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TRIP REPORT: “CHAMPIONS OF THE FLYWAY”- A BIRD RACE FOR CONSERVATION IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL

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TRIP REPORT: “CHAMPIONS OF THE FLYWAY”- A BIRD RACE FOR CONSERVATION IN SOUTHERN ISRAEL MARCH 2016

 

By Jason Boyce – Birding Ecotours

OVERVIEW

By now the Champions of the Flyway (COTF) bird race is well known across birding circles worldwide and is fast becoming one of the most prestigious 24-hour bird races in the world. Majestic mountainous landscapes, the vast desert plains of the Negev, passionate and enthusiastic birders from across the globe, and a movement of birds like no other all culminate into a thing of beauty that is the Champions of the Flyway!

We, the South African/Birding Ecotours team, were to be the only southern hemisphere team to take part in this incredible bird race, for the second year running – a great honor! This year our team consisted of Jason Boyce, Trevor Hardaker, Dylan Vasapolli and Andy Walker. Trevor and Jason participated in the 2015 race and could offer some advice on how not to do things in 2016. The race, like many other birding races, involves scouting in the days prior to the race day and then a 24-hour race day, midnight to midnight. Teams will set out to record as many species as possible (birds can be recorded on call as well as on sight) during this 24-hour period. The Negev desert and everything south to Eilat is considered the ‘playing field’.

TRIP ITINERARY

March 26         Team arrival and scouting                   Eilat, Israel

March 27         Scouting                                              Eilat, Israel

March 28         Scouting                                              Eilat, Israel

March 29         Race day                                             Eilat, Israel

March 30         Closing ceremony                               Eilat, Israel

Buildup and Scouting

Migration is an incredible natural phenomenon, and even after years and years of studying aspects of migration and witnessing bird migration over and over there will always be a sense of unpredictability about it! This is largely what brings about the excitement to birding in Israel – “Expect the unexpected”, as the catch phrase goes. Every year the teams make sure to arrive a little early so that they can begin preparations by visiting as many sites as they can within the playing field. Things can be very different from year to year – this was definitely evident to Trevor and Jason. We started off by checking out some of the sites in the North Negev, these included the famous Nitzana (best Macqueen’s Bustard site), Ezuz, Yeroham Lake, and Sde Boker. The northern region has some 30-35 species that you just can’t connect with in the south, and so it is recommended – by the Israeli “hotshots” – that doing both the north and the south on race day is a must!

Over the course of the next few days we visited almost every site that we knew about as well as a few new ones; the most noteworthy new site being the Se’ifim plains. These open plains situated to the north-west of Eilat in the mountains produced some excellent birds for us, including one of our most wanted, our logo species, Temminck’s Lark! Temminck’s Lark was hard to come by during the scouting days, and it was one of the species we ended up missing on race day.

Some of the other species that we recorded during the scouting days included the likes of Brown Booby, White-eyed Gull, Sandwich Tern, and Baltic Gull (L. f. fuscus, nominate Lesser Black-backed Gull, which are all treated as separate species for the COTF) all at North Beach. It was also incredible to see “migration in action” even among passerines, such as a Yellow Wagtail coming in off the Red Sea while we were sea watching!

Waders at K20 salt pans included Kentish Plover, Little and Common Ringed Plovers, Curlew and Marsh Sandpipers, Common Redshank, Little Stint, Black-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, and Ruff. Other interesting finds during scouting were Red-necked Phalarope, Red-throated Pipit, many different subspecies of Yellow Wagtail, and Wheatear species ranging from the migratory species, like Northern, Isabelline and Black-eared, to some of the resident species, such as Hooded, White-crowned, and Mourning. One of our team’s best finds during the scouting period was that of a female Cyprus Wheatear – a lifer for most of the Bandits.

Race day!

Before we knew it race day was upon us – we were ready … sort of. Just after midnight on Tuesday morning, the 29th of March, we set off to see how many species we could get. We fiddled around Eilat for a while, trying to pick up some water birds and gulls – we managed to scope White-eyed Gull in the ambient light of Eilat city as well as pick up species like Little Ringed Plover and Western Reef Heron! By the time it got light enough to really get going, we were hovering around 30 species. We decided this year to do things from South to North and therefore only get to some of the northern hot-spots by 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. The Se’ífim plains produced a few good birds for us in the morning, such as Cream-colored Courser, Bar-tailed, Greater, Lesser Short-toed, and Bimaculated Larks, Hen Harrier, and Common (Rufous-tailed) Rock Thrush. A quick stop here and there to pick up some soaring birds, and we were back down to bird the Eilat surrounds and the k20 salt pans.

Birding was good, and between the salt pans, the date plantations at K20, and some other waterbird spots we added most occurring shorebirds, including Curlew Sandpiper and Dunlin, Water Pipit, various waterfowl, Collared Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, our 4th Eurasian Wryneck of the Day (!), Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Gull-billed Tern, Western Osprey, and Ferruginous Duck. Jason was in charge of making sure that we ran according to schedule, and, for the most part, we were pretty good at sticking to that plan. “C’mon lads, keep it up!” – these were the chants as we begun the long drive into the Negev!

We eventually made our way to the northern parts of the Negev – Sde Boker was particularly kind to us and produced almost all of our targets, and then some. The lookout area at the tomb of David Ben-Gurion held Griffon and Egyptian Vultures, Lanner Falcon, Tristram’s Starling, Alpine Swift – and Nubian Ibex distractions! The surrounds produced some European species: European Greenfinch, European Robin, Common Blackbird, and then also Common and Thrush Nightingales, Common and Pallid Swifts, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Chukar Partridge, and European Turtle Dove. We were hoping to get to 150 Species before getting to Yeroham Lake (Which would be our northernmost site). Southern Grey Shrike and Eurasian Hoopoe were our 148th and 149th species, respectively, and that about 200 meters before the entrance to the lake. Yeroham Lake was great, and even though we only added another 10 to 15 odd species here it was certainly one of the highlights for us! Syrian Woodpecker played ball, as too did Sedge and Great Reed Warblers. Highlights at the lake were Cetti’s Warbler, two Spotted Crakes, and a female Little Crake. Of course we didn’t leave before notching up a ‘LEO’ (not Panthera leo, but rather a Long-eared Owl) calling away in some of the larger trees at around 8:00 p.m. On the long drive back news had filtered through of a Jack Snipe at Neot Smadar Sewage Ponds, and so the diminutive wader became the last bird that we added to our list for the day. What an incredible day, needless to say, we slept well!

Who won?

The winning total this year (in the international race) was a seriously impressive 174 species, and the honors of the 2016 race go to the Arctic Redpolls from Finland, a huge congratulations to them! Second place managed 171 and third managed 164. The Bandits managed to squeeze out 163 species this year, and we were rather proud of that achievement. It placed us 4th overall in the international race (missing out on 3rd place and a podium finish by just one species!). It’s a ‘young’ race, and teams are still in the process of figuring out the best way to tackle it. Trevor Hardaker put it this way: “Doing well in this competition is not just about knowing the birds – we have some reasonable experience with these, so that is not really a problem at all. It’s not even about knowing the various birding sites – we have now gained valuable experience over last year and this year as to which sites produce which species, etc. It really comes down to strategy (as with any big day), and we are slowly, but surely, getting our strategy fine-tuned for this race. Even after this year’s race, our team had some discussions about what we would change for the next one that could give us just a little bit more of an edge in the competition.”

At the risk of being a little cliché, the real winners are undoubtedly the migrant birds! We received 13 Donations on race day itself, with a total of 188 donations during the course of the fund raising efforts. Our initial target set was to raise £3 000, and with your incredible generosity we managed to more than double that and raise £6 763.53 (roughly US$ 9 600 and more than R142 000 for our South African friends!). Over US$70 000 has now been raised in total this year – which is a COTF record! This money goes to the Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOC), which now has a lot of work to do but some amazing backing to do it with. Congratulations, guys!!

One of the differences between the COTF and many other bird races across the world is the sharing of information. Information is shared freely and relentlessly throughout the race day, and this of course brings a whole new dynamic to the race! The team that is the most helpful, shares the most information, creates the most awareness, and makes the most noise about COTF are crowned the Knights of the Flyway. This year’s Knights went to the Way-off Coursers from the United States! The Way-off Coursers weren’t done there when it comes to awards; they were also the team that managed to raise the most money of all teams and so were crowned the Guardians of the Flyway as well.

On behalf of the Bandits, Birding Ecotours, South Africa, and, of course, the Hellenic Ornithological Society an extremely huge THANK YOU to all who have contributed in any way to this cause! There is still a massive amount of work to be done, so let us not stop here – onward and upward, as they say!

To our sponsors: “While we may not have been crowned with the award for the most money raised, you are ALL Guardians of the Flyway in our eyes! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” – Trevor

Full Species list for Race day (29 March 2016)

 

Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae) 
Egyptian GooseAlopochen aegyptiacaYotvata, HaDarom
MallardAnas platyrhynchosEilat, HaDarom
Northern ShovelerAnas clypeataEilat, HaDarom
Northern PintailAnas acutaEilat, HaDarom
GarganeyAnas querquedulaEilat, HaDarom
Eurasian TealAnas creccaEilat, HaDarom
Ferruginous DuckAythya nyrocaEilat, HaDarom
Pheasants and allies (Phasianidae) 
Chukar PartridgeAlectoris chukarSde Boker, HaDarom
Sand PartridgeAmmoperdix heyiSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Common QuailCoturnix coturnixYotvata, HaDarom
Grebes (Podicipedidae) 
Little GrebeTachybaptus ruficollisEilat, HaDarom
Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae) 
Greater FlamingoPhoenicopterus roseusEilat, HaDarom
Storks (Ciconiidae) 
Black StorkCiconia nigraSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
White StorkCiconia ciconiaEilat, HaDarom
Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae) 
Glossy IbisPlegadis falcinellusEilat, HaDarom
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae) 
Black-crowned Night HeronNycticorax nycticoraxEilat, HaDarom
Squacco HeronArdeola ralloidesYotvata, HaDarom
Western Cattle EgretBubulcus ibisEilat, HaDarom
Grey HeronArdea cinereaEilat, HaDarom
Purple HeronArdea purpureaEilat, HaDarom
Great EgretArdea albaEilat, HaDarom
Little EgretEgretta garzettaEilat, HaDarom
Western Reef HeronEgretta gularisEilat, HaDarom
Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae) 
Brown BoobySula leucogasterEilat, HaDarom
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae) 
Great CormorantPhalacrocorax carboEilat, HaDarom
Ospreys (Pandionidae) 
Western OspreyPandion haliaetusEilat, HaDarom
Kites, Hawks and Eagles (Accipitridae) 
Egyptian Vulture – ENNeophron percnopterusYotvata, HaDarom
Griffon VultureGyps fulvusSde Boker, HaDarom
Short-toed Snake EagleCircaetus gallicusEilat, HaDarom
Lesser Spotted EagleClanga pomarinaYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Booted EagleHieraaetus pennatusEilat, HaDarom
Steppe Eagle – ENAquila nipalensisSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Eurasian SparrowhawkAccipiter nisusEilat, HaDarom
Western Marsh HarrierCircus aeruginosusSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Hen HarrierCircus cyaneusSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Black KiteMilvus migransEilat, HaDarom
Common BuzzardButeo buteoSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Rails, Crakes and Coots (Rallidae) 
Little CrakePorzana parvaYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Spotted CrakePorzana porzanaYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Common MoorhenGallinula chloropusEilat, HaDarom
Eurasian CootFulica atraEilat, HaDarom
Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae) 
Eurasian Stone-curlewBurhinus oedicnemusSde Boker, HaDarom
Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae) 
Black-winged StiltHimantopus himantopusEilat, HaDarom
Plovers (Charadriidae) 
Spur-winged LapwingVanellus spinosusEilat, HaDarom
Common Ringed PloverCharadrius hiaticulaEilat, HaDarom
Little Ringed PloverCharadrius dubiusYotvata, HaDarom
Kentish PloverCharadrius alexandrinusEilat, HaDarom
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae) 
Jack SnipeLymnocryptes minimusNeot Smadar, HaDarom
Common SnipeGallinago gallinagoNeot Smadar, HaDarom
Black-tailed GodwitLimosa limosaEilat, HaDarom
Common RedshankTringa totanusEilat, HaDarom
Marsh SandpiperTringa stagnatilisEilat, HaDarom
Common GreenshankTringa nebulariaEilat, HaDarom
Green SandpiperTringa ochropusYotvata, HaDarom
Wood SandpiperTringa glareolaYotvata, HaDarom
Common SandpiperActitis hypoleucosYotvata, HaDarom
Little StintCalidris minutaEilat, HaDarom
Curlew SandpiperCalidris ferrugineaEilat, HaDarom
DunlinCalidris alpinaEilat, HaDarom
RuffPhilomachus pugnaxEilat, HaDarom
Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae) 
Cream-colored CourserCursorius cursorSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Collared PratincoleGlareola pratincolaEilat, HaDarom
Gulls, Terns and Skimmers (Laridae) 
Slender-billed GullChroicocephalus geneiEilat, HaDarom
Black-headed GullChroicocephalus ridibundusEilat, HaDarom
White-eyed GullIchthyaetus leucophthalmusEilat, HaDarom
Caspian GullLarus cachinnansEilat, HaDarom
Gull-billed TernGelochelidon niloticaEilat, HaDarom
Caspian TernHydroprogne caspiaEilat, HaDarom
Sandwich TernThalasseus sandvicensisEilat, HaDarom
Common TernSterna hirundoEilat, HaDarom
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae) 
Rock DoveColumba liviaEilat, HaDarom
European Turtle Dove – VUStreptopelia turturSde Boker, HaDarom
Eurasian Collared DoveStreptopelia decaoctoYotvata, HaDarom
Laughing DoveSpilopelia senegalensisEilat, HaDarom
Namaqua DoveOena capensisYotvata, HaDarom
Barn Owls (Tytonidae) 
Western Barn OwlTyto albaYotvata, HaDarom
Owls (Strigidae) 
Eurasian Scops OwlOtus scopsYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Long-eared OwlAsio otusYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae) 
Egyptian NightjarCaprimulgus aegyptiusYotvata, HaDarom
Swifts (Apodidae) 
Alpine SwiftTachymarptis melbaSde Boker, HaDarom
Common SwiftApus apusEilat, HaDarom
Pallid SwiftApus pallidusSde Boker, HaDarom
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae) 
Common KingfisherAlcedo atthisYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Pied KingfisherCeryle rudisEilat, HaDarom
Bee-eaters (Meropidae) 
Green Bee-eaterMerops orientalisEilat, HaDarom
European Bee-eaterMerops apiasterEilat, HaDarom
Hoopoes (Upupidae) 
Eurasian HoopoeUpupa epopsYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Woodpeckers (Picidae) 
Eurasian WryneckJynx torquillaEilat, HaDarom
Syrian WoodpeckerDendrocopos syriacusYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae) 
Lesser KestrelFalco naumanniYotvata, HaDarom
Common KestrelFalco tinnunculusEilat, HaDarom
Lanner FalconFalco biarmicusSde Boker, HaDarom
Old World Parrots (Psittaculidae) 
Rose-ringed ParakeetPsittacula krameriEilat, HaDarom
Shrikes (Laniidae) 
Southern Grey ShrikeLanius meridionalisYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Woodchat ShrikeLanius senatorEilat, HaDarom
Masked ShrikeLanius nubicusEilat, HaDarom
Crows, Jays (Corvidae) 
House CrowCorvus splendensEilat, HaDarom
Hooded CrowCorvus cornixSde Boker, HaDarom
Brown-necked RavenCorvus ruficollisNeot Smadar, HaDarom
Northern RavenCorvus coraxMitzpe Ramon, HaDarom
Tits, Chickadees (Paridae) 
Great TitParus majorYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Penduline Tits (Remizidae) 
Eurasian Penduline TitRemiz pendulinusEilat, HaDarom
Larks (Alaudidae) 
Desert LarkAmmomanes desertiSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Bar-tailed LarkAmmomanes cincturaSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Crested LarkGalerida cristataEilat, HaDarom
Greater Short-toed LarkCalandrella brachydactylaSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Bimaculated LarkMelanocorypha bimaculataSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae) 
White-spectacled BulbulPycnonotus xanthopygosEilat, HaDarom
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae) 
Barn SwallowHirundo rusticaEilat, HaDarom
Pale Crag MartinPtyonoprogne obsoletaEilat, HaDarom
Common House MartinDelichon urbicumEilat, HaDarom
Red-rumped SwallowCecropis dauricaEilat, HaDarom
Cettia Bush Warblers and allies (Cettiidae) 
Cetti’s WarblerCettia cettiYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Streaked Scrub Warbler (Scotocercidae) 
Streaked Scrub WarblerScotocerca inquietaSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Leaf Warblers and allies (Phylloscopidae) 
Willow WarblerPhylloscopus trochilusSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Common ChiffchaffPhylloscopus collybitaYotvata, HaDarom
Eastern Bonelli’s WarblerPhylloscopus orientalisEilat, HaDarom
Wood WarblerPhylloscopus sibilatrixEilat, HaDarom
Reed Warblers and allies (Acrocephalidae) 
Great Reed WarblerAcrocephalus arundinaceusYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Sedge WarblerAcrocephalus schoenobaenusYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Eurasian Reed WarblerAcrocephalus scirpaceusEilat, HaDarom
Eastern Olivaceous WarblerIduna pallidaEilat, HaDarom
Cisticolas and allies (Cisticolidae) 
Graceful PriniaPrinia gracilisEilat, HaDarom
Laughingthrushes (Leiothrichidae) 
Arabian BabblerTurdoides squamicepsEilat, HaDarom
Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae) 
Eurasian BlackcapSylvia atricapillaEilat, HaDarom
Lesser WhitethroatSylvia currucaEilat, HaDarom
Eastern Orphean WarblerSylvia crassirostrisEilat, HaDarom
Common WhitethroatSylvia communisSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Spectacled WarblerSylvia conspicillataNeot Smadar, HaDarom
Starlings, Rhabdornis (Sturnidae) 
Tristram’s StarlingOnychognathus tristramiiSde Boker, HaDarom
Thrushes (Turdidae) 
Common BlackbirdTurdus merulaSde Boker, HaDarom
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae) 
European RobinErithacus rubeculaSde Boker, HaDarom
BluethroatLuscinia svecicaSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Thrush NightingaleLuscinia lusciniaSde Boker, HaDarom
Common NightingaleLuscinia megarhynchosEilat, HaDarom
Collared FlycatcherFicedula albicollisEilat, HaDarom
Semicollared FlycatcherFicedula semitorquataNeot Smadar, HaDarom
Common RedstartPhoenicurus phoenicurusEilat, HaDarom
Common Rock ThrushMonticola saxatilisSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
WhinchatSaxicola rubetraSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Northern WheatearOenanthe oenantheSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Isabelline WheatearOenanthe isabellinaSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Black-eared WheatearOenanthe hispanicaSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
BlackstartOenanthe melanuraEilat, HaDarom
White-crowned WheatearOenanthe leucopygaSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Sunbirds (Nectariniidae) 
Palestine SunbirdCinnyris oseaEilat, HaDarom
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae) 
House SparrowPasser domesticusYotvata, HaDarom
Spanish SparrowPasser hispaniolensisEilat, HaDarom
Waxbills, Munias and allies (Estrildidae) 
Indian SilverbillEuodice malabaricaEilat, HaDarom
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae) 
Western Yellow WagtailMotacilla flavaSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Grey WagtailMotacilla cinereaNeot Smadar, HaDarom
White WagtailMotacilla albaEilat, HaDarom
Tawny PipitAnthus campestrisSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
Tree PipitAnthus trivialisEilat, HaDarom
Red-throated PipitAnthus cervinusEilat, HaDarom
Finches (Fringillidae) 
Trumpeter FinchBucanetes githagineusSe’ifim Plain, HaDarom
European GreenfinchChloris chlorisSde Boker, HaDarom
Desert FinchRhodospiza obsoletaMitzpe Ramon, HaDarom
European GoldfinchCarduelis carduelisYeroham Lake, HaDarom
Buntings, New World Sparrows and allies (Emberizidae) 
Ortolan BuntingEmberiza hortulanaYotvata, HaDarom
Cretzschmar’s BuntingEmberiza caesiaNeot Smadar, HaDarom
Species: 163
IOC World Bird List 6.1 (January 2016)
 

 

Southeast Asia Mega Tour: Singapore/Borneo/Peninsular Malaysia/Halmahera/Sulawesi Trip Report

By | Singapore Trip Reports, Trip Report

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Southeast Asia Mega Tour:  Singapore/Borneo/Peninsular Malaysia/Halmahera/Sulawesio

August 9th-September 30th, 2013

This seven week tour took us to some of Southeast Asia’s most amazing birding spots, where we racked up some mega targets, saw some amazing scenery, ate some lovely cuisine, and generally had a great time birding. Among some of the fantastic birds we saw were 11 species of pitta, including the endemic Ivory-breasted and Blue-banded Pittas, 27 species of night birds, including the incomparable Satanic Nightjar, Blyth’s, Sunda and Large Frogmouths, and Moluccan Owlet-Nightjar, 14 species of cuckooshrikes, 15 species of kingfishers, and some magical gallinaceous birds like Mountain Peacock-Pheasant, Crested Fireback, and the booming chorus of Argus Pheasant. 13 species of Hornbills were seen, including great looks at Helmeted, White-crowned, Plain-pouched, and Sulawesi. Overall we saw 134 endemic species.

Singapore

The tour started with some birding around Singapore, and at the Central Catchment Reservoir we started off well with Short-tailed Babbler, Chestnut-bellied Malkoha, Banded Woodpecker, Van Hasselt’s Sunbird, and loads of Pink-necked Green Pigeon. Bukit Batok did well with Straw-headed Bulbul, Common Flameback, and Laced Woodpecker, as well as a particularly obliging group of White-crested Laughingthrush.

Borneo

We then flew to Borneo, where we began with some local birding along the coast, picking up not only a number of common species of waterbirds but also a mega with White-fronted (Bornean) Falconet. We ended the day at some rice paddies, where we found Buff-banded Rail and Watercock among several marsh denizens.

We then hit the highlands, stopping at a small park along the way, which gave us our first Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush and great looks at a small group of very noisy Red-breasted Partridge. Then we continued on, birding around the Rafflesia Center, where we picked up Bornean Bulbul and Whitehead’s Spiderhunter, as well as some nice raptors in Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle and Mountain Serpent Eagle.

Our next stop was Mount Kinabalu, where we spent several days. But sadly a storm off the Philippines was causing us some afternoon rain, which dampened our efforts. That said, we did score some fantastic birds in Whitehead’s Broadbill, Bornean Stubtail, Golden-naped Barbet, Bornean Green Magpie, a very vocal group of Mountain Wren-Babbler, and Orange-backed Woodpecker. We also spent some time around the Mesilau sector, where we found Pale-faced Bulbul, Bornean Whistling Thrush, Sunda Bush Warbler, and a pair of Fruithunters, sadly only seen in flight.

From the highlands we dropped down to the lowlands around Sandakan and visited the Rainforest Discovery Center, where we spent a few afternoons on the canopy walkway, where we had some fantastic birding with the endemic family of Bornean Bristlehead as the star attraction. We also had Bornean Black Magpie, an active group of Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, two huge Great Slaty Woodpecker, a deafening group of Bushy-crested Hornbill, and the awesome sight of a Rhinoceros Hornbill flying right at us and landing a few feet from us above one of the towers. We also saw several orangutans, including a mother and baby, which was quite cool.

The forest trails below the walkway were great for some stunning birds like Oriental Dwarf and Rufous-collared Kingfishers. Crested Honey Buzzard was perched up in the scope, and we enjoyed amazingly close views of Black-crowned Pitta singing from a branch next to the trail. A Black-and-yellow Broadbill was sitting right above us, as we watched a large party of sunbirds feeding in a flowering tree.

The forest around our lodge was great as well, with the flowers in the garden attracting Orange-bellied Flowerpecker and Thick-billed Spiderhunter. The forest trails were great for Buff-necked Woodpecker, Black-capped Babbler, Crested Jay, and Yellow-bellied Bulbul. There was also a nice pair of White-crowned Forktails chasing each other along a stream.

Our next destination was the stunning as well as stinky Gomantong Caves. Here we checked out the nesting colony of Mossy-nest, Edible-nest, Black-nest and Glossy Swiftlets. The caves were also full of several species of bats and bugs.

We reached the Kinabatangan River in the afternoon and spent the next several days cruising the waterways and tributaries for birds. Our first afternoon was punctuated by six species of hornbill, including a nice group of six White-crowned Hornbills. The action didn’t stop over the next couple of days, as we chased down Scarlet-rumped Trogon, Bornean Black Magpie, Ruddy Kingfisher, Moustached Hawk-Cuckoo, Blue-eared Kingfisher, Bat Hawk, Storm’s Stork, Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle, Wrinkled Hornbill, and Hooded Pitta, to name a few.

From the river we headed to some lowland dipterocarp forest, where we spent the next several days wandering the forest, which was split between true lowland forest and some hill forest. This gave us a chance at some stunning birds. Black-bellied Malkoha, Red-naped Trogon, Blue-headed Pitta, Black-throated Wren-Babbler, Wrinkled and Helmeted Hornbills, and Banded Broadbill come to mind. The night birding was spectacular with Brown Wood and Tawny Fish Owls and Barred Eagle-Owl found in the space of thirty minutes on the first night. We also had great looks at both Blyth’s and Sunda Frogmouths. Night mammals included the fantastic colugo outside our room, with day mammals including the tiny greater mouse deer.

One of the stunners of the Borneo leg had to be the Blue-banded Pitta on our last day in the forest, at which we had great, walk-away looks. Eventually relocated in some slope forest deep in the park, we spent about half an hour waiting as the bird moved closer and then another twenty minutes just admiring it as it sang from a branch in the understorey.

Mantanani Extension

Our Borneo adventure didn’t end here, though. After we returned to Kota Kinabalu we traveled to the Mantanani Islands, where we spent a day exploring the main island of Mantanani Besar. Our main target here was the Mantanani Scops Owl, of which we found quite a few once it got dark. We also spent some time looking for other island specialties like Grey and Pied Imperial Pigeons. The other great spectacle was the dusk gathering of frigatebirds as they came to roost on Lungisan Island, which sits between the two main islands. We chartered a small boat over to the island to watch the spectacle of hundreds of Lesser, Christmas Island, and a few Great Frigatebirds coming in to roost. This is one of the main post-breeding roosting spots for the critically endangered Christmas Island Frigatebird. With a total estimated population of less than 7,000 birds, we were probably looking at five to six percent of this population here circling above us.

