/1
Fire-capped Tit Cephalopyrus flammiceps
2 at 2000 m. altitude Lingmithang 18/1
Rufous-vented Tit Parus rubidiventris
20 Yotungla Pass 3300 m. altitude-3000 m. altitude 15/1
Black-crested Tit Parus melanolophus
1 Yontgla Pass 3300-3000 m. altitude 15/1
Coal Tit Parus ater
+50 Yotongla 3300-3000 m. altitude 15/1
Gray-crested Tit Parus dichrous
5 Yotongla Pass 3200 m. altitude, 2 at 3000 m. altitude Trumshingla Pass
Green-backed Tit Parus monticolus
Common above 1500 m. altitude most places
Yellow-cheeked Tit Parus spilonotus
2 Lingmithang 18/1, 4 enroute to Deothang at 2000 m. altitude 23/1
Sultan Tit Melanochlora sultanea
2 seen very close in a ravine near rice fields at 750 m. altitude Lingmithang 17/1, 10 25/1 & 2 26/1 at 250 m. altitude Deothang
Yellow-browed Tit Sylviparus modestus
Common in subtropical forests in mix species flocks between 2200 and 1500 m. altitude, only 2 seen at Deothang 26/1
SITTIDAE (SITTINAE): NUTHATCHES
Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch Sitta castanea
5 at 700 m. altitude Lingmitang 17/1, 1 Deothang 24/1
White-tailed Nuthatch Sitta himalayensis
1 Tango, 5 Dochula at 2600 m. altitude 11/1, 2 Lingmithang 18/1, 3 19/1, 2 20/1, 1 Tashingang, 2 before Deothang at 2000 m. altitude
SITTIDAE (TICHODROMINAE): WALLCREEPER
Wallcreeper Tichodroma muraria
1 between Paro and Thimphu, 1 enroute to Tango, 2 before Dochula Pass, 1 Punakha valley 1300 m. altitude, 8 seen enroute to Tongsa, 7 seen in Tongsa area, 1 Yotongla, 2 Lingmithang - Mongar, 2 Mongar Tashingang, 2 Tashingang - Samorubjonkhar
CERTHIIDAE (CERTHIINAE): TREECREEPERS
Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris
2 near Hotel Paro, 1 Tango
Rusty-flanked Tree-creeper Certhia nipalensis
2 Tango, 1 Mongor Rd from Trumshingla 2700 m. altitude, 1 at 2600 m. altitude 40 km south of Tashingang 22/1, 1 same place 23/1.
Brown-throated Tree-creeper Certhia discolor
1 Punakha Valley 1400 m. altitude, 1 Mongor rd from Trumshingla at 2600 m. altitude enroute to Lingmithang 16/1
Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher Ficedula strophiata
1 at 2200 meters altitude Dochula, 2 Punakha, 1-2 seen every day between 2550 m. and 1600 m. Ligmithang, 1 Tashingang, 1 at camp Deothang, 2 at 500 m. altitude Deothang
Snowy-browed Flycatcher Ficedula hyperythra
5 in lowland semi tropical forest 26/1 Deothang
Little Pied Flycatcher Ficedula westermanni
2 at 350 meters altitude Deothang
Large Niltava Niltava grandis
1 at 2600 meters Lingmithang, 1 at 2200 meters Lingmithang, 1 at camp Deothang
Small Niltava Niltava macgrigoriae
1 at 750 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 at camp Ligmithang, 1 Deothang
Rufous-bellied Niltava Niltava sundara
1 Dochula at 2200 meters altitude, 1 at 350 meters altitude Deothang
Pale-chinned Blue-Flycatcher Cyornis poliogenys
1 at 350 meters altitude Deothang
Pale Blue-Flycatcher Cyornis unicolor
1 at 250 meters altitude Deothang in a mixed species flock.
Pygmy Blue-Flycatcher Cyornis hodgsoni
1 seen both together with Rufous-bellied Niltava and Pale-chinned Flycatcher at 350 meters elevation, 2 further down at 250 meters Deothang.
