BIRDING AROUND THE WORLD

Subtitle

Bhutan - March 25 - April 14, 2007                                                                                                                                

PARTICIPANTS: Andy Bunting, Andy Deighton, Rich Hopf, Keith Turner and JH

INTRODUCTION

Keith and I decided to visit Bhutan this year as it had long been on the list “must-dos” and was likely to change appreciably in the near future with the advent of democracy and increasing tourism. We soon had Rich Hopf on board, followed by the two Andys. I approached Blue Poppy Tours, a recommended non-birding agency in Bhutan, and found them keen to arrange the trip. Choki Dorji, their director, was very helpful, flexible and responsive throughout, and as the arrangements worked very well, I have no hesitation in recommending Blue Poppy as a very reliable ground-agent in Bhutan: choki@bluepoppybhutan.com  

The issues that caused some debate were exactly when to go, whether to return to Paro or to go out via the east, and whether to pay extra for a knowledgeable bird-guide. We decided to start on March 25, earlier than most groups, to have a better chance of seeing White-bellied Heron, minimise overlap with other groups (which could cause problems at the small camp-sites) and reduce the likelihood of heavy rain. I think this was a good decision as the weather was generally good and the heron and pheasants fairly easy to see. We did miss a few late migrants, such as Rufous-breasted Bush-Robin and Blue-fronted Robin. We returned to Paro as we decided to go for a full 3 weeks – I think exit from the east would be the better option for a shorter trip. The last 2 full days were not very fruitful but were “free” as we had a $20 a day discount for staying the three weeks. We employed Rinchen, as proposed by Choki - he was very knowledgeable about Bhutan and knew most of the birds. The cost was US$190 a day each all-in excluding flights, cheaper than before due to the favourable exchange rate.   

In line with everyone’s reported experience, we found Bhutan a fascinating, bird-rich country with friendly people, unspoilt culture, and almost endless forested vistas. Highlights were many and included White-bellied Heron, Himalayan Monal, Black-tailed Crake, Ibisbill, Tawny Fish-Owl, Ward's Trogon, Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Beautiful Nuthatch, 7 Wren Babbler sp., Cutia, Fire-tailed Myzornis, a wide range of laughingthrushes and scimitar-babblers, and best of all, a male Satyr Tagopan in full display. We found almost all the target species, although Chestnut-breasted Partridge was heard only, and had some good mammal sightings such as Golden Langur and Leopard Cat. There was evidence of considerable road and hotel building, and lots of traffic to and from India - even talk of another airport, so the country is likely to change rapidly in the next few years. Highly recommended to go as soon as possible!!

GENERAL
A pre-requisite for obtaining an entry visa is to fly at least one way, into or out of Bhutan. We elected to fly both ways by the cheapest route, ie Kolkata. You can also fly from Delhi, with the prospect of good views of the Himalayas if on the north side of the aircraft, or from Bangkok (expensive). All flights are with Druk Air, booked for us by Blue Poppy, but the tickets are only available at the departure airport. We were only allowed into the departure area at Kolkata airport by showing copies of emails proving our tickets had been booked for that day!

 

Accommodation, in twin bed rooms, was in decent hotels and guesthouses or comfortable tents (for 8 nights) with reasonable to excellent meals provided. The camp crew and cook did a great job. Bottled water and soft drinks were readily available, as was beer on most nights. The weather was pretty good throughout, apart from mist/low cloud on a few days. There was some rain on 6 days but it was heavy on only one day, on Shemgang Road.

Indian rupees are acceptable throughout so it is a good idea to buy a supply before arrival in Bhutan - I did this at our hotel in Kolkata (VIP International, Free School Street - recommended).

There are a few internet cafes in Thimphu but none appeared to be operational elsewhere.

Reports on birding in Bhutan are fairly numerous on the net and the are several good fieldguides. The latest tome is Birds of South Asia by Rasmussen and Anderton. It splits a number of species occurring in Bhutan, details of which are incorporated into the species list in this report. There is also a good annotated distribution list published by the OBC in 2006: Birds in Bhutan: status and distribution by Peter Spierenburg.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We are most grateful for help and advice from David Bishop, Dave Farrow, Paul Holt, Krys Kazmierczak, Peter Kennersley and Rebecca Pradhan, while Rinchen and Yeshi were always smiling and ready to be of service. Sumit Sen and Asit Biswas were very helpful in Kolkata.

ITINERARY

We covered the usual circuit of Paro - Thimphu - Dochu La - Punakha - Pele La - Trongsa - Jakar - Lingmethang Road and back, with 3 days on the Shemgang Road on the way back, but at a slightly slower pace than the tour groups who usually spend no more than 17 days in the country (and charge a lot more).

26 March: Fly Kolkata to Paro, check in to hotel, visit Paro Dzong, bird along river; lunch, drive to Taktshang, trek to Tiger’s Nest monastery.

27 March: Chele La (3780m) a.m., lunch in Paro, drive to Thimphu.

28 March: Dochu-La (3100m) a.m., drive to Honeyguide site at Begana, drive to Tashichho Dzong for late visit, dinner with Choki and Rebecca.

29 March: Dochu-La a.m, drive to Punakha (1350m), lunch, visit Dzong, bird Po-chu river.

30 March: Tashitang Road (1400m), visit Punakha Dzong p.m. (JH, KT).

31 March: Pele-La (3300m) a.m., drive to Trongsa with stops p.m., late visit to Dzong (JH).

1 April: Drive to Yutong-La and on to Bumthang Valley late p.m., night at Jakar (3000m).

2 April: Drive to Sholtan-La, trek to Ura, drive to Sengor camp, walk to radar station, drive back to camp.

3 April: Drive to radar station and back to Sengor camp, drive down Lingmethang Road (3700m) to Yongkola camp with stops.

4-6 April: Lingmethang Road above and below camp.

7 April: Lingmethang Road near camp till 10.00, drive to Sengor, then to Jakar with stops.

8 April: Drive to Yutong-La, then along Mangdechhu Valley to Shemgang camp (1950m).

9 April: Day on Shemgang Road, reaching Tingtibi camp (650m) at 6 p.m.

10 April: Lower Shemgang Road all day.

11 April: Shemgang Road a.m., drive to Sengor camp for lunch, bird below Sengor p.m.

12 April: Drive to Trongsa and on to Pele-La at 1 p.m., bird till 3.15, drive to Punakha.

13 April: Tashitang Road a.m., Mo-chu and Po-chu rivers p.m., night above Punakha..

14 April: Drive to Dochu-La, and down to Paro 2.0-5.0 p.m., bird along the river.

15 April:  Fly Paro to Kolkata.

   

                                Black-tailed Crake                                                                                                Himalayan Buzzard

 

TRIP LOG

March 26 Fly Kolkata to Paro, Bhutan. We arrived at Paro, the only airport in Bhutan at present, and were met by Rinchen and the Blue Poppy large van. A short drive took us to our hotel above Paro, then we visited the impressive Paro Dzong. Birding along the river eventually gave good views of a pair of Ibisbill,  with the more common river species such as Hodgson’s Redstart. After a good lunch in town, we drove to Taktshang and hiked most of the way up to Tiger’s Nest monastery, spectacularly perched on the side of a huge cliff. Birds were scarce but included Peregrine, Fork-tailed Swift, Crag Martin, Blue-fronted Redstart and Red-headed and Black-faced Laughingthrushes.

NIGHT: Jor-Yang'z Hotel, Paro

 

March 27 Chele-La and drive to Thimphu.  A 4.30 start saw us on the mountainside at dawn watching Blood Pheasants and female Himalayan Monals below Chele-La. Higher up we found hundreds of Plain Mountain-Finches at the snow-line and a total 5 or 6 male Monals including one sailing downhill in display flight and landing in a tree for scope views. Walking down through the pines we saw both Collared and White-winged Grosbeaks, White-browed Rosefinch, Dark-throated Thrush, Darjeeling Woodpecker and lots of tits, Nutcrackers and Bluetails. After lunch in town, we checked out of the hotel and drove to the capital Thimphu on a very dusty road, the journey prolonged by major roadworks. We visited Thimphu Sewage Works and saw a good selection of wildfowl including the scarce Pochard and Tufted Duck, but no hoped-for Black-tailed Crake.