From Mantanani Island we headed back to Kota Kinabalu for the night, before we began our next leg of the trip.

Peninsular Malaysia

We began our Peninsula Malaysia tour around the town of Ipoh in the north. Our first stop was a set of two parks with some nice slope forest. Our first target was Chestnut-naped Forktail along one of the rivers, which we managed to secure after some time tracking its high-pitched calls above the roar of the river. We birded round here for a while longer, picking up Blue-winged Leafbird, Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot, Yellow-vented Flowerpecker, and a very bright Scarlet Minivet. Our next stop was a secluded jeep track with a nice open area of fruiting trees at the base, where we found Gold-whiskered Barbet, Streaked, Black-headed and Asian Red-eyed Bulbuls, and in a lone snag our first of many Black-thighed Falconets. The jeep track was filled with birds like Black-throated Babbler, Buff-rumped Woodpecker, Banded Broadbill, and Grey-cheeked Bulbul.

We also spent some time in several local mangrove areas to the west, where over a couple of days we found many specialties of this habitat, like Mangrove Blue Flycatcher, Mangrove Whistler, White-chested Babbler, and other species mixed in, like Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker, Stork-billed Kingfisher, Greater and Common Flamebacks, Little Bronze Cuckoo, Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker, and Ruby-cheeked Sunbird. One odd bird to find in a tropical, coastal mangrove was an Arctic Warbler. We also visited some orchards, where we found Blue-winged Pitta, Green-billed Malkoha, Golden-bellied Gerygone, and Yellow-rumped Flycatcher, among others.

We also spent some time around a patch of hill forest near Taiping at Bukit Larut, where we picked up Purple-naped Sunbird, Grey-and-buff Woodpecker, Tiger Shrike, Large Woodshrike, Yellow-bellied Erpornis, Verditer Flycatcher, Changeable Hawk-Eagle, and Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker.

We spent the afternoon on Lake Temmangor, where we managed to see a group of Plain-pouched Hornbill coming in to roost. We also observed several groups of them the next morning, as they headed out into the surrounding forest to forage for the day.

From here we headed to one of Peninsular Malaysia’s most famous parks, Taman Negara. We spent four days here in two locations, where we racked up some stunning birds. Close and prolonged looks at both Malaysian Banded and Garnet Pittas, Black-capped, Moustached, Chestnut-rumped, Rufous-crowned, Ferruginous, Short-tailed, Sooty-capped, and Scaly-crowned Babblers, Black Magpie, Checker-throated Woodpecker, Rufous-winged and Maroon-throated Philentomas, Dusky, Green, Black-and-yellow and Red-and-black Broadbills, Rufous-chested Flycatcher, Straw-headed, Spectacled, and Cream-vented Bulbuls, and Crested Fireback, to name a few of the great array of birds we saw. The night birding was no less stunning with Brown Wood and Oriental Bay Owls and Large Frogmouth.

From the lowlands we headed up to one of the most famous hill stations, Bukit Frasers, where we had two days of some lovely highland birding. The drive up was punctuated with a  stop along the road for a large group of Black Laughingthrush, which lead to Black-browed Barbet, Orange-breasted Trogon, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Bronzed Drongo, Black-and-crimson Oriole, some noisy Sultan Tits, Grey-throated Babbler, and Bar-winged Flycatcher-Shrike.

Once up on Fraser’s Hill, we spent the afternoon and the whole of the next day scouting the roads and trails of this famous birding spot, picking up Malayan and Chestnut-capped Laughingthrushes, Silver-eared Mesia, Streaked Spiderhunter, Javan Cuckooshrike, Fire-tufted Barbet, Everett’s White-eye, Pygmy and Streaked Wren-Babbler, Mountain Fulvetta, Golden Babbler, Black-eared and Blyth’s Shrike-Babbler, Maroon Woodpecker, Greater and Lesser Yellownape, and Great Hornbill.

Our last day was a special treat, as we went to the stakeout for one of Malaysia’s five endemics, and one of the finest at that. Mountain Peacock-Pheasant is a usually skulking and not-often-encountered denizen of highland forest trails, where its status is vulnerable. Being able to set up a hide and being so close to them was a real treat. We also had Buff-breasted Babblers and in the surrounding forest picked up Pin-striped Tit-Babbler, Grey-rumped Treeswift, Orange-breasted Trogon, and Puff-backed Bulbul.

From here we went to the Genting Highlands, where we drove to the top to visit the fog-laden slopes for a short while. We encountered a nice group of Bar-throated Minla and eventually drew out a Striped Wren-Babbler. We also found a nice pair of Large Niltava and were constantly serenaded by the song of Mountain Tailorbird.

We ended up back in Kuala Lumpur for the night before we continued on this mammoth journey through Southeast Asia.

Halmahera

Our Halmahera leg began with a morning flight from Makassar on Sulawesi to the town of Ternate. From here we caught a boat across to the main island, where we loaded up and drove to our lodge. We spotted Willie Wagtails right out of the gates, and we made several stops over the next three hours as we made our way to the lodge. Beach Kingfisher in a small patch of coastal mangroves was nice, and the Pied Imperial Pigeon in the same spot was a bonus. The phone wires were roosts for Blue-and-white and Sombre Kingfishers and a Brush Cuckoo. We encountered both Metallic and Moluccan Starlings along the way, and a brief stop in a remote area gave us great looks at Moluccan Cuckooshrike, Violet-necked Lory, Spotted Kestrel, and Moluccan Flycatcher. We also enjoyed some amazing scope views of Oriental Hobby before we arrived at our lodge.

We had three glorious days exploring the surrounding forests and open woodlands here, amassing an impressive list of endemics like Moluccan Hanging Parrot, Cream-throated White-eye, Drab Whistler, Dusky Brown Oriole, Cinnamon-bellied and Spectacled Imperial Pigeons, plus Scarlet-breasted, Grey-headed and Blue-capped Fruit Doves, Halmahera Flowerpecker, Ivory-breasted Pitta, Long-billed Crow, Rufous-bellied Triller, Halmahera Cuckooshrike, Paradise-crow, Halmahera Swiftlet, White Cockatoo, Goliath Coucal, White-streaked and Dusky Friarbirds, and White-naped Monarch. The night birds were great too, with Moluccan Owlet-Nightjar within feet of us, as well as Moluccan Scops Owl plus a large group of foraging Large-tailed Nightjars circling overhead just as it got dark.

One morning we spent at the lek of a group of Standardwings that was attended by five females. The males put on quite a spectacle, flashing wings and standards while also diving from branch to branch and doing parachute flights, the entire time calling back and forth with loud screams, squawks, cackles, and any number of unmusical sounds. It was a truly marvelous spectacle to take in.

Other great birds that were not endemic but not less enjoyable were plenty of Blyth’s Hornbill, White-bellied Cuckooshrike, Shining Flycatcher, Northern Golden Bulbul, Moustached Treeswift, Eclectus and Red-cheeked Parrots, Chattering Lory, Red-flanked Lorikeet, Common Sacred Kingfisher, Common Cicadabird, Pale-vented Bush Hen, and a pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds that had made their nest in a small tree next to the dining area of our lodge. We enjoyed watching the pair bring food to their pair of chicks, but for one day only, to find the nest empty the next day when the chicks had fledged.

Sulawesi

Our trip around this four-pronged island began in the north east at Tangkoko, where we spent a few days picking up some of the local endemics and specialties like Bay Coucal, Red-bellied Pitta, Red-backed Thrush, Ochre-bellied Boobook, Sulawesi Babbler, White-rumped Cuckooshrike, Great-billed, Lilac, Green-backed, and Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfishers, Moluccan Scops Owl, Grosbeak Starling, White-necked Myna, Sulawesi Nightjar, Purple-winged Roller, Sulawesi Hornbill, Great and Pygmy Hanging Parrots, and Ashy Woodpecker.

From here we traveled to Bogani Nani Wartabone on the central Minahassa Peninsula. We started off our first morning stopping by a known breeding site for Maleo, a mound builder that lays its eggs in the warm volcanic soil here. After locking down that bird we continued to bird the forest and edge habitat, picking up Yellow-billed Malkoha, Black-naped Fruit Dove, White-rumped Triller, Rusty-breasted Cuckoo, Sulawesi Serpent Eagle, and the mega Blue-faced Rail.

We spent a day at Bogani Nani Wartabone, picking up some more great species like Barred Buttonquail, Pied Cuckooshrike, White-faced Dove, Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher, Oberholser’s Fruit Dove, Barred Rail, Isabelline Bush Hen, Speckled Boobook, and Spotted Harrier.

The next day we birded along the valley back towards Kotamobagu, finding Sulawesi Goshawk, Grey-sided Flowerpecker, Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle, Sulawesi Myzomela, Sulawesi Hornbill, and Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove. We also did a little night birding in some palm groves for Sulawesi Masked Owl.

The next morning saw us climbing up Gunung Ambang, and the slope forest here gave us Rusty-bellied Fantail, Chestnut-backed Bush Warbler, Spot-tailed Sparrowhawk, Sulphur-vented Whistler, Sulawesi Leaf Warbler, and Red-eared Fruit Dove. The star up here was great looks at Sombre Pigeon.

We also spent another morning in hill country at Gunung Mahawu, where we picked up several of the previous species, but a large group of Mountain White-eye was new, along with Citrine Canary-Flycatcher, Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker, Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher, and improved looks at Sulawesi Myzomela, Sulphur-vented Whistler, and Sulawesi Babbler, to name a few.

We ended up back in Manado, where we caught our flights to Makassar and onto Palu for the night.

The next day we began the drive to Lore Lindu. We did stop along the way in some open areas for Pale-headed Munia, White-shouldered Triller and Lemon-bellied White-eye.

Once in the park we set up our packed lunch and watched the birds roll in: Pygmy Cuckooshrike, Sulawesi Drongo, Streak-headed White-eye, Turquoise Flycatcher, Blue-fronted Blue Flycatcher, Malia and Little Pied Flycatcher.

We spent several mornings and afternoons birding along the road, where we picked up Maroon-backed Whistler, Hylocitrea, Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher, Dark-eared Myza, Piping Crow, Sulawesi Thrush, Citrine Lorikeet, Purple-bearded Bee-eater, Sulawesi Cicadabird, Spot-tailed Sparrowhawk, Golden-mantled Racket-tail, Cerulean Cuckooshrike, and Snowy-browed Flycatcher.

We also hiked up the Anaso track to the helipad and camped one night, which gave us the chance to get up to some higher ground, where we found Mountain Serin, Geomalia, Satanic Nightjar, Dwarf Sparrowhawk, and White-eared Myza.

The night birding was good with the aforementioned Satanic Nightjar, which we had found on day roosts, but also with Sulawesi Nightjar and Cinnabar Boobook. The last morning Minahassa Masked Owl woke us with its screaming calls, and on the way back to Palu we stopped for day-roosting Savanna Nightjars.

Trip Lists

E = endemic H = heard only L = Leader only

Singapore Species List

 (Leader only in Singapore)

1          Changeable Hawk-Eagle

2          Red-legged Crake

3          Pink-necked Green Pigeon

4          Chestnut-bellied Malkoha

5          Little Bronze Cuckoo

6          Banded Bay Cuckoo

7          Plaintive Cuckoo

8          Grey-rumped Treeswift

9          Glossy Swiftlet

10        Germain’s Swiftlet

11        Asian Palm Swift

12        Stork-billed Kingfisher

13        White-throated Kingfisher

14        Collared Kingfisher

15        Blue-tailed Bee-eater

16        Lineated Barbet

17        Banded Woodpecker

18        Laced Woodpecker

19        Common Flameback

20        Common Iora

21        Black-naped Oriole

22        Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

23        Malaysian Pied Fantail

24        House Crow

25        Straw-headed Bulbul

26        Black-headed Bulbul

27        Olive-winged Bulbul

28        Cream-vented Bulbul

29        Asian Red-eyed Bulbul

30        Spectacled Bulbul

31        Buff-vented Bulbul

32        Pacific Swallow

33        Dark-necked Tailorbird

34        Chestnut-winged Babbler

35        Pin-striped Tit-Babbler

36        Short-tailed Babbler

37        Common Hill Myna

38        Javan Myna

39        Common Myna

40        Oriental Magpie-Robin

41        Olive-backed Sunbird

42        Crimson Sunbird

 

Borneo Species List

 

