­Bhutan In Spring: Birding the Pristine Forests of the Eastern Himalayas, Set Departure Tour Report April 2023


05 – 28 APRIL 2023

By Dylan Vasapolli

Bhutan in spring report

Beautiful Nuthatch is one of the many sought-after specials we found on our Bhutan tour.


Fabled Bhutan is an isolated country in the Himalayas nestled between India and China. With tourist access strictly controlled and regulated, the country was for all intents and purposes firmly out of bounds to tourists for much of the Covid pandemic period from March 2020 until late 2022.

This tour was initially scheduled to take place during April of 2020, but had to be postponed for several years, and was finally allowed to run during April of 2023, once Bhutan’s borders had opened. This Bhutan set departure birding tour was run solely for a couple, Ron and Ruth, with a few days added on at the start for more cultural-orientated activities. Almost immediately before the tour began, we were dealt with another blow as the land border between Bhutan and India, at Samdrup Jonkhar, was closed. This meant that we could no longer end our tour in Guwahati, India, as intended, and therefore needed to add an extra day to the tour, allowing us to catch a domestic flight from Trashigang back to Paro, where the tour would now end.

This long tour, spanning 24 days took in a long route from Paro in the west of the country, to the Tingtibi lowlands in the central-southern reaches, and all the way to Trashigang in the far east of Bhutan – before returning back to Paro. In addition, the auspicious hike up to the world-famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery, or Taktsang, was a thrilling experience. Travel in the country is generally slow, due to the mixture of superb birding habitat found on the side of major roads (which necessitates time to slowly bird and explore these areas), and the very windy nature of these mountain roads.

Bhutan in spring report

Bhutan is a scenically unbeatable country! Incredible vistas await around almost every bend, and arguably none compare to the incredible Tiger’s Nest Monastery, shown here – perched high up on a rocky ledge.

Despite three years of isolation, and a lack of birding generally around the country during that period, the tour went along reasonably well, with only a few bumps along the way. Birding was excellent, and we netted virtually all of Bhutan’s major birding targets – from the mega Satyr Tragopan and beautiful Himalayan Monal, to denizens like Ibisbill, Fire-tailed Myzornis, Beautiful Nuthatch, Ward’s Trogon and the very rare White-bellied Heron. All in all, over 300 species of birds were seen on this tour. Mammals are decidedly less numerous in Bhutan, and we did well to find a Yellow-throated Marten, along with the stunning Gee’s Golden Langur and enormous Black Giant Squirrel.

Bhutan in spring report

Fire-tailed Myzornis is an uncommon and scarce bird in the country. We did well with several excellent sightings on this tour.

A detailed daily account can be read below, and the full bird and mammal lists are located at the end of the report.

Detailed Report

Day 1, 05th April 2023. Arrival in Paro – Paro Festival and local birding

Following an early arrival into the spectacular Paro airport, we checked into our comfortable hotel for a short rest. Mid-morning came, and saw us heading to the massive Rinpung (Paro) Dzong, where we would enjoy the Paro festival for a while. In between all the dances and stories commemorating this festival, the many Red-billed Choughs that breed in the Dzong kept us company, and some of the quieter sections of the festival held the likes of Chestnut Thrush and Grey-backed Shrike. The Paro Chu (River) also gave us our first River Lapwing, Brown Dipper and Plumbeous Water Redstart. A break over the midday period followed, before we resumed with a more dedicated birding session – as we explored the Paro surrounds. Focusing on the upper reaches of the Paro Chhu (River), we did extremely well to find the scarce Solitary Snipe quietly feeding amongst the rocks, while Green Sandpiper, River Lapwing, White-capped Redstart and Rosy Pipit kept it company. A nearby marshy area delivered a stunning pair of Black-tailed Crakes that put on an excellent show, while the surrounding scrub gave up both Black-throated and Red-throated Thrushes, Hodgson’s Redstart, Russet Sparrow and large numbers of Little Buntings. Content and tired, we settled in for the evening.

Bhutan in spring report

A Black-tailed Crake pops out from the dense cover for a short moment.

Day 2, 06th April 2023. Birding Chele La Pass

The first of many early starts on this tour saw us tackling the winding road heading up to the famous Chele La Pass, outside of Paro. This pass winds up to almost 4000m at the top, and we slowly worked our way up, stopping off at various altitudes to look for different birds. The many different pheasants that can be seen on the pass are arguably the biggest attraction, and would indeed be our main focus. Kalij Pheasant showed extremely well on the lower slopes of the pass, with several pairs feeding quietly on the edge of the road. Satyr Tragopan also occurs along the middle elevations, but was conspicuous only by its absence. Blood Pheasants followed, and were dime a dozen in the upper reaches of the pass, with many birds showing well. Near the top is the realm of the Himalayan Monal, and during our (much-needed) coffee break high up, we heard the distinct call of this beautiful pheasant, and rushed off to try and find it, leaving our coffee behind. As if right on cue, we had a stunning male in the scope feeding in an open gap in the woods, before it climbed a small stump to call once again. We soaked up our amazing views of this incredible bird, before leaving it in peace, and returning back to our cold coffees. Comical Yellow-billed Blue-Magpies roved about at our breakfast stop, while noisy Spotted Nutcrackers called from the tops of the pines. The very top of the pass still had a bit of snow, and here we enjoyed our first laughingthrush – Black-faced Laughtingthrush, as they bounced around. Careful scrutiny of the small shrubs here gave us busy White-browed Fulvettas and a large party of Rufous-vented Yuhinas, while stately Blue-fronted Redstarts were commonly seen. A large flock of Plain Mountain Finches was the last sighting of note, before we started working our way back down to Paro for a midday break. The afternoon was leisurely spent birding around the Paro Chhu (River) slightly further afield from town, and here, we did well to find a pair of the highly sought-after Ibisbills. We spent some time watching these masterfully camouflaged birds (they almost perfectly resemble the rocks they feed within) go about their business, before setting off to try for another highly desired bird, Wallcreeper. We were unsuccessful in our quest for Wallcreeper, but did find the likes of Eurasian Hoopoe, Eurasian Kestrel, Black Bulbul and the beautiful Rufous-breasted Accentor.

Bhutan in spring report

Blood Pheasants feeding in the road were an early tour highlight.

Day 3, 07th April 2023. Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Arguably Bhutan’s biggest tourist attraction is the famous Tigers Nest Monastery, or Taktsang – where many tourists undertake the arduous and steep hike to visit this famous monastery, which is rich in Buddhism. We had the day dedicated to undertaking this hike, and set off in the morning, slowly making our way up the steep trail to get to the monastery. We soaked up this incredible area, making our way back down in the afternoon. Birds are sparse along the way, due to the high volumes of people that walk this path every day, and today was no different with birds thin on the ground. The denser areas lower down held a delightful family of Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers along with Rufous Sibia, which would become one of our regulars on the tour. The pine woods higher up produced numbers of Green-backed Tits, along with a party of Grey-crested Tits. Blyth’s Leaf Warblers were extremely common and a small bird party right near the actual monastery delivered the stunning Mrs. Gould’s Sunbirds and our first minivet – Long-tailed Minivet. A large flock of Blyth’s Swifts wheeled about above the monastery, while we picked up our first Alpine Accentor on the monastery itself. Once back down from the hike, we stopped off to see our Ibisbills again, and tried once more for the Wallcreeper, which eluded us yet again, before calling it a day.

Bhutan in spring report

We enjoyed spending time with the sought-after Ibisbills around Paro – surely the best place in the world to see this species!