Gray-headed Canary-Flycatcher Culicicapa ceylonensis
2 seen Lingmithang, 2-6 seen every day Deothang
MONARCHIDAE (RHIPIDURINAE): FANTAILS
Yellow-bellied Fantail Rhipidura hypoxantha
1 to 10 birds seen in broadleaf forests every day below 3000 meters
Spot-breasted Fantail? Rhipidura (?albicollis) albogularis
1 Punakha, 1 Lingmithang altitude 1600 m.
Yellow-vented Flowerpecker Dicaeum chrysorrheum
1 at 250 meters altitude Deothang
Plain Flowerpecker Dicaeum concolor
1 at 700 meters altitude Lingmithang
Fire-breasted Flowerpecker Dicaeum ignipectus
1 at 2500 meters Lingmithang, 10 Tashingang, 1 Deothang
Gould's Sunbird Aethopyga gouldiae
1 at 2600 m. altitude Lingmithang
Green-tailed Sunbird Aethopyga nipalensis
2 Dochula, 2 Punakha, 4 enroute to Tongsa, 3 Tongsa, 10-15 seen every day Lingmithang, 3 Mongar-Tashingang, 5 tashingang
Black-throated Sunbird Aethopyga saturata
8 at 700 meters elevation Lingmithang, 1 Mongar, 1-5 Deothang
Crimson Sunbird Aethopyga siparaja
5 at 700 meters together with Black-throated Sunbird Lingmithang, 1-4 seen every day
Streaked Spiderhunter Arachnothera magna
1 near camp Lingmithang, 4-6 seen every day Deothang
Oriental White-eye Zosterops palpebrosus
common in Paro Valley, Lingmithang, Deothang
EMBERIZIDAE (EMBERIZINAE): BUNTINGS AND AMERICAN SPARROWS
Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla
4 Jakar lodge area, Bumthang
FRINGILLIDAE (CARDUELINAE): SERINS, GOLDFINCHES & ALLIES
Tibetan Serin Serinus thibetanus
200 seen in a flock near a meadow with a few trees at 1450 meters elevation Punakha
Yellow-breasted Greenfinch Carduelis spinoides
1 seen at 2500 meters elevation both 22/1 and 23/1 Tashingang
Crimson Rosefinch Carpodacus rubescens
1 at 1400 m. altitude Lingmithang
Dark-breasted Rosefinch Carpodacus nipalensis
12 at 2600 m. elevation Dochula, 1 Pelela, 10-20 at 1800 m. altitude Lingmithang
Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
1 at 2500 meters elevation Tashingang,
Beautiful Rosefinch Carpodacus pulcherrimus
12 at Jakar Lodge, Bumthang
Dark-rumped Rosefinch Carpodacus edwardsii
3 females seen at 3000 meters elevation Dochula Pass
Crimson-browed Finch Pinicola subhimachalus
2 at 2600 m. altitude Dochula, 2 at 2500 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 female 22/1 Tashingang, and 1 male same place 23/1 Tashingang
Scarlet Finch Haematospiza sipahi
8 seen in a group at 1750 m. altitude Lingmithang
Red Crossbill Loxia curvirostra
2 Yotungla Pass
Red-headed Bullfinch Pyrrhula erythrocephala
40 at 2600 meters Dochula, 25 Pelela, 2 Yotungla, 10 Trumshingla, 4 at 2500 meters Tashingang, 10 same place 23/1
Spot-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas melanozanthos
6 at 1500 meters altitude Lingmithang
White-winged Grosbeak Mycerobas carnipes
10 Yotungla Pass
Gold-naped Finch Pyrrhoplectes epauletta
3 at 2300 m. altitude in forest Dochula, 3 at 1850 m. altitude Lingmithang, 1 at 2500 m. altitude Tashingang
ESTRILDIDAE: WAXBILLS, GRASS FINCHES, MANNIKINS
White-rumped Munia Lonchura striata
8-10 seen below 300 meters Deothang
PLOCEIDAE (PASSERINAE): SPARROWS
Russet Sparrow Passer rutilans
common in higher elevation valleys
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
common in Paro Valley, Thimphu, Tongsa, Bumthang, Deothang
STURNIDAE (STURNINAE): STARLINGS
Chestnut-tailed Starling Sturnus malabaricus
2 Deothang together with minivets and leafbirds
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
common below 1500 meters altitude especially near human habitation
Maroon Oriole Oriolus traillii
2 at 700 m. altitude 17/1 Lingmithang, 1 25/1 & 26/1 Deothang
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
Very common below 2000 m. altitude
Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