1          Philippine Megapode

2          Red-breasted Partridge E

3          Chestnut-necklaced Partridge E

4          Crimson-headed Partridge E H

5          Crested Fireback

6          Great Argus

7          Wandering Whistling Duck

8          Storm’s Stork

9          Yellow Bittern

10        Cinnamon Bittern

11        Striated Heron

12        Javan Pond Heron

13        Eastern Cattle Egret

14        Purple Heron

15        Great Egret

16        Little Egret

17        Pacific Reef Heron

18        Lesser Frigatebird

19        Christmas Island Frigatebird

20        Great Frigatebird

21        Oriental Darter

22        Crested Honey Buzzard

23        Bat Hawk

24        Black-winged Kite

25        Brahminy Kite

26        White-bellied Sea Eagle

27        Lesser Fish Eagle

28        Grey-headed Fish Eagle

29        Crested Serpent Eagle

30        Mountain Serpent Eagle

31        Crested Goshawk

32        Black Eagle

33        Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle

34        Changeable Hawk-Eagle

35        Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle

36        Wallace’s Hawk-Eagle

37        White-fronted Falconet

38        White-breasted Waterhen

39        White-browed Crake

40        Buff-banded Rail

41        Watercock

42        Purple Swamphen

43        Common Moorhen

44        Common Greenshank

45        Grey-tailed Tattler

46        Malaysian Plover

47        Common Sandpiper

48        Common Tern

49        Black-naped Tern

50        Bridled Tern

51        Common Ringed Plover

52        Rock Dove

53        Spotted Dove

54        Little Cuckoo-Dove

55        Common Emerald Dove

56        Zebra Dove

57        Little Green Pigeon

58        Pink-necked Green Pigeon

59        Thick-billed Green Pigeon

60        Large Green Pigeon

61        Green Imperial Pigeon

62        Grey Imperial Pigeon

63        Mountain Imperial Pigeon

64        Pied Imperial Pigeon

65        Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot

66        Blue-rumped Parrot

67        Long-tailed Parakeet

68        Greater Coucal

69        Lesser Coucal

70        Raffles’s Malkoha

71        Chestnut-breasted Malkoha

72        Black-bellied Malkoha

73        Banded Bay Cuckoo

74        Plaintive Cuckoo

75        Moustached Hawk-Cuckoo

76        Mantanani Scops Owl

77        Barred Eagle-Owl

78        Buffy Fish Owl

79        Brown Wood Owl

80        Sunda Frogmouth

81        Blyth’s Frogmouth

82        Malaysian Eared Nightjar

83        Large-tailed Nightjar

84        Grey-rumped Treeswift

85        Whiskered Treeswift

86        Glossy Swiftlet

87        Mossy-nest Swiftlet

88        Black-nest Swiftlet

89        Edible-nest Swiftlet

90        Brown-backed Needletail

91        Asian Palm Swift

92        House Swift

93        Red-naped Trogon

94        Scarlet-rumped Trogon

95        Oriental Dollarbird

96        Rufous-collared Kingfisher

97        Stork-billed Kingfisher

98        Ruddy Kingfisher H

99        Collared Kingfisher

100      Blue-eared Kingfisher

101      Rufous-backed Kingfisher

102      Red-bearded Bee-eater

103      Blue-throated Bee-eater

104      Bushy-crested Hornbill

105      Oriental Pied Hornbill

106      Black Hornbill

107      Rhinoceros Hornbill

108      Helmeted Hornbill

109      White-crowned Hornbill

110      Wrinkled Hornbill

111      Wreathed Hornbill

112      Golden-whiskered Barbet

113      Red-throated Barbet

114      Golden-naped Barbet

115      Blue-eared Barbet

116      Brown Barbet

117      Rufous Piculet

118      Grey-and-buff Woodpecker

119      Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker

120      White-bellied Woodpecker

121      Banded Woodpecker

122      Common Flameback

123      Greater Flameback

124      Maroon Woodpecker

125      Orange-backed Woodpecker

126      Rufous Woodpecker

127      Buff-rumped Woodpecker

128      Buff-necked Woodpecker

129      Whitehead’s Broadbill E

130      Banded Broadbill

131      Black-and-yellow Broadbill

132      Blue-headed Pitta E

133      Bornean Banded Pitta E H

134      Blue-banded Pitta E

135      Black-crowned Pitta E

136      Hooded Pitta

137      Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike

138      Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike

139      Rufous-winged Philentoma

140      Bornean Bristlehead E

141      White-breasted Woodswallow

142      Common Iora

143      Green Iora

144      Lesser Cuckooshrike

145      Pied Triller

146      Fiery Minivet

147      Grey-chinned Minivet

148      Scarlet Minivet

149      Bornean Whistler E

150      Blyth’s Shrike-babbler

151      Dark-throated Oriole

152      Black-and-crimson Oriole

153      Ashy Drongo

154      Bronzed Drongo

155      Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

156      White-throated Fantail

157      Malaysian Pied Fantail

158      Spotted Fantail

159      Black-naped Monarch

160      Asian Paradise Flycatcher

161      Crested Jay

162      Black Magpie

163      Bornean Green Magpie E

164      Bornean Treepie E

165      Slender-billed Crow

166      Bornean Bulbul E

167      Pale-faced Bulbul E

168      Yellow-vented Bulbul

169      Olive-winged Bulbul

170      Cream-vented Bulbul

171      Asian Red-eyed Bulbul

172      Spectacled Bulbul

173      Ochraceous Bulbul

174      Grey-cheeked Bulbul

175      Yellow-bellied Bulbul

176      Hairy-backed Bulbul

177      Buff-vented Bulbul

178      Streaked Bulbul

179      Cinereous Bulbul

180      Barn Swallow

181      Pacific Swallow

182      Yellow-bellied Warbler

183      Mountain Tailorbird

184      Sunda Bush Warbler

185      Bornean Stubtail E

186      Mountain Leaf Warbler

187      Yellow-breasted Warbler

188      Yellow-bellied Prinia

189      Dark-necked Tailorbird

190      Rufous-tailed Tailorbird

191      Ashy Tailorbird

192      Chestnut-backed Scimitar Babbler

193      Grey-throated Babbler

194      Chestnut-rumped Babbler

195      Chestnut-winged Babbler

196      Bold-striped Tit-Babbler E

197      Fluffy-backed Tit-Babbler

198      Brown Fulvetta

199      Black-throated Wren-Babbler E

200      Mountain Wren-Babbler E

201      Abbott’s Babbler

202      Horsfield’s Babbler

203      Short-tailed Babbler

204      Sooty-capped Babbler

205      Rufous-crowned Babbler

206      White-chested Babbler

207      Striped Wren-Babbler

208      Black-capped Babbler

209      Sunda Laughingthrush

210      Chestnut-hooded Laughingthrush E

211      Chestnut-crested Yuhina E

212      Pygmy White-eye E

213      Mountain Blackeye E

214      Black-capped White-eye

215      Everett’s White-eye

216      Asian Fairy-bluebird

217      Velvet-fronted Nuthatch

218      Asian Glossy Starling

219      Common Hill Myna

220      Bornean Whistling Thrush E

221      Fruithunter E L

222      White-browed Shortwing

223      Oriental Magpie-Robin

224      White-rumped Shama E

225      Rufous-tailed Shama L

226      Bornean Forktail E

227      White-crowned Forktail

228      Eyebrowed Jungle Flycatcher E

229      Snowy-browed Flycatcher

230      Little Pied Flycatcher

231      Dark-sided Flycatcher

232      Verditer Flycatcher

233      Indigo Flycatcher

234      Large-billed Blue Flycatcher

235      Malaysian Blue Flycatcher

236      Greater Green Leafbird

237      Lesser Green Leafbird

238      Bornean Leafbird E L

239      Yellow-rumped Flowerpecker E

240      Yellow-vented Flowerpecker

241      Orange-bellied Flowerpecker

242      Black-sided Flowerpecker E

243      Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

244      Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

245      Plain Sunbird

246      Brown-throated Sunbird

247      Purple-naped Sunbird

248      Van Hasselt’s Sunbird

249      Olive-backed Sunbird

250      Crimson Sunbird

251      Temminck’s Sunbird

252      Little Spiderhunter

253      Thick-billed Spiderhunter

254      Long-billed Spiderhunter

255      Yellow-eared Spiderhunter

256      Bornean Spiderhunter E

257      Whitehead’s Spiderhunter E

258      Eurasian Tree Sparrow

259      Dusky Munia

260      Chestnut Munia

261      Red Avadavat

Peninsular Malaysia Species List

1          Crested Fireback

2          Mountain Peacock-Pheasant E

3          Great Argus

4          Milky Stork

5          Asian Openbill

6          Black-crowned Night Heron

7          Striated Heron

8          Eastern Cattle Egret

9          Grey Heron

10        Purple Heron

11        Great Egret

12        Little Egret

13        Western Osprey

14        Bat Hawk

15        White-bellied Sea Eagle

16        Lesser Fish Eagle

17        Crested Serpent Eagle

18        Black Eagle

19        Changeable Hawk-Eagle

20        Blyth’s Hawk-Eagle

21        Black-thighed Falconet

22        White-breasted Waterhen

23        Purple Swamphen

24        Common Moorhen

25        Barred Buttonquail

26        Red-wattled Lapwing

27        Pacific Golden Plover

28        Oriental Pratincole

29        Greater Painted-snipe

30        Common Sandpiper

31        Wood Sandpiper

32        Little Stint

33        Long-toed Stint

34        Common Snipe

35        Swinhoe’s Snipe

36        Pin-tailed Snipe

37        Rock Dove  

38        Spotted Dove

39        Barred Cuckoo-Dove

40        Little Cuckoo-Dove

41        Common Emerald Dove

42        Zebra Dove

43        Little Green Pigeon

44        Pink-necked Green Pigeon

45        Thick-billed Green Pigeon

46        Green Imperial Pigeon

47        Mountain Imperial Pigeon

48        Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot

49        Blue-rumped Parrot

50        Greater Coucal

51        Raffles’s Malkoha

52        Chestnut-breasted Malkoha

53        Black-bellied Malkoha

54        Green-billed Malkoha

55        Little Bronze Cuckoo

56        Banded Bay Cuckoo

57        Plaintive Cuckoo

58        Rusty-breasted Cuckoo

59        Sunda Cuckoo

60        Oriental Bay Owl

61        Spotted Wood Owl

62        Brown Wood Owl

63        Collared Owlet

64        Collared Scops Owl

65        Large Frogmouth

66        Malaysian Eared Nightjar

67        Large-tailed Nightjar

68        Savanna Nightjar

69        Grey-rumped Treeswift

70        Glossy Swiftlet

71        Edible-nest Swiftlet

72        Germain’s Swiftlet

73        Silver-rumped Spinetail

74        Brown-backed Needletail

75        Asian Palm Swift

76        Cinnamon-rumped Trogon

77        Scarlet-rumped Trogon

78        Orange-breasted Trogon

79        Oriental Dollarbird

80        Stork-billed Kingfisher

81        White-throated Kingfisher

82        Collared Kingfisher

83        Blue-banded Kingfisher

84        Blue-eared Kingfisher

85        Common Kingfisher

86        Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher

87        Red-bearded Bee-eater

88        Blue-tailed Bee-eater

89        Blue-throated Bee-eater

90        Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

91        Bushy-crested Hornbill

92        Oriental Pied Hornbill

93        Black Hornbill

94        Great Hornbill

95        Rhinoceros Hornbill

96        Helmeted Hornbill

97        Plain-pouched Hornbill

98        Fire-tufted Barbet

99        Lineated Barbet

100      Golden-whiskered Barbet

101      Red-throated Barbet

102      Black-browed Barbet

103      Yellow-crowned Barbet

104      Blue-eared Barbet

105      Coppersmith Barbet

106      Brown Barbet

107      Grey-and-buff Woodpecker

108      Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker

109      Banded Woodpecker

110      Checker-throated Woodpecker

111      Greater Yellownape

112      Lesser Yellownape

113      Crimson-winged Woodpecker

114      Laced Woodpecker

115      Common Flameback

116      Greater Flameback

117      Maroon Woodpecker

118      Buff-rumped Woodpecker

119      Buff-necked Woodpecker

120      Great Slaty Woodpecker

121      Green Broadbill

122      Black-and-red Broadbill

123      Banded Broadbill

124      Black-and-yellow Broadbill

125      Dusky Broadbill

126      Malayan Banded Pitta

127      Garnet Pitta

128      Blue-winged Pitta

129      Golden-bellied Gerygone

130      Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike

131      Black-winged Flycatcher-shrike

132      Large Woodshrike

133      Rufous-winged Philentoma

134      Maroon-breasted Philentoma

135      White-breasted Woodswallow

136      Common Iora

137      Green Iora

138      Javan Cuckooshrike

139      Lesser Cuckooshrike

140      Pied Triller

141      Fiery Minivet

142      Grey-chinned Minivet

143      Scarlet Minivet

144      Mangrove Whistler

145      Brown Shrike

146      Long-tailed Shrike

147      Tiger Shrike

148      White-bellied Erpornis

149      Blyth’s Shrike-babbler

150      Black-eared Shrike-babbler

151      Dark-throated Oriole

152      Black-naped Oriole

153      Black-and-crimson Oriole

154      Ashy Drongo

155      Bronzed Drongo

156      Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo

157      Hair-crested Drongo

158      Greater Racket-tailed Drongo

159      White-throated Fantail

160      Pied Fantail

161      Black-naped Monarch

162      Asian Paradise Flycatcher

163      Crested Jay

164      Black Magpie

165      Common Green Magpie

166      House Crow

167      Slender-billed Crow

168      Large-billed Crow

169      Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher

170      Sultan Tit

171      Straw-headed Bulbul

172      Black-headed Bulbul

173      Black-crested Bulbul

174      Puff-backed Bulbul

175      Stripe-throated Bulbul

176      Yellow-vented Bulbul

177      Olive-winged Bulbul

178      Streak-eared Bulbul

179      Cream-vented Bulbul

180      Asian Red-eyed Bulbul

181      Spectacled Bulbul

182      Finsch’s Bulbul

183      Ochraceous Bulbul