NIGHT: Jomolhari Hotel, Thimphu

March 28 Dochu-La and Thimphu area. We drove in the dark to Dochu-La pass after another early start. It was cold and beautiful, but with too much traffic for the hoped-for Tragopan on the road. Setting off down the trail, we soon stopped for lots of birds including a pair of Spot-winged Grosbeak and a single Fire-tailed Myzornis. All morning was spent on the trail, with breakfast brought down to us by Rinchen and Yeshi! RH and I elected to walk back to the top while the others continued to the road below. I left the trail to look for Hill Partridge and Tragopan, without success, but did see a female Yellow-rumped Honeyguide - it disappeared into a large hole in an old tree. RH flushed a Eurasian Woodcock and saw Rufous-bellied Woodpecker. Other notable birds were Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Fire-tailed and Green-tailed Sunbirds, Brown Bullfinch and Plain-backed Thrush. After lunch at a restaurant near the pass, we drove back to Thimphu, stopping to photo Simtokha Dzong, the oldest in Bhutan (1627), undergoing major repairs. Continuing on towards Tango, we stopped near Begana to look for Yellow-rumped Honeyguide at honeycombs on the side of a cliff. Nothing was seen at first until a bird was spotted fly-catching from a perch in a nearby tree and found to be a male Honeyguide. We watched him for an hour, but he never approached the honeycombs. On the way back to Thimphu, we stopped to visit the huge Tashichho Dzong, only open after 5pm, housing the National Assembly, ministries and the office of the king. Had dinner with Choki and a very interesting discussion with Rebecca, researching into White-bellied Heron and the flora and fauna of Bhutan.

NIGHT: Jomolhari Hotel, Thimphu

 

March 29 Dochu-La to Punakha, Po Chu River. An early return to the montane broad-leafed evergreen forests on the east slope of Dochu-La gave Crested Goshawk, Black-winged Cuckooshrike,  Ashy-throated Warbler, Ultramarine and Rufous-gorgeted Flycatchers, Large Niltava and a single Brown Parrotbill and Maroon Oriole. Then we descended to Punakha, the old capital of Bhutan, in the valley of the Mo Chu for lunch, followed by a quick visit to the stunning Punakha Dzong. We rendezvoused with Rebecca on the Po Chu (which flows into the Mo Chu) and saw a Pallas’s Fish-Eagle while waiting for the rare White-bellied Herons to arrive. Two duly did, at 4.30, and one was observed to catch a fish. On the way back to Punakha we stopped at some big old pines and found a Tawny Fish-Owl roosting there, with another in the rocks. Back at the hotel, only RH ventured out to look for night-birds and was rewarded by one Grey/Himalayan Nightjar at the nearby Zangto Pelri Hotel.

NIGHT: Meri Puensum Hotel, Punakha

 

March 30 Tashitang Valley. A full day in the mixed broadleafed forest along the Mo Chu for most, although KT and I took time off for a longer visit to Punakha Dzong in the afternoon. Birding highlights included Booted and Black Eagles, Kalij Pheasant, Hill Partridge for AB & AD, Barred Cuckoo-dove, Crested Kingfisher, Lesser Yellownape, Mountain Bulbul, Slaty-backed Forktail, Yellow-vented, Grey-hooded and Chestnut-crowned Warblers, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Slender-billed Scimitar-babbler, Spotted Wren-babbler, Black-throated Sunbird, Grey Treepie and at least 10 Small

 Niltava. A search at dusk for the nightjar was foiled by windy conditions.

NIGHT: Meri Puensum Hotel, Punakha

 

March 31 Punakha to Trongsa via Pele-La. The drive to Pele-La took 2h 15 min. Walking down the old road we saw a female Satyr Tragopan, 5 Himalayan Griffon Vultures, Alpine Accentor, Great Parrotbill, Spotted Laughingthrush and Hume’s and Grey-sided Bush-Warblers, while Dusky, a rarity, and Dark-throated Thrushes were seen by some. Driving down from the pass, a tape duel in the short bamboo failed to draw out a Hill Partridge, so we had to be content with brunch at a nice roadside restaurant. After this we soon stopped near Ngala Drangla (2400m) for Bhutan Laughingthrush in a “hedgerow”, then checked a short hillside trail and found lots of passerines including Chestnut-tailed and Red-tailed Minlas, and Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher. Finally, we reached Trongsa and after checking into a resort hotel, at the same time as 16 Americans, I visited the massive old Dzong while the others went uphill for Russet Bush-Warbler. After watching an archery contest outside the Dzong, the targets being a good 200m from the archers, I joined the others just in time to see both Russet and Brownish-flanked Bush-Warblers. Our first light rain fell tonight.

NIGHT: Yangkhil Resort, Trongsa

 

April 1 Trongsa to Jakar. Our first stop was on the lower slopes of Yutong-La. Lots of typical Himalayan birds were evident, such as minlas, sunbirds, Green Shrike-Babbler, a Myzornis for some, and a Hill Partridge for others. Up to 3 Yellow-throated Martens were also seen. The pass appeared birdless so we returned to the original area 10 km below the pass and stayed until 3.30, seeing a few new birds such as Crimson-browed Finch. We drove down to the Bumthang Valley with two stops, reaching Jakar at 6.0 – the last night in a hotel before 8 nights camping – quite cool.

NIGHT:  Mountain Lodge Guesthouse at Jakar

 

April 2 Jakar to Sengor Camp. An early drive to Sholtan-La pass gave 2 Monals and a Leopard Cat in daylight, an unexpected bonus. Rinchen took us on a trek to the attractive medieval village of Ura, with its ornate monastery. Long-tailed Thrush and White-winged Grosbeak sang in the pines, but then the long downhill run through bamboo was virtually bird-less until we reached the fields above Ura that were alive with Black-billed Magpies of the Tibetan race bottae and Red-billed Choughs. We drove over Thrumsing-La (3900 metres), the last high pass, seeing our only “Himalayan” Buzzards, and continued to the campsite 2km below Sengor, then walked down to the radar station, seeing a flock of Yellow-breasted Greenfinch and a Golden-breasted Bush-Robin, but failed to find Bar-winged Wren-babbler. Driving back to the camp, we stopped for some time to watch an immature male Tragopan feeding in a field, at the forest edge, then spotted an adult male at the side of the road! As it walked across the road, the inside of the vehicle was blue with expletives – the bird of the trip we thought. After a veggie supper, we visited the “bar” at Sengor for a celebratory beer or two. A very cold clear night. 

NIGHT: Sengor camp

 

April 3 Sengor to Lingmethang Road.  After porridge, omelette and toast, we drove to the radar station, seeing little. On the way back, found the imm. male Tragopan in the field again and a bit further on an adult mail was standing on the side of the road. As we tried to photo him from inside the vehicle, he started to perform a most spectacular display and repeated it several times so that AB was able to film it through his scope, a remarkable opportunity. Eventually he crossed the road and was followed by a female that had been invisible to us, just below the road. I rate this as one of the few most memorable experiences of my birding life. We returned to Sengor then drove down the Lingmethang Road to our next campsite above Yangkola. On the way, we stopped for a large colony of Nepal House-Martins, nesting on the cliff-face, a pair of Little Forktails at the waterfall, a Sapphire Flycatcher, our first Golden Babblers, Grey-sided and Scaly Laughingthrushes, Golden-breasted and Yellow-throated Fulvettas, two parties of Myzornis and 15 Black-throated Parrotbills.

NIGHT: Yangkola camp

 

April 4 - 6 Lingmethang Road.  These three days were spent birding mainly along the road above, below and around the campsite. We made an excellent start by calling in a silent pair of Ward’s Trogon, while a pair of Red-headed Trogons was seen lower down. Rufous-necked Hornbills, Slaty-bellied Tesia and Ultramarine Flycatcher were also new, and a pair of Honeyguides was observed fly-catching at the bailey bridge over the river. Fruiting trees just below the camp held 4 Scarlet Finch, Spot-winged Grosbeak, White-browed Shrike-Babbler, Striated Bulbul and many barbets, while a few Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill were spotted among a flock of Rufous-fronted Barwings in the nearby bamboo scrub. Lower down at 1400m, 5 km below Yangkola, the drier, mainly secondary forest held Blue-capped Rock-Thrush, Black-chinned and Striated Yuhinas, and Orange-bellied Leafbird. Efforts to find wren-babblers above the camp were not rewarded until the next morning when we met Paul Holt leading a Sunbird tour. He very kindly helped us to see both Long-billed and Wedge-billed Wren-Babblers, both mega birds. Higher up, a Wallcreeper was seen near the bailey bridge but the search for Black-headed Shrike-Babbler was unsuccessful, although a troop of the handsome Capped Langur was some consolation. Returning to the fruiting trees after lunch at the camp, we were surprised to find a large flock of the normally scarce Spot-winged Grosbeak feeding on sycamore-type seeds, along with a Green Jay on the ground with a large rodent that it dragged up the slope and consumed in pieces. After dinner, we drove down to the village for a couple of beers and a chat with Paul (whom I’d last seen in Arunachal Pradesh in 1998!). A group of noisy Flying- Squirrels was spot-lit in trees on the way back to the camp.