Day 4, 08th April 2023. Birding Chele La Pass to Haa

We left our lovely Paro hotel, bound for the culturally-focused Haa valley – the route, however, takes us up and over the Chele La Pass, and we would spend the full morning birding along the pass once again. We did well on Day 2 earlier in the trip, notching up most of the pheasants, and we would focus more of our time on those we missed, like Satyr Tragopan. The mid-elevation pine woods were birdy, and parties of birds kept us entertained. Buff-barred Warblers and Coal Tits dominated, and were occasionally joined by the likes of Long-tailed Minivet, Grey-crested Tit, White-browed Fulvetta, Rufous-vented Yuhina and Goldcrest. We then heard the eerie call of a Satyr Tragopan, unfortunately though, it was deep into the forest and our attempts at finding it were unsuccessful. We refocused and ventured up to the Kila Goenpa Nunnery, set on a rocky ledge above the forest. We had some superb birding here with flocks of Altai Accentors feeding on the ground and parties of boisterous Black-faced Laughingthrushes flitting about. Some careful scanning between the laughingthrushes gave us our first Spotted Laughingthrush – a truly massive bird in comparison! Arguably the main drawcard here was the large flock of Snow Pigeons that frequent the buildings. We spent some time watching these dapper-looking birds and marveled at their beauty. Several other species we were now familiar with were seen as well. We passed over the top of Chele La Pass, taking in the spectacular views and seeing the surrounding peaks, all covered in snow from a late fall. Birding was slow up here, as it was approaching midday, and we pressed onwards down the other side of the pass into Haa. A circling Himalayan Buzzard was the only notable sighting. Following a short rest, we set out to explore the town of Haa, taking a walk along the river. A superb Ibisbill showed well early doors, as did several Brown Dippers and the expected Plumbeous Water and White-capped Redstarts. Little else was seen, though we enjoyed exploring the quaint town.

Bhutan in spring report

Beautiful Snow Pigeons put on a fine show for us.

Day 5, 09th April 2023. Back to Paro

Having enjoyed our time in the Haa valley, today would see us head back up and over the Chele La Pass for the final time, and back into Paro, where we would spend the night. We made sure we were at the top of the pass for the best morning birding, and enjoyed a wealth of activity. Several Blyth’s Swifts were floating overhead, before a Common Kestrel replaced them, followed by a lovely Himalayan Buzzard. Several bird parties were present in the woods, and new birds included Hodgson’s Treecreeper and White-winged Grosbeak. We also enjoyed other familiar species like Grey-crested Tit, Long-tailed Minivet, White-browed Fulvetta and Black-faced Laughingthrush. The rocky ledges at the very top finally delivered some Alpine Accentors. Flowers were starting to come out in the open areas, and this seemed to attract both Rosy and Olive-backed Pipits, with numerous birds feeding in the open fields. After having only managed glimpses before, we finally enjoyed excellent views of a bright male Himalayan Bluetail. Many Large-eared Pikas were dancing around as well. As we slowly made our way back towards Paro, birding stops along the way yielded a showy Green Shirke-babbler and several Ashy Drongos. Near the bottom, we lucked onto a stunning Yellow-throated Marten crossing the road. We checked back into our familiar hotel, and after a short rest, headed off to see if we could find ‘our’ Ibisbills. We were glad to see they hadn’t gone anywhere, and also got to watch them courting one another, which eventually resulted in mating. All the rest of our usuals were seen as well, with delightful River Lapwings, stately Grey-backed Shrikes, bright Chestnut Thrushes and bold Russet Sparrows.

Day 6, 10thApril 2023. Birding Thimpu and Jigme Dorji National Park

We were up and out of Paro nice and early, bound for the country’s capital city, Thimpu. We headed straight for the local sewage works where we added a head of new birds. Several Gadwall were sitting on some of the ponds, and were soon joined by a lone Common Pochard, while several Ruddy Shelduck and a Eurasian Coot frequented another pond. Numbers of both Common and Green Sandpipers were present. The surrounds gave us several stunning Black-throated Thrushes along with a lone White-browed Wagtail feeding amongst the hordes of White Wagtails. We then set off for the Cheri Valley and the lower sections of Jigme Dorji National Park. Our first stop was at a known stakeout for the rare Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, which after a little wait, obliged and gave us some good scope views.

Bhutan in spring report

Yellow-rumped Honeyguide are often seen around colonies of rock bees.

With the change to more broad-leafed forests, away from the coniferous forests we had spent virtually all our time until now, we had another heap of new trip birds come pouring in. A pair of Grey-headed Canary-flycatchers flitted into view, and were chased away by a territorial Rufous-gorgeted Flycatcher. A small flowering tree gave us both Mrs. Gould’s and Green-tailed Sunbirds, and the somewhat drab Yellow-browed Tit. An Alpine Thrush flushed up off the ground and settled high in the trees, and a curious White-tailed Nuthatch came to investigate. Bright Chestnut-crowned Warblers and Rufous-bellied Niltavas were crowd favorites and a group of noisy Whiskered Yuhinas left us wanting a bit more. The very different-looking Moupin Pika was seen as well. After lunch back in Thimpu, we explored the town for a little bit, before taking a visit to the Takin sanctuary on the outskirts of town. Takin is a strange, large goat-like mammal occurring in this part of the Himalayas, and we marveled at these unique animals, though in captivity. As always, there were lots of birds around, and we managed to add a group of shy Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes to our tally, along with enjoying other familiar birds like Long-tailed Minivet, Rufous Sibia and White-throated Laughingthrush.

Day 7, 11th April 2023. Birding Dochula Pass to Punakha

Another early start saw us heading up to the Dochula Pass, and our first bird went to a lovely Kalij Pheasant walking in the road. We started off our birding right at the top, around the temple, just as the sun was rising. Despite us nearly freezing, the birds were up and about, and we started off with a bang, finding one of our targets, Great Parrotbill, within seconds. This is an enormous bird – easily triple the size of most other parrotbills, and it put on quite the incredible show for us, showing at arm’s length. We were then whisked off to search for Fire-tailed Myzornis. We heard them easily, and after a struggle managed our first views of this sought-after bird, though our views did leave a bit to be desired. We stuck it out for a while longer, and were aptly rewarded with stunning looks at a large flock of them. We also picked up our first Stripe-throated Yuhina. We retreated for a warm cup of coffee and breakfast at the restaurant.

Bhutan in spring report

The massive Great Parrotbill was a superb bird to start the day off with.

After having thawed out, we focused our search on Ward’s Trogon. Try as we might, we were unable to find any trogons, but enjoyed numerous other birds as we went about our business. Himalayan Cuckoo played hide and seek with us, but we managed to pry one out without too much difficulty. Our first warbler flock netted us Whistler’s, Lemon-rumped and Grey-hooded Warblers, and also found feeding with them were several Rufous-capped Babblers. Hulking Striated Laughingthrushes showed well, as did both the snazzy Black-faced Warbler and the shy Brown-flanked Bush Warbler. Grey-bellied Tesia refused to show, however, with the bird moving through the vegetation unseen on the edge of the road.

We also spent a bit of time birding the Royal Botanical Park, where we successfully tracked down one of the many calling Large Hawk-Cuckoos. Great Barbets showed well perching in the open, as did a pair of fine Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers. Warbler flocks here contained the same species, along with Ashy-throated and Tickell’s Leaf Warblers, and a busy party of Rufous-winged Fulvettas showed well. A vocal Grey-sided Laughingthrush, a scarce species, left us wanting a bit more. An attempt to see a calling Hill Partridge was completely unsuccessful, however. A stunning Black Eagle also graced us with a flyby.

We broke for lunch in between all the birding, and our afternoon saw us head down the pass into the Punakha valley. A birding stop along the way added a lovely Blue-capped Rock Thrush. In the Punakha valley, a fierce wind was blowing, and we opted to rather head to our hotel and venture out for some late afternoon birding, once the wind had hopefully died down. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen and we braved the wind for a little bit. We found a nice gathering of waterfowl in the river, which included many species – Common and Ruddy Shelducks, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck and Red-crested Pochard were all frolicking about together. Nearby, a Common Merganser was also bobbing away. A stunning Pallas’s Fish Eagle flew over the river, giving us all good views. Tired of the wind, and with sand everywhere, we called it a day and settled in the for the evening.

Day 8, 12th April 2023. White-bellied Heron at Punakha

The main birding target of the Punakha valley is White-bellied Heron. This Critically Endangered bird is, unfortunately, in a very bad way, and fewer than 250 birds are thought to be left in the wild. A few birds roam up and down the river in the Punakha valley, and this is usually the most reliable spot in the country to see this mega bird. Several other birding groups were working the area as well, and it was almost too easy. Word reached us that a bird had been found and we headed off down the river. We arrived and on cue, enjoyed some distant scope views of a lone White-bellied Heron. Thrilled and brimming from ear to ear, we enjoyed watching the bird, before it took flight down the river. A few of us tracked the bird and enjoyed better views. We also broke for coffee here, and came up trumps with a showy Rusty-cheeked Scimitar Babbler and a fine Grey Treepie. We worked the river back to our hotel and found a Small Pratincole along the shoreline.