184      Grey-cheeked Bulbul

185      Yellow-bellied Bulbul

186      Hairy-backed Bulbul

187      Buff-vented Bulbul

188      Mountain Bulbul

189      Streaked Bulbul

190      Ashy Bulbul

191      Barn Swallow

192      Pacific Swallow

193      Striated Swallow

194      Pygmy Wren-babbler

195      Yellow-bellied Warbler

196      Mountain Tailorbird

197      Mountain Leaf Warbler

198      Yellow-breasted Warbler

199      Yellow-bellied Prinia

200      Common Tailorbird

201      Dark-necked Tailorbird

202      Ashy Tailorbird

203      Grey-throated Babbler

204      Chestnut-rumped Babbler

205      Black-throated Babbler

206      Chestnut-winged Babbler

207      Rufous-fronted Babbler

208      Golden Babbler

209      Pin-striped Tit-Babbler

210      Brown Fulvetta

211      Mountain Fulvetta

212      Streaked Wren-Babbler

213      Abbott’s Babbler

214      Short-tailed Babbler

215      Moustached Babbler

216      Sooty-capped Babbler

217      Scaly-crowned Babbler

218      Rufous-crowned Babbler

219      White-chested Babbler

220      Ferruginous Babbler

221      Buff-breasted Babbler

222      Black-capped Babbler

223      Chestnut-capped Laughingthrush

224      Black Laughingthrush

225      Malayan Laughingthrush E

226      Oriental White-eye

227      Everett’s White-eye

228      Asian Fairy-bluebird

229      Blue Nuthatch

230      Asian Glossy Starling

231      Common Hill Myna

232      Jungle Myna

233      Common Myna

234      Oriental Magpie-Robin

235      White-rumped Shama

236      Chestnut-naped Forktail

237      White-crowned Forktail

238      Slaty-backed Forktail

239      Rufous-chested Flycatcher

240      Snowy-browed Flycatcher

241      Little Pied Flycatcher

242      Verditer Flycatcher

243      Malaysian Blue Flycatcher

244      Mangrove Blue Flycatcher

245      Rufous-browed Flycatcher

246      Yellow-vented Flycatcher

247      Large Niltava

248      Greater Green Leafbird

249      Blue-winged Leafbird

250      Orange-bellied Leafbird

251      Yellow-breasted Flowerpecker

252      Crimson-breasted Flowerpecker

253      Orange-bellied Flowerpecker

254      Fire-breasted Flowerpecker

255      Scarlet-backed Flowerpecker

256      Ruby-cheeked Sunbird

257      Brown-throated Sunbird

258      Purple-naped Sunbird

259      Black-throated Sunbird

260      Crimson Sunbird

261      Little Spiderhunter

262      Long-billed Spiderhunter

263      Spectacled Spiderhunter

264      Grey-breasted Spiderhunter

265      Streaky-breasted Spiderhunter

266      Streaked Spiderhunter

267      Eurasian Tree Sparrow

268      Baya Weaver

269      White-rumped Munia

270      Scaly-breasted Munia

271      Tricolored Munia

272      White-headed Munia

273      Java Sparrow

274      Forest Wagtail

Sulawesi and Halmahera Species List

1          Maleo  E

2          Dusky Megapode E H

3          Sunda Teal    

4          Nankeen Night Heron          

5          Striated Heron          

6          Javan Pond Heron   

7          Eastern Cattle Egret

8          Great Egret   

9          Pacific Reef Heron   

10        Eastern Osprey         

11        Brahminy Kite          

12        Gurney’s Eagle         

13        Sulawesi Serpent Eagle E

14        Sulawesi Goshawk E

15        Spot-tailed Sparrowhawk E

16        Variable Goshawk   

17        Dwarf Sparrowhawk E

18        Rufous-bellied Hawk-Eagle

19        Sulawesi Hawk-Eagle E

20        Spotted Kestrel         

21        Oriental Hobby         

22        Isabelline Bush-hen E

23        Pale-vented Bush-hen          

24        Barred Rail   

25        Buff-banded Rail     

26        Blue-faced Rail E

27        Common Sandpiper 

28        Wood Sandpiper      

29        Rufous-necked Stint

30        Spotted Dove

31        Slender-billed Cuckoo-Dove E

32        White-faced Dove E

33        Stephan’s Emerald Dove     

34        Zebra Dove   

35        Nicobar Pigeon         

36        Pink-necked Green Pigeon  

37        Grey-cheeked Green Pigeon            E

38        Red-eared Fruit Dove E

39        Oberholser’s Fruit Dove E

40        Scarlet-breasted Fruit Dove E

41        Superb Fruit Dove   

42        Blue-capped Fruit Dove E

43        Grey-headed Fruit Dove E

44        Black-naped Fruit Dove      

45        White-bellied Imperial Pigeon E H

46        Grey-headed Imperial Pigeon E

47        Green Imperial Pigeon        

48        Spectacled Imperial Pigeon E

49        Cinnamon-bellied Imperial Pigeon  E

50        Pied Imperial Pigeon

51        Silver-tipped Imperial Pigeon E

52        Sombre Pigeon E

53        White Cockatoo E

54        Great Hanging Parrot E

55        Moluccan Hanging Parrot    E

56        Pygmy Hanging Parrot E

57        Violet-necked Lory E

58        Ornate Lorikeet E

59        Citrine Lorikeet E

60        Chattering Lory       

61        Red-flanked Lorikeet          

62        Red-cheeked Parrot 

63        Yellow-breasted Racket-tail E

64        Golden-mantled Racket-tail E

65        Great-billed Parrot  

66        Blue-backed Parrot  

67        Eclectus Parrot         

68        Goliath Coucal E

69        Bay Coucal E

70        Lesser Coucal           

71        Yellow-billed Malkoha E

72        Black-billed Koel E H

73        Little Bronze Cuckoo           

74        Brush Cuckoo          

75        Rusty-breasted Cuckoo       

76        Minahassa Masked Owl E

77        Sulawesi Masked Owl E

78        Sulawesi Scops Owl E

79        Moluccan Scops Owl E

80        Ochre-bellied Boobook E

81        Cinnabar Boobook E

82        Speckled Boobook E

83        Moluccan Owlet-Nightjar E

84        Satanic Nightjar E

85        Great Eared Nightjar          

86        Large-tailed Nightjar           

87        Sulawesi Nightjar E

88        Savanna Nightjar     

89        Moustached Treeswift         

90        Grey-rumped Treeswift      

91        Glossy Swiftlet          

92        Halmahera Swiftlet E

93        Sulawesi Swiftlet E

94        Uniform Swiftlet      

95        House Swift   

96        Purple-winged Roller E

97        Oriental Dollarbird  

98        Green-backed Kingfisher E

99        Lilac Kingfisher E

100      Great-billed Kingfisher E

101      Ruddy Kingfisher    

102      Sombre Kingfisher E

103      Collared Kingfisher 

104      Beach Kingfisher     

105      Blue-and-white Kingfisher E

106      Sacred Kingfisher    

107      Sulawesi Dwarf Kingfisher E

108      Purple-bearded Bee-eater E

109      Blue-tailed Bee-eater

110      Rainbow Bee-eater   

111      Sulawesi Hornbill E

112      Knobbed Hornbill E

113      Blyth’s Hornbill        

114      Sulawesi Pygmy Woodpecker E

115      Ashy Woodpecker E

116      Ivory-breasted Pitta E

117      Red-bellied Pitta       

118      Dark-eared Myza E

119      White-eared Myza E

120      Sulawesi Myzomela E

121      White-streaked Friarbird E

122      Dusky Friarbird E

123      White-breasted Woodswallow        

124      Ivory-backed Woodswallow E

125      Moluccan Cuckooshrike E

126      Cerulean Cuckooshrike E

127      Pied Cuckooshrike E

128      White-rumped Cuckooshrike E

129      White-bellied Cuckooshrike

130      Pygmy Cuckooshrike E

131      Halmahera Cuckooshrike E

132      Common Cicadabird           

133      Sulawesi Cicadabird E

134      White-rumped Triller E

135      White-shouldered Triller E

136      Rufous-bellied Triller E

137      Maroon-backed Whistler E

138      Black-chinned Whistler E H

139      Sulphur-vented Whistler E

140      Drab Whistler E

141      Dusky-brown Oriole E

142      Black-naped Oriole  

143      Hair-crested Drongo

144      Sulawesi Drongo E

145      Spangled Drongo     

146      Willie Wagtail           

147      Rusty-bellied Fantail             E

148      Black-naped Monarch         

149      Moluccan Monarch E

150      White-naped Monarch E

151      Moluccan Flycatcher E

152      Shining Flycatcher   

153      Piping Crow E

154      Long-billed Crow E

155      Paradise-Crow E

156      Standardwing E

157      Hylocitrea E

158      Citrine Canary-flycatcher   

159      Sooty-headed Bulbul

160      Northern Golden Bulbul     

161      Malia E

162      Barn Swallow           

163      Pacific Swallow        

164      Mountain Tailorbird

165      Arctic Warbler         

166      Sulawesi Leaf Warbler E

167      Oriental Reed Warbler        

168      Chestnut-backed Bush Warbler     

169      Gray’s Grasshopper Warbler         

170      Golden-headed Cisticola      

171      Sulawesi Babbler E

172      Streak-headed White-eye E

173      Cream-throated White-eye E

174      Mountain White-eye

175      Lemon-bellied White-eye E

176      Black-crowned White-eye E

177      Metallic Starling       

178      Asian Glossy Starling           

179      Moluccan Starling E

180      Short-tailed Starling 

181      White-necked Myna  E

182      Fiery-browed Starling E

183      Grosbeak Starling E

184      Geomalia E

185      Red-backed Thrush E

186      Sulawesi Thrush E

187      Great Shortwing E H

188      Pied Bush Chat        

189      Grey-streaked Flycatcher    

190      Snowy-browed Flycatcher  

191      Rufous-throated Flycatcher E H

192      Little Pied Flycatcher           

193      Turquoise Flycatcher           

194      Sulawesi Blue Flycatcher E

195      Blue-fronted Blue Flycatcher E

196      Yellow-sided Flowerpecker E

197      Crimson-crowned Flowerpecker E

198      Halmahera Flowerpecker E

199      Grey-sided Flowerpecker E

200      Brown-throated Sunbird     

201      Black Sunbird          

202      Olive-backed Sunbird          

203      Eurasian Tree Sparrow       

204      Black-faced Munia E

205      Chestnut Munia       

206      Pale-headed Munia E

207      Eastern Yellow Wagtail       

208      Mountain Serin         

Birding Tour Bhutan: The Himalayas and Black-necked Crane Trip Report

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Birding Tour Bhutan: The Himalayas and Black-necked Crane

Trip Report 1 – 12 November 2015

By Duan Biggs

Overview

Bhutan, “the Land of the Thunder Dragon”, is an awe-inspiring place to bird. Birding amidst its spectacular scenery and ancient Buddhist dzongs is an experience relished by all who undertake it. Our November tour targets White-bellied Heron, one of the world’s rarest birds, as well as the overwintering Black-necked Crane. We had brilliant views of both of these key targets. Bhutan is fantastic for pheasants, and all participants enjoyed great views of Himalayan Monal, Blood Pheasant, and the more common Kalij Pheasant on this tour. The much sought-after Satyr Tragopan is a species that is much more likely to be seen on our spring tour to Bhutan (Spring in the Eastern Himalayas 2016). On this tour, however, we only got close to a vocalizing individual. In addition, our itinerary is designed to include sites of the range-restricted Beautiful Nuthatch (we had brief guide-only views only on this trip, unfortunately). Moreover, on this November 2015 tour we were treated to sterling views of Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler and an unexpected group of Himalayan Cutia. More than one sighting of the elusive migratory Maroon-backed Accentor was also a bonus.

Day 1. Arrival

Due to scheduling problems with Druk Air, this time our Bhutan tour started by entering “the Land of the Thunder Dragon” by flying into Bagdogra in north-east India and entering through the border town of Phuentsholing. Unfortunately, as often happens in the subcontinent, our flight to Bagdogra was delayed by two hours. When we did get there the birding started straight away! In the Bagdogra parking lot we had our first Jungle Mynas and Pied Mynas. This was followed soon thereafter with the petite, yet attractive Coppersmith Barbet. En route out of the rapidly-expanding city of Siliguri, which is served by the Bagdogra airport, a Vernal Hanging Parrot jetted over. Much better views of this species were to be had later by those who came on the Assam extension. The Siliguri traffic frustratingly thwarted our progress, so we did not get to some good patches of lowland forest until after dark. However, we did enjoy sightings of the lowland Red-naped Ibis and our first stunning Rufous Treepie.

Day 2. Ascending into the Himalayas

We had an early start exploring the birdlife along the banks of a tributary of the Torsa River. We became more familiar with some of the delightful, widespread birds in this part of the world, including both male and female Oriental Magpie-Robin and the noisy Alexandrine Parakeet. The photographers in the group were particularly elated by a Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, which perched up close. Groups of Oriental White-eyes are also a pleasure to see.

It was time for border proceedings. Bhutan has decided to become more formal with the process, which meant more time in the customs office and therefore unfortunately less time birding. Still, Bhutanese border officials are of the friendliest in the world, and once formalities were complete we were on the road to Gedu and then on to Thimpu. With ongoing development and growth in Bhutan the road was busier than I recall from a few years ago. The scenery and the birding were, however, still mind-boggling!

An early stop at a bird party had us very excited by the electrically-colored Common Green Magpie. In a tree nearby were our first Grey Treepies. A bird party (or wave, as they are also called in this part of the world) moved into the tree above the van. This included our first Common Iora and our first of many groups of vividly-colored Scarlet Minivets. A little higher up into Bhutan a group of aerial feeders contained both Asian House Martin and Blyth’s Swift. We screeched to a halt around a mountain bend for a bird of prey that turned out to be a Booted Eagle – a rare species in Bhutan.