 

The following day we walked up to the bailey bridge and the bamboo beyond at Namling. Cutia, Scaly Laughingthrush and Broad-billed Warbler were seen, while further on I taped in a pair of Black-headed Shrike-Babbler that took a long time to show well. After lunch we dropped lower down and saw Red-faced Liocichla and Lesser Shortwing but could not entice another songster out of the bushes and even Paul didn’t recognize the song. Returning to the camp, we finally saw an Oriental Cuckoo, an incessant, invisible caller, but could not see the calling Chestnut-breasted Partridges. Another nocturnal trip to Yangkola was rewarded by exceptional views of a sedentary Leopard Cat, on one of the few occasions I was without my camera.

NIGHTS: Camp above Yongkola, Lingmethang Road (1900m)

 

April 7 Lingmethang Road to Jakar (Bumthang Valley). We birded around the campsite till 10, seeing Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler, but not Long-billed or Wedge-billed. I scrambled down the hillside to look for partridges, but the only notable birds for me were Brown-throated Treecreeper and a bluetail which I thought was a female Rufous-breasted Bush-Robin but I could not relocate for a better view. KT saw Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler below the fruiting trees, which I still needed but could not find. We drove up to Sengor, stopping at Paul’s site for Whistling Cuckoo, which flew in to the tape but could not be found perched. Another attempt at Bar-winged Wren-babbler below Sengor was successful this time, a responsive bird giving great views. At the pass a Chestnut-headed Tesia was atypically tame, hopping along mossy, low branches. After this we had a long drive through great scenery with little time for stops, until we reached Jakar at dusk. There was just time for a walk to a small dzong before supper – the hotel this time was full of tourists.

NIGHT: Mountain Lodge Guesthouse, Jakar

 

April 8 Jakar to Shemgang.  A long, spectacular drive through primeval forest and some agricultural land, with the first stop at Yutong-La where Blood Pheasant and a female Tragopan were seen, while 4 Grey-headed Bullfinch were a surprise. We stopped at the area that we had explored a week earlier, 10km below the pass. Although birds were numerous, there was nothing new; 6 Crossbills “feeding“ on a rocky wall was an interesting sight. Next was a brief stop at Trongsa to buy drugs for Rinchen and Yeshi who were under the weather. Then we drove along the side of the deep gorge of the Mangdechhu Valley, with hillsides covered in flowering Magnolias and a few Erithrina. Birds included Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Booted Eagle, Blue-capped Rock-Thrush, Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler and Crested Bunting. At 4 pm we reached the Beautiful Nuthatch site 8 km north of Shemgang. An elusive Blue-winged Laughingthrush responded briefly to play-back, then a Sultan Tit and a pair of Beautiful Nuthatch flew in, fed and flew off with food in bills. The Nuthatches returned later and flew off again together, calling with “musical” notes, presumably to their nest (“unknown” according to the literature). Blue-winged Laughingthrushes were observed calling noisily from below, along with a single Bhutan Laughingthrush. We reached the Shemgang camp at 6 pm and after a veggie supper continued the 5 km to the town for a beer or two. 

 

April 9 - 10 Shemgang Road.  We returned to the nuthatch site first thing but there was no sign of the birds. A male Kalij Pheasant was seen along with Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Grey-winged Blackbird, Spotted Forktail, Liocichla and Little Bunting. RH had taken the logging trail a little higher up and found a pair of Beautiful Nuthatches and a Spotted Wren-Babbler in the gorge. I tried the upper part and was able to tape in a Rufous-throated Partridge on a small trail. Then we continued down the Shemgang Road to Km 11, the other Nuthatch site, and found Sapphire and Pale Blue Flycatchers, and White-browed and Black-eared Shrike-Babblers amongst other birds. We took lunch further down then split up along the road. AB had the most success, lower down, with Emerald Cuckoo and a flock of Yellow-breasted Greenfinch. We sheltered from the rain, then went to AB’s site and saw the finches and other birds such as White-crested Laughingthrush and Streaked Spiderhunter, but not the cuckoo. At 4.30 we drove down to the campsite near Tingtibi, at 650 metres our lowest altitude in Bhutan, stopping for the first endemic Golden Langurs of the trip. After a spicy supper we adjourned to the Twang Hotel bar.

 

The following morning we birded around Tingtibi, seeing Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, then drove up 8 km and birded down the road: Rufous-bellied Eagle, displaying Crested Goshawk, Lesser Cuckoo, Blue-throated and Slaty-blue Flycatchers, Spotted Wren-Babbler, Yellow-vented and Rufous-faced Warblers, Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch and many Blue-capped Rock-Thrush. After lunch at the campsite birding was delayed by rain at first, then we walked to the hydro plant on a wide track near the camp: Barred Cuckoo-Dove, Wedge-tailed and Pin-tailed Green-Pigeons were feeding in fruiting trees, Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Ferruginous Flycatcher, Black-crested Bulbul and 14 Great Hornbill glided down to roost on the far side of the Mangdechhu river.

NIGHTS: Camping near Tingtibi.

 

April 11 Shemgang Road – Sengor Camp. An early walk along the hydro track gave a close Crested Kingfisher and 5 Great Hornbill and 4 Pin-tailed Green-Pigeon feeding on fruit but there were no partridges, while Grey Peacock-Pheasant was only heard. KT and I hitched a lift up the road, KT to the lower Beautiful Nuthatch site and I to bamboo higher up, while the others birded lower down. There was little activity at first in the low cloud and cool conditions: I saw Rufous-necked Hornbill while walking down to KT who had had good views of 3 Beautiful Nuthatch. A wait here was rewarded by Coral-billed Scimitar-Babblers (at last) in a flock of Hoary-throated Barwings, the others arriving just in time to catch them. We continued up to Sengor campsite for lunch then walked down RH’s logging trail where only one flock was seen, of mainly Yellow-throated Fulvettas. Another vigil at the original Nuthatch site was unsuccessful. A surprisingly cold night at 1900 metres.

 

April 12 Sengor to Punakha. A long day’s drive through fine scenery, with a few stops, most notably at a paddy where AD had spotted a Black-tailed Crake, that gave great views. We reached Pele-La at 1 pm in time for lunch, and then said farewell to our excellent camping crew. Disappointing birding till 3.15 when we drove down to Wangdue, with stops for a spectacular Indian Moon Moth and a Grey-headed Woodpecker. Another 30 mins took us to our hotel at Wolakha above Punakha where we finally connected with the Grey/Himalayan Nightjar, the best views occurring at 7.15.

NIGHT: Zangto Pelri Hotel, Punakha

 

April 13 Tashitang Road. After a 4.15 breakfast we reached Jigme Dorji National Park at 5.30 and spent the morning looking for Long-billed Thrush, without a sniff. There seemed to be fewer birds than tourists, although we did see a good selection between us, notably Pallas’s Fish-Eagle, Emerald Cuckoo, Fire-capped Tit, Lesser Shortwing, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Red-billed Leiothrix, not to mention displaying Plumbeous and White-capped Redstarts. After lunch, we drove back along the Mo Chu scanning vainly for Ibisbill - even the Fish-Owls appeared to have deserted their roost site. Continuing to the White-bellied Heron site, we failed to find any herons but did see a few trip ticks, eg Pale Martin and Stonechat. A disappointing day but the nightjars put on a fine display in the evening.

NIGHT: Zangto Pelri, Punakha 

 

April 14  Punakha to Paro. After an early breakfast we drove up to Dochu-La – lovely mountain views - and walked down the trail to the road from 7.30 to 11.30, spending most time near the top. There were no new birds but good views were had of Large Hawk-cuckoo, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, Nutcracker and laughingthrushes. After lunch at a restaurant near the pass, we drove down to Thimphu, emailed, met Choki for the last time, and then made slow progress to Paro, due to roadworks and grid-locked traffic. The last hour of daylight was spent by the river – good views of Ibisbill, and Rosy Pipit for AD.