3 seen below 1000 m. altitude 16/1 & 8 17/1, 2 20/1 Lingmithang, 1 24/1, 3 25/1, 10 26/1 Deothang
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer
1 Punkaha between 1200-1400 m. altitude 12/1, 1 Lingmithang 17/1, 2 25/1 & 1 26/1 Deothang
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus
1 Punkaha 1200 m. altitude, 1 seen every day Deothang
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
2 25/1 Deothang
CORVIDAE: CROWS AND JAYS
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius
Heard 2200 m. altitude before Tongsa, 1 Yotungla pass 15/1, 2 Mongar, 3 Tashingang, 1 enroute to Deothang 23/1
Gold-billed Magpie Urocissa flavirostris
4 Drukgyal, Paro, 2 Tango, 2 Dochula 300 m. altitude, 3 Yotungla, 1 Mongar, 3 Tashinggang 2200-2600 m. altitude, 1 enroute to Deothang at 2400 m. altitude
Green Magpie Cissa chinensis
1 Tongsa Valley, 1 at 2500 m. altitude Lingmithang 16/1, 1 at 750 m. altitude 17/1 Lingmithang, 1-2 seen between 24/1 and 26/1 Deothang
Rufous Treepie Dendrocitta vagabunda
3 seen near Indian border 27/1
Black-billed Magpie Pica pica
1 Yotungla 3000 m. altitude, 5 Jakar, Bumthang
Spotted Nutcracker Nucifraga caryocatactes
1 Paro, 4 Tango, 2 Yotungla, 2 Bumthang- Trumshingla pass 16/1
Red-billed Chough Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
2 Paro, common near high passes before and after Yotungla and near Bumthang
House Crow Corvus splendens
2 Paro Valley near hotel 9/1
Long-billed Crow Corvus validus
10 Dochula, 20 Lingmithang, 30 Deothang
1 Thumpu Tango
Giant Squirrel (A. bicolor)
1 Deothang at 1100 m. altitude
large, white throat contrast to the head, Deothang
It was 8 am on a cold January morning. The temperature was below freezing and it was difficult to hold the binoculars still with frozen hands while watching four rare ibisbills in Paro valley at an altitude of 2400 meters. The ibisbill is a rare shorebird which spends its winter months along rivers at the lower altitudes of the Himalayas. When spring arrives the birds migrate north to Tibet to breed. I was one of 7 privileged birdwatchers who got a rare opportunity to visit the remote and isolated kingdom of Bhutan in order to investigate this realm of birds. Although birdwatching was the main objective of our quest to Bhutan, I soon discovered that we had arrived at a unique place. It is greatly different from other countries I have visited. The natural environment and cultural heritage in Bhutan have escaped the excesses of development since the first people arrived in the dragon land around 2000 BC. The dragon called Druk in Bhutan appears in the national emblem, but it does not spit fire. According to the local officials it symbolizes the peaceful aspect of the country and its drukpas which are the local people.
The dragon is the national emblem of Bhutan. The history behind the Dragon derives back to when Tsangpa Gyare Yeske Dorgie constructed a new monastery in central Tibet at the end of the 12th century. When he heard thunder, which popular belief held to be the voice of a dragon, he decided to name the monastery Druk and the religious school he founded was called Drukpas.
However, it has not always been peaceful in Bhutan. As we traveled through the Paro valley in Western Bhutan, we could see several fortresses (dzongs) which symbolize a turbulent past. Dzongs were constructed to defend the Paro valley against outside invasion. Now they are used for religious activities. Buddhism has played a significant role in the history of Bhutan, with the exception of the late 11th century when it lost some importance during an active period of political upheavals following the assassination in AD 842 of the anti-Buddhist king Langdarma in Tibet. When the country was unified by Shabdrug Ngawang Namgyel in 1644 the drukpas school of Buddhism became a central part of society and customs.