We ascended higher still into the fresh mountain air, where we were treated to our first Crested Goshawk. We were about to head off when our local guide Gyeltshen, who is always on the scan, drew our attention to a bird party that held our first group of Blue-winged Minlas. Here we also had our first Whiskered Yuhina and Yellow-bellied Fantail nearby. Our Eastern Himalayan birding had begun in earnest!

Our next stop was at a flowering cherry tree that harbored much activity. Here we were treated to both the dazzling Fire-tailed Sunbird as well as the colorful Green-tailed species. White-naped Yuhina was added to the list, and the attractive Rufous Sibia was already becoming known to all tour participants as a “trash bird”, since it is an abundant species in Bhutan.

As the afternoon wore on the birds became quieter, but we were not done yet.  We worked hard to try and get everyone onto a group of the very skulky Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush. The Chestnut-crowned is one of the more common laughingthrush species in Bhutan, but it was our first laughingthrush and generated great excitement. Finally we arrived at a crisp Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan.

Day 3. The Himalayas lit up in all their birding splendor

In the icy morning air at 5 a.m. we hit the road to the Dochula Pass. The new giant golden Buddha that sits on the ridge above the capital city was lit up and therefore quite a sight in the darkness of early morning mist. We arrived at the top of the Dochula Pass as the sun was rising.

The glorious Eastern Himalayas were spectacularly lit up by the early morning sun. Here we enjoyed some espresso coffee and breakfast before the birding kicked in. It was not long before Fabio got onto our first flock of White-winged Grosbeaks, which flew past. After breakfast we were treated to our first group of adorable little White-browed Fulvettas, our first Black-faced Laughingthrush, as well as our first good looks at the common but very impressive Blue Whistling Thrush. Most of us agreed that “Giant Blue Thrush” would be a more apt name for this species.

It was time to make our way down the eastern slope of Dochula. Unfortunately, the roadworks here (as in many parts of Bhutan at the time of our tour) are negatively affecting the forest habitat and therefore the birding. Nevertheless, lots of spectacular birding is still to be had. We kicked off with a group of brightly-colored, regal-looking Yellow-billed Blue Magpies. Soon thereafter a large bird wave was picked up in the distance. Between the many Whiskered Yuhinas and Blue-winged Minlas we got onto our first Hoary-throated Barwing, Rufous-breasted Accentor, and Bar-throated Minla. Fabio and Elsie managed to pick out a stunning Golden-breasted Fulvetta in this active bird wave.

Our next stop was the Lamperi Royal Botanical Park a little lower down. Once again the sight delighted all. Not long after arrival we got onto our first Dark-breasted Rosefinch. Our first Rusty-flanked Treecreeper also caused a lot of excitement, but not as much as the first looks at Spotted Laughingthrush, which came soon thereafter.  The upper end of the gardens contains healthy stands of bamboo and borders some lovely montane forest. Along a fern-covered stream we were all treated to spectacular close-up views of the tiny Scaly-breasted Wren-babbler. After we all relished this little skulker we moved on and picked up Slaty-blue Flycatcher. A Brown Parrotbill was vocalizing from the bamboo stand higher up, but frustratingly only some of us managed a fleeting glimpse. Fortunately, we were all treated to much better views later on in the trip. The pond in the gardens held Tufted Duck, and just before we left we were treated to our first Mountain Hawk-Eagle.

It was time to make our way to Punakha, but not before enjoying the aptly-named Great Barbet and more good views of Grey Treepie. Once again, however, we were not yet done. In the dying moments of daylight we ground to a halt once more to enjoy an exquisite pair of both Little and Spotted Forktails at a stream crossing. What a way to end the day!

Day 4. White-bellied Heron 

We started with another 5 a.m. breakfast on a cool but beautifully misty Himalayan morning. Then we headed out to our special site on the Po Chu River for one of the world’s rarest birds: White-bellied Heron. It was an active morning and, with so much about, it was challenging to stay focused on our heron search…

Our first stop was for a Crested Kingfisher perched down in the Po Chu River. A scan in the area produced good views of White-throated Kingfisher as well as our first Plumbeous Water Redstart. But he action had just begun. Barely two seconds later came the shout of Brown Dipper. We descended closer to the river onto the sandbanks of the Po Chu for better looks and photos of the dippers. The views were indeed great. But not as great as the two Ibisbills they swam towards, which were feeding between boulders in the river and hidden from view higher up. Wow!  Gyeltshen had to drag us away by force to get to our heron stakeout.

We arrived at our special spot, and we had hardly started searching when John nonchalantly said that he had found the heron.  We all enjoyed great views through the scope of White-bellied Heron, before it did a stunning fly-by on the way to another feeding area. What a morning!

We moved onto a little village higher upstream, where we added the delightful Black-winged Cuckooshrike to our list, as well as Little Bunting, Scaly-breasted Munia, and our first of very many Hodgson’s Redstarts.

We returned past the exquisite Punakha Dzong up the Mo Chu River to the eastern section of Jigme Dorji National Park. We stopped to enjoy a group of 12 Ruddy Shelducks feeding in the Mo Chu River below. Soon thereafter we came to a stop for a Grey Wagtail feeding in the road. Some bird activity led us up the creek to a vocalizing Chestnut-headed Tesia. We entered into a small patch of forest, and here we were treated not only to the tesia but also to Speckled Piculet and the startlingly attractive Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush.

Sadly we had to tear ourselves away from this party of birds back to the van. The day had started warming up, and the wind had picked up a little – not ideal birding conditions. Nevertheless, the next bird party we stopped for turned out to be a real monster of a bird wave. Everyone was treated to great looks at the stunning Rufous-winged Fulvetta. This wave also treated us to Rufous-capped Babbler, the electrifyingly-blue Small Niltava, and that stunning Seicercus warbler – the Chestnut-crowned Warbler.

It was onwards to our lunch stop at a beautiful creek and campsite. After some scratching about we managed to get views of the elegantly-colored Slaty-backed Forktail.

Our afternoon session was quiet, and it was time to head back to the Punakha Dzong for a cultural visit, but not before stopping for an Asian Barred Owlet that Elsie picked up on the way. This spectacular dzong dates back to the early 1600s and is both Bhutan’s second-oldest dzong and its second-largest. It was a fitting way to end another great birding day in the Himalayas of Bhutan.

Day 5. Honeyguide and Myzornis time!

It was another very early start as the mist was rising from the Mo Chu River below. Our first stop was Gyeltshen’s stakeout for a Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler. We started off walking down to the river, where we enjoyed a large flock Little Buntings. The scimitar babbler started calling not long thereafter. We walked in its direction, and in no time at all we were all treated to exquisite views and photos of this cracking bird.

Next, we headed up to the Pele La Pass in cool, overcast conditions. At the bottom of the pass we enjoyed our first group of Black Bulbuls – very elegantly-colored indeed. Higher up the pass we encountered a tremendous wave of activity. Our stop here produced Mountain Bulbul, great views of Golden-throated Barbet for all, as well as the attractive Grey-headed Woodpecker. We followed the party up the slope on foot, where we were treated to a pair of Verditer Flycatchers. The party was not yet over, and some of us could not stop clicking our cameras as an Orange-bellied Leafbird landed nearby.

Once again Gyeltshen had to drag us away. We stopped at some bird parties on the way up but did not encounter new species. As we came around a bend with a small cliff on the right, Gyeltshen shouted “Stop. Yellow-rumped Honeyguide!” We all bundled out of the van and enjoyed great views of this special bird. While we were enjoying the honeyguide a Mountain Hawk-Eagle flew very close by, providing us with amazing views.

With all this action it was difficult to get ourselves to enjoy the morning tea our other local guide, Thinley, and our driver, Tej, had prepared. When we finally got to enjoy our morning coffee and tea, another wave of bird activity struck up. Bhutan Laughingthrush! Until a few years ago this species had been considered to be a subspecies of the Streaked Laughingthrush. Also in the party were our first White-tailed Nuthatch and Buff-barred Warbler. But that was not all. A group of petite, but very strikingly marked Black-throated Bushtits joined the fray. Then it was finally back in the van and upwards.

Only for a while, thought. Oh bother! We had encountered a traffic jam due to the muddy conditions during road construction, and all the cars on this mountain pass had stopped. We decided to make the most of the situation and hopped out of the van. Fortunately, we happened to be near a flowering cherry tree. We scanned the tree, and in no time picked up on Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird and our first of those east Himalayan gems – Fire-tailed Myzornis. It was a traffic jam to remember!

Soon after the myzornis the traffic started moving slowly again. Higher up the pass the rain started falling. Despite this we tried hard for Ward’s Trogon, but with no success. This species is certainly harder to find amidst the disturbance of all the road construction. Before lunch, however, we did get onto Rusty-flanked Treecreeper.

We enjoyed a scrumptious lunch in the oddly-named town of Nubding while it was pouring with rain outside. After lunch it was upwards again into the cold, misty pass. As we entered into the Phobjika Valley we stopped for some yaks, of which everyone enjoyed taking photos. Lower down into the valley we had more Black-faced Laughingthrushes as well as great looks at Spotted Laughingthrush. Before darkness set in we added Coal, Grey Crested, and Rufous-vented Tits to our list and later a group of Brown Bullfinches in poor light.

We arrived at our lovely warm cabins, where we enjoyed great food with some Bhutanese Druk 11000 beer. During dinner our Brazilian contingent thought it would be a good idea if automakers started naming their vehicle models after bird families. We considered this for a while over dinner: Mercedes Minivet, Toyota Tapaculo, Nissan Niltava, Citroen Coot… Maybe it will catch on?

The Black-necked Cranes that we come to the Phobjika Valley to see on our November tours had not yet arrived. They were over two weeks late! We hoped that as we slept the first bird would arrive.

Day 6. East to Trongsa

We started at 5:30 a.m. with a hearty breakfast that included pancakes and honey. As the sun rose and we looked over the valley we saw that there still were no cranes yet. We did, however, find our other targets that included a flock of Oriental Skylarks, which after some time offered great views. While the skylarks fed below, a huge flock of Red-billed Choughs filled the crisp morning air above. Next a Hen Harrier swooped low over the valley, offering grand views to all, while a Paddyfield Pipit was also on show. A crane arriving would certainly have completed the picture, but it was not be. Luckily we had a crafty plan to secure this species later on our tour.

We returned to the top of the Pele La Pass at 3390m. On the way up we first had fog and then light rain. When we stopped at the top we decided to give it a try and start walking down the old pass track in the light rain. The rain turned into sleet and snow, but we continued, because birds were moving. We had groups of White-browed Fulvetta, and Red-headed Bullfinch was calling in the distance. As we descended, walking down the old pass, the weather improved. A bird party near the old pass delivered both Dark-rumped and Dark-breasted Rosefinches. At around 9 a.m. Gyeltshen sprinted towards us from below, where he had been exploring: Himalayan Monal! We continued down and saw first a female and then a male in the improving morning light. Wow! But we were not done. A little lower down the old pass Fabio and Joao reported hearing a strange call. We followed it up, and it turned out to be a Satyr Tragopan. We spent the next two hours skulking this sought-after bird. It came closer to the road, and we tried different positions and angles to try and see it. At one point it sounded like it had crossed the road, but we still had not seen it. Tragopans are notoriously hard to see outside of the breeding season. After a long session of trying for visuals, without success, it sadly was time to move on. But then we enjoyed stunning close-up views and got great pictures of Alpine Accentors on the way back up the old pass. At the top of the pass Joao got stunning pictures of a nearby Spotted Laughingthrush. And here we also had a flock of Plain Mountain Finches.

We started descending the east slope, where birding was quiet. We ground to a halt for an Upland Buzzard, and a little later for three Steppe Eagles. Many in the group had seen Steppe Eagles before in the arid savannas of southern Africa, and seeing them in the cold, wet Himalayas as well was quite something.

The mist set in again, and then it started raining. With the muddy roads under construction it really was tough going. In the late afternoon we stopped for a Yellow-rumped Honeyguide above the road and also had Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher. Once again our afternoon birding was rather quiet overall, and we arrived at Trongsa at 7 p.m. for a welcome dinner.

Day 7. Zhemgang!

It was another early start in Trongsa with a 5:30 a.m. breakfast. It was worth it, though; the birding from the get-go was mind-boggling. First up, a Long-billed Thrush flew off the side of the road and then perched, offering good views from the van. Next we were treated to an enormous flock of attractive White-throated Laughingthrushes that crossed the road in front of us. A little later we stopped at a bird party, which provided fantastic views of the delightful Small Niltava for everyone in the group, and a skulking Chestnut-headed Tesia provided good views to some. We managed to get some cracking views of a vocalizing Spotted Elachura in the dark forest undergrowth. As we got back into the van after the elachura we screeched to a halt almost immediately as a Kalij Pheasant crossed the road in front of us. We could not relocate the pheasant, but we did get onto a pair of gaudy Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers at the same spot, as well as more Rufous-gorgeted Flycatchers.

It was time to cross a rather hair-raising section of roadworks by the Empire Construction Company on the road to Zhemgang. With a drop-off of over 100 meters and vehicles traveling both ways on this very narrow cliff-edge road, the group decided to walk for some sections, our nerves could not take it. Tej, our driver, was amazing in navigating such tricky conditions.

Gyeltshen made sure that we could not feel nervous for long, through. Soon we were at his stakeout for the awesome Rufous-necked Hornbill. There we started working through a large wave of Yuhinas and Phylloscopus warblers when Gyeltshen yelled out excitedly: “Hornbills!” We all enjoyed wonderful perched and flying views. After marveling at the hornbills we could get onto the rest of the party and had great views and photographic opportunities of Golden-throated Barbet. A vocalizing Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler came out for some cracking photos.