We had a quick brunch, before resuming our birding – this time, we headed in the opposite direction and up into the magical riverine forests. Skulkers are the order of the day up here, with the ultra-shy Spotted Elachura being one of the main targets, along with several tesias and cupwings. Perhaps by a factor of us being a bit on the later side up here, things were fairly quiet already, and we had a tough time with the skulkers. Slaty-bellied Tesia gave us only the briefest of views, while Scaly-breasted Cupwing left us watching only the vegetation move. Spotted Elachura took a bit more effort to track down, and also only gave us glimpses as it hopped through the dark undergrowth. It wasn’t all bad as we tracked down a stunning Golden-throated Barbet, enjoyed the flashy Hair-crested Drongo, found a bright Small Niltava, saw several Maroon Orioles feeding in a fruiting tree and enjoyed a mixed party of Nepal Fulvetta and Black-chinned Yuhina. A Slaty-backed Forktail on the river left us wanting a bit more, though a Crested Serpent Eagle and a large flock of White-throated Needletails gave us excellent views. Our first Assam Macaques were seen as we were departing. We settled in for lunch back in the Punakha town, and following which, we headed off to what is easily the main non-birding target of Punakha – the incredible Punakha Dzong. We had a superb tour around this magnificent fortress, adding the likes of Crested Kingfisher and Bar-headed Goose from the river in front in the process. The lower altitude valley here also has several more typical lowland species, and we added the likes of the common Red-vented Bulbul, Oriental Magpie-Robin, Asian Koel, White-throated Kingfisher, Eurasian Hoopoe and Chestnut-tailed Starling. Content, we settled in for the evening following a successful day of birding.

Bhutan in spring report

We were extremely privileged to see the now very rare White-bellied Heron.

Day 9, 13th April 2023. Birding Nubding and Pele La Pass

Early morning saw us heading up and out of the Punakha valley en route to Nubding, where we would spend the morning. Our first stop was at a rock bee colony to see if we could find the scarce Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, which duly obliged. Here, we also found a large flock of Speckled Wood Pigeons. The beautiful mossy, broad-leafed forest here is a good site for Ward’s Trogon, and it was our main target. We hunted high and low for several hours, but it was conspicuous only by its absence. An early highlight went to a feeding group of the sought-after Himalayan Cutia, which gave us excellent views! A Barred Cuckoo-Dove gave us a quick, yet good view, while a Large Hawk-Cuckoo perched in the open for ages. The forest was birdy as we went about our search, and we encountered many birds, including Long-tailed Minivet, Whiskered Yuhina, White-tailed Nuthatch, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Ultramarine Flycatcher and Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush. A Grey-bellied Tesia played hide and seek with us, giving us only brief views. We had breakfast in a beautiful clearing with several active Bhutan Laughingthrushes around.

We then headed further up to the Pele La Pass, where we spent some time birding the mixed coniferous woods and rhododendrons at the summit. A fallen tree across the road blocked our progress and basically meant we were unable to get to the site for Satyr Tragopan. We then had to focus on the areas we could access. A large flock of Himalayan Vultures passed low overhead, and some careful scrutiny of them also yielded a stunning Bearded Vulture. Spotted Nutcrackers were common, and many Blue-fronted Redstarts fed in the fields. We finally found a Rufous-vented Tit, amongst the masses of Coal Tits, and enjoyed some great sightings of the shy Grey-sided Bush Warbler, snazzy Bar-throated Minla, bright Fire-tailed Sunbird and busy Red-headed Bullfinches. Unable to do the pass justice due to the fallen tree, we pressed onwards to Trongsa.

Bhutan in spring report

Bar-throated Minla is bird full of colors and attitude.

A few stops on the way added a nesting colony of Nepal House Martins, amongst others, and we arrived in time for a late lunch. Following a short siesta, we headed up the nearby Yotong La Pass for our spell of afternoon birding. The birding was slow to start, but a party of Green-backed Tits brought the area to life, and we soon found ourselves in the middle of an intense bird party. A tiny Green Shrike-babbler hopped into view, followed by a Yellow-bellied Fantail, while some high-pitched calls heralded the arrival of a group of Fire-tailed Myzornis. A mixed flock of noisy Whiskered, Stripe-throated and Rufous-vented Yuhinas were soon joined by an equally rowdy group of Bar-throated Minlas, while some careful watching also gave us our first Red-tailed Minla. It wasn’t close to done, as a vast warbler flock moved in, and we quickly picked up Ashy-throated, Buff-barred, Lemon-rumped, Tickell’s Leaf, Blyth’s Leaf and Whistler’s Warblers. A comical party of Rufous-fronted Bushtits saw the party off. We carried on a little further, coming across a large flock of well over 100 White-throated Laughingthrushes, and also found a perched White-winged Grosbeak. With sunset approaching, we found a few Kalij Pheasants feeding on the edge of the road, and just as it was getting dark, we heard our main target, a Satyr Tragopan calling from way up the hillside. We stuck around until it got dark, with no sighting sadly, and vowed to try again in a few days’ time.

Day 10, 14th April 2023. Birding to Tingtibi

The drive down to Tingtibi from Trongsa is a long, windy road, and combined with regular birding stops, takes the bulk of the day. The higher broad-leafed forests nearer Trongsa were very birdy in the morning. A superb sighting of a Himalayan Cuckoo kicked things off, and was followed soon after by the scarce Plaintive Cuckoo. A pair of the stunning White-browed Shrike-babblers quietly went about their business, before the perhaps even more stunning Black-eared Shrike-babbler took their place. Black-throated Bushtits were seen in places, as were Streak-breasted Scimitar Babblers along with several warblers and yuhinas. A Rusty-fronted Barwing was a good find in an open patch, and here we also picked up both Himalayan and Black-throated Prinias. A roadside stream gave us a fine Spotted Forktail, and Verditer Flycatcher and both Blue-capped and Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrushes were commonly seen. We had several sightings of Mountain Hawk-Eagles flying overhead, and also added a lone Crested Bunting and a pair of very loud Rufous-necked Laughingthrushes to our list.

Bhutan in spring report

Verditer Flycatchers were commonly seen in Bhutan – but never did we tire of seeing them.

We took a break for lunch at a conveniently placed picnic overlook. Despite the heat kicking in, the birds were still active, and we enjoyed a good walk around the lunch site. We lucked onto a hulking Rufous-necked Hornbill as one flew by, and found a Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon perched quietly in the trees. Both Great and Blue-throated Barbets were common, and we added several new birds like the scarce Grey-headed Parrotbill, Black-winged Cuckooshrike, Grey-chinned Minivet, Ashy Bulbul and Blue-winged Minla. A Streaked Spiderhunter gave us fleeting views and left us wanting a bit more. After lunch, as the altitude started dropping, we did well to find a group of the sought-after Long-tailed Broadbills. A few of their high-pitched calls sent us all piling out of the car, and it took some patience and careful scanning, but we soon picked them up and enjoyed some good views. We also found a few Orange-bellied Leafbirds feeding nearby. As we rounded a corner, a feeding troop of Gee’s Golden Langur brought us to a halt once more, and this also gave us a fine Oriental Hobby perched next to the road. Further along, we were forced to pile out of the car once more when a Sultan Tit flew across the road. We enjoyed some superb views of this bird, and enjoyed White-throated Bulbul, White-browed Scimitar Babbler and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch in the same vicinity. In the late afternoon, we rolled into Tingtibi, and headed to our rustic, yet charming lodge located on the river out of town. A productive forest patch right before the lodge gave us a pair of scarce Rufous Woodpeckers, along with several showy Blue-throated Barbets as our final birds of this excellent day.

