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Bhutan is a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists. Over 670 species of birds have been recorded and many more are yet to be discovered. Around 50 species of the known birds are winter migrants. These include ducks, waders, birds of prey, thrushes, finches and bunting.
Bhutan; Paro Air Port
Fly into Bhutan with Drukair/ Bhutan Airline. As you arrive at Paro Airport, you will have a magnificent view of the mountains, green vegetation, river, farmland, and houses around the airport.
You will be welcomed in traditional customs by our representatives and escorted to the hotel. Evening orientation program in the hotel with audio-visual presentation, slide show, and general talk. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Begin the birding adventure today. The altitude of Paro valley ranges from 2,150 – 2,950 m and the ideal birding spots are through the farmlands, the lower and upper broadleaved evergreen forests, the riversides, subalpine forests, and shrubberies. The valley also possesses a wealth of cultural attractions such as Ta Dzong (National Museum), Rinpung Dzong, Kyichu Lhakhang, and Taktsang Lhakhang.
Some of the recorded bird species in Paro includes Aberrant Bush Warbler (Cettia flavoivacea), Blyth’s Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum), Himalayan Whistling Thrush (Myiophonus caeruleus), Common Teal (Ana crecca), Greyheaded Flycatcher Warbler (Seicercus xanthoschistos), Greenbacked Tit (Parus monticolus), Hodgson’s Redstart (Phoenicurus hodgsoni), Jungle Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos), Himalayan Brown Dipper (Cinclus pallasi), Crestee Honey Buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), Himalayan Treecreeper (Certhia hamalayana), Hill Pigeon (Columba rupestris), Rufousbreasted Accentor (Prunella strophiata), Rufous Turtle Dove (Streptoppelia orientalis), Rufousbellied Hawk-Eagle (Hieraaetus kienerii), Stripethroated Yuhina (Yuhina gularis), Longtailed Minivet (Pericrocotus ethologus).
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu, the modern capital town of Bhutan. The increasing human settlement has pushed birding spots at least 10 km and now the ideal areas for birding are around the stream near Motithang and in and around Begana and Cheri villages.
Few of the bird species recorded here are Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos), Redrumped Swallow (Hirunda daurica), Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus melaschistos), Grackle or Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla caspica), Whitebellied Yuhina (Yuhina xanthoteuca), Upland Pipit (Anthus sylvanus), Plumbeous Redstart (Rhyacornis fuliginosus).
Leave Thimphu early to reach the Dochu La pass (3,150m) in time for sunrise. On a clear day, the scenery from Dochula is breathtaking: we can get a full view of the mightiest peaks of the Himalayas towering along the northern horizon. From here the descent to Punakha and Wangduephodrang valley is long at the altitude difference between the pass and the valley is about 1,800 m.
After lunch, take a short trip to the temple of the “Divine Mad Man”. The temple is famous today for its miraculous powers to bestow fertility to barren women. From the temple, walk to the Pho chu banks to look for the endangered Pallas’ Fish-Eagle and the world-renowned White-bellied Heron.
More common species in these valleys are : Blackchinned Yuhina (Yuhina nigrimenta), Spotted Dove (Streptopelia chinensis), Blackchinned Babbler ( Stachyris pyrrhops), Blackbreasted Sunbird (Aethopyga saturata), Redbreasted Rosefinch (Carpodacus puniceus), Fulvousbreasted Pied Woodpecker (Picoides macei), Large Grey Babbler (Turdoides melcolmi), Himalaya Tree Pie (Dendrocitra vagabunda), Little Bunting (Emberiza striolata). Slatybacked Forktail (Enicurus schistaceus), Whitebreasted Kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Yellowbilled Blue Magpie (Cissa flavirostris), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Steppe Eagle (Aquila rapax nipalensis), Small Niltava (Muscicapa macgrigoriae), Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis), Speckled Wood Pigeon (Columbia hodgsonii), Grey Tit (Parus major) and Redcrowned Jay (Garrulus glandarius).
Drive to Gangtey village. The drive is relatively short and there are regular stops for birding and photography all along the way. Because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winter here in Phobjikha valley, this valley is one of the most important wildlife reserves in the country. The fascinating Gangtey village is sitting on the ridge overlooking the large green expanse of Phobjikha valley.