It was time to move on, since we had a Beautiful Nuthatch stakeout to get to by 3 p.m. A stop for tea a bit later was rewarded with stunning views of Black Eagle. Also numerous Mountain Hawk-Eagles passed by overhead on the way to Zhemgang. As the day warmed up, things quieted down. Unfortunately, our stop for the gaudy Sultan Tit was unsuccessful. Shortly after crossing the river before Zhemgang we screeched to a stop for a perched Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo – what a bird! Now it was onto Zhemgang and straight to the spot for the Beautiful Nuthatch. Upon arrival at our nuthatch stakeout, Thinley started preparing our late lunch.

As we approached the site on foot, a very noisy Bay Woodpecker came out and provided views, but it was time to focus on the nuthatch. After some time Gyeltshen came running; he had located a pair. We ran up, but when we arrived it was too late, all that was left was a pair of White-tailed Nuthatches. It was starting to get cool, and Duan and Sarah walked back to the van parked a few hundred meters away and found a pair of perched Blue-bearded Bee-eaters. More effort around the nuthatch tree produced Lesser Yellownape, but no more Beautiful Nuthatches.

We continued down to our tented camp and a very pleasant dinner. A Collared Owlet was calling upon our arrival, but we could not see it or attract it into view. After dinner we enjoyed a night walk in the montane forests, which delivered yellow-throated marten, an attractive mammal species, and then later a vocalizing Mountain Scops Owl.

Day 8. Cutias, Liocichlas, and Sultan Tits

It was another very early start with a 5 a.m. breakfast in our camp and a 5:30 a.m. departure. We spotted a small owl on the way back up to the nuthatch stakeout, but it got away before we could get onto it.  When we arrived at the nuthatch stakeout the Bay Woodpecker was still around and noisy, but the nuthatch was sadly nowhere to be found. Duan tried scouting up the road with part of the group, while the remainder stayed, observing the nuthatch tree. It was not long until Fabio shouted out. A strange bird he saw needed to be checked in the field guide. Very quickly he worked out that they were a group of Himalayan Cutia. Wow! They hung around for long enough for all to come and enjoy a good look.

The next stop was a stakeout for the Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler. Unfortunately, progress was marred by fog and then heavy rain. Yet we persisted and were suitably rewarded. While we were chasing after a vocalizing Grey-sided Bush Warbler, two dark birds flew into the undergrowth nearby in the rain. Red-faced Liocichla! The rain became heavier and heavier, and the liocichlas disappeared out of view. It really was time to return to the van.

As we descended the weather started to improve, and the birding became more and more impressive. First we added the impressive Black-headed Shrike-babbler to our list. This was followed by a Great Hornbill flying in the distance in the valley below. Time for morning tea had arrived. While we were enjoying our coffee and biscuits we added Black-throated Prinia to our lists, and after some effort Blue-winged Laughingthrush was also briefly visible to some.

After morning tea we continued down towards the small town of Tingtibi. The weather continued to improve, and we stumbled upon a bird wave of astonishing proportions. Here we really did not know where to look. Short-billed and Grey-chinned Minivets were feeding in the canopy above, while in the mid-stratum our first White-bellied Erpornis (previously Yuhina), more Black-headed Shrike-babblers, and Chestnut-crowned and Yellow-vented Warblers were feeding. The most exciting of all in this party, though, was our first Sultan Tit. What an outlandish-looking, gaudy bird!

We made further stops as we descended that produced our first exquisitely-colored Rufous-bellied Niltava, Slaty-backed Forktail, and our first White-throated Bulbuls. A Hair-crested Drongo got away before most of the group could get onto it, Grey-throated Babbler showed well to all, and Golden Babbler was its normal skulking self and was very hard to see.

We descended further down towards Tingtibi, and along the river just above the town, with Gyeltshen’s expert local knowledge, we managed to get onto Streaked Spiderhunter (brief views) and some aptly-named Black-crested Bulbuls. The star of the Tingtibi show was most certainly a group of very noisy Rufous-necked Laughingthrushes. They came right onto a road and offered stunning views and photo opportunities for all.

On the long and spectacular road back to Trongsa we heard White-crested Laughingthrush more than once but never got visuals. We did, however, find large groups of Striated Yuhina. A late afternoon stop produced Black-hooded Oriole, Lemon-rumped Warbler, and a range of minlas, of which we all enjoyed more views. Our drive back to Trongsa included passing through the construction cliff-edge site – by this time everyone had realized how good a driver Tej was, and no one felt the need to walk ahead of the van again…

Day 9. Black-necked Cranes at last!

We started bright and early in Trongsa for the long road to Thimpu. It is normally about a seven-hour drive, but with all the road construction it was now ten hours or more. Thanks to great driving by Tej we still had some good time for birding on the way.

As the sun’s rays passed into the Himalayan valleys larges flocks of White-throated Laughingthrush started crossing the road. It was not long before we screeched to a halt for our first Speckled Wood Pigeon. A stop at a bird party produced our first Green Shrike-babbler in a party with Whiskered and Stripe-throated Yuhinas and Whistler’s Warblers. Luckily on this day we had fewer roadwork stops than expected, and we used them for taking photos of the stunning Bhutanese landscapes. Our morning tea stop in a bamboo patch failed to deliver any new species, but we did get onto a Crested Honey Buzzard that at first was perched and then took off and flew directly past us for really great views.

Gyeltshen had told us the day before that the cranes had started arriving in good numbers – finally!  Thus we took a detour to the Phobjika Valley on the way to Thimpu.  The sun was shining into the valley, and Black-necked Cranes were calling and feeding. What a sight! We enjoyed great scope views and a hearty lunch while looking over the Phobjika Valley and the cranes. After the cranes it was time to give Ward’s Trogon a go again, but without success. We tried a number of sites and walked into the forest both up and down the Dochula Pass. The mid-afternoon lull had unfortunately set in. A pair of barking deer (northern red muntjac) was the highlight. We arrived at the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong as the sun was setting. Here we enjoyed a wonderfully warm cup of coffee and ginger tea at a nearby restaurant before taking the road to our hotel in Thimpu.

Day 10. Takins and Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler

We started early in a crisp Thimpu, and thankfully the sunshine from the day before continued. Gyeltshen took us to his first stakeout, a spot for the Black-tailed Crake. What felt like two minutes after arrival Thinley flushed one, and soon thereafter, with the help of some playback, it came into full view for all of us. On our way back to the van a Peregrine Falcon zipped over.

The crake in the bag, with a bonus peregrine, it was time to hit the road to the part of Jigme Dorji National Park that lies in the Cheri Chhu valley. We had seen the Yellow-rumped Honeyguide numerous times by the time we arrived, so we did not have to spend time on it at its normal stakeout. Instead we worked the track that heads up to the stupa. It was very active here, including Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Himalayan White-browed Rosefinch (Fabio only), and Lemon-rumped Warbler. Duan picked up on Brown Parrotbill calling, and it was not long until everyone had cracking views of this enigmatic bird.

We moved on, and before we could get to the van a flock of adorable little Rufous-fronted Bushtits came to feed in the tree where the van had been parked. We continued to the entrance of the park proper, where we parked to start walking. Fabio and Joao very quickly got onto some Yellow-billed Blue Magpies close-in for photography. Hardly had they started photographing when Gyeltshen shouted out a flock of Snow Pigeons. After a while and over morning coffee/tea we all enjoyed good flight views of these lovely pigeons.

We then moved on to enjoy the track heading towards the high mountains. A Rufous-breasted Bush Robin feeding on the side of a small cliff came as a delightful surprise to all of us. We moved on and heard some White-collared Blackbirds calling, but we could not get onto them visually. But we did manage to get great views of Hoary-throated Barwing and got some stunning photographs. We thought it was time to move on and leave the barwings behind. Frederick was onto a bird creeping around the undergrowth, and we watched it for a while to see what it was. When it came into view we could not believe our luck: Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler! It put on a fantastic show for the next 30 minutes, and all of us enjoyed cracking views and took some mind-boggling photos of this awe-inspiring bird.

It was time to return to Thimpu. We took some photos of the Tashichho Dzong in Thimpu and then visited the nearby takin breeding program to enjoy views of this bizarre goat-antelope. Spotted and White-throated Laughingthrushes were feeding below the takins. Then we went into Thimpu for a scrumptious Bhutanese lunch, which was followed by some shopping.

After shopping was complete we moved to the sewage works just outside of Thimpu. Here we added Common Sandpiper to our trip list, and we also saw a strange pochard. We thought it might be a vagrant Baer’s, but after much reflection and evaluating photos we decided on an odd-looking Common Pochard. Then we were off to the river near Paro, where Solitary Snipe had been recorded before. Unfortunately there were too many dogs and construction disturbance, and so we had no luck with the snipe. We did, however, pick up on a giant flock of Russet Sparrows.

Soon it was time to head to our wonderful hotel in the crisp evening air of Paro. After a delightful dinner we were off to bed for a 5 a.m. start for pheasants the following morning.

Day 11. The Blood Pheasants of Chele La

It was rather crisp as we departed at 4:30 a.m., and it became crisper as we gained altitude. The ground was white with frost. It was worth bearing the cold and the early rise, though. Not long after arriving at Gyeltshen’s stakeout for Blood Pheasants, Tej spotted a group. We all enjoyed lovely views and then attempted to sneak up on them for photos with some success. Red Crossbills started calling above, but we could not see them.

It was time to hit the top of Chele La Pass at nearly 4000m altitude. From the top we had lovely views of Snow Pigeons in flight and also had great scope views of them feeding on the ground. As we walked down we got onto both male and female White-throated Redstart, and good views of Himalayan White-browed Rosefinch and White-winged Grosbeak were had by everyone.  We walked down the western slope of the Chele La Pass, and it was rather quiet. We finally did get onto a large flock that included Grey Crested, Rufous-naped, and Coal Tits, as well as more Himalayan White-browed Rosefinches and the ubiquitous high-altitude White-browed Fulvetta.

Then it was back down to the eastern slope and the shed for tea. Here another moving party included a stunning male Dark-rumped Rosefinch, which puffed himself up in the morning sun for some great photos.

We moved farther down, and at around 11 a.m. Frederick headed off in a taxi to take the afternoon to hike up to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

The rest of us continued finding more groups of tits and added Goldcrest to our list. We enjoyed a relaxing packed lunch in a forest clearing. Not long after lunch some more tit parties, but then our attention was drawn to some strange, dark birds that took off from the forest floor. After some time Duan got a fix on one: Maroon-backed Accentor! After some time everyone got onto this exquisite but elusive accentor. Lower down we finally found a male Kalij Pheasant. This was our first of many groups of this attractive and confiding species. In between enjoying and photographing the many Kalij Pheasants in the late afternoon, we managed to dig out a male and female Golden Bush Robin.

We returned to our hotel for an evening of festive drinks with Gyeltshen, Tej, and Thinley to celebrate an unforgettable tour of Bhutan packed with cracking birds!

Day 12. Tiger’s Nest Monastery and Departure

On our last morning, Frederick and Joao left early for their flights home. The remainder of us, who were on the Assam extension, went to the trailhead for the walk up to the legendary Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Here we tried hard for Darjeeling Woodpecker, but without success. It was a pleasant and peaceful last morning in Bhutan. But then it was time to say our sad goodbyes to Thinley, Gyeltshen, and Tej and get our flight to Guwahati on the plains of Assam for the Assam extension (Birding Tour India: Bhutan Extension – Assam November 2016).