Day 11, 15th April 2023. Birding Tingtibi

Tingtibi is located towards the southern part of Bhutan, and is firmly lowland territory, being only a few hundred meters above sea level, as opposed to a few thousand meters, as with much of the rest of the country. The area is covered in pristine lowland forest, with stands of bamboo thickets, and we headed out this morning with lots of excitement. We didn’t get very far as we spotted a stunning male Rufous-necked Hornbill perched right outside our lodge ground and duly stopped to take it in. Several Common Emerald Doves were feeding on the roadside, and we enjoyed bright Bronzed Drongos along the way. Soon we found ourselves at our first birding area, and set off to explore the mixed forest and bamboo. Large numbers of Scarlet Minivets were flitting around, as were numerous Pin-tailed Green Pigeons. Shy Golden Babblers showed well after some effort, and we added a few Yellow-vented Warblers. The special Rufous-faced Warbler left us all wanting a bit more, while a flock of Pale-billed Parrotbills kept us all on our toes. Blue-throated Blue Flycatcher showed well, as did both Black-throated and Crimson Sunbirds. Just as we broke for breakfast, we picked up on the massive and iconic Great Hornbill flying along the ridgetop.

We carried on working the area after breakfast, but the activity started dying down. We finally got satisfying looks at Streaked Spiderhunter, enjoyed a flock of White-rumped Munias, marveled at how bland the Plain Flowerpecker was and got much better views of the shy White-throated Bulbul. Raptors also started coming out, and we notched up the scarce Rufous-bellied Eagle. Several Ashy Woodswallows were seen flying around, and a vocal Banded Bay Cuckoo gave us excellent views, especially considering this is normally a very shy bird. We broke for lunch, and had our customary short siesta, before resuming with an afternoon walk around the lodge, and the wild surrounds. Activity was a bit slow to start off with, but gradually picked up. A Grey-headed Woodpecker played hide and seek with us, while the comparatively diminutive Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker showed very well. A Large Woodshrike swooped in and some raucous calling nearby meant a party of Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes were moving through. We latched onto the laughingthrushes, and got some good views, before they melted back into the scrub. A hawking pair of Chestnut-headed Bee-eaters put on a good show, as did several Streaked Spiderhunters. Our last sighting of note went to the enormous Black Giant Squirrel we found moving through some trees, and brought our day to a close.

Bhutan in spring report

Rufous-necked Hornbill is a desirable special found in the lower altitudes in Bhutan.

Day 12, 16th April 2023. Birding Zhemgang

Our day was dedicated to exploring the higher-altitude forests of Zhemgang, located up above Tingtibi. Here, our main target is the highly sought-after Beautiful Nuthatch. We arrived in good time at the top of the Zhemgang pass, and immediately hopped out of the van and started birding. We caught a bright Red-faced Liocichla napping as it was foraging in the open, but it soon melted back into the scrub. A noisy group of Rusty-fronted Barwings showed well, as did a Greater Yellownape. An explosive call led us to a stunning Asian Emerald Cuckoo, which was perched in the open, while a soft melodic call gave us a Pale Blue Flycatcher. A large feeding flock of the stunning White-naped Yuhinas had a heap of other birds with them which included Chestnut-crowned and Grey-hooded Warblers, Golden and Rufous-capped Babblers, Blue-winged Minla and Orange-bellied Leafbird. A fidgety Little Pied Flycatcher showed well, but try as we might, our nuthatch seemed to be absent. Crimson-breasted Woodpecker showed well, and it took some searching, but we finally got onto some flighty Blue-bearded Bee-eaters. The dramatic Silver-eared Mesia also put on a show for us in a clearing, as did the tiny Fire-breasted Flowerpecker. Breakfast and lunch were enjoyed, and we gradually started making our way back down the mountain to Tingtibi. A fine Great Hornbill showed well en route, while calling Silver-breasted Broadbills frustratingly remained as heard only. We added to our mammal list with an Orange-bellied Himalayan Squirrel. We spent the late afternoon birding around the lodge and nearby river, with the likes of Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker, Scarlet Minivet, Black-crested Bulbul and Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch all showing well.

Bhutan in spring report

Gee’s Golden Langurs were a highlight of our time around Tingtibi.

Day 13, 17th April 2023. Birding to Trongsa

We would depart our rustic lodge today, and make our way back up to Trongsa, where we were a few days prior. We had a few hours in the morning for some birding, and spent a bit of time exploring the lush forest around our lodge. Here, both Great and Rufous-necked Hornbills put on a fine show for us, and a bright Red-headed Trogon was a magic sighting. We also did well to find a Lesser Yellownape feeding in the trees. We then headed out to the bamboo areas we explored a few days ago, and enjoyed further excellent birding. Somehow, we found a Collared Owlet perched in the open which gave us great views. A large mixed flock of White-breasted and Pale-billed Parrotbills came through, but we again missed the hoped-for White-hooded Babbler. A party of noisy Nepal Fulvettas gave us a fine White-browed Scimitar Babbler and a Yellow-bellied Warbler. Several Common Emerald Doves were seen on the roadside, and we also got lucky with a Red Junglefowl crossing the road. A lovely Mountain Hawk-Eagle flyby capped off our morning.

Before long, we were tackling the slow and windy drive back up to Trongsa. We had multiple birding stops along the way and our first one was for a calling Spotted Elachura. We had obtained only very poor glimpses previously of this shy bird, and spent a while working a very vocal bird calling from the roadside edge. Sadly, we didn’t even get a glimpse this time, but did enjoy repeat views of Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush and another White-browed Scimitar Babbler. A Crested Serpent Eagle perched nicely next to the road a bit higher up and we added widespread species like Himalayan Bulbul and Siberian Stonechat. A low feeding flock of Blyth’s Swifts gave us excellent views of these aerial masters. A colony of rock bees gave us another Yellow-rumped Honeyguide, a species we were doing well with and had seen numerous times on the tour so far, while a pair of Black Eagles gave us a good flyby as well. The late afternoon birding in the lush forests near Trongsa was very quiet, though a Scaly-breasted Cupwing showed for some.

Day 14, 18th April 2023. Satyr Tragopan birding

We were up pre-dawn and heading up the Yotong La Pass above Trongsa, where we would try for Satyr Tragopan. Numerous calling Hill Partridges greeted us in the early morning, but refused to show. A lovely Crested Goshawk flew over us, and a pair of Darjeerling Woodpeckers drummed from a dead tree. Before long, we heard our tragopan calling, and as it turned out, we heard many different birds calling throughout the morning. The gods weren’t smiling on us sadly, as no matter what we tried or how much patience we showed, we came away empty handed. It was generally a birdy morning and we had many good sightings of species we had seen on the tour already, with tits, warblers, yuhinas, sunbirds and laughingthrushes all obliging. A Dark-sided Flycatcher showed well perched atop a spruce, as did several Olive-backed Pipits, all displaying from the tree tops with spring in the air. As the morning went on, the tragopans stopped calling, and we reluctantly carried on our journey. Fortunately, we weren’t heading far – virtually over the hill to Bumthang. We birded our way down the opposite side of the pass, where we enjoyed a few Large-billed Leaf Warblers along with multiple feeding flocks that included several other warblers, yuhinas, minlas and tits.

Bhutan in spring report

Satyr Tragopan is not only the “top-of-the-list” special for visiting birders to Bhutan, but easily one of the ultimate birds to be found anywhere in the world. We hunted high and low on this tour, and eventually had our day with this mega.

The highly localized Black-rumped Magpie didn’t prove difficult to find once we got into the Bumthang valley. We settled in for a midday break, before heading out for the afternoon. In a last-gasp attempt for the Satyr Tragopan, we headed quite some distance to the Sheytang La Pass. We arrived with a bit of time to bird in the late afternoon, and set about our search, walking around and listening. With time running out before we had to call it a day, we finally heard the mournful call of the bird. Fortunately for us, the call was much closer than we had ever heard it before, and we were quietly confident. We got into position and began scanning the steep forest floor below us, and as if on cue, a bright red shape materialized out of the undergrowth. We all scrambled around for a bit as not everyone could see it, but the bird settled and started calling from a rock. We soaked up magic views of this coveted bird – arguably the most sought-after special for Bhutan. Remarkably, the bird started walking closer and up towards us. We repositioned and had to avoid getting distracted by a close-feeding Hodgson’s Treecreeper, as sure enough, the magnificent Satyr Tragopan hopped onto the road in front of us, quickly crossed and carried on its way. Elated and relieved, we called it a day.