NIGHT: Dechen Hill Hotel, Paro

 

April 15  Paro to Kolkata  An early walk on a sunny morning gave singing Grey-backed Shrikes, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Russet Sparrow and even a female Kalij in flight. We left the hotel at 6 to catch the one hour flight at 8.30 – on time; good distant views of the Himalayas. Taxi from the domestic terminal (much cheaper than from international) to VIP International Hotel. Rang Sumit Sen who said he had seen the very rare Long-billed Reed-Warbler on April 1 at a local reserve! He could not come with us as it was the Bengali New Year but arranged for a vehicle to take us to Chintamani Kar Sanctuary. Needless to say there was no sign of the warbler but we did have a few good birds such as Orange-headed Thrush and Streak-throated and Fulvous-breasted Woodpeckers. So ended an excellent trip, with the Andys flying home and RH, KT and I going to the Andaman Islands for a week.

        

                                                                   

 

SPECIES HIGHLIGHTS – the full list with locations is given in an Xcel spreadsheet.

 

White-bellied Heron      Ardea insignis

2 along the Pho Chu near Punakha on 29th.

 

Common Teal               Anas crecca

3 at Thimphu Sewage Works on 27th.

 

Common Pochard           Aythya ferina

1 at Thimphu Sewage Works on 27th.

 

Tufted Duck               Aythya fuligula

1 at Thimphu Sewage Works on 27th.

 

Pallas's Fish-Eagle        Haliaeetus leucoryphus

Singles along the Pho Chu near Punakha on 28th, and the Mo Chu on 13th(RH).

 

Himalayan (Common) Buzzard  Buteo burmanicus (buteo)

3 between Sholtan-La and Sengor on 2nd.

 

Greater Spotted Eagle    Aquila clanga

1 on the Lingmethang Road on 6th.

 

Steppe Eagle               Aquila nipalensis

1 at Pele-La on 12th.

 

Booted Eagle               Hieraaetus pennatus

Singles Tashitang Road on 30th and Shemgang Road on 8th.

 

Rufous-bellied Eagle      Hieraaetus kienerii

1 Shemgang Road on 10th.

 

Hill Partridge              Arborophila torqueola

Frequently heard calling in the mountains with singles seen at Chele-La (AD), Tashitang Road (AB, AD) and 2 singles below Utong La (JH, RH).

 

Rufous-throated Partridge  Arborophila rufogularis

Commonly heard on Shemgang Road with 1 taped in at Sengor (JH).

 

Chestnut-breasted Partridge  Arborophila mandellii

Commonly heard on Limethang and Shemgang Roads early morning and dusk but never seen.

 

Blood Pheasant            Ithaginis cruentus

Parties totaling about 30 on Chele-La and a pair near Sengor on 8th.

 

Satyr Tragopan            Tragopan satyra

A female on the road at Pele-La on 31st was the forerunner of a spectacular showing below Sengor. Late afternoon on 2nd we watched a young male in a field at the edge of the forest for some time, then a full male crossed the road and another was on the side of the road. Returning to the same area on 3rd, the young male was back in the same spot and an adult male by the roadside. As we watched the latter from inside the vehicle, he indulged in full display for some 20 mins before an unsighted female appeared from below the road and they both crossed the road and climbed up the hillside. Bird of the trip! Another was seen later that day and single females on Limethang Road on 5th and Utong La on 8th.

 

Himalayan Monal           Lophophorus impejanus

A good showing at Chele-La with 6 males and 10 females, including 2 perched in trees, and 2 males and a female at Pele-La on 31st with 2 females at Sholtan-La on 2nd.

 

Kalij Pheasant             Lophura leucomelanos

3 Tashitang Road on 30th and 7 on 12th, 1 near Shemgang on 8th and 4 further down the road on 9th, and a female below the hotel at Paro on 15th (JH).

 

Grey Peacock-Pheasant    Polyplectron bicalcaratum

Heard only, near the campsite at Tingtibi on 10-11th.

 

Black-tailed Crake         Amaurornis bicolor

1 spotted by AD in a small paddy near the road en route to Trongsa on 12th gave brilliant views to all.

 

Ibisbill                     Ibidorhyncha struthersii

Only seen well on the river near Paro on 26th and 14th, 2 and 1 respectively, with 1 near Punakha on 29th.

 

Wood Sandpiper           Tringa glareola

1 on the river near Punakha on 26th.

 

Eurasian Woodcock        Scolopax rusticola

1 flushed on Dochu-La on 28th (RH).

 

Brown-headed Gull        Larus brunnicephalus

Singles at Thimphu Sewage Works on 27th and Wangde on 12th.

 

Speckled Wood-Pigeon    Columba hodgsonii

3 Limethang  Road on 6th.

 

Pin-tailed Green-Pigeon   Treron apicauda

2 Shemgang Road on 10th and 13 on 11th, mainly in fruiting trees at Tingtibi.

 

Wedge-tailed Green-Pigeon  Treron sphenura

5 Shemgang Road on 10th, 1 on 11th and 1 at Tashitang Road on 13th.

 

Whistling (Hodgson's) Hawk-Cuckoo  Cuculus nisicolor (fugax)

1 taped in on Limethang Road on 7th, 1 seen on Shemgang Road on 9th (RH) and 1 heard Tashitang Road on 13th.

 

Small (Lesser) Cuckoo     Cuculus poliocephalus

A hepatic bird was seen on Shemgang Road on 10th  and 1 was heard on 11th. R & A split this from the African/Madagascar sister species which becomes C. rochii.

 

Asian Emerald Cuckoo     Chrysococcyx maculatus

A pair on Shemgang Road on 9th (AB) could not be relocated. 1 at Tashitang Road on 13th.

 

Tawny Fish-Owl           Ketupa flavipes

2 roosting in large trees near Punakha on 28th.

 

Himalayan/Grey Nightjar    Caprimulgus jotaka (indicus)

3 at the hotel above Punakha on 28th and 13th. R & A split C. indicus into the lowland Indian Jungle Nightjar C. indicus and the Himalayan Grey Nightjar C. jotaka.

 

Red-headed Trogon       Harpactes erythrocephalus

3 lower Limethang  Road on 4th.

 

Ward's Trogon            Harpactes wardi

A pair Lingmethang  Road on 4th and 2 more heard calling.

 

Himalayan Pied (Crested) Kingfisher  Megaceryle lugubris

Several sightings along the larger rivers, especially along Tashitang Road where 3 or 4 were seen.

 

Blue-bearded Bee-eater   Nyctyornis athertoni

3 near Shemgang Road on 9th with singles on 10th and 11th.

 

Eurasian Hoopoe           Upupa epops

Several sightings, mainly of singles; a pair perched together on the stucco wall of Punakha Dzong for a long period, apparently feeding.

 

Great Hornbill             Buceros bicornis

Only seen at Tingtibi on 9-11th with 15 flying to roost on 10th.

 

Rufous-necked Hornbill   Aceros nipalensis

4 or 5 daily on Lingmethang Road and 8 on upper Shemgang Road on 11th.

 

Yellow-rumped Honeyguide  Indicator xanthonotus

A female was in a large old tree at Dochu-La on 28th, entered a large hole and did not reappear for at least 10 mins (JH). A male was watched fly-catching near honeycombs at Begana, 14km from Thimphu, on 28th. 2 pairs were on Lingmethang Road on 4th and a single there on 5th.

 

Speckled Piculet           Picumnus innominatus

Singles Lingmethang Road on 4th and Shemgang Road on 10th.

 

White-browed Piculet     Sasia ochracea

Singles on Shemgang Road on 9th and 10th.

 

Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos macei

1 Shemgang Road on 10th was the only sighting.

 

Rufous-bellied Woodpecker  Dendrocopos hyperythrus

Singles Dochu-La on 28th and 14th.

 

Grey-headed Woodpecker   Picus canus

2 near Wangde on 12th.

[After return to Kolkata, we visited Chintamani Kar Sanctuary where we saw a Streak-throated-type Woodpecker ( Picus xanthopygaeus) of questionable identity – see http://www.kolkatabirds.com/woodpecker.htm ].

 

Bay Woodpecker           Blythipicus pyrrhotis

Single Lingmethang Road on 4th and 2 Shemgang Road on 8th and 11th.

 

Pale Sand-Martin  Riparia diluta

15 over the Pho Chu near Punakha on 13th.

 

Barn Swallow              Hirundo rustica

At least 3 over the Pho Chu near Punakha on 13th.

 

Eurasian Crag-Martin      Hirundo rupestris

25 Shemgang Road on 8th and 10 martins near Paro on 26th were thought to be this species.

 

Nepal House-Martin       Delichon nipalense

Breeding colonies of 100-200 birds on cliffs on both Lingmethang and Shemgang Roads.

 

White Wagtail             Motacilla alba

Small numbers along the rivers, of both leucopsis and alboides forms.

