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BIRD WATCHING IN BHUTAN

Bhutan is almost entirely mountainous and must be one of the more rugged countries in the world. Bhutan possesses vast areas of intact forests, an astounding 72.5% of its land, one of the highest in the world. While this is very positive for the country's outstanding Birdlife, it's also reflective of the progressive environmental policies of the Royal Government of Bhutan.

Bhutan is amongst the world's unique and most valuable intact ecosystems. Indeed our small, landlocked nation is the jewel of the Eastern Himalayans, which in themselves represents one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. To be sure, very few countries in the world match Bhutan's biological diversity and fewer still have taken such steady steps to conserve this crucial part of the nation's natural heritage.

Bhutan has a diverse avifauna : 780 species have been recorded so far, and many more are likely to be found. A total of 14 species recorded in Bhutan have been identified as globally threatened by Birdlife international. These include White Bellied Heron, Palla's fish eagle, Chestnut-breasted partridge, Blyth's Tragopan, Wood snipe, Dark-rumped swift, Rufous-necked hornbill, Grey-crowned Prinia and Beautiful Nuthatch.



MAIN HABITATS AND BIRD SPECIES

The bird habitats of Bhutan can be roughly divided into Forest, Scrub, Wetlands, Alpine habitats, Agricultural land, and around human habitation. There is a small area of lowland grassland that extends into India, but this supports scattered trees, and no grassland bird specialists have so far been recorded in Bhutan.

His Highness The King of Bhutan



FOREST AND SCRUBS

Country's forests are rich, diverse, and beautiful, forming some of the best remaining representatives of forest habitats in the Himalayans. Forest and bushes support the high proportion of 84% of the country's breeding birds. Besides, 57% of Bhutan's globally threatened birds and 90% of the country's restricted-range birds are dependent on forests.



WETLANDS

Bhutan has rather few wetlands, and apart from some river stretches, these are very poorly known for birds. In Central Bhutan where the valleys are broad, such as at Thimphu, Bumthang, and Wangdi, the rivers flow more slowly. The Mo chhu valley north of Wangdi is regularly used by wintering and passage migrants like ducks.

The Torsa River in Phuntsholing is a right area for passage migrant's wetlands birds. Two globally threatened wetland species occur regularly in Bhutan. The extensive marshes in Phobjikha valley in central Bhutan are a vital wintering ground for the globally endangered Black-necked Crane. There are numerous small ponds and marshes, often in cultivation and around habitation, throughout Bhutan. Black-tailed Crake Porzana bicolour and Ruddy-breasted Crake P Fusca can be found in these wetlands in spring and summer.



VILLAGES, TOWNS AND DZONGS

The common Hoopoe and Red-billed Chough commonly nest under roofs of dzongs, monasteries, and houses in villages and towns, even in Thimphu. Apus affinis is widespread in communities at lower altitudes.



BIRD WATCHING AREAS

The areas listed below are readily accessible, but any good quality forest with mature trees and well developed understory-especially subtropical forest, warm and cold broadleaved forests, Oak, Fir, and hemlock forests is likely to be a suitable area for bird watching.



FORESTS ALONG ROAD FROM SENGOR TO LINGMETHANG

Sengor (3050m) to Namling (2360m)

Habitat : Hemlock forest, cool broadleaved forest

Best time to Visit : April to May

Birds : Satyr Tragopan, Bar-winged Wren-Babbler, Fire-tailed Myzornis (rare)

Satyr Tragopan



NAMLING (2360 M) TO YONGKHALA (1700M)

Habitat : Cool Broadleaved warm broadleaved forest

Best time to Visit : November to early May

Birds : Rufous-necked Hornbill, Lesser Shortwing, Blue-fronted Robin, Yellow-throated Fulvetta, White-naped Yuhina

rufous necked hornbill



YONGKHALA (1700 M) TO LINGMETHANG (650 M)

Habitat : Warm Broadleaved forest

Best time to Visit : November to early May

Birds : Rufous-bellied Hawk Eagle, Collared Treepie, Yellow-vented Warbler

rufous bellied hawk eagle



FORESTS ALONG THE ROAD FROM NARPHUNG LA TO SAMDRUP JONGKHAR

Narphung la (1700m) to Deothang (850)

Habitat : Warm broadened and subtropical forest

Best time to Visit : November to early May

Birds : Gold-naped finch, Rufous-necked, Hornbill, White-naped, Yuhina, and Beautiful Nuthatch.

gold naped finch



DEOTHANG TO (850M) TO SAMDRUP JONGKHAR (250M)

Narphung la (1700m) to Deothang (850)

Habitat : Subtropical Forest

Best time to Visit : November to early May

Birds : Blue-winged Laughing thrush, Blue-eared Barber, Wreathed Hornbill, Violet Cuckoo.

gold naped finch



FOREST ALONG THE ROAD FROM RIMCHU TO TASHITHANG

Narphung la (1700m) to Deothang (850)

Habitat : Subtropical Forest

Best time to Visit : November to early May

Birds : Blue-eared Barber, Wreathed Hornbill, Violet Cuckoo, Blue-winged Laughing thrush.



MO CHHU VALLEY 5 TO 6KM NORTH OF WANGDUE PHODRANG (1300M)

Habitat : River

Best time to Visit : November to early April

Birds : Variety of ducks and other water birds.



FORESTS ON EAST SIDE OF DOCHULA LA (3115 M) ALONG THE PACK-HORSE TRAIL

Habitat : Fir, Rhododendron, Oak and Bamboo forest

Best time to Visit : April or May

Birds : Satyr Tragopan, Rufous Breasted, Slender-billed Scimitar.



FORESTS BY ROAD OVER PELE LA (3390M)

Habitat : Fir, Rhododendron, and Bamboo forest

Best time to Visit : April or May

Birds : Yellowish-bellied Bush Warbler, Fire-tailed, Maroon-backed Accentor (winter).



FORESTS BY ROAD OVER PELE LA (3390M)

Habitat : Fir, Rhododendron and Bamboo forests

Best time to Visit : April or May

Birds : Yellowish bellied Bush Warbler, Great Parrot bill, Maroon - backed Accentor (winter).



BUMTHANG VALLEY (2600M)

Habitat : Fir, Rhododendron and Bamboo forests

Best time to Visit : March to May, October to early November

Birds : Ibis bill, spring and autumn migrant's, e.g. pipits.



TORSA RIVER AT PHUNTSHOLING (150M)

Habitat : River and Shingle banks and islands

Best time to Visit : November to April

Birds : It is suitable for passage migrants and wintering waders, wagtails, and small pratincole.



In Thimphu few varieties of bird species like Spotted Laughing Thrush, Fire Capped Tir, Golden Breasted Fulvetta, Yellow-Backed Flower Packer, and Maroon Backed Accentor one can witness.

On the way to Punakha,In Dochula Pass you can easily spot different species of birds like the Fire-tailed Myzornis, Rufous-gogeted Flycatcher, Rufous-breasted Bush Robin, Black-eared Shrike Babblers, Grey-winged Blackbird, and Gold-billed Magpie.

Gelephu is the habitat to many bird species like the Large Hawk-Cuckoo, Pied Falconet, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Jungle Babbler, Wreathed, Great Hornbill, Puff-throated Babbler, Indian Roller and much more.

The Tsirang forest division of Bhutan has newly inaugurated the Pemachoeling Heritage Forest which is a welcoming route to paradise for bird lovers. Tourists in large numbers visit this lively place to explore birds such as the Rufous-necked Hornbill and Great Hornbill.





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Birmingham, UK

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