Day 15, 19th April 2023. Alpine birding to Sengor

Our day would involve quite a bit of travel, as we made our way to the Sengor village, located high up on the famous Lingmethang Road. With the Satyr Tragopan monkey off our back, we were able to concentrate our time on finding other birds along the route. We returned over the Sheytang La Pass, where we had our success the previous day, and while we heard a few tragopans calling once more, none were seen. Various bird parties along the route gave us the likes of Coal and Rufous-vented Tits, Lemon-rumped and Whistler’s Warbelrs, White-winged Grosbeak and Red Crossbill, amongst others. We also enjoyed low-flying Himalayan Vultures. Heading onto the Thrumshing La Pass, conditions worsened to a dense cloud cover with bouts of snow and drizzle, but we managed to find a few of the brightly colored Blood Pheasants nonetheless. These birds are of a different race than the earlier birds seen around Chele La Pass. We also did well to finally see a Collared Grosbeak, after having heard them on multiple previous occasions. After some patience, we also finally saw our first Chestnut-headed Tesia, as we watched a pair hopping through an open stream valley in the forest, and the local race of Red Fox was seen crossing the road. We pulled into our very rustic Sengor accommodations, and had a good meal to warm us up.

Our late afternoon was spent birding the small remaining patches of natural vegetation around Sengor. Sadly, major construction on the road here and throughout the rest of the upper Lingmethang Road has resulted in major rockfalls and removed huge swathes of natural habitat. This former birding mecca is now a shadow of what it used to be. The tiny remaining bits of natural habitat were extremely birdy despite the poor conditions. Noisy Yellow-billed Blue Magpies jumped through the trees, while flock after flock passed through. Dainty Yellow-bellied Fantails were common members, along with the usual tits, warblers and yuhinas. Rufous-fronted Bushtits were present, along with several Rufous-winged Fulvettas, and both Red-tailed and Bar-throated Minlas came through in small groups. A fruiting bush attracted a group of Crimson-browed Finches, while both Green-tailed and Mrs. Gould’s Sunbirds vied for attention. With our tesia duck finally broken for good from our sighting earlier in the day, naturally, we enjoyed incredible views of at least two pairs of Chestnut-headed Tesias in a territorial skirmish late in the day, at times almost hopping onto us. A good, hearty and warm meal settled us down for the evening.

Day 16, 20th April 2023. Birding to Yongkhola

Having seen the major habitat destruction, we opted to cut our time in Sengor short, and headed further down the Lingmethang Road to the village of Yongkhola. The windy road took some time to negotiate, and we stopped off for birding wherever suitable patches of natural habitat remained. Many of the same birds seen yesterday afternoon were enjoyed again, though with several Mountain Hawk-Eagle flybys and a very showy Grey-sided Bush Warbler joining the melee. Further down the road, in the mid-elevation Namling region, we found a few suitable patches of remaining habitat, where we spent a while birding. Notably, a few bamboo patches can be accessed and this area offers a different suite of birds to those in the alpine zone higher up. We entered the realm of the cuckoos, with Plaintive, Himalayan and Common Cuckoos all seen, and the closely related Large Hawk-Cuckoo exceedingly common. Our first stand of bamboo gave us the much hoped-for Golden-breasted Fulvetta, and some dedicated birding further along netted us a large party of the dainty Black-throated Parrotbills and the rare Broad-billed Warbler. Golden and Rufous-capped Babblers were welcomed re-finds, as were the likes of Golden-throated Barbet and Rufous-bellied Niltava. While watching a large party of Blue-winged Minlas, typical tit grating calls lead us to a pair of the snazzy Yellow-cheeked Tits, which showed well. We also spent a while looking for Ward’s Trogon, and came close when we finally heard a bird calling off in the distance. With no sighting forthcoming, we vowed to try again. We rolled into the lovely village of Yongkhola, and checked into our excellent accommodations. Unfortunately, major rain curtailed our birding plans for the rest of the day.

Bhutan in spring report

Golden-breasted Fulvetta is a beautiful denizen of bamboo stands within forests. These curious birds put on a fine show for us!

Days 17 – 19, 21st – 23rd April 2023. Birding Yongkhola and the lower Lingmethang Road

We had virtually three full days of birding around Yongkhola, with the final afternoon (Day 19/23rd April) spent transferring the short distance to the nearby town of Mongar. Due to the similar nature of birds seen and sites visited, these days are discussed as one account below.

We concentrated the bulk of our time in the mature, moss-clad, broad-leafed forests that feature in a few places around Yongkhola. Ward’s Trogon, another of Bhutan’s sought-after specials was our first priority. We headed up to the region where we had it calling from on Day 15, and as if right on cue, picked up on not just a single vocal bird, but at least three. The birds were calling intermittently from all around us, and took a great deal of effort to track down. Some careful positioning paid off and we had our views of a male Ward’s Trogon. We ended up spending a while with the bird, watching as it went about its business, totally oblivious to us and giving us excellent close-up views.

Bhutan in spring report

Ward’s Trogon is another of the more sought-after birds occurring within Bhutan.

Beautiful Nuthatch was our second big target for the area, and we shifted focus towards it after our trogon success. Luck was firmly with us, as we enjoyed several excellent sightings of the special Beautiful Nuthatch in various places. Our first sighting took some time and effort, but a short and sharp rain shower brought the forest to life, and with it a stunning sighting of this special bird. As we went about our time searching for these two major targets, we naturally saw many other species. Great and Golden-throated Barbets were exceedingly common and virtually a continuous soundtrack. Woodpeckers were oddly scarce and we only found Crimson-breasted and Rufous-bellied Woodpeckers, along with Lesser Yellownape, while Bay Woodpeckers frustrated us by remaining unseen. Colorful Red-billed Leiothrixs were seen in a fruiting tree, which also attracted others like Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Mountain Bulbul, Large Niltava, White-naped Yuhina, Rusty-fronted Barwing and Black-throated Sunbird, amongst many others. We spent a while with the skulkers, and had mixed results. Normally extremely shy birds like Lesser Shortwing and Long-billed Wren-Babbler showed amazingly well to all, and gave us extended close-up views, while others like Scaly and Blue-winged Laughingthrushes put up quite the challenge but showed briefly in the end. Some, like the prized Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler and Spotted Elachura remained heard-only despite our best efforts.

Bamboo patches gave us groups of White-breasted and Pale-billed Parrotbills and several Mountain Tailorbirds, while scrubby thickets delivered up Grey-cheeked Warbler, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, the stunning Black-crowned (Coral-billed) Scimitar Babbler, Yellow-throated Fulvetta, Silver-eared Mesia, Red-faced Liocichla, Grey-throated Babbler and White-gorgeted Flycatcher. Bright Scarlet Finches dotted some open trees, and parties of the stunning Himalayan Cutia came roving through. We enjoyed several sightings of Collared Owlets, bumping into birds perched in the open, while other favorites included Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Sultan Tit, Blue Rock Thrush, White-crested Laughingthrush and both Greater Necklaced and Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrushes. Keeping an eye to the sky rewarded us with Himalayan Swiftlets, along with multiple Mountain Hawk-Eagles and Black Eagles. A nighttime search gave us a heard-only Mountain Scops Owl, while mammals were limited to Capped Langurs, which we saw daily. The birding here was generally excellent, and all of our daily lists exceeded 100 species.

Bhutan in spring report

Himalayan Cutia forage amongst the mossy branches.

Day 20, 24th April 2023. Birding Kori La Pass and transfer to Trashigang

We were up and out of Mongar early on, and found ourselves at the top of the Kori La Pass with the sun beginning to warm everything up. It was a cold morning, and activity was limited early on. As we slowly birded along the roadside, we picked up a pair of flashy Greater Yellownapes, which were soon replaced with a Darjeerling Woodpecker. Bird parties started up and brought a bit of life to the area, filled with tits, yuhinas, minlas and warblers we were well familiar with, along with a flock of Yellow-breasted Greenfinches. Several male Ultramarine Flycatchers posed well, as did some Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrushes. We got close to laying eyes on the ever-vocal Hill Partridge, but a poorly timed appearance from some local dogs spooked the partridges and we vowed to fight again. Following a much-needed breakfast and coffee break, we veered off the main road, and onto a forestry track running through the lusher parts of the forest. The birding was immense along here, and we enjoyed several excellent hours of birding. Skulking White-tailed Robins played hide and seek with us, and unfortunately would end up remaining as heard-only despite lots of patience and effort. Grey-bellied Tesia on the other hand, finally showed well, and we enjoyed a few excellent sightings of these tiny birds singing in the open. Parties of the bright Chestnut-crowned and Black-faced Warblers kept us entertained whilst we were trying for a shy White-gorgeted Flycatcher. A small stream produced a fine Spotted Forktail, and the surrounding scrub held a vocal Spotted Elachura, which gave us only glimpses once more. Various flycatchers, laughingthrushes, niltavas, nuthatches and scimitar-babblers all capped off a fine morning of birding! We broke for a traditional lunch in a nearby village, and completed the journey to Trashigang, where we would spend the night. We opted for a bit of sightseeing around the town in the afternoon, before heading to our scenic lodge set in the hills. Grey Nightjars and Collared Scops Owls were vocal around the lodge, but frustratingly both remained unseen.