The country was divided up into 3 provinces called Dagana, Paro, Tongsa. Each province was governed by Dzongpons (Penlops) and the political system was built on Buddhist principles. Disputes later arose when Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel died. The Penlops Jigme Dorge Wangchuk from Tongsa became very powerful in the 19th century and Tongsa was considered to be the capital of Bhutan. The present monarch Jigme Singgye Wangchuk is the third generation from his forefathers in Tongsa, but he now governs from Thimphu which is the modern day capital of Bhutan. Jigme Singgye Wangchuk is not an average monarch. He lives frugally and alone in a log cabin in Thimphu while his four wives in separate houses look after his 9 children. He travels on mountain trails on horseback for days in order to meet his subjects. He refuses to install televisions until his subjects can afford them. The king may be the only leader in the world who views progress suspiciously, believing that human happiness cannot be equated with gross national product. The environment is a major concern of the government. For example, Bhutan has adopted a forest policy which aims at maintaining the forest cover at the present level of 70 per cent.
Hunting and trapping is banned in most places, because killing wildlife is against the belief of Buddhism. The presence of pheasants near monasteries is the best proof that Buddhist customs are taken seriously by the locals. As we climbed a steep mountain up to the Tango Dzong east of Thimphu, though it was misty, cold winter weather, large birds such as eagles and spectacled pigeons flew over the Himalayan Blue Pine and Juniper forests, while tits and tree creepers were busy feeding on the snow covered tree branches. As we reached the top at 2700 meters elevation the sky cleared above us, and we could see the Mountain Hawk-eagle soaring above a sea of clouds below us. Suddenly it was milder, and the snow was melting in the winter sun, which was surprisingly strong as we were near the 27 degree latitude north of equator. The huge Tango Dzong was exposed in the sun along the mountain side, and monks in red dress walked suspiciously past us wondering why we were carrying so much heavy gear, such as tape recorders, telescopes, photographic equipment and binoculars. It was obvious that the frugal monks had never before met affluent western tourists.
There are about 3400 subsidized monks under the authority of the Je Khenpo, the head of religious affairs. Boys and girls are usually placed as monks or nuns in a monastery when they are 6 years old, which is an act of great prestige and religious merit to the families. This tradition has helped to check population growth as monks and nuns almost never get married and establish families. The national language is Drongkha which was the language spoken in the Dzong (fortress). Generally education is good, and most people speak English. There are three separate ethnic groups in Bhutan, but these children from the Paro valley are of Mongolian origin and represent the most predominant group economically.
On our quest for birds we traveled east along the only paved highway which links Paro in the east to the Indian border in Jongkar near Deothang. Between Thimphu and Punakha we passed through Dochu-La Pass at an elevation of 3050 meters. It was minus ten degrees Celsius, and a fierce wind was blowing across the pass.
Mid winter may not be the best time to see wildflowers, but it was certainly the time to see the mountain peaks. During the three other seasons the mountains are covered in clouds. Masangab has an elevation of 7158 meters and is one of the highest peaks in Bhutan.
Mountaineers are disallowed to climb to the top of Masangab mountain, as the authorities have declared the last 3 meters to be a sacred site. According to local tradition a natural disaster will occur if this rule is disobeyed. Our guide Sangay explained to us that the Monarch does not want to see the cultural and natural values of the drukpas going the same way as in Nepal, which has to cope with more than 1 million visitors per year. Tourism numbers are now restricted to 4000 per year and tourists must pay a high charge of $100/day for a fixed tour package arrangement. The tourism minister Lyompo Pradhan expressed the policy this way: " We never advertise as we do not want to see armies of backpackers pouring into the mountains, eroding the soil, hacking at the trees for firewood, polluting the rivers, invading villages and leaving tons of rubbish. We would gradually lose our way of life, our culture. We want to develop gradually so we can preserve what is good in our system, and at the same time, enhance the living standards of our people. Charging high prices is a way of restricting numbers" /Thomas 1994/.