More common spieces of bird found in this region including the species in Punakha & Wangduephodrang are : Amur Falcon (Falco vesertinus), Redmantled Rosefinch (Carpodacus rhodochlamys), Firebreasted Flowerpecker (Dicaeum ignipectus), Redheaded Bullfinch (Pyrrhula erythrocephala), Scarlet Finch (Haemmatospiza sipahi), Whitetailed Nuthatch (Sitta himalayensis), Magpie-Robin (Copsychus saularis), Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), Great Pied Hornbill (Buceros bicornis), Common Hill Partridge (Arborophila torqueola), Snow Pigeon (Columba leuconota), Rufousbreasted Accenter (Prunella strophiata),, Whitebacked Munia (Lonchura striata).
It is not very prominent birding area but still few important species are visible such as Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis), Himalayan Swiftlet (Collocalia brevirostris), Lammergeier (Gypaetus barbatus), Snow Partridge (Lerwa lerwa), Purple Cochoa (Cochoa purpurea), Scalybreasted Wren Babbler (Pnoepyga albiventer), Longtained Minivet (Pericrocotus ethologus), Himalayan Monal Pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus), Speckled Wood Pigeon (Columba hodgsonii) and Rufousbellied Bulbul (Hypsipetes mcclellandi).
After breakfast, drive to Bumthang. The ideal birding spots in this region are before Yotongla pass, farmland in the valleys and the riverside of Chamkhar Chhu river.
Few species of bird that are found in this area are Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), Blyth’s Pipit (Anthus godlewskii), Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos), Little Bunting (Emberiza fucata), Redbilled Chough (Pyrrhocorax graculus) and Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo).
Bumthang to Ura is 48 km, about one and a half-hour drive. To reach here, the road climbs to amazingly open countryside, only occasionally running into the forest. Large sheep pastures line the road up to 20 km behind the southern tip of the Tang valley. The route crosses Ura la pass (3,600m) with a magnificent view of Mount. Gangkhar Puensum. Villages in Ura have clustered houses, which is quite unusual in Bhutan. The day is for exploring fascinating Ura valley and village.
Overnight tented accommodation.
Proceed to Limithang (80 km, approx. 5 hours). Today’s drive takes us through some splendid and varied terrain across Thrumshingla Pass (3750m). From this highest pass in the country, the road descends to the village of Sengor, a tiny settlement of shingle roofs and lush fields. This village is also the home to these mountain’s most special bird, Monal Lophophorus Impejanus.
The important species visible in this area are Black Bulbul (Hypsipetes madagascariensis), Blyth’s Pipit (Anthus godlewskii), Bronzed Drongo (Dicrurus aeneus), Gould’s Shortwings (Brachypteryx stellata), Redheaded Bullfinch (Pyrrhula erythrocephala), Speckled Piculet (Picumnus innominatus), Grey Wagtail (Motacilla caspica), Whitethroated Munia (Lonchura malabarica), Whitebrowed Blue Flycatcher (Muscicapa leucomelanura), Yellowbellied Flowerpecker (Dicaeum melanoxanthuon), Bluebeaed Bee-Eater ( Nyctyornis athertoni), Parrotbill (Paradoxornis nipalensis), Honeyguide (Indicator xanthonotus), Redvented Bulbul (Pyconotus cafer), Lesser Racket-Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus remifer), Fantail Warbler (Cisticola exilis) and Rufousthroated Hill Partridge (Arborophila rufogularis).
Drive to Trashigang via Mongar. Later in Mongar visit Shongar Dzong and Mongar Dzong. The eastern towns of Mongar and Trashigang are not interesting for birding so the time in the last two days of the tour is spent on the cultural experience.
After lunch, in Trashigang visit Trahigang Dzong, standing at the extreme end of the spur, overhanging the Gamri river by more than 400 m. Unlike most other Dzongs in the Kingdom, it has only one courtyard. The Dzong now serves as the administrative seat for the district and part of it occupied by the Drukpa monastic community. Overnight at the lodge in Trashigang.
After breakfast drive back to Mongar. Afternoon exploratory tour to Mongar town, local market.
Overnight at the lodge.
After breakfast, drive to Bumthang arriving there by lunch time. After lunch, visit to Yatha weaving centre and local market. Overnight at the lodge.
Morning, drive to Thimphu en route visiting village houses and mingling with local people. Stop at Wangduephodrang for lunch. After lunch, drive to Thimphu for an overnight stay.
After early breakfast, drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination. Our representative will bid you farewell here at the airport.