Day 21, 25th April 2023. Birding Yonphula and Wamrong

On our ‘ordinary’ scheduled tour, this would have been the day we transferred to the lowlands of Samdrup Jonkhar, but the closure of India’s borders meant we could no longer exit Bhutan and end the tour there. Thus, we had set ourselves to overnight along the way, before returning to Trashigang where the tour would end. We spent the entire morning birding along the route, and started the day off well with a party of White-crested Laughingthrushes on the outskirts of our lodge. Starting off in the highlands around the Yonphula airport was productive, and gave us a lovely Northern Goshawk. At the same time, mixed feeding flocks contained a bounty of birds. including favorites like Black-throated Bushtit, Whiskered Yuhina, White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Bhutan Laughingthrush, Bar-throated Minla, Rusty-fronted Barwing and Green-tailed Sunbird, amongst others. Further stops lower down gave us Grey-capped Pygmy Woodpecker, White-throated Fantail, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Red-billed Leiothrix and Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird.

We eventually arrived in the Wamrong area, where we spent the rest of the morning in superb mixed forest habitat. Great and Golden-throated Barbets called from the treetops once more, while Long-tailed Minivets flitted about and the colorful Black-eared Shrike-babbler entertained us. Vocal Scaly-breasted Cupwings kept us on the hook, and despite being only a few meters away from us, incredibly remained unseen. Some leaf-tossing in the dry undergrowth led us to a pair of Grey-sided Laughingthrushes which put on a good show – a species we had seen somewhat poorly early on in the trip, and a good one to get more satisfactory views of. A particularly dense thicket held a calling Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler, and we were blown away by the incredible views we obtained of this normally ultra-shy bird. A fine party of Himalayan Cutias feeding on the moss-clad trees rounded off a productive morning.

Following a hearty lunch, we ventured off on the windy roads. Unfortunately, major construction was underway, which meant we had to change our plans, and we headed back to Wamrong, where we would spend the night, allowing us access to the excellent forest nearby in the early morning.

Bhutan in spring report

This Rufous-throated Wren-Babbler is a master skulker and rewarded us with incredible views.

Day 22, 26th April 2023. Birding Wamrong and transfer to Trashigang

Dawn arrived and saw us on the excellent Wamrong birding track. We started off well, finding a Pygmy Flycatcher right at the car. Bay Woodpecker was another bird we had been struggling to see on the tour – hearing them on many occasions but without views yet. Our luck was to change this morning, as we finally managed to track down a bird, and enjoyed some great views of this surprisingly large woodpecker with its glorious pale beak! A patch of bamboo gave us the stunning Golden-breasted Fulvetta, while Yellow-cheeked Tits were out in force today. It would also prove to be a good day for tesias, with multiple Chestnut-headed and Grey-bellied Tesias all strutting their stuff and putting on a fine show for all of us. Presumably the same pair of Grey-sided Laughingthrushes we had seen yesterday were still fiddling about in the same area, and we lucked onto a stunning young male Ward’s Trogon whilst having coffee. White-tailed Robin again proved elusive despite our best efforts. Once the day started warming up, the cuckoos came out in full force and we enjoyed picking out a Lesser Cuckoo, from the similar Himalayan and Common Cuckoos – its very different call confirming its identity. Content with another superb morning, and our tally just shy of 100 species, we made the journey to Trashigang, arriving in the mid-afternoon to our comfortable lodge. We spent the remainder of the day sorting our bags and getting ready for our domestic flight back to Paro, the following morning.

Bhutan in spring report

Tesias are normally ultra-shy birds, and this Grey-bellied Tesia showed uncharacteristically well for us – along with its close cousin, Chestnut-headed Tesia.

Day 23, 27th April 2023. Flight to Paro

We had an early morning flight to Paro, from the Yonphula airport. Located high on top of the mountains, on a small ridge, this small regional airport has a somewhat nerve-wracking runway and is one of the more dramatic airports out there. While this largely signaled the end of the birding for the tour, we always kept a beady eye open, and were rewarded with a fine Black-backed Forktail en route, as well as several Greater Yellownapes, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler and Oriental Skylark. Our flight was uneventful once we made it through the take-off, and we arrived in Paro in good time. Some final birding in the evening gave us our last White-capped Redstarts, Brown Dippers and, at the last moment, Ibisbill. We settled in for a final dinner, reflecting on all of our many exciting birding moments, and some non-birding memories as well.

Day 24, 28th April 2023. Departure from Paro

Our departure day had arrived and saw us all departing from the stunning Paro airport, bound for New Delhi. Bypassing Mount Everest along the route, we arrived in Delhi, and said our farewells to one another.

I would kindly like to thank Ron and Ruth for making this tour the success it was. This fun bird-filled tour will remain a fond memory for all of us through our lives.

Bird ListFollowing IOC 12.2

Birds ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.