Only 3000 tourists entered Bhutan in 1993, which is a direct result of the high fee arrangements. However the government has embarked on developing a tourist infrastructure, based on up-market ecotourism. New locally designed guest houses are constructed in local architecture and are staffed with qualified people who speak English and prepare excellent meals. The government plans to build facilities in the famous tiger reserve Manas National Park, so small groups would be able to see the endemic golden languor, rhino, leopard and tiger. The park is expected to receive its first tourists in 1997. So far 9505 square kilometers of forest area -- equal to 20 per cent of Bhutan's land area -- has been brought under wildlife management. This management ranks Bhutan as having the highest total protected area of any Asian country. As the rest of Asia has adopted a policy of development at all costs, in a not too distant future Bhutan could be the last stronghold for Asia's declining wildlife.
This prospect came across our minds as we spotted four endangered black-necked cranes landing on a boggy pasture in the Chumey valley near Bhumetang. Blacked-necked cranes breed above 4000 meters elevation in Central Tibet, as they prefer tundra like marshes and bogs around the margins of lakes and on islands within lakes. When the snow arrives in November the cranes migrate to Bhutan and the Chinese province Yunnan where they can be found gleaning waste grain on stubble fields or feeding on earthworms and hibernating frogs in boggy pastures. Scientists have estimated that only 9,000 black-necked cranes exist in the wild, and their numbers are declining because the newly arrived Han Chinese settlers shoot wildlife for food in Tibet.
Further east we crossed Thumsing La Pass at 3800 meters elevation. The mountain ridge divides central Bhutan from the eastern provinces. As we entered the Mongar province the landscape changed dramatically. Instead of rhododendron and pine forests, broadleaf subtropical forests overgrown with epiphytic orchids and waterfalls were encountered at every turn of the winding mountain road. The 120 kilometer road between Thumsing La pass and Mongar was completed as recently as 1985, and its construction claimed the lives of 247 contract workers of Nepalese origin -- the road had to be dug out of the mountainside which drops vertically for more than 1000 meters into a canyon far below.
Not only did the landscape and the vegetation change character as we moved east, but the human population also differed with increasing proportions of Nepalese and Indian residents. Many of the Nepalese have arrived as immigrants since 1950 and settled at the lower elevations to grow rice, which has contributed to the size of Bhutan's population. Currently the population density is 28.9 people per square kilometer, and it is growing by 2 % per year. As recent newcomers they have different backgrounds and customs from the Drukpa group living in the mountains. It is estimated that one third of Bhutan's 1.4 million people are of Nepalese origin and most of these people live in the southern quarter of the country. Population growth will in the long-term pose a threat to the unique wildlife of Bhutan.
Bibby, C.J. et al. 1992. Putting Biodiversity on the map -- Priority areas for Global Conservation, International Council for Bird Preservation.
Boomsong, Lekagul, Round, P. D. Round 1992. Birds of Thailand.
Flemming R. 1979. Birds of Nepal.
King et al 1977. Birds of South-East Asia. Collins Ltd, UK
Penhallurick, J. 1995. Worldbird Plus, Birders Software, PO Box 3469, BMDC, Belconnen, ACT 2617, Australia.
Pommaret, F. 1991. Odyssey Illustrated Guide to Bhutan, The Guidebook Company Ltd, Hong Kong.
Sherpa, M.N., 1991. Conservation of Biological Diversity for Sustainable Development: A Symbiotic or Antagonistic Relationship, in Sherubtse College 1991.
Sherubtse College, 1991. Bhutan and its Natural Resources, Sherubtse College, Kanglung, Thimpu.
Thomas, C. 1994. Log-cabin King Stakes his Crown on Ensuring Bhutan's Survival, The Times, 19 April 1994. Reuters News Service.
Thomas, C., 1994. Bhutan Ducks a Tourist Influx, Travel News, 9 June 1994, Reuters News Service.
Wangchuk, S., 1991. The Natural Resources of the Himalayan Kingdom, in Sherubtse College 1991.
World Bank 1989. Development planning in a unique environment, World Bank Report, Washington DC.
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