 

Rosy Pipit                  Anthus roseatus

5 near the river at Paro on 26th and 3 on 14th.

 

Black-crested Bulbul      Pycnonotus flaviventris

Only 2 singles on Shemgang Road on 10th. R & A suggest this species needs revision as there are probably several distinct sp. involved.

 

Alpine Accentor           Prunella collaris

4 Utong-La on 1st.

 

Rufous-breasted Accentor  Prunella strophiata

4 near the river at Paro on 26th and 1 by the hotel on 15th; 1 Utong La on 1st and 2 near Sengor.

 

Blue-capped Rock-Thrush  Monticola cinclorhynchus

1 or 2 Lingmethang Road on 4-6th and up to 20 daily on Shemgang Road with a few while travelling.

 

Blue Rock-Thrush         Monticola solitarius

Singles Shemgang Road on 10th and Paro on 15th.

 

Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush  Monticola rufiventris

A few singles or pairs, most commonly on Shemgang Road.

 

Plain-backed Thrush      Zoothera mollissima

1 feeding in a meadow at Dochu-La on 29th.

 

Long-tailed Thrush        Zoothera dixoni

3 singing at Sholtan-La early on 2nd but only 1 seen.

 

Dusky Thrush              Turdus eunomus

1 at Pele-La on 31st, a rare migrant to Bhutan.

 

Dark-throated Thrush     Turdus ruficollis

4 Chele-La on 27th and 2 Pele-La on 31st.

 

Grey-winged Blackbird    Turdus boulboul

Only 2-3 seen near Shemgang on 8-9th, and 2 at Dochu-La on 14th.

 

White-browed Shortwing Brachypteryx montana

Singles Lingmethang Road on 4th and Tashitang Road on 14th.

 

Lesser Shortwing          Brachypteryx leucophrys

A few heard singing on Lingmethang Road with 1 seen poorly on 4th and another Tashitang Road on 13th.

 

Himalayan Red-flanked Bush-Robin  Tarsiger rufilatus (cyanurus)

20 Chele-La on 27th but only a few singles elsewhere. This is an R & A split off Orange-flanked Bush-Robin  T. cyanurus.

 

Golden Bush-Robin        Tarsiger chrysaeus

1 by the radar station near Sengor on 2nd was the only record.

 

Plumbeous Water-Redstart  Rhyacornis fuliginosus

Common along rivers and streams. A male on Tashitang Road on 13th sang vigorously for a long time and displayed by bowing (JH).

 

White-tailed Blue-Robin  Myiomela leucura

1 Shemgang Road on 9th (KT).

 

Little Forktail             Enicurus scouleri

2 high up on the big waterfall on Lingmethang Road on 3rd with 1 there on return journey on 7th.

 

Slaty-backed Forktail     Enicurus schistaceus

3 Tashitang Road on 30th.

 

Spotted Forktail           Enicurus maculatus

2 below Shemgang on 9th.

 

Common Stonechat        Saxicola torquatus

Only record was 1 by the Pho Chu near Punakha on 13th.

 

Ferruginous Flycatcher    Muscicapa ferruginea

1 at Tingtibi on 10th (AD).

 

Ultramarine Flycatcher    Ficedula superciliaris

1 at Dochu-La on 29th and 2 on 14th, 3 Tashitang Road on 30th and 1 Shemgang Road on 10th.

 

Slaty-blue Flycatcher     Ficedula tricolor

1 female at Shemgang Road on 10th.

 

White-gorgeted Flycatcher  Ficedula monileger

Heard singing daily in bushes along Lingmethang Road but never seen.

 

Sapphire Flycatcher       Ficedula sapphira

Singles Lingmethang Road on 3rd and Shemgang Road on 9th and 11th.

 

Rufous-bellied Niltava    Niltava sundara

Singles Lingmethang Road on 6th and Shemgang Road on 10th.

 

Pale Blue-Flycatcher      Cyornis unicolor

5 Shemgang Road on 9th.

 

Blue-throated Flycatcher Cyornis rubeculoides

5 Shemgang Road on 10th and 2 on 11th.

 

Pygmy Blue-Flycatcher    Muscicapella hodgsoni

Singles Lingmethang Road on 4th and 5th and Shemgang Road on 7th.

 

Black-throated (Hill) Prinia   Prinia atrogularis

2-4 most days Lingmethang Road and Shemgang Road. Split by R & A from SE Asian superciliaris group – work in progress by Alstrom and Olsson.

 

Grey-bellied Tesia         Tesia cyaniventer

The most difficult Tesia, heard on Lingmethang Road but only 1 seen, on 6th.

 

Slaty-bellied Tesia        Tesia olivea

2 seen Lingmethang Road on 4th and 7th and 2 Tashitang Road on 13th.

 

Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler  Cettia fortipes

Heard fairly often but only singles seen at Dochu-La on 29th and Trongsa on 31st.

 

Aberrant Bush-Warbler   Cettia flavolivacea

2 lower Lingmethang Road on 6th.

 

Hume’s [Yellowish-bellied] Bush-Warbler  Cettia brunnescens [acanthizoides]

1 Pele-La on 29th, 2 Utong-La on 1st, 3 Sholtan-La, with others heard, and heard Shemgang Road on 8th. Seems a good R & A split from the Chinese form as its voice is very different.

 

Russet Bush-Warbler      Bradypterus mandelli

One at Trongsa on 31st was the only record.

 

Golden-spectacled/Green-crowned Warbler Seicercus burkii

The Seicercus warblers were not easy to identify as we were not very familiar with their songs. Singles of this sp. were found on the Shemgang and Lingmethang Roads among the common Grey-cheeked Warblers.

 

White-spectacled Warbler Seicercus affinis

The only definite record was of 2 on Lingmethang Road on 6th but may have been overlooked.

 

Broad-billed Warbler     Tickellia hodgsoni

2 in bamboo at Nanling, Lingmethang Road on 6th.

 

Grey-sided Laughingthrush  Dryonastes caerulatus

10 Lingmethang Road on 3rd and 2 on 5th, and 2 Dochu La on 14th.

 

Rufous-necked Laughingthrush  Dryonastes ruficollis

6 Tingtibi on 10th and 2 at Trongsa on 12th.

 

Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush  Ianthocincla rufogularis

Only seen at Tashitang Road with 5 on 30th.

 

Spotted Laughingthrush   Ianthocincla ocellata

4 Pele-La on 4th and 5 Tashitang Road on 13th.

 

Bhutan Laughingthrush    Trochalopteron imbricatum

6 in “hedge-row” near Ngala Drangla (2400m) between Pele-La and Trongsa on 31st and up to 3 along Shemgang Road. Split by N Collar from Streaked LT T. lineatum.

 

Blue-winged Laughingthrush  Trochalopteron squamatus

Up to 5 daily on Shemgang Road.

 

Scaly Laughingthrush      Trochalopteron subunicolor

Up to 3 most days on Lingmethang Road.

 

White-browed Scimitar-Babbler  Pomatorhinus schisticeps (horsfieldii)

1 upper Shemgang Road on 11th. R & A split this from the lowland forms.

 

Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler  Pomatorhinus ferruginosus

2 just below Yongkola camp, Shemgang Road on 7th (KT) and 2 higher up on 11th.

 

Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler  Xiphirhynchus superciliaris

2 Tashitang Road on 30th.

 

Long-billed Wren-Babbler Rimator malacoptilus

Singles heard on 4th, then seen on 5th, Lingmethang Road.

 

Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler  Pnoepyga albiventer

Heard Lingmethang Road but only 1 was seen, on 5th.

 

Sikkim Wedge-billed Wren-Babbler  Sphenocichla humei

A party of 5 Lingmethang Road on 5th (thanks Paul!).

 

Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler  Spelaeornis caudatus

Commonly heard along Lingmethang Road with up to 4 seen daily.

 

Bar-winged Wren-Babbler  Spelaeornis troglodytoides

2 heard below Sengor on 2nd and 1 seen well there on 7th.

 

Spotted Wren-Babbler    Spelaeornis formosus

Singles Tashitang Road on 30th and 13th with 6 more heard on the latter date, also heard on Lingmethang Road on 5th and 2 singles seen Shemgang Road.

 

Red-faced Liocichla       Liocichla phoenicea

At least 1 lower Lingmethang Road on 7th and 1 or 2 daily on Shemgang Road.

 

Cutia                       Cutia nipalensis

10 upper Lingmethang Road on 5th and 2 parties of 8 and 4 lower down on 6th.

 

Black-headed Shrike-babbler    Pteruthius rufiventer

A pair upper Lingmethang Road on 6th.