Common NameScientific Name
Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)
Bar-headed GooseAnser indicus
Common ShelduckTadorna tadorna
Ruddy ShelduckTadorna ferruginea
Northern ShovelerSpatula clypeata
GadwallMareca strepera
Eurasian WigeonMareca penelope
Northern PintailAnas acuta
Red-crested PochardNetta rufina
Common Pochard – VUAythya ferina
Tufted DuckAythya fuligula
Common MerganserMergus merganser
Pheasants & Allies (Phasianidae)
Hill Partridge (H)Arborophila torqueola
Chestnut-breasted Partridge (H)Arborophila mandellii
Rufous-throated Partridge (H)Arborophila rufogularis
Blood PheasantIthaginis cruentus
Satyr TragopanTragopan satyra
Himalayan MonalLophophorus impejanus
Kalij PheasantLophura leucomelanos
Red JunglefowlGallus gallus
Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)
Grey Nightjar (H)Caprimulgus jotaka
Swifts (Apodidae)
Himalayan SwiftletAerodramus brevirostris
White-throated NeedletailHirundapus caudacutus
Blyth’s SwiftApus leuconyx
Cuckoos (Cuculidae)
Asian KoelEudynamys scolopaceus
Asian Emerald CuckooChrysococcyx maculatus
Banded Bay CuckooCacomantis sonneratii
Plaintive CuckooCacomantis merulinus
Large Hawk-CuckooHierococcyx sparverioides
Lesser CuckooCuculus poliocephalus
Himalayan CuckooCuculus saturatus
Common CuckooCuculus canorus
Pigeons, Doves (Columbidae)
Rock DoveColumba livia
Snow PigeonColumba leuconota
Speckled Wood PigeonColumba hodgsonii
Oriental Turtle DoveStreptopelia orientalis
Spotted DoveSpilopelia chinensis
Barred Cuckoo-DoveMacropygia unchall
Common Emerald DoveChalcophaps indica
Pin-tailed Green PigeonTreron apicauda
Wedge-tailed Green PigeonTreron sphenurus
Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)
Eurasian CootFulica atra
Black-tailed CrakeZapornia bicolor
Grebes (Podicipedidae)
Great Crested GrebePodiceps cristatus
Ibisbill (Ibidorhynchidae)
IbisbillIbidorhyncha struthersii
Plovers (Charadriidae)
River LapwingVanellus duvaucelii
Little Ringed PloverCharadrius dubius
Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)
Solitary SnipeGallinago solitaria
Common SandpiperActitis hypoleucos
Green SandpiperTringa ochropus
Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)
Small PratincoleGlareola lactea
Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)
Little CormorantMicrocarbo niger
Great CormorantPhalacrocorax carbo
Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)
White-bellied Heron – CRArdea insignis
Ospreys (Pandionidae)
OspreyPandion haliaetus
Kites, Hawks, Eagles (Accipitridae)
Bearded VultureGypaetus barbatus
Crested Honey BuzzardPernis ptilorhynchus
Himalayan VultureGyps himalayensis
Crested Serpent EagleSpilornis cheela
Mountain Hawk-EagleNisaetus nipalensis
Rufous-bellied EagleLophotriorchis kienerii
Black EagleIctinaetus malaiensis
Crested GoshawkAccipiter trivirgatus
ShikraAccipiter badius
Eurasian SparrowhawkAccipiter nisus
Northern GoshawkAccipiter gentilis
Black KiteMilvus migrans
Pallas’s Fish Eagle – ENHaliaeetus leucoryphus
Himalayan BuzzardButeo refectus
Owls (Strigidae)
Collared OwletTaenioptynx brodiei
Mountain Scops Owl (H)Otus spilocephalus
Collared Scops Owl (H)Otus lettia
Trogons (Trogonidae)
Red-headed TrogonHarpactes erythrocephalus
Ward’s TrogonHarpactes wardi
Hoopoes (Upupidae)
Eurasian HoopoeUpupa epops
Hornbills (Bucerotidae)
Great Hornbill – VUBuceros bicornis
Rufous-necked Hornbill – VUAceros nipalensis
Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)
White-throated KingfisherHalcyon smyrnensis
Common KingfisherAlcedo atthis
Crested KingfisherMegaceryle lugubris
Bee-eaters (Meropidae)
Blue-bearded Bee-eaterNyctyornis athertoni
Chestnut-headed Bee-eaterMerops leschenaulti
Asian Barbets (Megalaimidae)
Great BarbetPsilopogon virens
Golden-throated BarbetPsilopogon franklinii
Blue-throated BarbetPsilopogon asiaticus
Honeyguides (Indicatoridae)
Yellow-rumped HoneyguideIndicator xanthonotus
Woodpeckers (Picidae)
Grey-capped Pygmy WoodpeckerYungipicus canicapillus
Crimson-breasted WoodpeckerDryobates cathpharius
Rufous-bellied WoodpeckerDendrocopos hyperythrus
Fulvous-breasted WoodpeckerDendrocopos macei
Darjeeling WoodpeckerDendrocopos darjellensis
Greater YellownapeChrysophlegma flavinucha
Lesser YellownapePicus chlorolophus
Grey-headed WoodpeckerPicus canus
Bay WoodpeckerBlythipicus pyrrhotis
Rufous WoodpeckerMicropternus brachyurus
Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)
Common KestrelFalco tinnunculus
Oriental HobbyFalco severus
Peregrine FalconFalco peregrinus
Typical Broadbills (Eurylaimidae)
Long-tailed BroadbillPsarisomus dalhousiae
Silver-breasted Broadbill (H)Serilophus lunatus
Vangas & Allies (Vangidae)
Large WoodshrikeTephrodornis virgatus
Woodswallows, Butcherbirds & Allies (Artamidae)
Ashy WoodswallowArtamus fuscus
Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)
Grey-chinned MinivetPericrocotus solaris
Short-billed MinivetPericrocotus brevirostris
Long-tailed MinivetPericrocotus ethologus
Scarlet MinivetPericrocotus speciosus
Black-winged CuckooshrikeLalage melaschistos
Shrikes (Laniidae)
Brown ShrikeLanius cristatus
Long-tailed ShrikeLanius schach
Grey-backed ShrikeLanius tephronotus
Vireos, Greenlets, Shrike-babblers (Vireonidae)
Green Shrike-babblerPteruthius xanthochlorus
Black-eared Shrike-babblerPteruthius melanotis
Blyth’s Shrike-babblerPteruthius aeralatus
White-bellied Erpornis (H)Erpornis zantholeuca
Figbirds, Old World Orioles, Piopios (Oriolidae)
Maroon OrioleOriolus traillii
Drongos (Dicruridae)
Bronzed DrongoDicrurus aeneus
Lesser Racket-tailed DrongoDicrurus remifer
Hair-crested DrongoDicrurus hottentottus
Ashy DrongoDicrurus leucophaeus
Fantails (Rhipiduridae)
White-throated FantailRhipidura albicollis
Crows, Jays (Corvidae)
Eurasian JayGarrulus glandarius
Yellow-billed Blue MagpieUrocissa flavirostris
Common Green MagpieCissa chinensis
Grey TreepieDendrocitta formosae
Black-rumped MagpiePica bottanensis
Spotted NutcrackerNucifraga caryocatactes
Red-billed ChoughPyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
House CrowCorvus splendens
Large-billed CrowCorvus macrorhynchos
Fairy Flycatchers (Stenostiridae)
Yellow-bellied FantailChelidorhynx hypoxanthus
Grey-headed Canary-flycatcherCulicicapa ceylonensis
Tits, Chickadees (Paridae)
Yellow-browed TitSylviparus modestus
Sultan TitMelanochlora sultanea
Rufous-vented TitPeriparus rubidiventris
Coal TitPeriparus ater
Grey-crested TitLophophanes dichrous
Green-backed TitParus monticolus
Yellow-cheeked TitMachlolophus spilonotus
Larks (Alaudidae)
Oriental SkylarkAlauda gulgula
Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)
White-throated BulbulAlophoixus flaveolus
Striated BulbulAlcurus striatus
Ashy BulbulHemixos flavala
Mountain BulbulIxos mcclellandii
Black BulbulHypsipetes leucocephalus
Red-vented BulbulPycnonotus cafer
Himalayan BulbulPycnonotus leucogenys
Swallows, Martins (Hirundinidae)
Barn SwallowHirundo rustica
Nepal House MartinDelichon nipalense
Asian House MartinDelichon dasypus
Cupwings (Pnoepygidae)
Scaly-breasted CupwingPnoepyga albiventer
Cettia Bush Warblers & Allies (Cettiidae)
Yellow-bellied WarblerAbroscopus superciliaris
Black-faced WarblerAbroscopus schisticeps
Mountain TailorbirdPhyllergates cucullatus
Broad-billed WarblerTickellia hodgsoni
Brown-flanked Bush WarblerHorornis fortipes
Grey-bellied TesiaTesia cyaniventer
Slaty-bellied Tesia (H)Tesia olivea
Grey-sided Bush WarblerCettia brunnifrons
Chestnut-headed TesiaCettia castaneocoronata
Bushtits (Aegithalidae)
Black-throated BushtitAegithalos concinnus
Rufous-fronted BushtitAegithalos iouschistos
Leaf Warblers (Phylloscopidae)
Buff-barred WarblerPhylloscopus pulcher
Ashy-throated WarblerPhylloscopus maculipennis
Hume’s Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus humei
Yellow-browed WarblerPhylloscopus inornatus
Lemon-rumped WarblerPhylloscopus chloronotus
Tickell’s Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus affinis
Grey-cheeked WarblerPhylloscopus poliogenys