 

BHUTAN NOVEMBER 2015 BIRD LIST
Status: NT – Near-threatened, VU = Vulnerable, CE – Critically Endangered
Common Name (IOC 5.4)Scientific Name (IOC 5.4)Trip
ANSERIFORMES
Ducks, Geese and SwansAnatidae
Ruddy ShelduckTadorna ferruginea1
GadwallAnas strepera1
Tufted DuckAythya fuligula1
Common PochardAythya ferina1
GALLIFORMES
Pheasants and alliesPhasianidae
Blood PheasantIthaginis cruentus1
Satyr Tragopan – NTTragopan satyraH
Himalayan MonalLophophorus impejanus1
Kalij PheasantLophura leucomelanos1
PELECANIFORMES
Ibises, SpoonbillsThreskiornithidae
Red-naped IbisPseudibis papillosa1
Herons, BitternsArdeidae
Indian Pond HeronArdeola grayii1
Eastern Cattle EgretBubulcus coromandus1
Grey HeronArdea cinerea1
White-bellied Heron – CEArdea insignis1
Little EgretEgretta garzetta1
SULIFORMES
CormorantsPhalacrocoracidae
Great CormorantPhalacrocorax carbo1
ACCIPITRIFORMES
OspreysPandionidae
Western OspreyPandion haliaetus1
Kites, Hawks and EaglesAccipitridae
Crested Honey BuzzardPernis ptilorhynchus1
Upland BuzzardButeo hemilasius1
Black KiteMilvus migrans1
Himalayan Vulture – NTGyps himalayensis1
Crested Serpent EagleSpilornis cheela1
Booted EagleHiraaetus pennatus1
Steppe EagleAquila nipalensis1
Hen HarrierCircus cyaneus1
Crested GoshawkAccipiter trivirgatus1
GRUIFORMES
Rails, Crakes and CoorsRallidae
Black-tailed CrakePorzana bicolor1
CranesGruidae
Black-necked Crane – VUGrus nigricollis1
CHARADRIIFORMES
IbisbillIbidorhynchidae
IbisbillIbidorhyncha struthersii1
PloversCharadriidae
River Lapwing – NTVanellus duvaucelii1
Red-wattled LapwingVanellus indicus1
Sandpipers, SnipesScolopacidae
Common SandpiperActitis hypoleucos1
COLUMBIFORMES
Pigeons, DovesColumbidae
Rock DoveColumba livia1
Snow PigeonColumba leuconota1
Speckled Wood PigeonColumba hodgsonii1
Oriental Turtle DoveStreptopelia orientalis1
Eurasian Collared DoveStreptopelia decaocto1
Spotted DoveSpilopelia chinensis1
Barred Cuckoo-DoveMacropygia unchall1
Wedge-tailed Green PigeonTreron sphenurus1
STRIGIFORMES
OwlsStrigidae
Mountain Scops OwlOtus spilocephalusH
Asian Barred OwletGlaucidium cuculoides1
APODIFORMES
SwiftsApodidae
Himalayan SwiftletAerodramus brevirostris1
House SwiftApus nipalensis1
Blyth’s SwiftApus leuconyx1
CORACIIFORMES
KingfishersAlcedinidae
Common KingfisherAlcedo atthis1
Crested KingfisherMegaceryle lugubris1
White-throated KingfisherHalcyon smyrnensis1
Bee-eatersMeropidae
Blue-bearded Bee-eaterNyctyornis athertoni1
Chestnut-headed Bee-eaterMerops leschenaulti1
BUCEROTIFORMES
HoopoesUpupidae
Eurasian HoopoeUpupa epops1
HornbillsBucerotidae
Great Hornbill – NTBuceros bicornis1
Rufous-necked Hornbill – VUAceros nipalensis1
PICIFORMES
Asian BarbetsMegalaimidae
Great BarbetPsilopogon virens1
Golden-throated BarbetPsilopogon franklinii1
Blue-throated BarbetPsilogogon asiaticus1
Coppersmith BarbetPsilopogon haemacephalus1
HoneyguidesIndicatoridae
Yellow-rumped Honeyguide – NTIndicator xanthonotus1
WoodpeckersPicidae
Speckled PiculetPicumnus innominatus1
Rufous-bellied WoodpeckerDendrocopos hyperythrus1
Lesser YellownapePicus chlorolophus1
Grey-headed WoodpeckerPicus canus1
Himalayan FlamebackDinopium shorii1
Bay WoodpeckerBlythipicus pyrrhotis1
FALCONIFORMES
Caracaras, FalconsFalconidae
Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus1
PSITTACIFORMES
Old World ParrotsPsittaculidae
Alexandrine Parakeet – NTPsittacula eupatria1
Vernal Hanging ParrotLoriculus vernalis1
PASSERIFORMES
IorasAegithinidae
Common IoraAegithina tiphia1
CuckooshrikesCampephagidae
Black-winged CuckooshrikeCoracina melaschistos1
Grey-chinned MinivetPericrocotus solaris1
Long-tailed MinivetPericrocotus ethologus1
Short-billed MinivetPericrocotus brevirostris1
Scarlet MinivetPericrocotus speciosus1
ShrikesLaniidae
Brown ShrikeLanius cristatus1
Long-tailed ShrikeLanius schach1
Grey-backed ShrikeLanius tephronotus1
Vireos, GreenletsVireonidae
White-bellied ErpornisErpornis zantholeuca1
Black-headed Shrike-babblerPteruthius rufiventer1
Green Shrike-babblerPteruthius xanthochlorus1
Figbirds, OriolesOriolidae
Black-hooded OrioleOriolus xanthornus1
DrongosDicruridae
Bronzed DrongoDicrurus aeneus1
Lesser Racket-tailed DrongoDicrurus remifer1
Hair-crested DrongoDirurus hottentotus1
FantailsRhipiduridae
White-throated FantailRhipidura albicollis1
Crows, JaysCorvidae
Eurasian JayGarrulus glandarius1
Yellow-billed Blue MagpieUrocissa flavirostris1
Common Green MagpieCissa chinensis1
Rufous TreepieDendrocitta vagabunda1
Grey TreepieDendrocitta formosae1
Spotted NutcrackerNucifraga caryocatactes1
Red-billed ChoughPyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax1
House CrowCorvus splendens1
Large-billed CrowCorvus macrorhynchos1
Fairy FlycatchersStenostiridae
Yellow-bellied FantailChelidorhynx hypoxantha1
Grey-headed Canary-flycatcherCulicicapa ceylonensis1
Tits, ChickadeesParidae
Rufous-vented TitPeriparus rubidiventris1
Coal TitPeriparus ater1
Grey Crested TitLophophanes dichrous1
Green-backed TitParus monticolus1
Yellow-cheeked TitMachlolophus spilonotus1
Yellow-browed TitSylviparus modestus1
Sultan TitMelanochlora sultanea1
LarksAlaudidae
Oriental SkylarkAlauda gulgula1
BulbulsPycnonotidae
Striated BulbulPycnonotus striatus1
Black-crested BulbulPycnonotus flaviventris1
Red-vented BulbulPycnonotus cafer1
White-throated BulbulAlophoixus flaveolus1
Mountain BulbulIxos mcclellandii1
Ashy BulbulHemixos flavala1
Black BulbulHypsipetes leucocephalus1
Swallows, MartinsHirundinidae
Nepal House MartinDelichon nipalense1
Asian House MartinDelichon dasypus1
Wren-babblersPnoepygidae
Scaly-breasted Wren-babblerPnoepyga albiventer1
Pygmy Wren-babblerPnoepyga pusilla1
Cettia Bush Warblers and alliesCettiidae
Black-faced WarblerAbroscopus schisticeps1
Grey-sided Bush WarblerCettia brunnifronsH
Slaty-bellied TesiaTesia oliveaH
Chestnut-headed TesiaTesia castaneocoronata1
BushtitsAegithalidae
Black-throated BushtitAegithalos concinnus1
Rufous-fronted BushtitAegithalos ioschistos1
Leaf Warblers and alliesPhylloscopidae
Tickell’s Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus affinis1
Buff-barred WarblerPhylloscopus pulcher1
Ashy-throated WarblerPhylloscopus maculipennis1
Lemon-rumped WarblerPhylloscopus chloronotus1
Yellow-browed WarblerPhylloscopus inornatus1
Greenish WarblerPhylloscopus trochiloides1
Yellow-vented WarblerPhylloscopus cantator1
Grey-hooded WarblerPhylloscopus xanthoschistos1
Hume’s Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus humei1
White-spectacled WarblerSeicercus affinis1
Chestnut-crowned WarblerSeicercus castaniceps1
Whistler’s WarblerSeicercus whistleri1
Cisticolas and alliesCisticolidae
Black-throated PriniaPrinia atrogularis1
Common TailorbirdOrthotomus sutorius1
BabblersTimaliidae
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus erythrogenys1
White-browed Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus schisticeps1
Streak-breasted Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus ruficollis1
Slender-billed Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus superciliaris1
Rufous-capped BabblerStachyridopsis ruficeps1
Grey-throated BabblerStachyris nigriceps1
Golden BabblerStachyridopsis chrysaea1
Fulvettas, Ground BabblersPellorneidae
Rufous-winged FulvettaAlcippe castaneceps1
Nepal FulvettaAlcippe nipalensis1
LaughingthrushesLeiothrichidae
White-crested LaughingthrushGarrulax leucolophusH
Rufous-chinned LaughingthrushGarrulax rufogularis1
Spotted LaughingthrushGarrulax ocellatus1
White-throated LaughingthrushGarrulax albogularis1
Rufous-necked LaughingthrushGarrulax ruficollis1
Striated LaughingthrushGarrulax striatus1
Bhutan LaughingthrushTrochalopteron imbricatum1
Blue-winged LaughingthrushTrochalopteron squamatum1
Scaly LaughingthrushTrochalopteron subunicolor1
Black-faced LaughingthrushTrochalopteron affine1
Chestnut-crowned LaughingthrushTrochalopteron erythrocephalum1
Himalayan CutiaCutia nipalensis1
Blue-winged MinlaMinla cyanouroptera1
Bar-throated MinlaMinla strigula1
Red-tailed MinlaMinla ignotincta1
Red-faced LiocichlaLiocichla phoenicea1
Hoary-throated BarwingActinodura nipalensis1
Red-billed LeiothrixLeiothrix lutea1
Rufous SibiaHeterophasia capistrata1
Sylviid BabblersSylviidae
Fire-tailed MyzornisMyzornis pyrrhoura1
Golden-breasted FulvettaLioparus chrysotis1
White-browed FulvettaFulvetta vinipectus1
Brown ParrotbillCholornis unicolor1
White-eyesZosteropidae
Striated YuhinaYuhina castaniceps1
White-naped YuhinaYuhina bakeri1
Whiskered YuhinaYuhina flavicollis1
Stripe-throated YuhinaYuhina gularis1
Rufous-vented YuhinaYuhina occipitalis1
Black-chinned YuhinaYuhina nigrimenta1
Oriental White-eyeZosterops palpebrosus1
Goldcrests, KingletsRegulidae
GoldcrestRegulus regulus1
ElachurasElachuridae
Spotted ElachuraElachura formosa1
WrensTroglodytidae
Eurasian WrenTroglodytes troglodytes1
NuthatchesSittidae
Chestnut-bellied NuthatchSitta cinnamoventris1
White-tailed NuthatchSitta himalayensis1
Beautiful Nuthatch – VUSitta formosa1
WallcreeperTichodromidae
WallcreeperTichodroma muraria1
TreecreepersCerthiidae
Hodgson’s TreecreeperCerthia hodgsoni1
Rusty-flanked TreecreeperCerthia nipalensis1
Starlings, RhabdornisSturnidae
Jungle MynaAcridotheres fuscus1
Common MynaAcridotheres tristis1
Pied MynaGracupica contra1
Chestnut-tailed StarlingSturnia malabarica1
ThrushesTurdidae
Long-billed ThrushZoothera monticola1
White-collared BlackbirdTurdus albocinctusH
Chats, Old World FlycatchersMuscicapidae
Lesser ShortwingBrachypteryx leucophrisH
White-browed ShortwingBrachypteryx montana1
Rufous-breasted Bush RobinTarsiger hyperythrus1
Golden Bush RobinTarsiger chrysaeus1
Blue Whistling ThrushMyophonus caeruleus1
Oriental Magpie-RobinCopsychus saularis1
Hodgson’s RedstartPhoenicurus hodgsoni1
White-throated RedstartPhoenicurus schisticeps1
Blue-fronted RedstartPhoenicurus frontalis1
Plumbeous Water RedstartPhoenicurus fuliginosus1
White-capped RedstartPhoenicurus leucocephalus1
White-tailed RobinMyiomela leucuraH
Little ForktailEnicurus scouleri1
Slaty-backed ForktailEnicurus schistaceus1
Spotted ForktailEnicurus maculatus1
Siberian StonechatSaxicola maurus1
Chestnut-bellied Rock ThrushMonticola rufiventris1
Rufous-gorgeted FlycatcherFicedula strophiata1
Ultramarine FlycatcherFicedula superciliaris1
Slaty-blue FlycatcherFicedula tricolor1
Pale Blue FlycatcherCyornis unicolor1
Verditer FlycatcherEumyias thalassinus1
Rufous-bellied NiltavaNiltava sundara1
Large NiltavaNiltava grandis1
Small NiltavaNiltava macgrigoriae1
DippersCinclidae
Brown DipperCinclus pallasii1
LeafbirdsChloropseidae
Golden-fronted LeafbirdChloropsis aurifrons1
Orange-bellied LeafbirdChloropsis hardwickii1
FlowerpeckersDicaeidae
Fire-breasted FlowerpeckerDicaeum ignipectus1
SunbirdsNectariniidae
Mrs. Gould’s SunbirdAethopyga gouldiae1
Green-tailed SunbirdAethopyga nipalensis1
Black-throated SunbirdAethopyga saturata1
Crimson SunbirdAethopyga siparaja1
Fire-tailed SunbirdAethopyga ignicauda1
Streaked SpiderhunterArachnothera magna1
Old World Sparrows, SnowfinchesPasseridae
House SparrowPasser domesticus1
Russet SparrowPasser rutilans1
Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser montanus1
Waxbills, Munias and alliesEstrildidae
Scaly-breasted MuniaLonchura punctulata1
AccentorsPrunellidae
Alpine AccentorPrunella collaris1
Rufous-breasted AccentorPrunella strophiata1
Maroon-backed AccentorPrunella immaculata1
Wagtails, PipitsMotacillidae
Grey WagtailMotacilla cinerea1
White WagtailMotacilla alba1
Paddyfield PipitAnthus rufulus1
Olive-backed PipitAnthus hodgsoni1
FinchesFringillidae
Yellow-breasted GreenfinchChloris spinoides1
Plain Mountain FinchLeucosticte nemoricola1
Dark-breasted RosefinchProcarduelis nipalensis1
Common RosefinchCarpodacus erythrinus1
Dark-rumped RosefinchCarpodacus edwardsii1
Himalayan White-browed RosefinchCarpodacus thura1
Red CrossbillLoxia curvirostra1
Brown BullfinchPyrrhula nipalensis1
Red-headed BullfinchPyrrhula erythrocephala1
White-winged GrosbeakMycerobas carnipes1
Buntings, New World SparrowsEmberizidae
Little BuntingEmberiza pusilla1
TOTAL236