 

Golden-breasted Fulvetta Alcippe chrysotis

2 Sengor and 6 Lingmethang Road on 3rd, with 1 on 5th and 6 on 6th.

 

Yellow-throated Fulvetta  Alcippe cinerea

Fairly common on Lingmethang Road and Shemgang Road.

 

Fire-tailed Myzornis      Myzornis pyrrhoura

Singles Dochu-La on 28th, near Trongsa on 31st and Utong-La on 1st, 2 parties of 5 near Sengor on 3rd, 2 at Dochu La on 14th.

 

Great Parrotbill            Conostoma oemodium

2 Pele-La on 31st.

 

Brown Parrotbill           Paradoxornis unicolor

1 in bamboo below Dochu-La on 29th.

 

Black-throated Parrotbill Paradoxornis nipalensis

15 Lingmethang Road on 3rd and 10 Shemgang Road on 7th.

 

Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill  Paradoxornis ruficeps

7 just below Yangkola camp on 4th with 10 there on 6th and 7th, and 10 higher up the Lingmethang Road on 7th.

 

Sultan Tit                 Melanochlora sultanea

3 Lingmethang Road on 7th and 2 Shemgang Road on 9-11th.

 

Beautiful Nuthatch        Sitta formosa

A pair flew back and forth 2 or 3 times carrying what looked like nesting material at the well-known site north of Shemgang on 8th. The next day a pair was seen down the logging road closer to Shemgang (RH) but none was seen at these sites again despite time spent there looking. On 11th, 4 were at the other site 11 km below Shemgang (KT).

 

Wallcreeper                Tichodroma muraria

1 on the cliffs by the bridge/ Honeyguide site on Lingmethang Road on 5th but not seen again.

 

Fire-capped Tit           Cephalopyrus flammiceps

Single Dochu-La on 14th.

 

Yellow-breasted Greenfinch  Carduelis spinoides

Only 2 flocks seen: 15 near Sengor on 2nd and c.100 perched-up on a rainy 9th on Shemgang Road.

 

Plain Mountain-Finch      Leucosticte nemoricola

Only above the tree-line on Chele-La on 27th, a huge number, probably around 1000.

 

Dark-breasted Rosefinch  Carpodacus nipalensis

2 at Pele-La on 31st.

 

Common Rosefinch         Carpodacus erythrinus

2 Lingmethang Road on 4th.

 

Beautiful Rosefinch        Carpodacus pulcherrimus

1 on Sholtan-La on 2nd.

 

White-browed Rosefinch Carpodacus thura

A pair on Chele-La on 27th and 1 Utong-La on 1st.

 

Scarlet Finch              Haematospiza sipahi

4 below Yongkola Camp on 4th and 5th, and 13 on Shemgang Road on 10th.

 

Crimson-browed Finch     Pinicola subhimachalus

3 Utong-La on 1st.

 

Grey-headed Bullfinch    Pyrrhula erythaca

4 at Yutong-La on 8th. This a rare and little-known species in the region (R & A) but we did check the birds carefully. Very surprising we saw this and not the common Red-headed Bullfinch.

 

Brown Bullfinch            Pyrrhula nipalensis

2 Dochu-La on 28th and 1 on 29th, 1 at Pele-La on 31st and 2 Sengor and Lingmethang Road on 3rd.

 

Collared Grosbeak         Mycerobas affinis

3 Chele-La on 27th and 1 Dochu-La on 29th.

 

Spot-winged Grosbeak     Mycerobas melanozanthos

2 Dochu-La on 28th and Lingmethang Road on 4th , with a remarkable 50+ feeding in a seeding tree below Yongkola camp on 5th and 6 there the following day; 8 Shemgang Road on 9th. Usually a difficult bird to see!

 

White-winged Grosbeak   Mycerobas carnipes

6 Chele-La on 27th, 1 Pele-La on 31st, with 3 on 12th, and 4 Sholtan-La on 2nd.

 

Chestnut-tailed Minla                                                           White-browed Fulvetta

MAMMALS

Golden Langur  Presbytis geei  Fairly common on Shemgang Road with several parties of up to 20, mostly creamy rather than golden.

Capped Langur  Trachypithecus pileatus  Several  Lingmethang Road

Nepal Grey Langur Semnopithecus schistaceus    Several Dochu-La

Assam Macaque Macaca assamensis  3 Tashitang Road, several Dochu-La and Lingmethang Rd.

Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula  A good number of sightings: 2 at Pele-La on 31st, 3 Sholtan-La on 2nd (RH) and singles Lingmethang Road on 6th, Shemgang Road on 11th and Dochu-La on 13th (JH).

 

Leopard Cat Felis bengalensis  One beside the road at Sholtan-La in full daylight early on 2nd and 1 gave prolonged views at night as we drove back to camp from Yongkola village on 6th. Some saw a cat with a stub-tail near Pele La on 31st but its identity is unknown.

 

Indian Muntjac Muntiacus muntjak   Singles Dochu-La (KT) and Sholtan-La.

Sambar  Cervus unicolor  One Pele-La.

 

Himalayan Pika. Ochotona himalayana  2 Dochu-La and Pele-La, singles Chele-La, Yutong-La and Sholtan-La.

Parti-coloured/ Hodgson’s Flying-Squirrel Hylopetes alboniger ? 5 in trees at night, quite noisy, as we drove back to camp from Yongkola village on 5th.

Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel Dremomys lokriah  Singles Pele-La and Thrumsing La.

Irawaddy Squirrel Callosciurus pygerythrus  3 Lingmethang Rd and 4 Shemgang Rd.

Himalayan Striped Squirrel Tamiops mcclellandii   2  Dochu La  and daily Lingmethang Rd.

Hispid Hare  Caprolagus hispidus  One Shemgang Road.

             

NOTES ON BHUTAN

Western Bhutan is made up of the valleys of Ha (2700 m), Paro (2200 m), and Thimphu (2300 m); Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, is the center of government, religion and commerce.  Punakha and Wangdue Phodrang form a single long valley, separated from Thimphu by a high ridge crossed by the 3050 m high Dochu la pass. Punakha (1400 m), the ancient capital, is situated at the confluence of the Pho Chu and Mo Chu rivers, and is blessed by a lovely, temperate climate. The mountain slopes are covered with coniferous and deciduous forests. All the valleys have reminders of the past – monasteries, temples, and fortresses. These valleys are the abode of the Ngalong; “the first to rise”, meaning the first to convert to Buddhism They speak Dzongkha – the language of the Dzongs – now the national language of Bhutan.

Central Bhutan, is made up of several regions, where Kha is spoken, with variations. The Black Mountains at an elevation of 5000 m, have traditionally marked the boundary between Western & Central Bhutan. The 3,300 m Pele la, covered with forests of magnolia and rhododendron, is the main crossing. The Shemgang District in the South is blessed with a semi-tropical climate and covered with dense forest. Trongsa is in the geographic center of the country. It lies astride the Central highway – its impressive Dzong strategically located to dominate a gorge cut by the Mangde River, which has been the ancient route over the Black Mountains. It is connected with the Bumthang group of valleys over the 3400 m high Yutong la pass. Bumthang is composed of a group of four valleys at altitudes of 2700 – 4000 m. Chumey and Choekhor are mainly agricultural, whilst Tang and Ura practice Yak and sheep herding. The mountains are covered with dark coniferous forests; rice gives way to buck-wheat, and the houses are build of solid stone and are more sparsely decorated than in Western Bhutan. Bumthang is proud of its rich art and history. Its religious traditions are alive, with its monasteries its main attraction.

Eastern Bhutan lies across the Donga range running north-south and crossed by the 3780 m high Thrumshing la. From this high pass the terrain drops precipitously to the low valleys of the Kuri Chu at only 650 m (Lingmethang). The main habitations are Mongar and Trashigang at elevations of 650 m – 1400 m. The landscape changes dramatically: instead of rhododendron and pine forests, broadleaf subtropical forests overgrown with epiphytic orchids, and waterfalls are encountered.  One of the best birding areas in Bhutan, the Lingmethang area, extends from Namling to the kurila.