Green-crowned WarblerPhylloscopus burkii
Whistler’s WarblerPhylloscopus whistleri
Greenish WarblerPhylloscopus trochiloides
Large-billed Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus magnirostris
Chestnut-crowned WarblerPhylloscopus castaniceps
Yellow-vented WarblerPhylloscopus cantator
Blyth’s Leaf WarblerPhylloscopus reguloides
Grey-hooded WarblerPhylloscopus xanthoschistos
Cisticolas & Allies (Cisticolidae)
Himalayan PriniaPrinia crinigera
Black-throated PriniaPrinia atrogularis
Rufescent PriniaPrinia rufescens
Common TailorbirdOrthotomus sutorius
Parrotbills & Allies (Paradoxornithidae)
Fire-tailed MyzornisMyzornis pyrrhoura
Golden-breasted FulvettaLioparus chrysotis
White-browed FulvettaFulvetta vinipectus
Great ParrotbillConostoma aemodium
Grey-headed ParrotbillPsittiparus gularis
White-breasted ParrotbillPsittiparus ruficeps
Black-throated ParrotbillSuthora nipalensis
Pale-billed ParrotbillChleuasicus atrosuperciliaris
White-eyes (Zosteropidae)
Striated YuhinaStaphida castaniceps
Black-chinned YuhinaYuhina nigrimenta
Whiskered YuhinaYuhina flavicollis
White-naped YuhinaYuhina bakeri
Stripe-throated YuhinaYuhina gularis
Rufous-vented YuhinaYuhina occipitalis
Indian White-eyeZosterops palpebrosus
Babblers, Scimitar Babblers (Timaliidae)
Golden BabblerCyanoderma chrysaeum
Rufous-capped BabblerCyanoderma ruficeps
Rufous-throated Wren-BabblerSpelaeornis caudatus
Coral-billed Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus ferruginosus
Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler (H)Pomatorhinus superciliaris
Streak-breasted Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus ruficollis
White-browed Scimitar BabblerPomatorhinus schisticeps
Rusty-cheeked Scimitar BabblerErythrogenys erythrogenys
Grey-throated BabblerStachyris nigriceps
Ground Babblers (Pellorneidae)
Yellow-throated FulvettaSchoeniparus cinereus
Rufous-winged FulvettaSchoeniparus castaneceps
Long-billed Wren-BabblerNapothera malacoptila
Alcippe Fulvettas (Alcippeidae)
Nepal FulvettaAlcippe nipalensis
Laughingthrushes & Allies (Leiothrichidae)
Striated LaughingthrushGrammatoptila striata
Himalayan CutiaCutia nipalensis
Scaly LaughingthrushTrochalopteron subunicolor
Blue-winged LaughingthrushTrochalopteron squamatum
Bhutan LaughingthrushTrochalopteron imbricatum
Black-faced LaughingthrushTrochalopteron affine
Chestnut-crowned LaughingthrushTrochalopteron erythrocephalum
Rufous SibiaHeterophasia capistrata
Rufous-backed SibiaLeioptila annectens
Blue-winged MinlaActinodura cyanouroptera
Bar-throated MinlaActinodura strigula
Rusty-fronted BarwingActinodura egertoni
Red-billed LeiothrixLeiothrix lutea
Silver-eared Mesia – ENLeiothrix argentauris
Red-tailed MinlaMinla ignotincta
Red-faced LiocichlaLiocichla phoenicea
Lesser Necklaced LaughingthrushGarrulax monileger
White-crested LaughingthrushGarrulax leucolophus
Rufous-chinned LaughingthrushIanthocincla rufogularis
Spotted LaughingthrushIanthocincla ocellata
Rufous-necked LaughingthrushPterorhinus ruficollis
Greater Necklaced LaughingthrushPterorhinus pectoralis
White-throated LaughingthrushPterorhinus albogularis
Grey-sided LaughingthrushPterorhinus caerulatus
Goldcrests, Kinglets (Regulidae)
GoldcrestRegulus regulus
Elachura (Elachuridae)
Spotted Elachura (H)Elachura formosa
Nuthatches (Sittidae)
Beautiful Nuthatch – VUSitta formosa
White-tailed NuthatchSitta himalayensis
Chestnut-bellied NuthatchSitta cinnamoventris
Treecreepers (Certhiidae)
Hodgson’s TreecreeperCerthia hodgsoni
Sikkim TreecreeperCerthia discolor
Starlings, Rhabdornises (Sturnidae)
Great MynaAcridotheres grandis
Common MynaAcridotheres tristis
Chestnut-tailed StarlingSturnia malabarica
Thrushes (Turdidae)
Alpine ThrushZoothera mollissima
Grey-winged BlackbirdTurdus boulboul
Black-throated ThrushTurdus atrogularis
Red-throated ThrushTurdus ruficollis
Chestnut ThrushTurdus rubrocanus
White-collared BlackbirdTurdus albocinctus
Chats, Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)
Oriental Magpie-RobinCopsychus saularis
Dark-sided FlycatcherMuscicapa sibirica
Ferruginous FlycatcherMuscicapa ferruginea
White-gorgeted Flycatcher (H)Anthipes monileger
Pale Blue FlycatcherCyornis unicolor
Blue-throated Blue FlycatcherCyornis rubeculoides
Rufous-bellied NiltavaNiltava sundara
Large NiltavaNiltava grandis
Small NiltavaNiltava macgrigoriae
Verditer FlycatcherEumyias thalassinus
Lesser ShortwingBrachypteryx leucophris
White-tailed Robin (H)Myiomela leucura
Himalayan BluetailTarsiger rufilatus
Black-backed ForktailEnicurus immaculatus
Slaty-backed ForktailEnicurus schistaceus
Spotted ForktailEnicurus maculatus
Blue Whistling ThrushMyophonus caeruleus
Slaty-backed FlycatcherFicedula erithacus
Pygmy FlycatcherFicedula hodgsoni
Rufous-gorgeted FlycatcherFicedula strophiata
Ultramarine FlycatcherFicedula superciliaris
Little Pied FlycatcherFicedula westermanni
Slaty-blue FlycatcherFicedula tricolor
Taiga FlycatcherFicedula albicilla
Hodgson’s RedstartPhoenicurus hodgsoni
Blue-fronted RedstartPhoenicurus frontalis
Plumbeous Water RedstartPhoenicurus fuliginosus
White-capped RedstartPhoenicurus leucocephalus
Blue Rock ThrushMonticola solitarius
Chestnut-bellied Rock ThrushMonticola rufiventris
Blue-capped Rock ThrushMonticola cinclorhyncha
Siberian StonechatSaxicola maurus
Grey Bush ChatSaxicola ferreus
Dippers (Cinclidae)
Brown DipperCinclus pallasii
Leafbirds (Chloropseidae)
Orange-bellied LeafbirdChloropsis hardwickii
Flowerpeckers (Dicaeidae)
Plain FlowerpeckerDicaeum minullum
Fire-breasted FlowerpeckerDicaeum ignipectus
Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)
Mrs. Gould’s SunbirdAethopyga gouldiae
Green-tailed SunbirdAethopyga nipalensis
Black-throated SunbirdAethopyga saturata
Crimson SunbirdAethopyga siparaja
Fire-tailed SunbirdAethopyga ignicauda
Streaked SpiderhunterArachnothera magna
Old World Sparrows, Snowfinches (Passeridae)
Russet SparrowPasser cinnamomeus
Eurasian Tree SparrowPasser montanus
Waxbills, Munias & Allies (Estrildidae)
White-rumped MuniaLonchura striata
Accentors (Prunellidae)
Alpine AccentorPrunella collaris
Altai AccentorPrunella himalayana
Rufous-breasted AccentorPrunella strophiata
Wagtails, Pipits (Motacillidae)
Citrine WagtailMotacilla citreola
Grey WagtailMotacilla cinerea
White WagtailMotacilla alba
White-browed WagtailMotacilla maderaspatensis
Olive-backed PipitAnthus hodgsoni
Rosy PipitAnthus roseatus
Finches, Euphonias (Fringillidae)
Collared GrosbeakMycerobas affinis
White-winged GrosbeakMycerobas carnipes
Red-headed BullfinchPyrrhula erythrocephala
Plain Mountain FinchLeucosticte nemoricola
Common RosefinchCarpodacus erythrinus
Scarlet FinchCarpodacus sipahi
Crimson-browed FinchCarpodacus subhimachalus
Yellow-breasted GreenfinchChloris spinoides
Red CrossbillLoxia curvirostra
Buntings (Emberizidae)
Crested BuntingEmberiza lathami
Little BuntingEmberiza pusilla
Species seen:301
Species heard:13
Total recorded:314

Mammal List

Mammals ‘heard only’ are marked with (H) after the common name, all other species were seen.

The following notation after species names is used to show conservation status following the IUCN Red List:
EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable.

Common NameScientific Name
Pikas (Ochotonidae)
Large-eared PikaOchotona macrotis
Moupin PikaOchotona thibetana
Squirrels and Relatives (Sciuridae)
Black Giant SquirrelRatufa bicolor
Himalayan Striped SquirrelTamiops mcclellandii
Orange-bellied Himalayan SquirrelDremomys lokriah
Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)
Assam MacaqueMacaca assamensis
Rhesus MonkeyMacaca mulatta
Gee’s Golden Langur – ENTrachypithecus geei
Capped Langur – VUTrachypithecus pileatus
Canids (Canidae)
Red FoxVulpes vulpes
Mustelids (Mustelidae)
Yellow-throated MartenMartes flavigula
Deer, Elk, Mooses (Cervidae)
Northern Red MuntjacMuntiacus vaginalis
Species seen: 12
Total recorded: 14


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