  SPECIES LIST

 

BIRDS


Great Cormorant

Phalacrocorax carbo

White-bellied Heron

Ardea insignis

Ruddy Shelduck

Tadorna ferruginea

Gadwall

Anas strepera

Common Teal

Anas crecca

Common Pochard

Aythya ferina

Tufted Duck

Aythya fuligula

Common Merganser

Mergus merganser

Black Kite

Milvus migrans

Pallas's Fish-Eagle

Haliaeetus leucoryphus

Himalayan Griffon

Gyps himalayensis

Crested Serpent-Eagle

Spilornis cheela

Crested Goshawk

Accipiter trivirgatus

Besra

Accipiter virgatus

Eurasian Sparrowhawk

Accipiter nisus

Northern Goshawk

Accipiter gentilis

Himalayan Buzzard

Buteo [buteo] burmanicus

Long-legged Buzzard

Buteo rufinus

Black Eagle

Ictinaetus malayensis

Greater Spotted Eagle

Aquila clanga

Steppe Eagle

Aquila nipalensis

Booted Eagle

Hieraaetus pennatus

Rufous-bellied Eagle

Hieraaetus kienerii

Mountain Hawk-Eagle

Spizaetus nipalensis

Eurasian Kestrel

Falco tinnunculus

Peregrine Falcon

Falco peregrinus

Hill Partridge

Arborophila torqueola

Rufous-throated Partridge

Arborophila rufogularis

Chestnut-breasted Partridge

Arborophila mandellii

Blood Pheasant

Ithaginis cruentus

Satyr Tragopan

Tragopan satyra

Himalayan Monal

Lophophorus impejanus

Kalij Pheasant

Lophura leucomelanos

Grey Peacock-Pheasant

Polyplectron bicalcaratum

Black-tailed Crake

Amaurornis bicolor

Ibisbill

Ibidorhyncha struthersii

River Lapwing

Vanellus duvaucelii

Eurasian Woodcock

Scolopax rusticola

Common Sandpiper

Actitis hypoleucos

Wood Sandpiper

Tringa glareola

Brown-headed Gull

Larus brunnicephalus

Speckled Wood-Pigeon

Columba hodgsonii

Oriental Turtle-Dove

Streptopelia orientalis

Spotted Dove

Streptopelia chinensis

Barred Cuckoo-Dove

Macropygia unchall

Emerald Dove

Chalcophaps indica

Pin-tailed Green-Pigeon

Treron apicauda

Wedge-tailed Green-Pigeon

Treron sphenura

Large Hawk-Cuckoo

Hierococcyx sparverioides

Whistling[Hodgson's] Hawk-Cuckoo

Hierococcyx nisicolor [fugax]

Common Cuckoo

Cuculus canorus

Oriental Cuckoo

Cuculus saturatus

Small [Lesser] Cuckoo

Cuculus poliocephalus

Asian Emerald Cuckoo

Chrysococcyx maculatus

Asian Koel

Eudynamys scolopacea

Mountain Scops-Owl

Otus spilocephalus

Collared Scops-Owl

Otus bakkamoena

Tawny Fish-Owl

Ketupa flavipes

Collared Owlet

Glaucidium brodiei

Asian Barred Owlet

Glaucidium cuculoides

Grey/Himalayan Nightjar

Caprimulgus [indicus] jotaka

Himalayan Swiftlet

Collocalia brevirostris

White-throated Needletail

Hirundapus caudacutus

Asian Palm-Swift

Cypsiurus balasiensis

Fork-tailed Swift

Apus pacificus

Red-headed Trogon

Harpactes erythrocephalus

Ward's Trogon

Harpactes wardi

Common Kingfisher

Alcedo atthis

White-throated Kingfisher

Halcyon smyrnensis

Himalayan Pied Kingfisher

Ceryle lugubris

Blue-bearded Bee-eater

Nyctyornis athertoni

Eurasian Hoopoe

Upupa epops

Great Hornbill

Buceros bicornis

Rufous-necked Hornbill

Aceros nipalensis

Great Barbet

Megalaima virens

Golden-throated Barbet

Megalaima franklinii

Blue-throated Barbet

Megalaima asiatica

Yellow-rumped Honeyguide

Indicator xanthonotus

Speckled Piculet

Picumnus innominatus

White-browed Piculet

Sasia ochracea

Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker

Dendrocopos canicapillus

Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker

Dendrocopos macei

Rufous-bellied Woodpecker

Dendrocopos hyperythrus

Darjeeling Woodpecker

Dendrocopos darjellensis

Lesser Yellownape

Picus chlorolophus

Greater Yellownape

Picus flavinucha

Grey-headed Woodpecker

Picus canus

Bay Woodpecker

Blythipicus pyrrhotis

Oriental Skylark

Alauda gulgula

Pale Sand-Martin

Riparia diluta

Barn Swallow

Hirundo rustica

Eurasian Crag-Martin

Hirundo rupestris

Nepal House-Martin

Delichon nipalense

Pied Wagtail

Motacilla alba

Grey Wagtail

Motacilla cinerea

Olive-backed Pipit

Anthus hodgsoni

Rosy Pipit

Anthus roseatus

Large Woodshrike

Tephrodornis gularis

Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike

Coracina melaschistos

Pied Flycatcher-shrike

Hemipus picatus

Grey-chinned Minivet

Pericrocotus solaris

Long-tailed Minivet

Pericrocotus ethologus

Short-billed Minivet

Pericrocotus brevirostris

Scarlet Minivet

Pericrocotus flammeus

Striated Bulbul

Pycnonotus striatus

Black-crested Bulbul

Pycnonotus flaviventris

Red-vented Bulbul

Pycnonotus cafer

White-throated Bulbul

Alphoixus flaveolus

(himalayan)Black Bulbul

Hypsipetes leucocephalus

Mountain Bulbul

Hypsipetes mcclellandii

Ashy Bulbul

Hypsipetes flavala

Orange-bellied Leafbird

Chloropsis hardwickii

Brown Dipper

Cinclus pallasii

Winter Wren

Troglodytes troglodytes

Alpine Accentor

Prunella collaris

Rufous-breasted Accentor

Prunella strophiata

Blue-headed Rock-Thrush

Monticola cinclorhynchus

Blue Rock-Thrush

Monticola solitarius

Chestnut-bellied Rock-Thrush

Monticola rufiventris

Blue Whistling-Thrush

Myophonus caeruleus

Plain-backed Thrush

Zoothera mollissima

Long-tailed Thrush

Zoothera dixoni

Dusky Thrush

Turdus eunomus

White-collared Blackbird

Turdus albocinctus

Dark-throated Thrush

Turdus ruficollis

Grey-winged Blackbird

Turdus boulboul

White-browed Shortwing

Brachypteryx montana

Lesser Shortwing

Brachypteryx leucophrys

Himalayan Red-flanked Bush-Robin

Tarsiger rufilatus (cyanurus)

Golden Bush-Robin

Tarsiger chrysaeus

Oriental Magpie-Robin

Copsychus saularis

Hodgson's Redstart

Phoenicurus hodgsoni

Blue-fronted Redstart

Phoenicurus frontalis

Plumbeous Water-Redstart

Rhyacornis fuliginosus

White-capped Water-Redstart

Chaimarrornis leucocephalus

White-tailed Blue-Robin

Myiomela leucura

Little Forktail

Enicurus scouleri

Slaty-backed Forktail

Enicurus schistaceus

Spotted Forktail

Enicurus maculatus

Common Stonechat

Saxicola torquatus

Grey Bushchat

Saxicola ferrea

Dark-sided Flycatcher

Muscicapa sibirica

Ferruginous Flycatcher

Muscicapa ferruginea

Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher

Ficedula strophiata

Little Pied Flycatcher

Ficedula westermanni

Ultramarine Flycatcher

Ficedula superciliaris

Slaty-blue Flycatcher

Ficedula tricolor

White-gorgeted Flycatcher

Ficedula monileger

Sapphire Flycatcher

Ficedula sapphira

Verditer Flycatcher

Eumyias thalassinus

Large Niltava

Niltava grandis

Small Niltava

Niltava macgrigoriae

Rufous-bellied Niltava

Niltava sundara

Pale Blue-Flycatcher

Cyornis unicolor

Blue-throated Flycatcher

Cyornis rubeculoides

Pygmy Blue-Flycatcher

Muscicapella hodgsoni

Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher

Culicacapa ceylonensis

Yellow-bellied Fantail

Rhipidura hypoxantha

White-throated Fantail  

Rhipidura albicollis

Goldcrest

Regulus regulus

Black-throated [Hill] Prinia

Prinia atrogularis

Grey-bellied Tesia

Tesia cyaniventer

Chestnut-headed Tesia

Tesia castaneocoronata

Slaty-bellied Tesia

Tesia olivea

Brownish-flanked Bush-Warbler

Cettia fortipes

Aberrant Bush-Warbler

Cettia flavolivacea

Hume’s [Yellowish-bellied] Bush-Warbler 

Cettia brunnescens [acanthizoides]

Grey-sided Bush-Warbler

Cettia brunnifrons

Russet Bush-Warbler

Bradypterus mandelli

Mountain Tailorbird

Orthotomus cuculatus

Common Tailorbird

Orthotomus sutorius

Buff-barred Warbler

Phylloscopus pulcher

Lemon-rumped/Pallas's Warbler

Phylloscopus proregulus

Ashy-throated Warbler

Phylloscopus maculipennis

Blyth's Leaf Warbler

Phylloscopus reguloides

Tickell's Leaf-Warbler

Phylloscopus affinis

Yellow-vented Warbler

Phylloscopus cantator

Whistler’s Warbler

Seicercus whistleri

Golden-spectacled Warbler

Seicercus burkii

Grey-hooded Warbler

Seicercus xanthoschistos

White-spectacled Warbler

Seicercus affinis

Grey-cheeked Warbler

Seicercus poliogenys

Chestnut-crowned Warbler

Seicercus castaniceps

Broad-billed Warbler

Tickellia hodgsoni

Rufous-faced Warbler

Abroscopus albogularis

Black-faced Warbler

Abroscopus schisticeps

White-throated Laughingthrush

Garrulax albogularis

White-crested Laughingthrush

Garrulax leucolophus

Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush

Garrulax monileger

Striated Laughingthrush

Grammatoptila striata

Grey-sided Laughingthrush

Dryonastes caerulatus

Rufous-necked Laughingthrush

Dryonastes ruficollis

Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush

Ianthocincla rufogularis

Spotted Laughingthrush

Ianthocincla ocellata

Red-headed Laughingthrush

Trochalopteron erythrocephalum

Bhutan Laughingthrush

Trochalopteron imbricatum

Blue-winged Laughingthrush

Trochalopteron squamatus

Scaly Laughingthrush

Trochalopteron subunicolor

Black-faced Laughingthrush

Trochalopteron affine

Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-babbler

Pomatorhinus erythrogenys

White-browed Scimitar-babbler

Alcippe chrysotis

Streak-breasted Scimitar-babbler

Pomatorhinus ruficollis

Coral-billed Scimitar-Babbler

Pomatorhinus ferruginosus

Slender-billed Scimitar-Babbler

Xiphirhynchus superciliaris

Long-billed Wren-Babbler

Rimator malacoptilus

Scaly-breasted Wren-Babbler

Pnoepyga albiventer

Sikkim Wedge-billed Wren-Babbler

Sphenocichla humei

Pygmy Wren-Babbler

Pnoepyga pusilla

Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler

Spelaeornis caudatus

Bar-winged Wren-Babbler

Spelaeornis troglodytoides

Spotted Wren-Babbler

Spelaeornis formosus

Rufous-fronted Babbler

Stachyris rufifrons

Rufous-capped Babbler

Stachyris ruficeps

Grey-throated Babbler

Stachyris nigriceps

Golden Babbler

Stachyris chrysaea

Silver-eared Mesia

Leiothrix argentauris

Red-billed Leiothrix

Leiothrix lutea

Red-faced Liocichla

Liocichla phoenicea

Cutia

Cutia nipalensis

Black-headed Shrike-Babbler

Pteruthius rufiventer

Black-eared Shrike-Babbler

Pteruthius melanotis

White-browed Shrike-Babbler

Pteruthius flaviscapis

Green Shrike-Babbler

Pteruthius xanthochlorus

White-capped Water-Redstart

Actinodura nipalensis

Rusty-fronted Barwing

Actinodura egertoni

Blue-winged Minla

Minla cyanouroptera

Chestnut-tailed Minla

Minla strigula

Red-tailed Minla

Minla ignotincta

Golden-breasted Fulvetta

Alcippe chrysotis

Yellow-throated Fulvetta

Alcippe cinerea

Rufous-winged Fulvetta

Alcippe castaneceps

White-browed Fulvetta

Alcippe vinipectus 

Nepal Fulvetta

Alcippe nipalensis

Long-tailed Sibia

Heterophasia picaoides

Rufous Sibia

Heterophasia capistrata

Striated Yuhina

Yuhina castaniceps

White-naped Yuhina

Yuhina bakeri

Whiskered Yuhina

Yuhina flavicollis

Rufous-vented Yuhina

Yuhina occipitalis

Stripe-throated Yuhina

Yuhina brunneiceps

Black-chinned Yuhina

Yuhina gularis

White-bellied Erpornis [Yuhina]

Epornis zantholeuca

Fire-tailed Myzornis

Myzornis pyrrhoura

Great Parrotbill

Conostoma oemodium

Brown Parrotbill

Paradoxornis unicolor

Black-throated Parrotbill

Paradoxornis nipalensis

Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill

Paradoxornis ruficeps

Coal Tit

Parus ater

Rufous-vented Tit

Parus rubidiventris

Grey-crested Tit

Parus dichrous

Yellow-cheeked Tit

Parus spilonotus

Green-backed Tit

Parus monticolus

Yellow-browed Tit

Sylviparus modestus

Sultan Tit

Melanochlora sultanea

Red-headed/Black-throated Tit

Aegithalos concinnus

Rufous-fronted Tit

Aegithalos iouschistos

Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch

Sitta castanea

White-tailed Nuthatch

Sitta himalayensis

Beautiful Nuthatch

Sitta formosa

Wallcreeper

Tichodroma muraria

Eurasian Treecreeper

Certhia familliaris

Brown-throated Tree-Creeper

Certhia discolor

Fire-capped Tit

Cephalopyrus flammiceps

Oriental White-eye

Zosterops palpebrosus

Gould's Sunbird

Aethopyga gouldiae

Green-tailed Sunbird

Aethopyga nipalensis

Black-throated Sunbird

Aethopyga saturata

Fire-tailed Sunbird

Aethopyga ignicauda

Streaked Spiderhunter

Arachnothera magna

Fire-breasted Flowerpecker

Dicaeum ignipectus

Grey-backed Shrike

Lanius tephronotus

Long-tailed Shrike

Lanius schach

Grey Treepie

Dendrocitta formosae

Yellow-billed Blue Magpie

Urocissa flavirostis

Common Green Magpie

Cissa chinensis

Eurasian Jay

Garrulus glandarius

Black-billed Magpie

Pica pica

Spotted Nutcracker

Nucifraga caryocatactes

Red-billed Chough

Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

House Crow

Corvus splendens

Large-billed Crow

Corvus macrorhynchus

Maroon Oriole

Oriolus traillii

Bronzed Drongo

Dicrurus aeneus

Ashy Drongo

Dicrurus leucophaeus

Hair-crested Drongo

Dicrurus hottentotus

Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo

Dicrurus remifer

Common Myna

Acridotheres tristis

Russet Sparrow

Passer rutilans

Eurasian Tree Sparrow

Passer montanus

White-rumped Munia

Lonchura striata

Yellow-breasted Greenfinch

Carduelis spinoides

Plain Mountain-Finch

Leucosticte nemoricola

Dark-breasted Rosefinch

Carpodacus nipalensis

Common Rosefinch

Carpodacus erythrinus

Beautiful Rosefinch

Carpodacus pulcherrimus

White-browed Rosefinch

Carpodacus thura

Scarlet Finch

Haematospiza sipahi

Crimson-browed Finch

Pinicola subhimachalus

Red Crossbill

Loxia curvirostra

Grey-headed Bullfinch

Pyrrhula erythaca

Brown Bullfinch

Pyrrhula nipalensis

Collared Grosbeak

Mycerobas affinis

Spot-winged Grosbeak

Mycerobas melanozanthos

White-winged Grosbeak

Mycerobas carnipes

Crested Bunting

Melophus lathami

Little Bunting

Emberiza pusilla

 

 

MAMMALS

 

Assamese Macaque

Macaca assamensis

Capped Langur

Trachypithecus pileatus

Nepal Grey Langur

Semnopithecus schistaceus    

Golden Langur 

Presbytis geei

Yellow-throated Marten

Martes flavigula

Leopard Cat

Felis bengalensis

Irawaddy/Hoary-bellied Squirrel

Callosciurus pygerythrus

Himalayan Striped Squirrel

Tamiops macclellandi

Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel

Dremomys lokriah

Parti-coloured/Hodgson's Flying Squirrel

Hylopetes alboniger ?

Himalayan Pika

Ochotona himalayana

Sambar

Cervus unicolor

Barking Deer (Indian Muntjac)   

 Muntiacus muntjak

Hispid Hare

Caprolagus hispidus

 

                                             

        

                                     

 

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